Thursday, February 16, 2006

A better-late-than-never Valentine's Day tribute to my husband:

When I was young, I never played mom or wife with my Barbies. I always played famous person who could have Ken whenever she wanted him around but usually didn't. She was good on her own. My friends in high school thought I was crazy as I never talked about the future as if marriage and kids were a certitude. I was so awkward and nervous as a teenager, anyway, that I may has well have wanted to fly to the moon in my Tercel as date and then marry a boy. I never understood how all of those girls in my class managed to know when a boy liked them, or show a boy they liked that they were interested without acting like they were on drugs. Well, a lot of them were on drugs, but that's not the point.

College was a little better. I could actually talk to boys but had no idea that SO VERY MANY of them were gay. I liked a gay boy (closteted, of course) for most of my college career, and I'll always remeber what it was like to have feelings for someone who would try but could never return them. Once I figured this out, though, it was a useful little life lesson that I would never forget. I even dated a little, and was actually engaged, which was a disaster on scale with the Titanic, but I learned a lot from that, too. Namely that it's far better to be alone and content than with someone and miserable. I didn't date again for six years.

I moved to Seattle and had the strangest few months of my heretofore pretty hetero-members-of-the-opposite-sex-free life. I apparently was giving off a "date me" kind of vibe, as I had three romantic interests at the SAME TIME, a feat heretofore only achieved by my college roommate, Malia. One guy was a flake, one I dated and it didn't work out and the other was you.

I remember the day I met you. I was falling asleep at my desk. We worked on the same floor but for different companies, in one of those large office buildings you only find in downtown areas of major metropolises (metropolii?). You worked for the graphic design company next door and I was the assistant for a recruiting firm. I had been at rehearsal late the night before and was exhausted. As all the fronts of our offices were glass, you could see that I was nodding off. You opened the door and asked me if I was okay. I'll never forget your eyes. They were the most beautiful I had ever seen. Still are. You were so nice, and I noticed that you had chipped front teeth, which made me less nervous, as you were so perfect looking that I usually would never have been able to talk to you. You gave me a funny Halloween article to read and then told me that you had to leave to go work out with your partner, Matt. Well, he's gay, I thought. I know how to deal with THAT. Straight men may bewilder me, but gay men I can at least talk to. Remember what I said about never forgetting? I could be friends, but I couldn't get too attached. We started eating lunch together, which I later found out was by design. You came to see me sing and even brought a date, but I didnt' know that at the time. You asked me to come with you and your friends to do your cable access show on a Saturday night, and I fell in love with your gang immediately. We went to an opera together with my roommates, and the next day, your office manager, with whom I had become friends, asked me if you and I were dating. "But he's gay!" I exclaimed. "No, he's not," she said, "he just broke up with his long-term girlfriend a few months ago." It turns out that you were dating someone else. You liked ME, though, as I found out when you left flowers on my doorstep with an anonymous note the weekend that I had decided to go to the beach instead of staying home and languishing, as it was also Valentine's Day. When I got home and found them, I called you and told you that I knew they were from you. You denied it for three days until I wore you down. We've been together since that night. When my therapist asked me the week before if I wanted to be with someone since I had just been moaning about prospects, I had no idea it would happen so quickly.

How do I say to you what a difference you've made in my life? I was such a wreck that first year, anxious and uncertain. I had never dated anyone for longer than a few months and had no idea how it was supposed to work. I fretted about that, I'll tell you. I was so scared that you'd figure out how much of a disaster I was that you'd flee. Somehow, you stuck with it, coming to all of my performances and even auditions, which no other singer's significant others did. You said it was great free entertainment. We struggled with trust, me because I was so afraid and you because you had had your trust broken by someone.

I still feel like I may have pressured you to get married. I don't feel right about that. It wasn't fair, but I felt that you were so afraid of repeating your previous relationship that you were afraid to commit. I knew I wanted to marry you, and I thought it was ridiculous to wait, as we had been together for a year and a half. So, you proposed. We got married and we figured out how to live with each other. I realized that I had to control my anxiety because I hated the effect it had on you. I went on meds and holy cow, for the first time I could truly see what I had. I knew that you were wonderful, but the fear clouded the acceptance of it. I couldn't believe how lucky I was. All of a sudden, there you were, your kindness, your humor, your devotion, your strength, your passion and, most of all, your boundless love. I finally saw it all. I knew I was the most fortunate person alive. Not only did I love you, I genuinely liked you. What a revelation.

I can't tell you in any words what a joy you have been in my life. You make me laugh so hard. Your emails should be immortalized in a book so everyone can see how witty and hilarious you are. You're a brilliant artist, and I'm so glad that more and more people are seeing that. You are so earnest and decent. You ask for so little and give so very much.

I don't know that I'll ever be able to let go of all of the ingrained fear and anxiety I've lived with my whole life, but I'm trying. You've given me a million reasons to do so, and for that and a million other reasons, I love you.