Nine Years And Counting

I met Steve in August of 1996 when I was 19 years old.  We both attended Humboldt State and majored in History.  We sat in the front row during our Early Modern European History class with Professor Sundstrom, and we both wore Converse. He furiously took notes as I struggled to stay awake during the mid-afternoon class with the windows that let the warm sun shine on my sleepy form. I wish I could say our Converse lead to conversing, and have the rest be history, but it was a year and a half before we started going out. During that time I had other lessons to learn besides Robespierre’s influence and how the printing press changed the world, but Steve would see me around town and offer me a lift or ask me out.  My response was always a chipper “No, thank you!”.

Despite my rejections, he still bought me drinks at Toby and Jack’s — even after the night when he gave me his number as did somebody else.  All our bar meetings allowed me to see him interact with his friends, and there was one thing I noticed: they were always laughing.  There was mutual respect and camaraderie among them; all of them were having a good time.  About a month or two later, it finally occurred to me to call him.  I left a message.  He called back and we talked for an hour and decided to do the Nineties pseudo-date of going for coffee.  When I met him at the coffee shop, I still saw him as “friend” material.  He was, honestly, not my type, but then again, my “type” wasn’t quite working out for me.  That night Steve humored me and let me read him his tarot, as I dutifully referring to my How To Read Tarot book.  The last card I flipped, the one one that reflects the passage of your life, was a two of cups.  I read from my book and it said something on the lines of “someone is interested in you for reasons that aren’t clear to you.”  Immediately, my face grew hot as I realized that that someone was me.  This threw me into a state of panic.  Could he see it was me?  Was it written on my face?  What should I do with this newfound knowledge?  Should I swing open my arms and yell, “Surprise!”?  I sat on it instead.  Two more weeks passed.

You would think that by what happened next that that would have gotten the ball rolling.  It was finals week, and my first opportunity to go get really drunk afterwards (the first and last time I participated in this lively tradition).  I even told my landlady.  She didn’t quite know how to respond when I told her, “By the way, I’m going to get really drunk tonight.”  My mantra on the way to the bar was, “Don’t make a fool of yourself and hit on Steve.  Don’t make a fool of yourself and hit on Steve.”  I was a good little drunk that night.  I stayed on my barstool and everything.  And I didn’t hit on Steve.  I just rubbed his arm every time he walked by me or stood next to me or asked me a question or turned to talk to someone else.  Taking this as a sign of encouragement, he walked me home.  Now, now, now, don’t get any ideas.  There were too many eyes and ears out for me to cause any shenanigans.  Before leaving the bar, Steve was grilled by two sets of friends about his intentions.  When we got to my house, my landlady had stayed up to make sure I got home.  She said she heard a male voice with me, and slyly followed us down the hall (it was a 7 bedroom Victorian mansion that allowed for stealth) to find out if he was “friend or foe.”  Then there was my housemate Katie, who also was on patrol.

Steve, however, was a gentleman and helped me with my “routine”: twenty minutes of flossing, brushing my teeth, washing my face, and taking out my contacts.  He was a bit amazed that someone so inebriated would still do her nightly routine.  Then he made me drink a lot of water, listened to me tell long teary stories about my grandpa, tucked me in, and left.  I woke the next morning to find a note with two ibuprofen.  What I didn’t tell you about this evening was what happened in front of Everett’s bar.  That’s for me to know.

Winter break passed.  The spring semester started.  We went on our first official date to Mazzotti’s in Eureka.  He dropped me off, patted my knee, and said, “Thanks for coming out with me.”  I was confused. I had a vague recollection of him kissing me in front of Everett’s.  That did happened, didn’t it?

A week passed, and finally it was all too much.  We were back at Toby and Jack’s sitting near the darts.  I asked him, “Did you kiss me?”  He finished taking a swig of his Rolling Rock, placed the bottle on the table, folded his hands, and said, “Yes, and when I’m done with my beer, we’ll talk about it.” After a few minutes we left the bar and talked about everything.  He was concerned about starting a relationship because he was graduating in May and moving in August, and I was graduating in December.  He was also working on his senior thesis, and that would take up a lot of time.  Was it really viable to start a relationship now?  I thought so.  I hit on a scheme that really made a lot of sense to me: let’s casually date and then break up in August. How perfect was that?  He agreed.

The trouble with that plan was that we didn’t specify which August.  August 1998 found us in a long distance relationship.  August 1999 found us in our first year of living together.  August 2001 found us living our last month of pre-9/11 life– an event that prompted Steve to propose in October.  August 2003 found us in the midst of last minute wedding plans.  Steve even flew my best friend and maid of honor in from Texas, so she could attend my bridal shower.  On September 13, 2003 we got married.  Now it’s September 2012.  It’s been nine years.

A photo from year six in the foothill wineries.

I’m still with the man who still takes care of me and supports me and makes me laugh.  Here’s to the next nine years.

