He was 21 and I was 22 and he used to come over and stock my fridge.

I lived in a part of town that I probably shouldn’t have. The part that meant I usually needed someone to walk me home. He always walked with me. Remembered the umbrella when I forgot. And on days I wasn’t expecting he filled the freezer with ice cream. Chocolate and vanilla. The fridge with fruit and vegetables. The cupboards with unhealthy delicious. He’s always known my favorite things.

We’re more than a decade older. He still stocks the fridge.

But there’s less time to tell him thank you.

Less time to look into his cowboy-green eyes and see the man behind the gesture.

I’m the “stop pinching your sister,” “pick up that wet swimsuit,” “who left this dirty bowl out?” woman now.

When he’s snoring here in bed beside me I walk back in my mind to remember the girl who packed a can of coke and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day of a summer she fell in love with the boy who was stocking her refrigerator.

I saved enough that summer to offset the parts missing from my financial aid. We’d been married years before I found out he went back to school with a zero balance in his bank account and the hook, line and sinker heart of a South African girl who shouldn’t have been living in that part of D.C.

I’m his wife now.

But some days my words say different. Some days I’m just the mother.

I slip my hand into his while he’s sleeping and his reflex is always to curl those strong fingers around – hold mine. Yesterday or the day before or maybe it was Sunday I learned something new about him. Nearly seventeen years and still room for surprises.

I want to keep building it in – breathing room – so we’re more than just two people running a small daycare together.

I want to keep making room for the old memories and love for the new.

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This book of love that is never boring. I want to read him and not just tomorrow’s field trip instructions.

I need to mother less and wife more.

I want to listen faster and list slower.

I will thank before I think of just one more honey-do.

I will dance like we used to instead of just demand.

I want to flirt with him instead of my fear of tomorrow.

I’m thinking it’s good to tell the kids no so I can tell him yes.

I want to watch more of my man than my children’s movies.

I will hold his hand before I hold onto my frustrations.

I will laugh at old jokes instead of this small kitchen.

I will keep ordering pizza and stop ordering him to pick up his socks.

I will leave off tidying all the things and just tender a hand wrapped ’round with wedding rings.

I will kiss him instead of comment on whose turn it is to change the diaper.

I will smell the soft place in the curve of his neck and nothing else, if only for a minute on a Wednesday afternoon.

I will hear the music and not get lost in the monotony.

Tomorrow.

And tomorrow.

And when we wake up tomorrow.

 

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