I was trying to think about what I’d write this week and then I remembered it was our first date anniversary on July 4th. Twenty two years we’ve been rotating around the sun together. Twenty two years since Rockafella Skank by Fatboy Slim was at number 1 in the UK charts. France beat Brazil in the World Cup. And City of Angels was the number one movie and was coincidentally what we went to see on our first date.
We met whilst working at the same bowling alley. We moved in together after seven months and lived happily in sin for 3 years. He then made an honest woman of me in a small civil ceremony which is still one of my favorite days. We honeymooned in the Lake District but got bored as it was out of season and everywhere was closed and cold so we drove down to London and watched the Lion King at the Lyceum. Then we had kids and moved to the US. The end.
That’s the short version. But you must know by now, I don’t do short very well…
I think our first ‘couple goal’ is that he hates ‘couple goals’. He is infuriatingly pig headed when it comes to comparing with others. I am inherently nosey and Facebook is my dream app as everyone tells everyone their business. I am in heaven when people post cryptic comments which are most definitely about someone having pissed them off. I run straight for the popcorn and refresh button and watch the drama unfold with glee! When people post about their new purchases, I guarantee I’m eyeing up my living room and working out if we too, could get away with a similar art deco style chaise longue made of the remnants of their decking. Rich! We need a deck! The buggar just shrugs. He doesn’t seem to care what other people have. Our world is what’s important to him and although I’ll never understand his lack of interest in other people’s business, it kind of makes our world feel special.
When it comes to arguing, we are pros! We don’t do it very often but they’re humdingers when we do! He drives me potty when he asks why I have to argue with him in such a reasonable tone and I then have to sound even more unhinged and explain to him how an argument works. I tend to demonstrate with door slamming shenanigans. I once even rang him back just to hang up on him as he’d dared to cut my ranting short by determining the call needed to be over. That just made him laugh which then kinda destroyed the irate vibe I was going for when he rang me back to clarify if that was what I’d just done! We’ve also discovered that for us, it works best to go to bed on an argument. I know the advice is to never do that but I don’t think we’d sleep ever again. We discovered this at the happiest place on earth, DisneyLand Paris. It was one of those arguments that seemed ridiculous. We were tired and hungry but it went nuclear. I didn’t think I’d ever speak to him again. But then we got up in the morning. Do we spend the day arguing or do we put it behind us? I called him a nob, he called me a bitch and I realized we were over it. And we had one of the best days ever. We tend to have probably one a year but I always storm off to bed calling him a nob and slamming doors and the next day, we just carry on. Whatever works eh? If this is suggesting that I may be the highly strung and ever so slightly over dramatic one whilst he remains calm and level headed, that’s your cross to bear and I will flounce from this keyboard declaring you’re wrong and just hate me to prove my undeniable point.
I once tried to withdraw labor and for a week I refused to remove his empty cups from the side. Finally on the 8th day, I asked in exasperation why on earth he hadn’t moved them? How could he not notice they were still there? His reply: “You get up fifteen minutes earlier than me every day to make me a coffee before I go to work so every morning I don’t just see a cup, I see a cup of love that you made just for me. I see seven cups of love.” Seriously?!? How the hell was I supposed to get mad at that! Smooth move slick! I now find cutting his carrots into discs instead of his preferred batons a much more satisfying indicator for him that all is not well. He knows sh*t got serious when that happens!
Luckily, we tend to agree on the biggies: politics, importance of 80’s music, religion, whether Carole killed her husband, child rearing etc. There have been debates and we’ve both conceded points or agreed to disagree. Although I will never forgive him for teaching the kids the word is S-con instead of S-cone and I’m sure we’ll never agree on tuna’s viability as a pizza topping. However, generally we’re on the same page before we talk so that is a great help in the harmony arena.
I think it’s his Dad skills that stand out for me. Seriously, I don’t think I can imagine anyone being a better Dad. He was born to it. The kids are so close to him. I think it helps having boys because he has a legitimate excuse for buying all the consoles going. He takes pride in his young padawans. Not knowing at the beginning Joshie is autistic tested us as a couple. We had several “discussions” on the way we parented. Rich’ll be the first to admit, he was not comfortable pursuing a diagnosis. I’ll be the first to admit he’s now his biggest champion. I still do the majority of reading on how we can work better as a unit but he always tries these new ideas earnestly and offers up articles he’s read in return. With the dreaded IEP meetings, he’d complain about having to attend but then he’d put on his suit, smile and argue whatever point we felt needed arguing. He’d gently tap my knee under the table if I was going off on a tangent….like that’s possible! And it’s gotten to the point where I know I have his support. He gave me the confidence. I know if I need him to be there he will be. Just knowing that makes me feel supported enough to go alone. But all in all, the boys are so similar in their love of science and math and computers, I love seeing what hair brained activity they’re gonna come up with next. Half the time, I don’t understand what they’re talking about but I see the excitement and smiles on all three of my boys faces and realize it doesn’t really matter if I’ve no clue!
The other thing that we’re very protective of as being key to a happy relationship is our viewing choices. We agreed quite early on in the Netflix era, that we needed to watch shows together. It is cheating to watch an episode of Game of Thrones without the other one present. He learned never to put the remote down until the first bit of important dialogue has commenced as he realized with time, that that would be the moment I suddenly have something important that has no relevance to the movie to bring up. Every. Single. Time. I learned the best time to get him to agree to watching a chick flick is when he’s hungover. Oh, the tears he’s cried with Matthew McConaughey whilst nursing a hangover…priceless. But in fairness, I knew there was some kind of destiny vibe going on with us when within the first year, I realized instead of watching Home and Away and Coronation Street, he’d got me looking forward to Captain Picard’s adventures. That was some Jedi mind trick he pulled there! We laugh a lot. With each other and at each other. He laughs more sometimes cos I do things like cutting my own fringe but yet again, he was in the bathroom at the time giving me words of encouragement! But I love that if I’m feeling sad, the TV suddenly has Moulin Rouge or Enchanted on cos he knows that’ll cheer me up and that’s how I know, Giselle!
I know we’ve been really lucky with our adventures. We still talk about how we can’t quite believe where we are sometimes. We’ve visited places I dreamed of as a kid. We know things could change at any minute. He’s just text me to say he’s heading home as Covid has us heading towards quarantine again. I better leave this here and spray some Mr Sheen behind my ears and pretend like I’ve been busy tidying all day.
So anyway, I hope you don’t mind this wander into soppy territory. I’ll admit I tend to keep my social media as a sanitized version of real life where the kids know to kick vagrant shoes and abandoned t-shirts out of shot “because it’s for Facebook Mom?”. But with our anniversary and writer’s block it kind of felt ok to write about this. Hope it was!!
And to end like my favorite, and Rich’s despised Jerry Springer : My final thoughts: I remember when my step dad passed away and one of the readings we chose was The Dash by Linda Ellis. When I think of me and Rich I often think of that poem. We really have no idea what we’re doing. We often feel we’re coasting along wondering what will happen next. We’ve had a few challenges over the years, and a few lucky breaks and we always try to rise up to them. I don’t think it’s intentional but it feels like for us, we’re really trying to make that dash count.