Six Years

My mother-in-law recently informed me that at our wedding, a number of people related to me mentioned to her that they had thought I would never get married.

This did not surprise me. I distinctly remember being 16 years old, and my mother saying to me, in tones of exasperation, “You’ll never get married. You’re just going to have a bunch of lovers.”

I was, in my mother’s words, bohemian. I was artistic, dramatic. I was, to my parents’ view, untraditional.

For the most part, I didn’t trouble over this idea of getting married or not. I didn’t have elaborate fantasies about my wedding day, or my husband, or children. I dated, I had lovers and a few, as the kids say now, friends with benefits, even a few one-night flings.

Then, after a particularly painful break-up in my late 20s, I re-evaluated a few things. I moved into an apartment on my own, and started to figure out what I really wanted in a partner. I had already figured out what I didn’t want (the hard way, which is either unfortunate or, possibly, the way these things are figured out).

I wanted someone who made me laugh. This was close to top of my list. I wanted someone who was interested in me, for me; I wanted someone who was interested in my life, my family, my wants, goals and desires. (My recent ex and I had split at my brother’s wedding, of all things, because I finally figured out that he didn’t really care about MY life. It was cool if I wanted to stick around and be in HIS life, but we weren’t headed to OUR life.) I had recently returned to the church, and I wanted someone who shared my faith. I wanted someone with a strong family life, because that was something I enjoyed. I wanted to have fun, but I also wanted the option of not having fun, of being able to feel other emotions: sadness, frustration, anger — and of being able to express those emotions without getting grief for it.

And then, when I was 29, I ran into DearDR. At the time, of course, he wasn’t DearDR. He was an acquaintance, someone I knew from college, and then later, someone who lived in the same city neighborhood as I. Granted, we were in a bar on the South Side; I was with friends, he was with his sister, his brother-in-law, and his cousin. He and I started to talk. He bought me a Maker’s Mark on the rocks. Two hours later, two hours that felt like two minutes, his crew was leaving.

He said to me, “Will you have dinner with me sometime?”

And I said, “Yes. That sounds good.”

He said, “Can I have your number?”

I said, “You can look me up. I’m in the book.”

The next morning, I woke up and thought, “Holy crap, did I actually say that?” Yeah, I really did say that. In an enterprising scramble, I got his email address from his BIL, who was an acquaintance of mine as well. On our third date, I thought to myself, “I could marry this man” — a thought I had never had, about any man. Our fourth date was the wedding of two close friends of mine; he told one of the guests (out of my earshot), “I’m going to marry her.”

And he did.

And he makes me laugh, even when I am crying sometimes. And he lets me cry and be pissed off and scared and frustrated, and he lets me express it. And he lets me be happy, he often is the source of my happiness. And he is a wonderful father to my children. And he is my lover, and my friend, and my partner. He is interested in me, and I in him, and we have our life as well as our lives.

Happy anniversary, my dearest DearDR. I love you — you are the love of my life. I never saw you coming, but I am so glad you are here.

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