My husband didn’t ask me to marry him as much as he informed me that we were, in fact, getting married.
I informed my shocked friends of our paltry two-month engagement, lifelong friends and close family who wondered why I was marrying what they quickly decided was a Texan redneck instead of a Jewish Comedian, a New York Yankee or a State senator, as they all fully expected I would. I was the high rent ad agency veep with green mold growing in her fridge alongside the flat overpriced champagne, yet I was suddenly baking this Texan blueberry pies from scratch, learning how to make that horrid white roux they all eat down there and stocking the fridge with Doctor Peppers. I couldn't begin to explain to them about the magic of that Free song he introduced me to one dark, humid night on a lonely Texas highway turnoff. (That was the same night I learned rough hands could be soft and that blond hair could smell so good you couldn’t tear yourself away from it ever).
My friends watched in horror, failing to see the burning intelligence on his handsome face, and the joy on mine. He wasn’t one of them, and he didn’t wave his fierce intellect or barbed wire humor on a Lone Star flag. He kept it to himself until you somehow earned it, and then he’d slowly open to you like a yellow rose with petals made of iron, good for leaning whenever you wanted to.
And then we are married--and I continued to thrill to him changing tires on the highway with the cars whizzing past his back by inches, omnipresent, arrogant cigarette dangling. I fall into a new rhythm of constant worry, because if he accidentally chopped off an arm while using a power saw, he’d come into the house, get a soda from the fridge, casually light a cigarette and tell me a joke before allowing that anything was wrong. I watch him stoic in agony after a seventy pound boulder falls on his foot, crushing it, and he keeps his face impassive lest I see and worry and fuss over him. He asks me about my headache and if I’m feeling any better before he passes out from shock. He has no patience for his own vulnerabilities, goggles are for sissies and what wayward wood chip would dare to lodge itself in his eye? A day after his gall bladder surgery, I begin projectile vomiting and he drives me to the hospital, caring for me tenderly as his fresh, gaping wound makes him wobbly. They tend to him in the emergency room only after I beg him to let them.
And so the Zoloft doesn’t always work and I start to wither and I see myself in the mirror of his face. I want to tear my heart out with my hands for making him feel so powerless.
Today I watch him take comfort from the sky and the sun and the earth, I hear his hammers banging and his drills buzzing and I am grateful he isn’t watching my forced smiles and dead eyes, this is a day I won’t drain life from him. He is outside for hours, the sun has long gone down, and I finally hear the front door open and my name. He wants me to see something, he says. This is for you, he says, pointing to the dozens of clusters of new purple tulip buds pushing up around the front door. He planted them in from of my chair so I could see them easily from every angle. I stare at the little purple splashes, hear my heart gush warmly in my ears.
How about some coffee with your husband? he asks casually, because he knows that I’ll only cry harder if he wavers just a little.