going to the mattresses

Elsa: [blah blah unasked-for advice blah blah]
The Fella: I love having you as my wartime consigliere.

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unconditional

I came down with a cold just before New Year’s Eve, and it persisted until, ooooh, yesterday. That’s more than two weeks of snotty, sniveling sickness — and two weeks of experiencing The Fella’s shining example of unconditional love. Some simple acts of love:

– insisting I sleep cozied down in the bed with him instead of confining my coughing, hacking, restless, contagious self to the hard sofa.

– gazing at my slack, shambling frame as I change from a sweaty, baggy pair of gray PJs to a clean, baggy pair of gray PJs and saying (in a voice ringing with sincerity), “You’re so pretty!”

– driving to the restaurant whose name and address I don’t know to order the soup I can’t pronounce.

emotional math

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about partnership and marriage, and especially about being married to The Fella, which is, y’know, awesome.

This Ask Metafilter comment gets to the heart of that awesomeness:

You know when you were a kid, and you’d get excited about sleepovers because you could stay up all night watching movies and talking to someone who just cracked you up and really understood you? Remember how special those nights felt?

Every day is like that now. Except we get to have really good sex, too.

Yup, that sums it up: I get to spend every day and every night with my very favorite person from now on, and we get to express that favorite-ness in every way we wish.

But I still haven’t really internalized that this is a two-way street of Awesome — that my very favorite person’s very favorite person is me.

Let me digress.

I had a rotten morning. You don’t need to know the details, but I made a small error that caused the not-sane part of my brain to castigate me and call me names (which A. is not productive and B. is NOT ALLOWED) while I flailed around trying to get dressed and out of the house in a hurry.

During this ridiculous few minutes of blistering self-loathing, The Fella kept interjecting helpful comments like, “You’re not stupid, you just made a mistake” and “How can I help?” and “Are these your pants?” When he should have been sleeping peacefully (and could very rightfully have been giving me grief over my meltdown), he was cheerfully pitching in to soothe me, to help me, to solve my problem.

And later in the day, I added some of those things together. I did the emotional math: I am married to my very favorite person, the person whose opinion I value more than anyone else’s, the person who I think is the downright AWESOMEST person in the whole wide world.

And he thinks I’m THE AWESOMEST, too.

I think he must be right. You don’t argue with the transitive property.

little things

At not-quite-the-end of a long week of work and deadlines, The Fella came home from work around midnight and sat down with a blank look on his face, getting ready to write the weekly newsletter.

“You look a little beat, hon,” I said. “Did you have dinner?”

“Not really.”

It took me all of three minutes to whip up something simple for him to eat. As I gave him the plate and a beer, The Fella took my hand and quietly, earnestly said, “Thank you. Thank you for marrying me.”

Today is our second anniversary, and The Fella’s hatched some secret plans. (Nothing big, he assures me. Just secret.) The first item on the agenda: he got me an enormous coffee. Number two on the agenda: he’s doing laundry.

This guy gets me.

* [The Fella, don’t hover over the links!] update Now that I’ve given The Fella his gift, I can describe it here. We’re going to have a mid-year variation on our Valentine’s day tradition of staying in with cheesy horror movies and pizza.

For the cotton anniversary, I gave The Fella the abominable-looking Lady Frankenstein, starring Joseph Cotten. Yeah.

Because it’s too hot to heat the oven, I’ll be picking up fantastic take-out pizza from Otto.

Wait for it… cotton.

I toyed with plenty of other gift ideas. For example, I thought about getting a really luxurious set of sheets, which we kinda need. Or towels, ditto. But I dismissed those as gifts for me, not for The Fella.

What did The Fella give me? A really luxurious set of sheets. And a really luxurious towel. Did I mention: this guy gets me.

standing order

The Fella often surprises me with a pint of ice cream. About as often, he picks one up at my specific request. (Somewhat less often, he picks one up even though I specifically asked him not to. Why would I ask him not to? Because I don’t always want it, but I will always eat it.)

Since the corner store rotates flavors randomly, there’s no point requesting a specific flavor. Still, The Fella knows what kind to get me: Chocolate with stuff in, or stuff with chocolate in.

Or pistachio.

We’ve had the “or pistachio!” conversation at least three times now, and here’s how that goes, more or less, every time:

Elsa: Or pistachio!
The Fella: [stops tying his shoes, looks up at me in disbelief] … really?
E: Yes.
TF:
E: It’s my favorite, but they almost never have it. If they ever have it, I get it. If they ever have it, get it. EVER.
TF: How did I not know this? It’s like I don’t even know you!*

*This last sentence only occurred in the first iteration of this conversation, which suggests to me that subconsciously he does recall it, or he would face the same vivid surprise and apparent horror each time.

This weekend, we had another round of the same conversation, at which time I altered the standing order. From now on, the standing order: chocolate with stuff in or stuff with chocolate in, or pistachio. Even if I have specifically requested “no ice cream,” if they have pistachio, get pistachio. “Pistachio rescinds all other orders.”

the face of love

What does love look like? There’s no one right answer to that question, but just in the last week, several people have shown me a few of the small, sweet, personal expressions of love — and I mean expressions, gestures and acts that might as well be smiles or gently furrowed brows. Here are two of them. This is the very face of love.

1. I’m scheduled for oral surgery, and I idly mentioned to my mother that the recovery period will make me wish we had cable “so I could just plop down and watch ‘Columbo’ for a few hours.”

Yesterday, she presented me with a bubble-mailer containing nine hours of “Columbo.” Mom, who is not yet confident in online ordering or particularly savvy at online searches, tracked down and ordered me a gift (and, from her perspective, a reasonable obscure gift) just to give me some comfort and distraction.

2. A few nights ago, I got three hours of sleep before I woke up hiccuping — and the hiccups lasted more than two hours. Silly? Yes. Funny? Yes. Harmless? Yes. Annoying and exhausting and, eventually, painful? Yes.

When The Fella left for work, I had stopped hiccuping. A few hours later, he called me to check in, “to see how you’re doing.”

I never miss a chance for self-mockery: “Because I was hiccuping?”

He was so gentle: “Because I know you had a hard morning.”

And that is how love can look: even in the face of the silliest affliction, he made sure I was okay before unleashing any jokes.

time machine

Some notes to my 16-year-old self:

You’re not as smart as you think you are. Shut up sometimes.

You’re smarter than you think you are. Speak up, but thoughtfully.

Be kinder. Be more patient. Be more demanding. These are not mutually exclusive.

You can’t see your own privilege. Listen more, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Good job with the sunscreen! Keep it up even after your gothy years pass by.

Your parents show their love as best they can, and they’re doing miles better than their own parents did for them. That doesn’t mean it’s enough. The sooner you see that and let it go, the happier and more loving you will be.