Sometimes I marvel that this man is mine—even when he’s driving me absolutely bonkers. Especially then, actually. I look into those soft blue eyes and I feel like I’m living a real-life NA romance. We’ve had plenty of our share of the back-and-forth.
Fire, meet gasoline.
When Mike and I first met*, I’d just started working at Toys R Us and also just exited a series of bad relationships. I was the heroine just looking to have a good time. Or so I thought.
All 6’3″ of him strolled up to me one night at work and asked me what my plans were. I hadn’t heard from my friends about our tentative plans, so I smiled up at him and shrugged. One night of drinking vodka and beer in a friend’s garage quickly turned into seeing each other almost every night for three months straight. I was giggly-drunk when he dropped me off that first night.
“Who do you like at work?” he asked in that low voice.
It was sexy as hell but I still managed to play it cool. “Oh, I don’t know,” I said, planting a sweet kiss goodnight on his cheek. “Someone.”
Still, the more time we spent together, the less nonchalant I was able to be. No matter how hard I tried not to, I wanted more of this guy who was a mind-blowing kisser and could kick my ass at Scrabble. He, however, did not appear to want more; brat wouldn’t even hold my hand in public.
As the end of the summer neared, I started to accept that we would not end up boyfriend and girlfriend. Too bad, too, because I could actually see myself dating him—really dating.
Right around my birthday, he called me and asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner. A real date. I was surprised. This was the same guy who’d told me he wasn’t looking for anything serious. Thus he has been confusing me for the last decade: when we’re ordering food at a drive-thru; when he stops painting a piece halfway through and starts another; when he changes the song right when it’s getting good and switches to an entirely different band while driving. But even though he can be extremely indecisive, he’s always been loyal.
That night, when we went out to dinner, he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. That was August 31st, 2006. Five years later, on the same day, he took me out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. I was a nervous wreck; I just knew he was going to propose. I couldn’t decide what to wear or if I’d even say yes.
I mean, marriage? For real?! Getting married was for adults. People who knew how to be in mature, serious relationships. I couldn’t even decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, never mind who I wanted to wake up next to.
After we finished eating, I went to the ladies’ room to pee and collect myself. As I washed my hands, I stared at my reflection. This is it, I told myself. When I go back out there, he’s gonna drop to one knee. Practically shaking, I walked back out to our table.
But all he did was pay our check and tip our waiter. Stunned, I followed him out to the parking lot. I’d been so sure. He’d been acting so weird all night. It was our five-year anniversary.
I exhaled and let it go. At least now I could stop being nervous and just enjoy the night.
We got into the car and headed toward the highway. As we drove into the dark night, we talked about things the way we usually did. Just content boyfriend/girlfriend chitchat. Nothing serious or heavy. We were on I-84 when he glanced over at me.
“So you wanna get married?” he asked. It was our inside joke, our thing. We’d talked about doing it eventually. We always said things like “I like you. I might marry you someday.” It was always casual, no pressure.
I responded automatically: “Of course.”
“Okay,” he said. “We have to go to Britt’s. She has the ring.”
I blinked into the night through the windshield. Slowly, I turned toward him in my seat. “Wait, for real?”
He’s always surprising me.
He once made these crazy good New York strip steaks. I hadn’t even known he could cook—not really, anyway. They were the best steaks I’d ever had, which says a lot because that particular cut isn’t the easiest to cook.
I could count a million things I love about him, but I mostly love his sense of humor, the way he cheers me on with my writing, and how good he is with kids. He doesn’t even blink when I get goofy, and sometimes he even joins in. Even when I burn dinner, he eats it without complaint. (Alien.) He’s been kind, patient, and supportive from the moment my arthritis set in, never making me feel bad and always taking care of me. Through years of setbacks and hardships, he’s never left my side and has always been there for me. I never even had to ask.
Like every real couple, we have our ups and downs. Sometimes I want to choke his beard (and do). Sometimes he needs a break from me and my intense personality. At the end of the day, though, we go to bed with kisses and “I love you”s.
He’s my alpha male hero, always taking the wheel when we have somewhere to go—even if his knee is acting up. We’re both stubborn and have that “my way or the highway” mentality, but he is rarely the one to budge. I’ve met my match.
And he’s still a devastatingly good kisser.
Three years ago today we said “I do,” and I’d do it again.
I love you, bearded man.
*He swears we met years before that at my first job, but I honestly don’t remember meeting him. Which he will never let me live down.