I don’t know if he considers these last 10 years a blessing or punishment.
I warned him that the 18 year old he first met leaning over the bar at our favorite PVD restaurant was me. I wasn’t show. Always been a bit too loud. A bit too awkward. And really proud of it.
If it wasn’t the whiskey refills or the fact that I ate salad from a jar and lived in an illegal warehouse space with no heat and electric hot water (which is SUPER expensive especially in winter), I’m still pretty sure he would have cooked me vegetarian meals (which I’ve never been) and told me I could “stay here if you want.” Because he looked at me like no one ever had. He blushed under pale skin, baring a glimpse of his front teeth that he never likes to show. He looked away from under furrowed brow and stared at nothing parts of me, like my knees and my hands. Not wanting. Just looking, like he’d never seen them before every single time.
I warned him that depression is ugly and I’m not just the kind of crazy that comes out of a 22 year old girl who chases cheap liquor with cheap beer with Daddy issues and an abusive past. No, somehow my insane ran deeper. It would infect us, and he should run. But he pulled me closer, and kissed me harder. The kind of kiss a boy gives a girl when he wants to convince himself he’ll stay when he knows he won’t.
But that wasn’t him.
His kiss was to convince me.
And some days I still don’t believe.
I’d never been ok with complacency or entitlement and I’d never be an enabler. I wanted kids and a house and a dog. I wanted to be married. “Not to you,” I begged. Because I knew I’d hurt him… And I’d never want to hurt someone I loved.
I warned him that loving a Scorpio was dangerous. That it would all be fire. The love and the hate. Nothing in between. That I’d walk away, hang up… But if he did the same, it would be betrayal. But my words fell on lovestruck ears.
But he leaned over me, propped up on his elbow, 10 years ago and said “remember right now.” It wasn’t our first date… That was sometime in January. It wasn’t the first time we kissed or were intimate, and we still hadn’t said we loved each other. He told me sometime around 2:34am to remember that moment. So I did. Something about how he looked at me or laid back down next to me. His heartbeat could be felt on my bicep where he landed. I laughed at his statement. I knew he was too chickenshit to say I love you. It would have been too cliché in the moment. Plus… I told him I’d break him.
I told him who I was.
And he still proposed. I was folding laundry over a white pebble leather Ikea chair we’d later sell… After we got the starter home with the pickett fence and the dog. It was a bright and sunny Sunday. September 7, 2008… nothing special, which I remind him of too often. I wasn’t giddy, but I was in love. We dreamed of all the things we’d do.
We still dream many of the same ones.
But he never leaves.
I’ve told him to run. From day 1 I warned him that this life would not be easy. Life, of course, isn’t easy by design, but I’d ensure it would be harder. I wouldn’t hold back on him. If he tied himself to me, this was on him. Unfortunately, my emotional control is that of a 3 year old. I wouldn’t apologize for my passion. My openness. I was honest about my needs and my past. I told him I would hurt him, and that I would be sorry, but I couldn’t stop it.
I told him I was me.
And he’s spent a decade reminding me that’s why he loves me. Why he loved me in that moment more than all the moments before… But that he never didn’t love me. And he always would. A year and a half to the day after he told me to remember that moment, we were married.
I don’t know why he thinks these past 10 years of torturous love is a blessing, but I’m glad he does.