Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The last week I have been participating in a 30 day encouragement challenge. It's Christian based and geared toward encouraging ones husband but truly it's good practice for anyone in a committed relationship. For 30 days I say nothing negative about or to my husband (that's his handsome mug up there), and at the end of the 30 days a new habit is formed, one wherein I speak kindly and not sarcastically (oy vey with the sarcasm), one where I seek to build up my partner and not criticize, one where I take a moment every day and appreciate the myriad little things the man I married does for me...
It is in this vein that I write a little tribute to Husband Mine today...our little love story.

Mine is not a real love story. Not in that breathless, rapid falling sort of way that a real Hollywood romance is. Mine is an accidental love story, a story that is still being written, still being sung. It is sometimes predictable, sometimes joyful, sometimes raw and wretched, and every so often, if I’m very lucky, it is a story that takes my breath away. It is a story that, without fail, makes me grin and cry a little and feel generally good about the world. It is the story of my marriage after all,and it should make me feel at least a little something.
I met my husband, like so many before and since, in college. I met him before I met anyone else on the massive campus that comprises Arizona State University. It was my freshman year and I had, just 4 months earlier, moved away from home, bought my first car, and escaped my horrible terrible abusive high school relationship (I was about 6 months out from that debacle). Luke was (and is) a solid man. All broad shoulders and rumbling deep voice. I was feeling a bit untethered my freshman year of college and so his firm grip on the earth was appealing. He was (and is) incredibly brilliant, grasping concepts seemingly instantaneously and conveying the knowledge effortlessly and clearly. A born teacher, so meeting him outside the class I was struggling with was kismet. But Luke was (and is) not so good with the ladies. Or people in general, really. Oh dear me, he was abrupt and dismissive. He was sarcastic and blunt. He was downright rude sometimes. And that’s where I came in. I was (and am-sort of)a thin woman who was cursed with the worst eyesight ever. At 18, I was unusual looking enough to be thought of as attractive by a specific sort of fellow. The kind of fellow like him, a sucker for that “librarian” look. I was (and am) a little neurotic but patient. It was (and is) a particular goal of mine to empathize with as many people as I could. And that fumbling grace was appealing to him…So we became friends.
Initially, ours was a friendship of convenience and fortitude. We were able, almost immediately, to talk about everything and anything; to understand each other and when things weren’t communicated clearly we could hash it out with aplomb. We were each difficult to deal with at times, but no one could call me on my bullshit like he could and no one could cut through the withering sarcasm he dished out like I could. We not only tolerated each other, but enjoyed the challenge. Time passed. We exchanged Christmas presents, he helped me move several times. We had the same major (theatre) so we worked together often. We ran in the same circle of friends.
After a long while I met a man whom I was very much in love with but who never seemed to be as in love with me – though he could fake it marvelously. We dated for many years. We lived in a series of small but tidily decorated apartments. We got two cats. And a fish. We got together and broke up innumerable times.Through our breakups, moves, and pet purchases, I would go to the pub with Luke, once a week or so. We would have a beer or two. We would eat dinner. We would talk and talk about everything and anything. We understood each other and when things weren’t communicated we hashed it out with aplomb. We were still difficult to deal with at times, but we loved each other as much as two people could. We just never talked about it. We more than tolerated each other, we enjoyed the challenge and each other’s company. To his credit, Luke never told me outright how much he hated my boyfriend. He was nothing but complimentary and sweet. He was helpful and compassionate when we broke up and faked a genuine happiness for me when we got back together.
When I was 23 I moved to London. It was a beautiful, perfect choice. A beautiful perfect city. My off again, on again boyfriend came to visit. He proposed to me in a characteristically over the top flamboyant way. I said yes. And I called my mother, my sister and Luke, in that order. After the slightest hesitation, he said “Congratulations darling.”
I chose to ignore the hesitation. I chose to ignore the doubt in my mind. The other kisses I stole. The other kisses HE stole. I chose to marry my first husband because that’s what I thought I wanted to do. Why does anyone continue in a doomed relationship? I wanted to be a blushing bride. Even though I was crushingly unhappy.
