Our Love Is Nothing But Luck
To my husband, whom I love:
Every time you look at me and say “You sure do have pretty eyeballs,” I turn red. I’m embarrassed because of the compliment but secretly I’m still so proud to have caught your attention after all these years.
You tuck me in at night and wake me up in the morning, so that the first and last thing I see is you. It makes me feel so safe and loved.
I once saw a folder on our desktop with my name on it. Inside, I found a museum of my wants and needs. Products I’d said I wanted. Songs I wanted played at my funeral. Ideas I’d had. No one’s ever really cared what I wanted before you.
Did you know that it’s not common for long-term couples to talk and giggle for hours at night?
It’s difficult to say why our relationship sustains us in the way that it does. Other couples, even the ones who genuinely care for each other, outwardly regard love as “hard” and marriage as “work.” The sentiment has baffled us time and time again. When we dig deeply to examine the nature of our marriage, we panic at the idea that something is terribly amiss — otherwise we surely would be struggling more, or at least a little. Have we missed some level of intimacy or rite of passage where marriage becomes something that requires dogged maintenance and unstoppable commitment?
Part of it is circumstantial, sure. We haven’t had any life-threatening illnesses or long bouts of unemployment. We don’t have money problems, or children who cause them. Our libidos, over the course of our fourteen-year courtship, have slowed at an almost identical pace, meaning we experience satisfaction in equal amounts as during the ceaseless hunger of our teen years. The fact that we perceive monogamy as malleable doesn’t hurt either, I’m certain.
Then, maybe it’s because of things we do. I have tamped my mean-spirited bitchiness and you have softened your natural dickishness. From household chores to social behaviors, we have actively tried to be less of the bad and more of the good. I’d like to believe that we have some agency in the outcome of our union.
But that can’t be the whole of it.
In the eighteen years before we met, when you were more acne than face and I was the third wheel in comic repetition, we were developing an intricate matrix of behaviors. Our deepest insecurities were digging trenches within our souls and hunkering down for a long stay. The sitcoms and social situations that made us laugh provided us a sense of humor through which we filter our existence in the world. When we listened to an album on repeat or developed a crush on someone, these acts formed the foundation of the rest of our lives. Every factor of our living added up to two people whose entire beings were geared to love the other.
The fact that my parents never really liked me much had created an unceasing vacuum in my heart that required my potential mate to be both husband and parent, lover and caretaker. Though your folks raised you outstandingly, you still felt infantilized by the OG helicopter parents. It created a hunger in you to be a man, one who needs to be needed for security and love.
One piece of us clicks into the other.
You have always felt ashamed of what made you different. So much of your adolescence was spent hiding your tastes, lest others might shame you for them. Meanwhile, I couldn’t conform even when I tried my best. The weirdness that seeped out of me was an uncontrollable monster that set me apart from others. When others ran from this, you found it refreshing. You admired my inability to be anything other than myself.
And another part of us falls into place.
When I struggled deeply to settle down and to commit to the idea that, before I’d even begun dating, I’d found “the one,” you allowed me a longer leash to explore with other people. It’s not something that other men could do, and I tremble with fear when I realize that had you been less than unconditional in your love, I would have lost you. It’s a kind of grace and strength that must be the eighth wonder of the world.
And our love grows.
Yesterday, I was listening to a keynote speaker who recounted his work with a community organizer in Detroit. He asked the guy why he worked within a destroyed neighborhood in a desperate town. The man said “If you took the blood from my veins and projected them up onto a wall, you would see this neighborhood.”
I think that’s how most people look at love or passion. As if it becomes a part of you; that it is absorbed. Two become one, if you will.
That paradigm is one I can relate to. But you need to know that’s not what is at work now. I believe that this is an anomaly, a phenomenon. As fictional scholar and hunk Ian Malcolm puts it in Jurassic Park, “A butterfly can flap its wings in Peking and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.”
How is it possible that trillions of variations crafted two people whose every fault and every whim attach so precisely to one another? How complex were the confluence of events that led to us? How is it possible that the universe has endowed, in us, in something so achingly beautiful?
With you I’m reminded that something delicate can thrive within a thoughtless universe and it fills me to the brim with joy. In all the power and grandiosity in nature, the wonders on display remind me of the potential of a world that can yield cruel terrains and violent uprisings, or a precious love between one stupid boy and one idiot girl. If we are allowed to happen, anything is possible.
If I die today, I must have you know that I weep at my luck to have found you, against all odds. Without you I will crumble; there will be nothing left for me here. But my living isn’t important, in the grand scheme of things, because I’ve fully participated and understood my existence. It isn’t you or me. It’s you and me.
Our love is nothing but luck, and that is nothing short of miraculous.
I love you so much.