Feb 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is so exciting to most people. Not me. I just celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary two weeks ago. To celebrate love just a fortnight later is crazy. How much love can one feel?

I remember when I met my husband. I met him and knew I just had to marry him -- the INS called and threatened that if I didn’t get married soon, I would be deported. It was then that I realized Joe was the man for me.

Actually, I’m kidding. I met Joe in college. I was in the math lab. It was quiet. The mood was serious. People were deriving functions and solving equations. Then Joe walked in, and serious faces turned to smiles. The mood lightened up. People started calling out to Joe, talking and laughing. Everyone was suddenly giddy with glee. There was a sense of happiness and harmony that I’d witnessed only once before at a polka concert when the accordion-player took the stage. It was electrifying. Have you ever met someone who changed the mood of a room just by walking in? Joe did, and I knew I wanted to get to know him. We became fast friends, and within days I had a strong premonition that we would be married someday. I just had to figure out what to do with his current girlfriend, who was inconveniently alive.

Joe remembers our first meeting too, but his account is a little different. He remembers walking into the math lab and seeing this gorgeous, olive-skinned woman with long, black hair. I was standing next to her. Joe reminisces fondly that he liked me and thought I was kind, despite my homely appearance. As I recall, he was entranced by my unibrow and couldn’t get his eyes off of me. I knew I had him hooked at that point. The part of the story you don’t know is that that my sister and I both worked at the math lab where I met Joe. We didn’t work at the same time, so Joe didn’t know there were two of us. He thought we were the same person. To this day, Joe says he can’t be sure which sister he liked, but he’s 35% certain that it could have been me. Joe was excited about the thought of marrying me. He knew my father would offer a dowry if Joe married me, perhaps some cows and a few goats. Joe had always wanted his own goat. It was a deal he couldn’t pass up.

So, four years later, we tied the knot and never looked back. Marriage has been fantastic. There were some bumps in the road in the beginning – lies, deception, affairs with exotic women, but Joe has forgiven me for all that now. I lived at home until I was married, and then we started a new life in a crime-filled suburb of Philadelphia. It was a wonderful time. And now, 21 years later, it feels like we’re still those college kids. We really enjoy being around each other, and now we’re got three boys we love and enjoy, as well.

For our anniversary, we went for a romantic getaway. Things sure change over time. At our 10th anniversary, we went for a romantic retreat and Joe carried me over the threshold of the hotel-room door. This anniversary, Joe rushed to the door first, almost knocking me down as he tried to get in the room. Luckily, the weight of all the luggage he made me carry helped stabilize me, preventing me from falling. At our 10th anniversary, we were happy to be alone together. At our 21st anniversary, we were happy the room had a fridge and that we brought our reading glasses so we could see the numbers on the large-print TV remote. But these things don't matter. We are still happy to be together.

People have always told us that you have to work at marriage, but with Joe, I haven’t worked at all. I gave up on that a long time ago. We talk a lot, think alike, and we laugh more when we’re together than when we're alone. Most of it is cruel, angry laughter at the shortcomings of the other spouse, but who cares? Laughs are laughs. Plus, after years of training, Joe has learned to think like me, which makes me love him all the more. He’s finally accepted that my opinions are his opinions. For our anniversary, I got him a plaque that says, “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.” I’m sure he was overjoyed.

So anyway, while many are celebrating a special Valentine’s Day, my husband is working on a science fair project with my son, I am typing alone on my computer, and I wouldn’t trade this for the world. Unless maybe George Clooney or Brad Pitt made me an offer. Then I wouldn’t give a second thought to old what’s-his-name. Just kidding. Happy Valentine’s Day.