Although we’ve only been married for three years, Alex and I started dating in early 2012. By my count, that’s eight years of learning each other’s favorites. It’s also ample amount of time to find those quirks that begin as endearing and become insufferable. A few years ago, Alex became so attached to his particular brand of running shoes that when they fell apart, he marched back to Movin’ Shoes on Park Street and asked for an identical pair. When they discontinued the line, he searched high and low on the Internet to find as many pairs as possible in size 12.5—both new and gently used. He bought them all at once. For the last several years our entryway has featured at least three sets of the blue and gray Adidas lined up like a little family. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
This lack of variety is anathema to me. Over the weekend a new acquaintance of mine asked me when my birthday was—upon finding out I was a Sagittarius her eyebrows lifted to the heavens. The only things I know about my horoscope are what I’ve deemed to be true: the wanderlust is real, when my gut says it’s important I do it IMMEDIATELY, and variety is oxygen and I need it to survive. I ask you, what’s the fun in getting new shoes if they are going to be exactly the same as the ones you had before? Sacrilege.
However with the pile up of trauma and loss we’ve experienced this year, I’ve found it deeply important to ruminate on little joyful things that still exist. I need them as touch trees to find my way back out of the forest of despair. And as I confided to my close friend, Kitty, there are many things that are wrong in my life, but at least I chose the right partner. Maybe it’s a good thing that when Alex finds something he loves he clings to it for eternity. In the spirit of that joy, I share with you the top ten lessons I’ve learned from my husband:
- Koop’s Arizona Heat will transform a grillable into the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Furthermore, the world of mustard is wider than you could know.
- Ritual can be beautiful. Every morning Alex makes coffee and sits on the back deck to throw the ball for our 85 pound rescue dog, Arrow. He then comes in and makes a very deliberate breakfast sandwich to fuel his day.
- There is always a way to pack more items into a hatchback, car trunk, or moving van. And the way to do that is for Alex to Tetris these items into the space himself and for you to get out of the damn way.
- VOTE. It’s important to watch and listen to the world around us. We are connected. Don’t take for granted that our relative comfort will remain indefinitely. We must fight to preserve what is good and right and to expand our privileges to others.
- It is possible to be very soft and sensitive and have a convincing gruff outer shell. This is a development born out of necessity, and sometimes that shell is heavy to carry.
- No creature is happier than a dog with a ball. Except maybe a man with a dog with a ball.
- A well-curated reading nook is desirable. To pass muster, the nook must be on a screened-in porch or by a window, and extra points are assigned for the presence of a bird feeder.
- Solitude is important and refreshing from time to time. (Again, Jess, get out of the damn way).
- Love letters can look like a clean kitchen and a freshly mowed lawn.
- Heaven is a big, rowdy crowd of our favorite people. The party soundtrack is a very important ingredient to get there.