I wasn’t ready. No where near un-boxing the trauma and the hurt I had been experiencing. I was hardly afloat but I had a toddler to take care of so I persisted. The dreams I had, the future I built in my mind, shattered like a broken glass. I was young, hardly an adult but my mind was made up. I was not ready to love again, and maybe, I never would because that’s safer. When I met my husband, I was broken, a bird without feathers.
My favorite thing about him , is his willingness to show up. When we met, he literally just showed up! I was committed to hating men and I was mean. I would walk away from conversations, ignore him as I worked but he showed up with supplies I would need, so that I didn’t have to climb the shelves. He restocked my refrigerator to the exact OCD specifications I had. Labels all turned out, 2 rows of each beverage with the diet alternative to the left of the product. He did this without me asking. He observed me and took a minute to learn about the things that make me tick. (now, no one can keep an organized kitchen cabinet but whatever lol)
I didn’t want him, told him so to his face, several times and he always answered with, “I just want to get to know you, that’s it.” I didn’t have time for that either. I wasn’t in the market for new friends, all I wanted was to go back in time and fix my damage, alone.
I had moved back to my mother’s house after my seperation, divorce was my future at 23 years old. The only real outlet I had was my spirituality. It has helped me survive, and it was continuing to be a support in my current situation so I allowed myself to lean on it for strength. Traveling to the temple from queens was 2 hour journey, one I committed to all the time, the train was my friend.
I had to work one weekend, and it so happened that I was also participating in a ceremony so I had to bring several bags with me, no biggie right? I also had a huge list of things I needed to get, and of course, life got in the way and my shopping would have to be done after work. Did I mention I forgot some things I needed at home and would have to go back to queens first? Yup! I was tired after my shift, but I was a workhorse then, so I slung my bags over my back and headed towards the door. “Let me give you a ride.” I heard him say.
“No thanks!” I said, through thin lips and a wave. “Let me help you…” he said again. “I’m good, I don’t need help!” I said back, as the bags weighed me down. “It’s really no trouble” he reminded me. “Yea, I get it but I’m good!” I said once again. I wasn’t used to having men offer help and not want something in return. Frankly I forgot what a favor or help from another person even was…. I shouldered all the burdens of my now broken marriage. I was raw, and still unwilling to let anyone show me kindness because nothing is free. “Why are you so stubborn?” he asked, slightly irked by my consistent refusals. I was shocked! I turned to him, brows scrunched and teeth showing, I was ready to attack. “Um, you’re the one that doesn’t get the message here! I’m good, means, I’m good! What do you want from me?” I said in frustration, holding back tears.
He picked up my wavering resolve and spoke softly and reassuringly. “I don’t want anything from you, I want to help you.” “Well, I don’t need any help!” I interrupted. He squinted his eyes at me and reached for my bag strap that was falling off my shoulder “Yes, you do” he said, catching it. I sighed in defeat. I was tired of fighting, tired of the pain, tired of feeling tired. I needed help and I didn’t even know it but he did, so he showed up, and I let him drive me to queens. We talked about random things on the ride, and it was a relief to just sit back and relax. When we got to my mother’s I thanked him and gathered my bags. “I can wait and take you up to the bronx ya know.” he offered. I smiled, genuinely and said “ I really appreciated the ride, but I still have a lot to do and things to gather before I go up there. Thank you though.”
“I’ve stopped asking you out after you said no like a hundred times so you don’t have to worry about that, but I still want to get to know you, and I want to spend time with you. I am free for the rest of the day, I can take you anywhere.”
I felt that in my soul like a stone dropping into a still lake. He was offering me his time, the most precious thing we can give to a person. I started to refuse again, going down the list of things I needed to get and places I had to go to. “Jesus!” he exclaimed. Knowing I had scared him off, I again reached for my bag. “Wait! What are you doing?” he asked confused. “Did you not just Jesus me? I assumed that meant you were backing out” I laughed. “No! I was wondering how on earth you were going to do all that on foot!” he explained. Shrugging, I said “I have to, there is no other choice.”
He took me everywhere I needed to go. He carried my bags, told me funny stories and made me feel like I was the sun. I didn’t remember what it was like to be acknowledged, his kindness showed me that I deserved to be seen.
