Good Folks: My Beloved
I first met Rick in high school when I was a sophomore, he was a junior, and we were both on the Knowledge Bowl team. Remember that previous blog entry where I said intelligence turns me on? Rick blew me away with his deliciously plump brain chock full of information on every subject Knowledge Bowl covered: math, sciences, history, arts, languages, civics. And he didn't just know a lot of random stuff; he could also apply and express his knowledge. I vividly recall walking into a classroom and seeing him sitting cross-legged on a desk surrounded by four or five other "smart kids" all arguing against him. They kept haranguing and baiting him, but he stayed calm and talked more sense than the rest put together. The only thing that stopped me from falling for him then and there was that I had just started a brand-spanking-new relationship with somebody else.
A year later the bloom was off that particular rose, and I ran into Rick increasingly often as our twin geek circles of science club and Dungeons & Dragons group intersected. I took a chance and flirted with him; he liked it, we wrote poetry at each other for a couple of weeks, I dumped the other guy, and we've been together ever since. That makes 21 years, 3 months, and 28 days so far.
When you find the love of your life at 16, you grow up together. Your beliefs, quirks, and habits haven't crystallized yet, so you have the unique opportunity to rub off all the prickly spots and shape each other so you fit together perfectly. With the wrong person this could work out very badly, but half the reason I adore Rick is that the little nudges he gives me have always made me stronger, braver, wiser, deeper, and happier. With him I fret less, play more, and appreciate life. And the shaping process has worked so well that we are sometimes scarily in sync. You know those significant looks couples give each other to say things like "Let's get out of here"? On a good day, he can tell I'm saying, "Let's get out of here, pick up Indian food, stop by Scarecrow Video, and spend the evening watching an Oscar-nominated drama with British actors, preferably including Kate Winslet." He knows this because that's exactly what he wants to do too.
I love my love for these big things, but also for a host of little reasons. Rick appreciates quality; I can trust him to discern not only the difference between a good thing and a bad thing, but also the difference between something good and something excellent. When he makes a mistake it's usually because he didn't do what he meant to, rather than because he chose badly. He makes an effort to like everyone and everything I like, and on the rare occasions when he fails he makes it hard to tell. He's charming, compassionate, enthusiastic, nuanced, and just the sort of guy you want around if your basement is flooding or the conversation has turned awkward. If I ask him to, he'll willingly go upstairs and make me a sandwich just the way I like it, even if he knows the only reason I asked was because I didn't feel like doing it myself.
Oh, and lest I forget to mention it, Rick is also very easy on the eyes. Not "my wife thinks I'm cute" cute, but "cuter than baby animals" cute. And I can prove it. One time we went to a baby animal petting zoo and this strange woman walked up, asked if she could pet him, and started stroking his hair without waiting for an answer. Next thing we knew, there were several of them and they were forming a line. (I'm not making this up.) Baby chicks, ducks, goats, lambs, and even bunnies all around us waited for pets, but nearly every adult woman in the place lined up to put her hands on him instead. I rest my case.
Like any couple Rick and I have our ups and downs, and just as he is uniquely able to delight me, he is also uniquely able to drive me nuts. But on the whole I count myself very, very blessed that all the well-meaning people who told us "Young love never lasts" turned out to be wrong.
So happy Valentine's Day, querido. I still love you best.