I planned a simple wedding and picked a beautiful dress. I found a photographer and picked out bridesmaid dresses. I chose to ignore the cheating. I chose to ignore the incessant fighting. I wrote vows that ended: “I promise to love you as much as I can, for as long as I can.” I chose to ignore the prophetic tone.
On the day of “my first wedding” (SPOILER!) I fought with my fiancee. I drank to much to early. I looked out over the crush of friends and family during the ceremony and my heart fell because my best friend Luke was not out there.(He came late. I wonder why...) I danced and ate and didn’t have that great of a time. We went home early.
Months passed and it did not get easier or better. In fact it got worse and worse, on all fronts. My ex was in a terrible car accident that totaled my car, my grandmother died on Christmas morning, my parents got a divorce, and my other grandmother, my Nana, the woman who helped raise me, went off dialysis and began the horrifying slow process of death by kidney failure.
Through it all I was losing my mind. And my ex ignored it. All of it. Any of it that didn’t directly make his life better or easier…At the lowest point (3 weeks after my beloved Nana died in bed, while I was in her kitchen) I sat on my bed, having not left my house in 2 days, I heard the razor whispering to me from the sink.I called my therapist. She asked me to call someone and have them take me to the State Mental Hospital. I was terrified and I called Luke he came to my house, and when I told him I did not want to be committed he took me to the movies.We sat in the dark of an empty movie theatre. He bought me popcorn and a huge soda and sat beside me. He asked me no questions, he let me rest my head on his shoulder. When the credits rolled he said “now what?” I asked him to take me home and he said all right. He said that this movie theatre never had people at it and we could come anytime we wanted and give them some business.And that made me smile. Really smile. For the first time in months.
In April, my ex left me. A week later he called to tell me he slept with someone else. Someone “amazing”. I asked for a divorce. He was surprised. Unsurprisingly. A month after beginning the long slow process of divorce, I sat by my pool with Luke. We talked about everything and anything the way we always did. He asked why, after all these years, and so many other people kissed, the two of us had never kissed. He said it curiously and matter of factly, as though the two of us being romantic in any way should have been the most natural thing in the world.
And because of that I leaned over and kissed him. And it was exactly the way it should be when you’re kissing your best friend of almost 7 years, someone who understands you better than anyone else, someone who grins at your faults and calls you on your crap, someone who has pieced you back together a million times over.It was like sparklers and chocolate cake and the best song you’ve ever heard. You know, like that.
I wish I could tell you we dated for years and years and he proposed in a gorgeous beautiful way and we had a huge white wedding and we settled down in an amazing home and had 2.5 kids and were blissful always.But of course, it didn’t happen like that. When my husband, Luke proposed to me, we were sitting on a couch, and I was 4 months pregnant (an event that is a story in and of itself!). He looked at me, and he smiled that lovely slow grin of his and said “Babe, I have loved you from the moment I met you. Marry me.” I said yes. And I called my mother and my sister. In that order.
We got married on Valentine’s Day. At a courthouse. I didn’t even wear white. And we made dinner for ourselves at our little 2 bedroom house in Mesa, Arizona. We had our first child on April 15th 2007. He looked (and looks) exactly like his father. We are expecting our second son on February 4th 2011.
I wish I could tell you it’s all romance and making up for lost time over here.But of course, it’s not. We have days when all we can seem to do is bicker, when all we do is the laundry. We have days when a short kiss in the kitchen is the only romance I’ve seen in weeks. And the only non nagging he’s gotten in days is a question about work.
And we have a lot of days where looking at him makes me grin wider and laugh louder and feel better than I have ever before. There are days when he looks at me and says “I’m so lucky I got you”. There are nights when our fingers lace together and everything in my life seems to have turned out exactly the way I have always wanted it.
My story is still being written, still being sung. But I can tell you this: A lot of people tell you they married their best friend. That they had no idea until they married their partner what real friendship was. A lot of people tell you: “It’s always better when we’re together”. A lot of people tell you that they are the luckiest sons of bitches on the face of the earth.
And I’m here to tell you that I did marry my best friend, and I knew it, that we are and always have been better when we’re together and that I, am the luckiest bitch on the face of the earth...

all pictures by the lovely Julie Prothro, November 2009


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