After almost six years of marriage, and nearly nine years into my relationship, I can say that I miss the feeling of the random, razor butterflies that rip me up inside every time that I happen to fall again in love. It hasn’t happened for quite some time, obviously, but the memory is something which I will keep with me forever. It used to be that I could fall in love as easily as the wind might shift, and yet still love each new person just as deeply as all the other loves which came before. But being with someone for the better part of a decade is an entirely different kind of monster. It’s easy to get discouraged when that heady rush of endorphins peters out, but the key to love’s survival is to turn your eyes toward the long game, and stop focusing on the addictive narcotic of infatuation. I love my wife more each and every day, which, to be honest, because we are both imperfect beings, is a little impressive at times. We have our own drives and desires and are constantly forced to balance them against what we need to stay together. My love for Flor is not a rush of illicit substance hitting my veins and causing me to gasp. She is, instead, the warmth of sharing a mint condition copy of Detective Comics #27 with someone whom you trust until the end of days. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that she increases in value with every moment that passes, and I live in constant fear that she will soon realize that she can do much better.
On our first date (excluding that time where people were trying to get us to hook up at a friend’s wedding), I sat her down and warned her of all my character flaws. She thought that I was joking. In a way, I think that there is no more beautiful way to describe who we are and what it is, exactly, that we have. I am serious and brooding, aware of my failings, and obsessed with a certain sense of honor. My wife thinks that I am full of it, and is always looking for the punchline. Obviously, I’m simplifying things just a little bit, but it’s nice to know that even in my darkest hours, there is someone who will speak truth to power and tell me when I’m acting like an ass. That doesn’t mean that I always listen, or even that, in that moment, I appreciate it all that much, but it comforts me to know that I have someone on my side. Someone who is genuinely looking out for my best interests. It’s easy to forget, when we’re in the middle of an argument, that my instincts are not always to be trusted, as I have this nasty tendency to seek out my own destruction. Whereas my life before I met my wife was a whirlwind of impulsive and ultimately disturbingly atrocious choices, that all came to an end (I cough and nudge some errors back beneath the rug) when we decided to take a chance on one another.
I realized that I had been drawn, much like a moth, to women who would only immolate me. There is something soothing in the passions of insanity, and reassurance in the knowledge that the only surprises will not be what, but how. But that kind of love, if one-sided passion built upon a foundation of co-dependence can be acknowledged as such, tears a person down, undercuts his sense of self, and leaves him deep in debt with nowhere to call home. I knew that the time had come for me to make a change. I would be lying if I said I knew that we would be together for this long. When we started dating, it was just something we did to pass the time in which we’d normally just be lonely. And when we moved in together, it wasn’t because we were so madly in love that we couldn’t be apart, but rather, we both had to move out of the places we were living, and decided that splitting the rent and bills in half was a better way to do it. Even through her pregnancy, we fought like cats and dogs, with my Beautiful Flower doing everything she could to make me feel inferior.
It wasn’t done by insults, or even ill intent, but rather, she outclassed me with every step along the way. Whereas I had been to hell and back, fighting the demons which danced within my mind, she exuded a certain quiet fortitude that put all my travails to shame. Here she was, nearly 1,900 miles from everything and everyone she’d ever known, nearly 2,000 miles away from her teenage daughter and elderly parents, and she was comforting me in the face of impending fatherhood. I cannot imagine the amount of courage that sort of selflessness requires. She put her life on pause to sort out someone else’s problems, and then, instead of focusing on her own, turned her attention toward fixing what was wrong with me. Years later, I think that she may have grown a little weary of her game of Whack-A-Mole, but that she could begin to play at all is what continually amazes me. She is the most amazing person whom I have ever had the pleasure of having known, and though I tell her that I love her at least several times throughout the day, I feel like I could find a way to somehow tell her more.
There is a strength is in her that rivals the very fundamental forces inherent in Mother Nature. There is a love in her that crushes all opposition, grinding it down beneath her boot like a discarded cigarette. There is a beauty in her that hides until she finds the time to smile, and then spills out in radiance upon the world like an overturned barrel full of sunshine. And I feel grateful every day that she is on my side, and grateful to just be near her, to know her, to take in everything about her, and have the opportunity to love her for as long as she will have me.
Feliz sexto aniversario, mi amor. Te quiero hasta el fin del mundo, y un poco más. Todavía tú eres la luz de mi vida, y espero que yo merezco tu paciencia conmigo. No tengo nada para ofrecerte, aparte de mi amor, pues, entonces, te doy mi alma misma.