Every night, at various times during the night, either my husband or me, or more likely both, stumble into the bathroom. I joke to my husband that he looks like an old man, he always says you too. We always climb sleepily back into bed and one of us utters to the other in a barely audible voice an I love you, or sometimes just love you. Last night my husband took his regular trek to the bathroom and like always I smiled to myself and as he climbed back into bed I told him I loved him. Except this time, instead of uttering the usual love you too, he said I know. I laughed and said, well, I do tell you a lot. He said keep telling me. Our hands joined between us and we fell back asleep.
It struck me how many encounters we have in this exact same spot. All of our nightly recaps of the day happen here, this is where we watch This Is Us, this is where we discuss anything of importance, and this is where we make love. An entire world happens right there in such an assuming place. It’s where I held him when his parents passed away and it’s where we held each other through the affair, both when we were angry and when we weren’t. And this is where, as the years passed, our bodies changed and who we were altered. It all happened right here.
A few weeks ago we were in the mall and all these little girls were walking by wearing princess dresses. My husband was wondering why they were all dressed like that and I said it was probably a birthday party. It was. Later as we were walking I said something about being past the princess stage and in a complete surprise move by my husband he put his arm around me and said I was still his princess. I was caught off guard by his sweet remark. I was caught off guard by how life has changed in all the years we’ve been together.
It’s funny how marriage and love and the passing of time pulls and pushes us from the well-known to strangers to acquaintances to the well-known all over again. The truth is that no matter who you think you married you are wrong. We are all wrong. The person you marry and yourself change. Who you married at 20 is not the same person you wake up next to at 50. You have to do it all over and over and over forever. That’s the challenge really. Marriage is not a fairy tale, no matter how good your intentions are in the beginning. Life will make sure of that, just being human makes sure of that.
The real fairy tale is knowing that sacrifice is what love is all about. And real love is about seeing people for who they really are, the whole of them, the good and the bad, the parts you love and the parts you hate and being in love with all of it as a package deal. There is really nothing that exciting or “fairytailish” about any of it really, except maybe the very beginning.
For Valentine’s Day my husband brought home KFC and some chocolate covered strawberries and a box of chocolates that I shared with the kids and a family member staying with us at the moment. My husband cleaned up after. And it really doesn’t get any better than that. It probably looks pretty boring to everyone else, but it’s real. And real beats fairy tale every single time.