Three years ago this morning, I was wide awake and nervous, giggling with anticipation at marrying Danny that afternoon.
What a three years this has been.
Four years ago, when I was in the first throes of love and admiration for the man who has become my best friend and constant companion, I wrote about him all the time on this site. Some of you complained that it was a little much. (Some people still do.) Looking back at those entries now, I can see it. Everything was in exclamation points! But really, when you’re 39 and finally meet the person who gets your warped humor and wants to kiss you many times a day, it’s hard not to write with exclamation points. (The antidote to that is we were too busy discovering each other for me to write often. I think I only posted 3 or 4 times that entire summer.) Every bite of food I took reminded me of Danny and the love we finally found together.
Now, that love has far more depth of flavor. We’ve survived sleepless nights, the time in the ICU, a book tour, our daughter’s surgery, writing a cookbook together, financial worries, the toddler clutter, moving (twice), new jobs, and waking every morning (too early) not knowing what the day will bring. There have been times these past three years that the only constant in my life is Danny’s voice in my ear, the feel of his hand in mine.
This is what I wrote at the end of the wedding post:
“And in the end, it feels like that is how life will be, with him. A sometimes dizzying spin of images: the smell of great food in the air, people we love gathered around us, the feeling that we might fall. And we will go around and around, again and again, in a circle that feels different each time, but not really. Sometimes, I will want to close my eyes and not take in so much. Sometimes, I will want it all to slow down. Sometimes, I might worry that the song will end.
But through it all, in this whirr of brilliant, beautiful images, in the middle of this twirling circle, will be the feel of his hand in mine.”
Three years later, it still feels like that.
We’re babies at this. Three years? Still newlyweds, really. But these years have been dog years (or at least fox years), so we’re far into our second decade together, or third. That’s what it feels like, in the best way. You know that bowl you love the most, the one you reach for when you eat cereal in the morning, on the couch, your worn socks keeping your feet warm against the cold? That’s what we feel like together. You know that slow-braised piece of meat that has been simmering for hours in the oven, the smell infusing the entire house, and you’re waiting for the moment it’s done so you can close your eyes in the pleasure of taking your first bite? That’s what it feels like these days. You know the recipe you have made a dozen times in the last few months, the flavors that mingle together so well in the mouth that you don’t change a single ingredient, and you know it by heart and don’t have to look it up? That’s what it feels like to be married to Danny right now.
The first throes of love? The gushing, emoting, every day is spring and I’m alive! days? They are a huge rush, the way your head feels if you put too much wasabi on your spicy tuna roll. And there is plenty of sleep deprivation to those days too. (I’m starting to think that real love, like the love I feel for Danny and Lu, means sleep deprivation.) It’s easy to yearn for the fresh, just-in-season days.
But give me these cluttered, jam-smeared, need-hot-coffee days, please. I like these more.
This morning, Lu woke up at 5:30. She had done this for months, and Danny I learned to take turns getting up early with the Awake Child, who wanted to run into the living room! (She’s the one with all the exclamation points right now.) One of us slept in, the other one dragged until the next day. We seemed to have weaned her of this habit in the past month, and were just starting to sleep for longer than 6 hours a night. However, my dear friend Sharon visited us for the past week, and Lu was utterly in love with her. This meant she resisted sleep for hours every night, desperate to stay up and play with Sharon. Our nights were stutter-step again.
So this morning she woke up at 5:30. Danny offered to get up with her, even though he worked all day yesterday. As he was walking away with Lu in his arms, he called out softly, “Shauna, come look.” Out the window, near our herb garden, a large deer with antlers was chewing on a rose bush. I know we should have been annoyed or shooed him away. But in that early morning light, it was clear who belonged in all that greenery. We moved out to the living room, the light starting to rise, and saw there were a male, a female, and a young deer near our kiwi bushes. Just outside the fence, another young one. “That’s our family,” Danny said, and I kissed him. When I stepped onto the cool porch, the male deer saw me, stopped, then moved forward protectively. We looked at each other for a long time. And then he ran to the gate, paused, and jumped six feet in the air and over. The other deer followed.
Lu pointed excitedly. We were all happy to be awake this time.
This is how we started our anniversary. There were hash browns and eggs (Danny flipped six of them in a skillet without a spatula, perfectly) and hot coffee. There was playing in the park with small friends and adults in the same happy-sleepy toddler state as us. Lu and a clutch of small children ran after a week-old puppy who tumbled down the hill. Soon, there will be food at the Mexican restaurant.
My parents were going to come over, give me and Danny the chance to spend some time together, just the two of us. A movie in a movie theater! Dinner out. But they called this morning, their voices harsh with coughing. They were feeling too lousy to make it over today. No babysitters. No dates.
That’s okay. Danny and I don’t need much. We’ll take Lu to the Mexican restaurant with us, then go to the beach. After she’s in bed, whenever that is, Danny and I will stand in the kitchen and do what we love most, besides being with our daughter: chop vegetables and make pie dough, talk and laugh, and turn on the stove. We’ll cook our own dinner, together, late in the evening.
While we’re working on the salads and apricot-thyme galette, I’ll probably stop to kiss him, or hold his hand. After all these years, I still love the feel of his hand in mine.
Happy Anniversary, sweet man.