(on our 11th wedding anniversary)
1. He crawls into bed each night, pulls the covers up to the bridge of his nose, closes his eyes and lies there on his back in quiet solitude breathing deeply. Then he throws back the covers, turns on his bedside lamp and grabs his book. I call this his meditative moment – he prefers not to give it a label.
2. He is a man of ritual but he would never call himself that. He gets up at the same time, he does the same workout, he eats the same breakfast.
3. He is not a morning person. I know not to speak with him before breakfast. I’ve counseled myself that his morning mug – which carries a permanent scowl until 8AM – is not my doing and simply his natural state.
4. After the dog is walked, he is straight to his work. As a woodworker, various tools are whirling, digging, sawing, jabbing, sanding throughout the day. He moves between his workshop, his office and his second workshop, also known as the garage. If I encounter him during the day, he will be wearing his woodworking uniform, a denim blue stiff apron. You can see vision and restraint in his creations.
5. At times, he will have on his respirator mask when he works…which brings to mind an apocalyptic war. Except that it is pink.
6. In the evenings, he will play his guitar – he is learning – and sing softly along. He practices every day – a sign of his discipline. He may watch a woodworking video on YouTube. He updates our budget, calling me away from Rachel Maddow when an expense needs explanation. While he waits, I look at the expense, which has generally only been made the week before and I shift from foot to foot trying to recall who is Sunrise Industries and why I would have sent them two separate payments of $25.00 back to back. It will eventually come to me (in this case, my nieces’ school fundraiser) but while I dig into the recesses of my mind, he will sit, completely still, silent, waiting.
7. He is stoic but if I jab and jab at his underlaying sensitive skin – he will cry. Not openly with sound but the tears will water his eyes. This happens when he feels he has failed his family.
8. I had the dream of a beachfront vacation home and he had the dream of a mountain riverfront vacation home and he somehow supplanted his dream into my head and now we have property on a mountain river.
9. When we leave the city, we rediscover each other again.
10. He loves his family – his parents, the grandparents (now passed), the aunts and uncles, siblings, cousins. He would never let them down.
11. He is a man of honor, a man of his word. He does not flake out. He doesn’t understand it when I do.
12. If it is true that all men are babies when sick, he fits the bill. He could never give birth (both literally and figuratively).
13. He has no freckles on his face but thousands on his back.
14. He is skeptical of pleasure. He takes it but in small doses.
15. He is the household chef and baker. He is able to layer seasoning in a way that extends flavor just right. I cook twice a week and while I think it is unfair, the children prefer his meals.
16. When we first started dating, my children graduated from the waitlist to attend my work place’s pre-school and as I filled out the paperwork, it required I provide ten emergency contact names. This is quite a lot. I put him as number ten and how was I to know that the center would call him in a matter of days with an issue – who starts at the bottom of a list?
17. He makes big decisions thoughtfully. Whether which dog will join our family or what car we should purchase. I value timeliness, he values doing it right the first time.
18. He tells a story about working for his grandfather, Big Pa, at his brick factory. He was required to scoop gravel from the back of a truck to the ground with a shovel. It took him all day and the next day he learned the truck could simply lift its bed and unload its contents. His grandfather’s lesson was…I don’t know what the hell it was. I think it has something to do with #17.
19. He agreed to take our kids out of school for a year to travel around the world to places like Cambodia and Bolivia. Need I say more?
20. He has crinkly blue eyes and a dimple in his chin. When we first met, I was a single widowed mom of two toddlers. His introduction to the twins was at Shilshole Beach and years later he produced two small rocks, which had been scooped up by the children during that trip and gifted to him. He still has those rocks today. Really that’s what I should have started this list with because, after that, what else do you need to know?