For anyone who has been married for any reasonable amount of time you know that time is one of the biggest commodities you have to offer your spouse. It’s more valuable than wild pearls, more rare than a royal flush. Time. It’s a game changer, a bartering tool, a poker chip in the name of love. Whose turn is it to change the baby? Whose morning is it to get five more precious minutes of sleep?
“What do you mean you watched one of our favorite shows without me?”
“The DVR was getting backlogged and I knew you wouldn’t have the time.”
“Your betrayal is profound.”
Time is in a constant sprint while you’re kicking with all of your might during the uphill portion of life’s marathon. Each day ends much like the one before it. Victory is the hot shower to wash off the grunge of the day met by the letdown when you climb into bed to find your wife partially clothed, one leg peeking out from under the sheet because she can’t decide if she’s hot or cold. She always claims to be cold, yet to you her skin is warm like fresh baked bread. You tell her so, but she is already asleep drool collecting in the corners of her mouth. To wake her would make you the boor of the century, so you convince yourself it’s not the right time. Instead, you set your alarm then watch the remainder of the episode you missed so that the two of you can be all caught up. True romance is about catching up and relishing those moments when you’re perfectly in sync. I’m the one leg in one leg out sleep drooler and my husband is the guy who catches me when I least expect him to.
“Babe, do you think it’s possible to breathe life into an inanimate object?”
“What?” I scream over an inconsolably crying, sorely teething baby.
“I said, do you think it’s possible to breathe life into an inanimate object?”
My husband is always asking these esoteric questions and while we’re both artistic in our own mediums, he never seems to be impacted by the poor timing of his inquiries.
“Yes I guess you could do that. Like with characters in a book you mean?”
“Nope that’s not what I mean at all.”
And with that he walks confidently up the stairs with a mission to show me exactly what he means. Weeks pass and I don’t think much of his question. Schedules begin to get particularly hectic and phone messages get subsequently longer. Texted to-do-lists interspersed with sexually laden punch lines serve to remind us that despite it all, we still actually like each other and that is a feat worth celebrating.
Even more weeks turn into months and the calendar rounds the corner to a new year. Time continues to fight against the white knuckled grip of our harried existence. This time, over the sound of our 7 year olds’ drum practice, I shout, “We should go to Vegas.” My revelation carries with it a tone of immediacy. I envision us boarding a plane following a spirited game of freeze tag where we zoom across Nevada state lines before our frozen embryos even know we’re gone. My husband sensing my urgency yells, “Like, now?” His sarcasm rings louder than the 8th notes of our son’s rendition of “Welcome to the Jungle.”
“Soon. It’s time. We can ask my mom to watch the kids. We’ll call it a your birthday, my birthday, anniversary gift combo.” The gift being a weekend of freedom. A merited reward for time served.
Suddenly, money takes a backseat to our newfound feeling of breaking all the rules. They were self-imposed rules to begin with, yet we embraced them. “I’ll never” was replaced with “I do” and “I do” was followed with carpools and play dates and Saturday mornings with four bodies in our shrinking queen size bed instead of two. And we don’t mind it, most of the time, but something about the far too expensive Vegas suite that we dipped into our savings to book with a bed so large that each side had it’s own zip code, suggests there’s no time like the present to go all in.
As my brown skin sinks deeper and deeper into the Egyptian cotton, time stands still.
“Honey, when I die I want to be buried in these sheets.”
“Didn’t you tell me we were going to die together, side by side at 101 years old?”
“Yes and when we do, we will be wrapped like mummies in these sheets. Climb in with me.”
“I will, but first, do you think it possible to breathe life into an inanimate object?”
Here we go again. I struggle to exhume myself from a thread count in the thousands. When my head finds its way to the foot of the bed my husband is standing there with a square black jewelry box.
Without even opening the box tears begin to gush forth like sprinkler heads watering the sea grass carpet of the suite. In an awkward display of acrobatics resulting in me and the bedding tumbling to the floor, I grab the box, but I’m still too emotional to open it.
“You thought I forgot.”
“But, when did you find the time?”
A long time ago on a business trip my husband came across a jewelry maker in a farmers market in Gainesville, Florida. In broken Spanglish the man made polite conversation and the effort to translate his diction from Spanish to English was matched only by the keen care he took when weaving thread, ivory and jade into a strand of handmade artistry. My husband texted me a picture of the necklace asking whether I wanted it. I imagine my phone was buried in a diaper bag, in a soccer bag, or in a laundry bag where the beep of the text was muffled by my bedlam, but by the time I had texted my emphatic “YES YES YES, I LOVE it,” the farmer’s market had closed and my husband was on a plane back home. Unfortunately for him I had already made plans for my one of kind necklace. A newfound motivation to organize my closet found me arranging outfits to show off my couture piece. Visions of finally retiring my yoga pants, if only for a week and especially since I haven’t done yoga in over a year, swarmed my mind. It took everything to pretend I wasn’t disappointed when my husband returned with individually wrapped organic soaps instead of my made just for me neckwear. Instantly I felt like a loathsome wife. After all, my husband, the father of my kids, was home safe and sound just in time to catch up on an episode of “Parenthood.” It was the clothes impeccably organized across the bed that gave me away.
“I’m sorry about the necklace. I should have just gotten it for you when I first saw it.”
“It’s okay. It’s just a necklace.” I feigned indifference as I slid comfortably into my well-worn yoga apparel.
“I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”
As the lights of the Vegas strip dance vibrantly across our suite, my husband regales me with an adventurous tale of how he hunted down a man with magic hands, a foreign tongue and my dream necklace. It was a team effort involving a hopelessly romantic Floridian who also happened to be the concierge at the hotel where my husband stayed for his trip, various vendors at the weekly farmers market and a husband determined to roll back the hands of time. The sincerity in my husband’s story rings far louder than our distant wedding bells: “I didn’t need a text message to know that the necklace was made for you. When the man was crafting it, it felt like he was breathing life into an inanimate object. His hands seemed almost disconnected from his body. As he spoke his hands kept working with veins that rippled like waves whenever his fingers moved. ‘Te gustan?’ He said. And yes, I did like it. I liked it because its complex tapestry and eye-catching jewels reminded me of you. Hesitancy was my main mistake, but when we were dating you told me you wanted a partner who was all in. Without hesitation, years after the kids have taken over our tiny house and our even tinier bed, without hesitation, despite our conflicting work schedules and mounting technical difficulties, without any hesitation, and even during the times when it seems we are completely out of sync, I want you to know, dear wife of mine, I’m still all in!”