“After many years of marriage, you tend to focus your curiosity not on the spectacular moments that might yet happen but on excavating the stranger, smaller ones that did: your partner punching down dough at sixteen. As Proust knew, all love depends not just on current infatuation but on retrospective jealousy; lacking a classy old lover, a Marquis de Norpois, to be jealous of, I was jealous of the men in Montreal health-food stores who had sold her millet and lecithin granules.” – Adam Gopnik, Bread and Women, The New Yorker
One of my secret wife wishes is that I could go back in time and know Sim growing up. I wish Sim was there to play Marco Polo with me off the dock of our family friends pond, to help me build sandcastles or to compare scabs on the battleground of the schoolyard. I wish we could play Lego together, hangout in a tree fort and catch caterpillars in the grass. He has this story of playing with the curls of the girl who sat in front of him in kindergarten as he found them just so enticing to touch and I wish that it was my curls he had been playing with back then. I’m not sure if he wishes the same or not but it’s in these sweet reflections I understand what Proust was saying.
The day I knew that I was interested in Sim was 5 years into our friendship. We were at our friends place and about to begin a film on Sim’s projector, which was hooked up to his laptop where his desktop image was a pic of him with a snowboard on the way to Tremblant, the photo was in black and white but his knitted red scarf was in colour. A seat down was a young woman reading a book and all I could think was “Who is that bitch?” Instant jealousy! I had never felt this before with him nor did I tend to think of places he had been with other woman. We were after-all, just friends.
As we near our two-year anniversary as a married couple I’ve been thinking about love and all its forms. The late night make-out sessions in our old Volvo and simple moments like chopping vegetables together for a stew.
Sometimes in marriage it’s difficult to tell how strong your bond of love is because the days are filled up with tedious necessities: making breakfast, work, lunch, work, making supper, maybe seeing a couple friends or watching a film, yard work, home renos, laundry, feeding the cat, sleeping and repeat cycle. Then there’s the odd moment like a night out for dinner where conversation takes a different turn as the unusual surroundings draw out new topics to discuss or a getaway together where all the mundane rituals in daily life are forgotten as food is made for you, your room is cleaned and there’s more time to stare longing into your lover’s eyes. But I’m not sure I can say that it’s these spectacular moments where our love is indomitable, and yet these are the moments we so often crave.
Instead, I think love is subtle. It’s in doing the dishes without recounting who did them last; it’s taking out the kitty litter (or in our case also cleaning out the feral cats shit from the backyard); it’s not just putting in a load of laundry but folding it all and putting it away for the other; it’s getting up a little earlier than your lover and making them a hot cup of coffee; it’s in replacing the toilet paper roll when found empty; it’s shutting out all the lights in the house before bed; it’s in buying a gift simply because; it’s in really listening to how their day went; it’s in resting your head on his shoulder before falling asleep; it’s in laughing at each other’s ridiculous dance moves or laughing so hard at something he said that it’s a silent laugh and your stomach gets a hundred crunch workout; it’s in the secret stares of wind blowing through your beloved’s hair through a car window; it’s in afternoon naps side-by-side; it’s in dinner paid for before the bill even arrives at the table.
Here, love is lionhearted.
When I was on my way home from Montreal a couple weeks ago with my family we stopped in Kingston for some pizza at Woodenheads by the water. Sim had recommended it. It wasn’t until we entered the building that the memory flooded back to my mind. I recounted the time that he had taken me on a date there when we were dating. He knew pizza was my favourite and that by eating there he would win another small piece of my heart. I remembered sharing wine and staring into the stone oven, wondering what Sim’s life was like in his University days and wishing again that I had been there to share in them. This was one of those moments in our marital journey where I recognized a woman very much in love with her now husband. At the time it was just a date but this time around, with Sim’s absence, the place became a fond moment of affection where he had intimately understood me. It was more than a date. It was him sharing his history with me, us reliving time passed, him knowing my fondness for pizza and then subtly getting the bill before it arrived at the table.
Marriage is a collection of indistinct moments shared between two people, which on occasion, is recalled as the most exhilarating dance.