26 years ago, this girl had a white hot Valentine’s Day crush on the most unlikely fella.
The bluest eyes, the whitest teeth, a mullet to die for–be still my ache-y, break-y heart!
Yes, he wore fringed moccasins, and kind of talked like he just recently fell off a turnip truck, but through my Crush Goggles these things seemed amiable indeed.
(“Amiable” is a Jane Austen way of saying “hot,” by the way.)
Fast forward a quarter of a century, plus one year.
My love still has the bluest eyes, gleaming teeth, and talks like he fell off a truck, although now the truck would be loaded down with organic turnips headed for the Farmer’s market, driven by a Neo-Amish looking cat with a hipster beard.
The mullet has disappeared, follicle by follicle. He still is–at his core–a mountain man in the city. I’ve encouraged him to go see “The Revenant” to get his bison-heart-eating yah yahs out.
We are not what you would call “compatible,” still.
But. After 24 years of marriage, three kids, two dogs, five cats, and one extremely nervous little hedgehog, our love is slow roasted.
Now, “roasted” evokes fire, and we’ve walked through some flames together. Just recently, a marriage near and dear to us exploded, and we are wounded, standing in the ashes of a broken family we love, with tears in our eyes.
Speaking of fire, every couple has their junk to deal with. Over the years, we’ve been singed by each other’s wounds, and only through prayer and almost two years of marriage counseling are we much more flame-retardant.
Like every couple, we can drive each other bananas.
I sleep almost as much as a hibernating polar bear, and lose stuff, like keys and documents and can openers.
He snores just like a horse whinnies. It’s like sleeping with Seabiscuit.
I’ve thought about getting one of those little orthodontic-looking contraptions–from the commercials. You know, the ones that the model wife gingerly places on the bridge of her “sleeping” model husband, and he ceases snoring as if on a dime. Cue smiles and deep, restorative sleep. Never mind that he will roll over in a matter of minutes and the contraption will fall off his nose and be crushed beneath his bulk.
Our love is slow roasted, like the slow food movement, not zapped in a microwave. Slow seeks to do everything at the right speed, quality over quantity. We often don’t get this right, with the demands of the pressure cooker, three-kid life. But we are trying. We think it’s worth the effort.
I like the way my fabulous writer friend Jennifer Grant put it:
“Ordinary couples work our marriages out privately—meal by meal, disappointment by disappointment, joy by joy, day by day, year by year.”
Me choosing him and him choosing me, still, always, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, adds up to this:
A love that is slow cooked, marinated, and heated through with care and purpose. Slow and steady wins the race, and look at us now.
That girl with the yellow sweater and bangs sprayed to a crisp, and that country-fried boy with fringed footwear are still hanging on for the long haul.
This Valentine’s Day, we will probably go shopping for a scratch and dent fridge since our “compressor” bit the dust this week. Who says romance is dead?
But don’t worry, we may also go to a movie (not the “Revenant” for me, thank you!), and we’ll exchange gifts (so far I got him a giant chocolate fish that says “You’re a keeper!” and a book about the Coen brothers).
26 years ago, it all felt delirious, delicious and SO AMIABLE. But now feels good, too. Our slow roasted love fills our lives with purpose, meaning and deep warmth, kinda like a good cup of fair trade coffee on a blustery February morning.
So Happy Valentine’s Day, Seabiscuit!
There’s no one I’d rather be slowly roasting with than you.