An Unconventional Love Letter to My Husband
I always thought I’d get married in my forties. Or something like that.
Ok. Since we’re being honest here, I don't think I ever really thought I’d get married.
But don’t think that this is one of those “Why did I get married?” sort of posts. Nor is this a Carrie-esque Sex and the City sort of post where I marinate about how life’s winding road changes us.
Because it's pretty f*cking obvious that it does.
Today is the anniversary of the day when, five years ago, my now husband, Carter, stunned me into silence by answering the question posed by my sorority chapter adviser, called B$, - “Who is this? – with, “Hi, I’m Carter, her boyfriend.”
Let’s take a step back. Before I’d met Carter, I had done quite a bit of the following:
- Scraped, as my father puts it, the bottom of the boyfriend barrel/gene pool. And he’s not wrong.
- Continued far too long in relationships that were either borderline abusive, borderline unhealthy, or completely without future.
And then there was Gary.* (Yea, this means that Gary isn't his real name. But we protect the innocent on this blog. And as much as I once hated you, Gary, the fault was half mine.)
Gary and I had known each other for years before dating and it started out good. Like, “I have never been so crazy about a person in my entire life” good. And it was great. Until it wasn’t. And then it would be great again for awhile. Until it wouldn't be and I would find myself crouching on my bed at 3 am, texting him like a complete psychopath about why he didn't call and why he had time to go to the bars but not drive to see me.
And, no doubt, he would be in that bar, standing in a corner, texting back psychotically about how I was being irrational.
I used to think that he was the worst thing that ever happened to me which, considering my narrative, is saying a lot. (You can read about it in my memoirs, due this Spring from…… the land of very wishful thinking.) But perspective comes, often as not, with age and distance and I am able to look back at Gary and realize that we were toxic for each other, that we were both poisoning each other’s air, that not all that glitters is gold.
But not all who wander are lost either.
It wasn't long after Gary and I called it quits for good that I met Carter. Ok. Before I met Carter, I listened to Daughtry’s “Over You” on repeat with my headphones in and my hood up for the entire long drive to Virginia to visit my grandparents.
And don’t you dare mock me for that – it was the perfect breakup song.
I met Carter on an airplane, flying back to Kentucky after a college class trip to Washington, D.C. His friend Ryan was helping me do the crossword and introduced me to Carter, who was sitting on the aisle.
RYAN: Hey, this is my buddy Carter. Carter, this is Kate.
Carter, who had been napping, pulled his enormous headphones off his ears, leaned over Ryan to look at me, and said, “’Sup.”
Yea. ‘Sup. As in, the abbreviation for “Wassup,” which is already the abbreviation of “What’s up.”
Because punctuation is tedious, kittens.
You know in Jerry McGuire, where Renee Zelweger’s character says to Tom Cruise,“Shut up. You had me at hello. You had me at hello.”?
I don’t say, “You had me at ‘sup.”
Where he had me was, 2 weeks later, when we were watching March of the Penguins on our first date because it was the only movie we could agree on, and I was crying because those mother f*cking penguins don’t know how to keep tabs on their chicks and the baby penguin froze to death. (Sorry for that spoiler alert. But really, you've had like 8 years to see it.)
For background, I am the world’s ugliest crier. Ever. The end. You think you can compete? Come over to my place. We’ll watch Finding Nemo or The Awakenings orThe Dead Poets Society and we’ll have a good cry. And then you’ll look at me and say, “Shit, girl. You totally win.”
I always do.
So here we are. Carter, a guy who’s testing the waters on this first date to see if he even likes me that much as a person or if I’m just that cute girl who wears the boots everyday and sits in front of him in a class about the Holocaust who can also watch a 4 hour documentary about crematoriums without throwing up. (I cried because I have a soul, a heartbeat, and tear ducts. But I didn't throw up.) And me, the girl who has come off of a horrible, Daughtry-filled breakup and isn't looking for anything remotely on the rebound, but has taken a real interest in this guy who always wears sweatpants to class. And I’m crying.
I’m crying because it’s sad. I’m crying because I’m still raw. I’m crying because, like I said, those mother-f*cking penguins need to figure out how to keep track of their babies.
I’m crying all over Carter. (I mean, we’re talking snot and tears all over his t-shirt.) And what does he say?
It’s ok. I needed to wash it anyway.
Shut up. You had me at, “It’s ok.” You had me at “It’s ok.”
As Morgan Freeman narrated the penguins into the dawn after the long winter, and as I cried all over a boy I barely knew, that same boy stroked my hair and said something about the food chain and asked me if I watched Planet Earth because he was super interested in all “that beautiful nature shit" and that we should watch that next time because they don't let you get emotionally attached to the baby animals before they die. And then he said that it was kind of a cheap shot that they make you get attached to the baby penguins before killing them. It's like they want you to cry. F*ck you, Morgan Freeman. Or something like that.