Speechless

There are two things going on at my house at the moment.  One, it’s my husband’s birthday, and two, it’s the third straight day of my cold that has me laid up at home and without a voice.   It really should be him lounging around the house today (minus the sneezing, the snot, and the coughing), and before he left for work this morning, he made sure I had everything I needed.  Yesterday he worked a half day so he could spend the afternoon on the phone (six hours) with family in Palm Springs to put out fires for his ailing mom.  He took a break to run to the store and get soup, crackers, and ice cream for me.  He mentally kicked himself for forgetting the 7-Up.   This just highlights who he is.

Steve and I have been together for fourteen years.   Yet, I am always struck by his generosity of spirit and his ability to make me laugh.  He is the first guy that I was able to be truly silly with, and he is the first to “get” what bothers me and haunts me.  When someone hurts my feelings or makes me mad, he gets angry so I don’t have to.  He always knows what I like– whether it’s books, videos, or meals at a restaurant.  He also knows that I do not want to eat off the yellow plate.  He supports me in every endeavor– even if it means that I’m going to some far off locale without him. During the summer, when he’d rather watch the morning news, he uncomplainingly reads the paper as I workout to one of my videos.  He makes sure my iPhone is up to date,  and always tells me of the teaching apps he finds that would make my life easier.  He saves articles about Downton Abbey for me.  He has strong political convictions and wants to see fairness, equality, and a better life for everyone.  He is a hard worker and always has been.  He always does the right thing, and is thoughtful and considerate to everyone.

On a typical day he hears more about how he should wipe down the counters better or clean up the coffee spills or tackle any other little annoyance.   Sometimes I sigh and roll my eyes when he shows me a new feature on the computer.  Sometimes I make fun of the drumming videos he watches (okay, all of the time!).   Sometimes I glaze over when he goes on a political tangent. However, the love, strength, and integrity of the man I married always leaves me a bit… speechless.

The Thrill Of The Hunt

The thing was, I didn’t know if I’d get over it.  I told myself the usual platitude that I’m a grown up, and really, how many grown ups hunt for Easter eggs?  By themselves?  My lower lip quivered as I whined to myself, “I do!  I hunt Easter eggs.”  And the Easter Bunny didn’t show up.  Actually, the Easter Bunny informed me the night before that he had forgotten it was Easter– how that’s possible when all of the stores are decked out in plastic grass and pastels, I’ll never know– and he followed it up with, “I’m such a bad husband!” Like that’s supposed to console me.  Now there’s no Easter AND I have a bad husband.

On Easter morning I put out his card and Reese’s Reester Bunny that I remembered to purchase, and he groaned when he saw them. “I woke remembering that I didn’t get you any Cadbury mini-eggs.  I’m such a bad husband.”  I think we covered that base thoroughly now, thank you.  It was becoming increasingly difficult not to pout; how was it that I had to console HIM, when I was the one deprived of my annual hunt?  He apologized and asked if there was anything he could do to make up for this.  Attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that in the scheme of wars, famine, and API scores, this was really No. Big. Deal.  “No. Everything’s fine. I’m fine.”  Then trying not to mope, but failing, I grabbed my walking poles and left for my four mile walk.

As I walked I tried to snap out of it by working out my aggression by thwacking my poles on the asphalt.  Sure, I was disappointed; people do occasionally forget holidays.  Who those people are, I don’t know, but I’ve heard of it happening. Apparently, my husband was now one those minions.  Thwack!  My annoyance escalated as people drove by craning their necks to ogle my poles.  Obviously, one has to be a skier or blind to use them.  Yesterday two different people informed me that there was not any snow on the ground.  I had answered with my usual cheerfulness, but today… Oh today, they would feel the wrath of my poles.  Thwack!  A teenager walking to his car stared at my poles incredulously as he tried to equate them with the balmy sixty degree weather. Glaring at him from behind my sunglasses, I sent him a telepathic rebuttal: “If it’s so warm, then why are you wearing a ski cap?”  Thwack!  A mile later I walked by a man cheerfully hiding eggs in his front yard.  There’s a hunt happening at his house.  Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

I knew I was being silly and petulant.  I knew that it was just a bunch of eggs with candy inside– the very same candy that my parents sent me a bag of and that I could also buy for 75% off the following day, so it wasn’t like I was deprived.  I knew that I am married to a man who can look at any menu and know exactly what I would order.  Who leaves articles about Downton Abbey out for me to read.  Who brings home chicken soup, Saltines, and 7-Up when I’m sick.  Who makes me a special dinner every weekend.  Who… you get the picture.  I knew that a real grown-up would stop being a spoiled brat and just get over it.

I returned home, still disappointed, but less so.  But, I really wasn’t looking forward to a day consoling the “man who forgot Easter.”  I slunk into the house and put my poles away.  “Did you put those poles away correctly?” he asked.  Wondering why he cared about them, I opened the door to reveal upright poles and shut the door.  Again, he questioned my pole-storage technique.  Restraining from declaring that I know how to put my own poles away, I humored him and opened the door again.  “See?” he pointed out, “Are the handles supposed to look like that?”  I glanced the handles and on the shelf above them peeked a bright green plastic egg.  My heart soared as I opened it greedily to reveal my Cadbury mini-eggs.  I gave my beloved Easter Bunny a hug as I reverted to being a kid again to enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Photos: en.wikifur.com and masterorganizing.net

Full of Mini-Eggs!