On Love

August 3rd, 2008 by Rainey

I was thinking tonight about what little lego pieces are fit together to build a good relationship. All the small moments that construct a shared life together. All the soft words and laughter. The weird and comforting rituals and silly games that only we understand. The hidden disappointments and the honest lay-it-all-out nights in the kitchen.

We were taking Zekie on a walk this afternoon and I was telling Conan about how a couple that I married last year had celebrated their first year anniversary at the Melting Pot a few weeks ago and how the husband had bought his wife a sapphire and diamond necklace to celebrate.
I am pretty sure that on our first year anniversary we remembered to exchange cards. But I can’t swear to it.
“So…” I said. “You know…our FIVE year anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks…”
All I got in response was a raised eyebrow and some cocky response about how he was pretty sure that we were glad to be us instead of them.
I sighed. But he was right.

I remember when Conan and I were first beginning to date in college we hung out most of the time with groups of friends or just spent time talking in the car or in our dorm rooms. We didn’t go on what society would recognize as a “real date” for the first three or four months of our relationship.
I think we finally decided to make it official and see a movie and went to see “American Beauty” before our first dating anniversary. But by the time we began going to theaters and restaurants and doing our part to feed our meager incomes back into the economy our relationship was well underway. It seems clear that a real date has a lot less to do with where you go and a lot more to do with what you do. Usually the best times are watching “Yellow Submarine” on a broke down apartment couch with your best friends. Or bringing lemonade slurpees from the 7-11 down the road to your boyfriend when he is at work. Having him leave class to bring you irises picked illegally out of the campus lawn because you were having a bad day. Or walking through bookstores and art galleries holding hands and not buying anything at all.
I remember trying to replicate a cajun rockfish recipe for Conan in his converted schoolhouse apartment. I worked on it SO HARD, making the cajun rub in a ball jar at home and carrying out to his place thirty miles away. We had basically no money to speak of. But we had time. Which seems like an idyllic dream in these hectic days of new parenthood and work, work, work.

When we were hanging out in his apartment one day after those first few months of dating, Conan turned to me. I could tell he had something meaningful he wanted to tell me. He flung his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close.
“Do you know why I like you?” he asked.
I waited. I knew that these words would make a difference. They would become memories. They would mean something.
“Because you like Mexican food, good beer, and Phish.”
Ahhh…the romance!
I still remember.

Tonight I spent a good half hour after putting Zeke down for bed shaving my husband’s head. We had made a deal that he would wear the glasses that I liked on vacation if I would let him have a faux-hawk for at least two days. I agreed. We are, after all, going on vacation in a couple of days…so who cares?
This is what marriage is made of.
Good food, good beer, good music. Small acts of simple kindness and grace. Laughter, smart-ass comments, and cocked eyebrows. And backlit nights in the kitchen shaving your husband’s head.

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