Nine years ago today, I was running around my house, cleaning up as fast as I could. Elena had just said to me, after admitting she wasn’t much of a phone person, “I’d really rather stand in your presence.” I had recently answered her ad in a Seattle alternative paper, and thus we’d begun our email conversation. My MO for this was: Step 1: Email only. Get to know her here, and only if that went swimmingly, move to Step 2: Phone. Again, see how it goes, and if all the lights are green, 3. Meet. So I was at Step 2 of my plan. I really, really liked how this woman expressed herself and what she had to say, so it was Phone time. With my heart in my throat, I had dialed her number, and in the first minute, I was ready for Step 3.
So I said, “Ok, so come on over.”
“You mean, now? Today?!”
“Yeah, it’s your day off, right?”
It was the first but definitely not the last time our respective eagerness and caution would be called on to play nicely with one another.
She arrived with an armful of gladiolas, and an organic dog treat for Roshi. My house on Whidbey Island is set up on a hill, in a cozy little neighborhood right near the water. We walked Roshi across the meadow and down the hill, and made our way slowly all along the water’s edge. During our conversation, she held my hand and I have never let go of it.
Today, I’m full of gratitude for all the forces that brought this woman into my life. She is my polar opposite in so many ways. She’s practical where I am whimsical. She remembers detail. I kinda sorta get the groove of a thing. She is sports. I am Friends. She is Sopranos. I am Ghost Whisperer. She’s the chef of the family. I’m the baker. I do clerical work. She does laundry. Her day of perfection would be outdoors—all nature, no people. Mine would be indoors, working on a quilt together with likeminded women all working on their own quilts.
But nine years has also shown me where our sensibilities overlap: Eliane Elias, Bill Charlap, Friday Night Lights, the Good Wife, Damages, West Wing, Parenthood, and yes, Everybody Loves Raymond. Kayaking. Hiking to Talapus Lake in Washington. Firenze’s bolognese (in Bellevue, Washington). 31 Flavors’ rocky road. The good people at Umberto’s on Jericho Turnpike. Our dedication to our families. Our love of dogs. Our wish for women and men both to come into a place of power in this world that is genuinely transformative.
And finally, nine years has thrown light on how we have influenced one another. My wife has started going to yoga classes twice a week—and she loves it. This is something I never thought she would try, and her development in this new form of exercise is a beautiful thing to witness. Plus, just this morning, we had a fairly substantive conversation about baseball. I have learned enough of the terminology that we were able to actually speak back and forth for a good five minutes. In our history, that’s a fairly long rally.
(Ok, see, but at least I get it that that was a tennis metaphor, so this is real progress. It will bolster her for the season to come. The one with the pointy ball.)
Relationships, all of them, are pretty hard. Ours is no different. We have our neuroses and our blindess, our ways of being selfish and bull-headed. It’s what shows up once you get past the initial illusions. What you do with this new set of illusions defines your union. At the end of the day, Elena is my moral compass. She is my touchstone for the natural world’s magical, everpresent beauty. She has taught me the value of sitting still. She has a brilliant mind, and, truth in advertising (it was in her ad), “a strong heart.” And I am blessed to have her as my wife.