My husband and I are not ones for saying I love you all the time. We like to throw it out there randomly to keep each other on our toes. Like a fire drill.
He will say “I love you.”
And then I say “I love you too.”
And then he says “I know.”
For twenty years or so the drill has been the same.
Except the other day when we were out running errands, instead of “I know,” he tossed out…”why?”
This was not a drill for which I was prepared. So I mentally headed for the nearest exit by asking him if he wanted to go to Taco Bell for lunch. Saved by the Bell indeed. Why is that not their marketing slogan? But I digress.
My inability to easily quantify the reasons why I love my husband made me think about how my definition of love has changed over the years.
In my teens love was every John Hughes movie ever made.
Minus the homemade prom dress cobbled together from a hand-me-down borrowed from my gloriously quirky and sexually-experienced yet unlucky-in-love female friend and a cheap knock-off bought out of guilt by my emotionally-unavailable father.
Andie was the MacGyver of prom dresses…
I got a D- on the obligatory apron requirement in Home Economics, thereby cementing my aversion to threading a bobbin for time immemorial.
But other than my lack of sewing prowess, I was looking for the total Pretty in Pink experience.
Which was why I didn’t go to prom.
Unless Andrew McCarthy was going to slip on his loafers and show up to validate my awkwardness there was really no point.
In my late teens and early twenties love was sex.
Ah that brief, exhilarating and ultimately foolish time I spent believing that the desire to get naked and intertwine body parts in ways that can cause your toes to curl and the occasional carpet burn creates a natural parallel to a strong emotional attachment to one’s partner.
In my mid-twenties love was a child and a marriage.
And then two more children in three years.
Anyone willing to stick around for that madness deserved to be loved. That statement applying equally to my husband and me.
In my thirties love was maximizing the contribution to our 401K.
You don’t get more romantic than the inclination to set aside 10 percent of your annual income to ensure you and your spouse can continue to remain economically viable well into those golden years of diminished sex drive and short-term memory loss.
But love in my forties?
Let’s get real. It was easy to love someone I barely knew. Those halcyon days of love not yet sullied by regret, recrimination and large gatherings of extended family.
And the love born of child-rearing?
That was love strengthened on the battlefield.
We just felt lucky to still be standing at the end of it all – blinking at each other in surprise as the talcum powder and smell of Desitin cleared from the air. Giddy that we made it out alive but still shell-shocked – overly sensitive to the sound of sirens and prone to weep uncontrollably when we hear Silly Songs with Larry from the Veggie Tales.
But now that we are both closer to Medicare than to our high school graduations?
To love each other without the magician’s sleight of hand that conjured up my thighs or his waistline in our twenties;
Amidst college tuition bills and in the wake of sons negotiating their own way as contentiously as possible into adulthood;
When carpet burns come more frequently from searching for the remote under the couch than any afternoon delight –
It defies easy explanation.
Although it does deepen my understanding of why most romantic movies end with the young, attractive protagonists’ first realizations of true love. No one is pining to see the movie where a middle-aged Andie and Blane bitch at each other in Walmart over whether or not they need another 64 ounce bottle of ketchup and how the last time she bought toilet paper it was the kind that made his ass itch.
So don’t ask me why.
The reasons are complicated and based on an algorithm for which the set of rules is neither finite nor based in rational thought and solves no practical problem other than a desire to be with this man until we are both mingled with dust.
Other than that, I got nothing.
Perhaps Larry can explain the feeling best.