It’s one of those Seattle nights when an opened window and a cool breeze are welcomed. I’m sitting on the couch with a hand on my stomach, enjoying the fleeting moments of complete comfortability. To my left he sits; eyes closed, legs sprawled and lightly snoring, with his hands on his chest as if they collapsed on their way to the back of his head, too exhausted to complete their voyage. Every few seconds or so my hand moves, thanks to a defiant kick or stubborn punch from our growing son.
I smile to myself, refusing to allow this moment to be lost on me.
We’re either constantly chasing momentous occasions and enormous milestones, as if to proudly proclaim, “Look, I’m doing it. I’m growing up and accomplishing things and becoming a loved, productive member of society.” Or, we’re running away from them so quickly we convince ourselves anything remotely “normal” or “non-confrontational” or “simplistic” is the beginning of the end. We’re longing for monumental moments with waited breath or we’re absolutely certain struggle is the only true measurement of love or commitment or success or growth.
And we’re missing it. We’re missing what truly matters.
Like when he fills up all the empty water bottles you carelessly leave behind and puts them in the fridge, knowing you like your water glacier-cold.
Or when he kisses you every morning before he goes to work. Rushed or not, exhausted or not, annoyed or not, he refuses to leave for the day without first reminding you he loves you.
It’s the now-scrambled egg you made for breakfast, after attempting to flip a delicate over-easy, that he swears he’d rather have. He knows you prefer your eggs runny and there’s only so many eggs left in the fridge.
Or the impromptu car concerts in which music is blasted, windows are rolled down and heads are giving their best Night at the Roxbury impression. A hysterical reminder that he might not have been there during your childhood, but that doesn’t mean you can’t re-live it with him.
It’s the random “I love you” text, sent without reason or circumstance. A simplistic “just because” that lets you know you’re never far from his thoughts.
Or when he kisses the back of your hand while you’re driving to “who really cares” to do “whatever is important”. Even the mundane can be romantic.
It’s the simple jokes he makes when he sees you slipping into pessimistic ambiguity. With a cheshire smile and corny anecdote you’re reminded that love really can be effortless.
Or the way he comes up behind you and grabs your ass, always playful but a firm reminder that just because he can have you whenever he wants, doesn’t mean he has stopped wanting you entirely.
It’s a grocery store trip in which “off the list” items are purchased, simply because he knows you like them.
Or a genuine compliment, given for no other reason than to let you know a) if you were trying, it worked, or b) if you weren’t trying, you don’t have to.
It’s a song sent that he’s absolutely convinced you’ll like. A musical reminder that regardless of time or distance or priorities, he’ll always know you better than you know yourself.
Or the random dances you share in your living room or kitchen or bathroom. You may have your routines or have settled in a comfortable pattern, but that doesn’t mean spontaneity has died.
It’s the way he reaches his arm across you when coming to a sudden stop in the car. Partially out of protection, mostly so he can grab a boob.
Or the way he insists on walking closest to the street, putting himself between you and the hypothetical danger a wayward car would pose.
It’s the conversations he holds with your mother and brother and cousin, because if they’re important to you, they’re important to him.
Or the way he makes fun of you for folding clothes. Shirts end up wrinkled and pants are disheveled and through the syllables of his playful humor you know he acknowledges that you’re trying.
It’s the stinging sentences of truth he sends your way when he knows you need to hear them. From the slightly harmless to the potentially hurtful, he’s willing to tell you what others won’t.
Or the absolute silence you can both share for absolutely no reason at all.
I used to scoff at the momentous occasions and enormous milestones but I ran from the little things as well. I bathed in some fictitious belief that true love was neither traditional nor bohemian, monumental or comfortable. No, true love could only be found in the passionate intricacies of unrest and struggle, where happiness is just a comfortable illusion and content was a sign of settling.
As he rolls over and continues to snore and another stubborn kick moves the hand I have placed on my stomach, I realize neither a momentous wedding or an enormous engagement or my once-necessary state of perpetual unrest could surpass what I feel in this small moment.
And it took a very big, constantly growing, inevitably life-changing thing…to make me appreciate the little things.