Message received Tuesday, 4:27pm
When we started dating almost 9 years ago, I knew I loved him right from the start. I’m pretty sure he felt the same, but saying “I love you” is nerve racking in the beginning of a relationship. Then there’s always the question of who will say it first. It wasn’t going to be me, that was for sure. I was at my game-playing prime, and I had my feet firmly planted in never calling first, not going out of my way for him, and definitely, under no circumstances was I to claim the mushy goo-goo, lovey-dovey feelings that were squirming around and stirring up butterflies inside of me. I was the queen of playing it cool. But I managed to find loopholes in my own rules. I could stop by his office if I was planning to stop by my little sister’s school, which was right across the street. I could accidentally call him when I meant to call my friend, Jen. I blamed it on my crazy speed dial and even crazier scatter-brained tendencies. The whole “I love you” rule though…that was tough one to find my way around. I had to tread lightly around it. I had to think carefully and plan tactfully. I thought about saying it every time we were looking at each other, but I always managed to avoid it by babbling random nonsense words. I had created my own language to suffice my appetite for a serving of “those three little words.”
My husband liked to eat pizza, preferably Papa Johns. And he didn’t dip just his crust into the garlic sauce. He would dip into it with each bite of the entire slice. He loved cheese and onions as his toppings (freaking ew), and he hated the pickled banana pepper that came inside of each box. I happen to think cheese and onions pizza degrades the quality of Papa Johns in its original splendor, but that didn’t stop me from giving him a thumbs up every time he would order dinner for us (up until a couple of years ago when I finally admitted it to him). I gagged a little every time I took a bite of that concoction. Love makes you do crazy things and eat delicious pizza, made disgusting by tossing some onions onto it. I remember looking forward to the pepper at the end of the meal. It would set a fire to my taste buds, making that horrid onion taste disappear. He would cringe every time I reached for the pepper, which always made me laugh.
One night, he had a little get-together, and he ordered Papa Johns, but thankfully…no cheese and onions. He went to grab me a slice, and came back with 3 peppers for me. I didn’t need it to wash out any onion taste, but he was so happy to have snagged them for me before anyone else had the chance…it must’ve been love, right? I wanted to say it right then and there, but I couldn’t break my rule! It was such a dilemma. Then, it hit me… Spanish! I could say it in Spanish! If I was Hispanic, then it would’ve held more weight, but since I was just this little white girl in soffee shorts and a camo hat, it would just come off as a cute effort at speaking In a foreign language. I could always play it off as me thinking it meant “I’m hungry” or something like that. So, I looked at him and mumbled, “Te Amo,” as I took a bite of my pepper. Right away, he and his friend caught a stare with each other, and I just smiled and sang while doing a little happy-fat dance, “Yay, peppers. They’re so delicious. Inside my tummy. I love to eat them…” I was trying too hard to distract them from my little Mexican declaration, and it seemed to have done the trick…
Fast-forward almost a 9 years later, and because of that night we have our own secret love language between us. “Te Amo” is how our love started out, and it has transformed over the years. It turned into “Amo” for a while, then “Mo,” and then “M”. Nowadays, if we’re across the room from each other and we catch eyes, one of us will sometimes press our lips together, as if to form the “m” sound, and the other reciprocates.
The past 15+ months have really taken a toll on my husband and me. I started this journey out filled with optimism and courage to fight the fight while maintaining a solid stance. This week, I finally slid down the wall, and hugged my knees. I just can’t stand it anymore, so I have to sit. My husband isn’t feeling the “Te Amo” right now, so I’ve been fueling up on every little “Mo” and “M” I can get from him. I think his “Amo” tank has officially run dry, squeezed to the last drop by this deployment, and we’re both left standing (me sitting) across oceans just pressing our lips together, making a silent “M” sound. What do you do in the middle of a tag-team boxing match, when both partners are completely beat to a pulp? Just give up and stop fighting, right?
Wrong. You go to Sally’s and dye your hair. At least, that’s what I do! After what had been my worst day in this deployment so far, after my t-shirt became my sobbing, snot rag, and I fed my kids marshmallows and kit-kats for dinner, a few girlfriends from church showed up at my doorstep with wine and hair dye. It was exactly what I needed to snap myself out of it! I have been all sorts of blonde variations for the past 5 years, with little spurts of red in the fall, and I finally went rogue…and by rogue I mean brunette.
Activity #68: Crossing Over to the Dark Side
I’m always the one doing the hair and/or makeup for everyone else, so it was really nice to be sitting in the chair and sipping on a glass of Pino instead. The company wasn’t my usual circle of friends, but it was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it! I needed Christian women who would listen, offer advice, not judge, and wouldn’t indulge in my pity fest, but would allow me to ride the ride for a night. After I got all of my crying and whining out of my system, they helped me dust off and get headed back in the right direction. I’m so very grateful.
…and I bet you’re wondering how my pepper song and dance distraction turned out, huh? Well, that same night he translated my “Te Amo” into English. 🙂
Until next week, send your crazy to me, since I’m going there anyway!