I’m not a believer in Love At First Sight. I don’t think we humans are that intuitive or foresighted. Starting a relationship is pretty easy. Growing and maintaining a relationship is really hard. She and I dated as kids for about three months. Then we didn’t date for about three years. Then we dated again, broke up a little here and there, and then we married. At some point we must both have decided to go all in, but it wasn’t a moment of soaring revelation or harmonious sagacity. I’d love to say it was so, but it wasn’t. For my part, I just felt at some point that I didn’t want anything other than to be with her. Everything else was window dressing.
You won’t catch me saying that we’ll be together forever. I’m much too superstitious for that. Here’s what I will say. My dreams exist in vibrant colors and sharp focus. In them, She and I walk through the remainder of our lives together. In them We’re usually silly and sometimes serious, but always together. In them We’re sometimes young and sometimes not, but always together. We are sometimes doing everything and sometimes nothing. But always together.
When I remove her from my dreams, it’s like removing the lens. Focus is gone, and colors wash out. I recognize motion and shape, but nothing sharpens into meaning. I believe that version of me would push on, perhaps refocus, but I don’t recognize the dream anymore. It seems brittle and melancholy.
I stood up, almost 24 years ago, and promised to be the best partner I could be. I swore to it. That’s a lot to carry and sometimes I feel the weight. Relationships are difficult, and that’s what makes them beautiful. They need attention every day, they require effort every day. Making them last is the job. And the biggest part of that job is watching her back. Making sure that she only needs to look forward. Making sure she knows that the shrill clamoring behind her is being tended to. Making sure she knows that there is always someone carrying as much of her baggage as he can endure.
There is no greater gift than that of a shared life. I know that my story is chronicled in her memories of us. I can’t say what the end of that story looks like, happy or sad. But I can say that whatever ripples I make in the pond are being seen and are thoughtfully, affectionately, being recorded.
Together we built a life. It’s a life that I think the two teenagers that dated for a few months would marvel at. Sometimes I try to imagine exactly what they would have thought if they could’ve seen a glimpse of it. The truth is, I just don’t know. It would be maudlin of me to assume they would hold hands and gleefully embrace that future. I also think it’d be kind of boring. Our relationship wasn’t scripted and it wasn’t foretold. It was sweated over, invested in. We pulled it from the ether and gave it life.
We chose every day, for decades, to each be half of a whole. To face the world back to back, hand in hand. And for me, there can be nothing more romantic than that.
Happy Valentine’s Day Honey.