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Ode to Real Love

It was forever ago, I know. But not so long ago that I’ve forgotten. The feelings trickle back through me when I hear Jane’s Addiction or catch a glimpse of your thrift-store wingtips at the back of the closet. If I close my eyes and remember, the sensations flood right back to the surface:

That fluttery-gut feeling of our earliest days together. The intoxicating cocktail of elation, lust, and panic. The sheer shock of being adored. And the profligate peace of staying in bed ’til 2 p.m., then venturing out for a sloppy three-dollar breakfast, inhaled while holding hands.

We used to do everything holding hands. Drive. Sleep. Shower. As if we were afraid these extraordinary feelings would slip away if we let go to scratch an itch …

We don’t hold hands much anymore. Though we share a home now (and hallelujah, a still-sizzlin’ boudoir), casual contact is harder to come by. A peck on the cheek as we rush out the door, a quick shoulder rub standing at the stove, a semi-conscious pre-dawn spoon. I can’t remember the last time we stayed in bed past 8 a.m., fingers entwined.

Of course I miss it. I miss the dopey glee and oddly pleasant ache of dewy new romance. I’ll bet you do, too.

But we had those things already. We celebrated those Valentine’s Days and — ahem, if memory serves — we celebrated them good. So today let’s toast the rest of this relationship. The part we didn’t see cooking: the considerable cupcake of marriage beneath the flashy frosting of courtship.

The fact is, I don’t swoon for guys in bands, or motorcycle jackets, anymore. Which is perfect because you’re not one and don’t wear them anymore. Blame maturity, that old killjoy, but it isn’t rebellion, showmanship, or the tortured soul of an artist that turns me on now. It’s compassion, courage, and capability. And baby, you got ’em.

I get a gut-twisting crush on you every time you fix something: Internet router. Rearview mirror. Clogged toilet. I don’t know how to do those things. I’ve tried, and I can’t. If you weren’t around, I would literally have to call a plumber or flirt with our neighbor just to get someone to plunge the loo. Thank you for not making me do that.

I cherish the way you make a point of saying, “Hi, beautiful” when I’m sick with the flu and have tissues stuffed up my nose because I got tired of blowing it. And the way you grit your teeth and let me put my utterly bloodless feet up against your warm legs when I skitter into bed at night. Sometimes you whimper, or explain, “You know how good that feels to you? That’s how bad it feels to me.” But you never push me away.

Never. Not when I’m crabby. Or whiny. Or weepy. Not even when you really should.

I adore that you don’t like dancing, but you love dancing with me. And that you’re always the funniest guy in the room, and nobody but me knows it. And that you don’t notice my wrinkles, or at least say you don’t notice, which is the exact same thing as far as I’m concerned.

Young love may promise the thrill of the unknown: What perfume will he like best? What makes her angry? But one part I don’t miss is the anxiety over “what’s next?” Hoping we’ll keep enjoying each other. Wondering if we’ll last.

We did. This is what it looks like. It’s different than how we started out. Faster. Fuller. And granted, sometimes a little flatter. But with my newfound maturity and your proven competence, I’ll bet we can rustle up some time to hold hands today.

Meet me in the shower.

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