Poor S. In an attempt to make sure he’s ungoogleable come job-hunt time I’ve had to relegate him to an initial, and thus, everybody (mostly) that I write about to an initial, perhaps a foolish consistency but one that appeals to me nonetheless. Of course, there was also the time I blogged about my first boyfriend CG and someone googled him and found my post about him and I realized how unfair it is to use real names. Sometimes I do consider turning my blog private if only to let loose with real names but I like the restraint the publicness of this blog necessitates….I mean, I really go crazy in my handwritten journals. Whoo, boy. Everything its place.
Anyway. Tomorrow my darling husband turns 30, and we are celebrating by going up north for three days. While I was ever so slightly more
demanding specific about birthday plans, he insists he wants to mark this occasion at our little cabin in the woods (the new image at the top of this blog is a view from a high point on the property, actually). I have a cooler just waiting to be filled with andouille sausages, steaks and beer and, in keeping with S.’s desire – NO VEGETABLES. He intends to gorge himself on meat which we will cook outside while drinking beer. Right now S. is in California for work and he’ll actually be somewhere over the midwest when his birthday dawns but despite jet lag and a week on the west coast he wants to head up north right away.
This cabin I talk about was purchased by my great-grandfather during the depression (the same grandfather who was Ernest Hemingway’s surgeon), and it was passed on to my maternal grandfather and then my mother and uncle. It’s in an irrevocable trust and will eventually go to my brother and me. Despite its lineage, I think S. loves it maybe more than any of us – he will say unabashedly it is his favorite place. And it’s my favorite place, too, but with him, well, there’s just more passion there, which I never would have thought possible. Sometimes I’m a bit irritated, by his intense love for this cabin, since he would rather vacation there than do almost anything else, but then I imagine how much worse it would be if he didn’t like it, if he hated bugs and nature walks and fishing and I had on my hands a husband unwilling to walk in the woods.
I met S. when we were 16, at a summer camp for nerds. He grew up in the metro Detroit area and as has been well-established this week, I grew up in northern-lower Michigan, so if both of us hadn’t been chosen for a two week summer camp at Eastern Michigan University we never would have met. We didn’t actually fall in love right then – I had a boyfriend (J) who had recently been kicked off the high school hockey team for smoking pot and I was in the throws of dating such a rebel, and S. had a long-term girlfriend, so every morning of camp we ate breakfast together and S. would get me a large styrafoam cup of coffee, practically white from cream and sugar, and we would talk. I have no idea about what.
Sometimes, when we think about our sixteen year old selves we grow almost embarrassed, we were so ridiculous.
When we left camp we stayed in touch by writing one another long, laborious letters on yellow legal paper. I will share excerpts from them with you someday. They are even more embarrassing. And then we visited each other and in college we saw each other about twice a year (I moved downstate but he ended up going to school in Indiana. In an attempt to go to the same college we both applied and were accepted to Eastern Michigan but received scholarships from other universities).
The summer before our senior years we drank a bottle of wine. And that is all you need to know about that…we’ve been together ever since.
From the very day we decided to date only each other, we talked about our goals. Since both of us wanted to pursue graduate school, we came up with an elaborate “31 and done” philosophy which would guarantee both of us completing our graduate educations by the age of 31. So, I went with him to North Carolina so he could attend Duke and he went with me to Pittsburgh and I again with him to Michigan (although it’s always been home for both of us so this one doesn’t really count) and here we are with one year left of his degree and somehow the very first commitment we made to each other is coming to fruition.
It hasn’t been all bunny rabbits and rainbows, as S. likes to say. There have been fights where items have been thrown, off roofs and into walls. I once kicked him out of our apartment for a weekend (and rightfully so – I’ll never regret it). He once locked me out of a different apartment (and rightfully so – I deserved it). We have fought, and cried, and said horrible things to one another in fits of anger. There have been two moments in our marriage where I thought we would divorce and once in our courtship where I tried to break up with him. But all of the above incidences are cliched drop in the buckets compared to the laughter and love we share on a daily basis.
I don’t know how to evoke S.’s persona, in this birthday post. If you met him, you might not like him at first or you might think he doesn’t like you – he is quiet and reserved until you get to know him. Once you know him you will want him in your life forever. He is 6’6″ tall and weighs 190 lbs. He likes to work, he likes to work a lot. The work ethic of all members of his family is quite frankly incredible. He solely reads nonfiction and he is blessed with a tremendous memory for geography. He loves metal music. He cried the day Pope JOhn Paul II died, and by the way, he never cries. He prefers southern food, barbecue dripping in vinegar sauce, collared greens, grits swimming in butter. He’s almost done with law school and he wants to save the environment when he’s done. He always takes out the trash and he always vaccuums because he knows how much I hate doing so. Whenever our paper is late he calls the delivery service and demands a credit to our account, something I would just let slide. He doesn’t worry about death and really isn’t concerned that someday, we’re all going to die. Oblah-di, oblah-da, life goes on. He is a democrat and Mitt Romney really freaks him out. He calls me cutie, or sweetie, or by my maiden last name, and not much else. To other people he only calls me Court, so much so that when acquaintences meet me that’s what they call me, instead of Courtney. He is the kind of person who goes on a fundraising trip to California for a struggling Detroit university and inspires the older people he meets to give him their Waterford crystal. So that he and his wife can own nice things. This just happened yesterday.
I never thought I would marry. I wanted a string of lovers, a life lived not as a wife or mother or but as an independent woman, in a city somewhere far, far away. S. has been bringing me my coffee for nine years now and I am still so grateful I released that vision when we started dating.
Tomorrow my husband turns 30 and we will head to the woods with meat and beer and rain gear, books and old movies and ten years worth of cds, because you never know what you will want to listen to. I am so happy, to have this man in my life, to wait up for him late into the night so I can be the first to wish him happy birthday, and to tell him I am so very, very grateful he was born.
I love you, S.