A few months later, when this same boy told me he loved me, I responded by saying, “Really???”
Not because I didn't love him. Not because I didn't love him more than any other person with whom I didn't share DNA. Not because I didn't want to be with him more than anything else in the world.
With Gary, with everyone before, there had always been a catch.
I love you ….as long as you stop texting her.
I love you ….as long as you stop smoking.
I love you…..when you’re not driving me crazy.
I asked him if he meant it because there wasn't a catch. And that was unfathomable.
After 4 and a half years of growing up together, falling down and picking ourselves up together, suffering deaths of loved ones, celebrating triumphs, and learning to bend, I married that sweet, messy-haired boy.
Yesterday was our Valenversary. We started on this crazy road on February 12. But we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because we think that when you love someone, you should make the “Grand Gesture” every day. Every. Single. Day.
Because then it’s not a Grand Gesture – it’s just how you let a person know, each day, how your life would be forever different without them, how they’re the one person you want to see each day, how, without seeing them, while life goes on, it’s a little more dim. Our Grand Gesture was our marriage, and everything that will fall within those brackets from now until we die (or after, we’re still not sure on that) are the tiny, yet infinitely important, love notes that make up the story. Do I fall short? Absolutely. Does he? I’m sure.
But the goal is pure – a life, a marriage, a relationship founded on millions of tiny gestures is what makes up a gesture, a story, a shared life that is truly Grand.
And so here is my gesture for today:
Carter, I’m a mess. I’m impatient. I’m impetuous. I’m stubborn to a fault. I can’t cook veal to save my life. I cry during commercials. …..and every Disney movie ever made. I’m cold all the time. I don’t like to play footsie. I hate watching University of Virginia Lacrosse because I don’t understand what the hell is happening no matter how many times you explain it to me. I have virtually no marketable skills. I’m sloppy. I don’t clean the hair out of the shower drain and I try to blame it on you, even though I am well aware that your hair is not two feet long. (I’m sorry if you slipped in the tub this morning because the hair clog caused my conditioner to not drain, making the shower slippery. If you did slip, I owe you an ice pack and a six pack.)
I don’t share your dreams to own a wolf or a snow leopard and I think it’s f*cking ridiculous that you mandate that any dog we own in the future has to weigh at least 50 lbs. I think you’re insane for wanting 4 kids. I want two. But we can consider the median. Maybe. I spend way too much time talking about change and not enough time seeking it. I’m allergic to wheat. (Sorry about that one too. It’s ok. You can still order na’an when we get Indian food. You just have to go eat it in the bathroom... with the door closed so I can’t smell that buttery goodness.) I’m addicted to boots. I don’t dress up enough for you. I wear your sweatpants all the time even though I know you hate it because then you never have sweatpants. I’m ridiculous. I’m neurotic. I’m a little ADD and a whole lotta OCD. I’m probably a little bit crazy, too.
But I promise you this: I’ll disappoint you in a lot of things. I’ll make you so angry that you’ll wish that you could put me in an inflatable sumo wrestler suit and go to town pummeling me. (You can totally do this, by the way. I’ve always wanted to wear one.) I’ll say things I don’t mean, apologize for them and say that I’ll never say anything to hurt you again. And then I’ll say something to hurt you again. And I’ll apologize again. (And again and again and again because I have to remind you that I’m a little crazy sometimes.)I’ll do stupid things and probably spend all or most of a paycheck on a pair of once-in-a-lifetime boots and then, when you yell at me, I will try to blame it on you. Ignore me when this happens. I’ll break something you love by accident and get really wasted sometime and spill red wine all over your limited edition Robert Griffin III jersey – again, by accident. And I’ll probably blame you for why our kids want to experiment with weed or why the dog likes to shit in my shoes or why I can’t ever seem to be anywhere on time. I will never be anywhere on time because I always have to pee.(See? I know that’s all me and not you. The dog/shoe/shitting thing, well, that’s probably all you.)
I will burn dinner to spite you once or twice, make fun of you for watching all of the video previews for Diablo VIII (because you know they’ll keep making them), and once, and probably only once, yell at you for not being more like Mr. Darcy. (As with the RGIII jersey, I will probably be sloshed.)I will, all on accident, ding your car, break your crunk cup, and hog the bed. I will clog the shower drain, break your rocks glasses, and tell you that you should go to yoga class with me. I will, afterwards, tell you that you are horrible at yoga and then apologize because "It’s not you, it’s me" and I can’t stand that after one class, you’re better at headstands than me. (Because I’m a jealous, competitive bitch like that.) But you're wonderful. You're so wonderful that sometimes I question your own sanity, choosing to roost with a hen like me.
And know this, too: I will love you until the day I die. …Or until the end of time – I know we haven’t quite straightened out where we stand on that. So then let me correct it to say this: I will love you until whatever it is that makes me me ceases to exist. Promise.
I love you to the moon and back.
Happy Valenversary, Bird.