Our adventure came to a close when we arrived in the bronx. He helped me with my bags and got back into the car. “You know, I can come back later and bring you home” he smiled. I chuckled to myself because only I knew how late our temple gatherings were. Placing my hand on the lowered window I said “I can’t thank you enough. I appreciate your stubbornness and for not giving up because I really did need help. Our events run late and I won’t be bringing anything back so I’ll be ok.” I smiled and left. He had been the perfect gentleman. He didn’t make a single advance that day, never brought it up, didn’t touch me at all and respected all of my boundaries because he knew what I really needed and showed up as a friend.
I thought about him that weekend quietly, secretly, and full of longing. I wasn’t ready for what I was feeling, I rejected those emotions but his act of kindness kept piercing the crevices of my stone wall and shone through the darkness in my heart, that light was his love and it radiated with such force that I had no choice but to also acknowledge it.
When I arrived at 6 am, the coffee filling the air while the clanging of pots made music as I floated in through the loading dock, high on spiritual vibes. I went to grab my usual cup and realized that every morning this coffee was here… ready… but who made it? I turned around cradling my cup and he was there, reading the DaVinci code. I was seeing him for the first time and I realized, he was my sun.
I walked over to him and lifted the book cover with my finger “Oh! You read?” I said. This was the first time I had ever greeted him in the morning, and I had worked there over a year and because I am awkward, I immediately opened with an insult. He raised his eyebrows at me and I laughed loudly and nervously. “That’s not what I meant!” waving my hands frantically. I didn’t know how to recover. “I’ve just never seen you reading a book before.” i said sheepishly. “You hardly knew I existed, or else you would have seen me with other books before.” he pointed out.
I wanted to die under a rock. He laughed it off and we chatted quickly and I was off to my station but not before he asked if I was ok and how things had turned out.
Later that day, after several random exchanges I realized that he was just like Wesley from the Princess Bride. He had been as you wishing me all this time and what I thought to be coworker camaraderie and required tasks – what he was really saying was I love you.
It took a while but that was the turning point in our relationship. He always showed up and still shows up. Last night, after work, after dinner, after some Christmas decorating I was still baking for a work event and my IG page. We needed to do a supermarket run and I don’t have my car anymore so of course, he drove. He bought my ingredients, carried my bags and offered me coffee.
When we got home, he showed up in the kitchen and although I was tired, frustrated and annoyed, snapping at him over my stupidness, he scooped, rolled and decorated cookies. He washed my pots as I worked and photographed then got yelled out for moving my strategically placed greenery for my pictures. He still showed up in the kitchen again, helping me with the last details and cleaning up. At one point after apologizing several times to him, I said “ I’m sorry babe, its after midnight and so late… I know you didn’t sign up for this..” he cut me off and said. “Yes I did. And I’m here for whatever else.”
We finished up and I stayed behind putting some things away and then I walk into my bedroom playing “It’s our anniversary” by Tony! Toni! Tone!. Today we celebrate, not our wedding anniversary but the first time we saw each other because I had been closed off to the world. We also celebrate the first time I tried to engage in a conversation with him and ended up insulting him!
I celebrate him today and his willingness to show up without a promise of a reward. I celebrate his willingness to look at a broken person and see the potential in them. I celebrate his ability to love me unconditionally, through my trauma, my rage, my sharp tongue and my meltdowns. I celebrate him showing up as a father to a toddler, for proving time and again that he was there for her and his continued support through her teenage shenanigans, pms mood swings and the attitude passed down from her mother! I celebrate his cheerleader spirit and the moments when he channels his glass half full/ Deepak Chopra mentality making me all sorts of mad while reassuring me that my feelings of inadequacy and defeat are valid but they do not define me and that I am better than what the voices in my head are trying to convince me of.
In him, I have a partner ( that I want to throttle on occasion). I have a confidant, I have my soulmate, my peanut gallery, my cheerleader. He makes me strive to be a better person every day, especially on the days where I don’t want to show up for life. I only hope that I have done the same for him, because I strive to be that rock in his life, and not the kind that gets in the way, but the kind you can hold on to, build from and build on.
He is the sun to my flower garden and I’m so happy that he still shows up, twelve years later.
Happy “Firsts” anniversary my love.