Because we haven’t always been this way.
It was ten years ago that we met. I joke that I spent our first year of dating trying to break up with you. Not funny in the right kind of way, I would tell my friends, all cheese and no grit. You were annoyingly happy. I thought I was better suited to a poet’s gloom.
When I tried to break up with you, you would cry and I would relent. Okay, okay, we can give it another go. Just please don’t talk so loud or kiss my ear like that.
It was I, wouldn’t you know, that said I thought you were the One. You said, “Thank you,” and I quickly took it back, for the first time feeling like I didn’t have your heart, that your kindness couldn’t be twisted into pity. I should have known you weren’t just a puppy dog trotting behind me, waiting for affection.
You had never said you were in love with someone before. And then you said it. And I freaked. With your ring leaning lopsided on my middle finger, I told our pre-marital counselor that I didn’t know if we wanted the same things; I wanted freedom, to write for magazines and to take road trips through California. I thought you only wanted me.
The Reverend told me to take my ring off my finger until I was ready to commit.
I left it on. And we eventually moved to California. It was I who cried this time and you who relented.
When we came back East and bought our first house, you told me it wasn’t the end; we didn’t have to become boring or insular or all those things television tells you people grow up to be. Just because we had all this stuff now and a yard full of buried brick didn’t mean we couldn’t pick up and go when the Spirit moved. The Spirit moved me to Seattle without you.
We were in the therapist’s office before I left. As expected, you charmed the therapist with your shiny eyes and deep laugh while I was sure I was coming across a pursed-mouth shrew. The truth was I was feeling a bit lost again, trapped in monotony and questioning my own perseverance. I didn’t want to be “just fine.”
I think about these ten years and about how each time I thought of bailing out I instead plunged deeper. When I asked you why you stuck around so long, you just said, “I knew there was something more.”
This is the more.
Risotto cooked over the stove with strawberries and mushrooms and cream, while I distract myself in the other room. Catalogs on the console table that you beg me not to read, so that we can flip through them together. Doctors appointments made entirely on your own, your body cared for as if it were mine.
And then there were the Easter lillies on the table when I came home from a long work trip, one bud open and the rest bowing in anticipation of what is yet to come.