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Bury a cold nose in the crook of his shoulder

I am kind of a snob when it comes to my marriage, I just want to admit that right now. I am convinced that my marriage is the best marriage in the world. I’m pretty sure that the way I feel about my marriage is similar to the way I’ll one day feel about my children and the way I currently feel about my dogs. The only reason you don’t hate me is because no matter what I think, I know as well as you do that my marriage is not perfect. No one’s marriage is ever perfect.

Mike and I have worked really hard to be happy. We’ve spent four out of the six years we’ve been together in couples counseling. In college I made the mistake of dating someone I didn’t really like for an entire year because I thought that at some point I was going to have to grow up and pick someone to marry and it might as well be him. I misunderstood “working to keep a relationship happy” for “working to force two people who do not belong together to act like they’re happy”. I know better now. Mike and I went into couples counseling because we saw in each other people with similar values and similar goals; we had a lot in common and we were crazy about each other but we’d stopped communicating without fighting and we didn’t want to be that couple that fights all the time.

See how proud I am of my marriage? All of that up there? Those run-on sentences? That was bragging.

In the last four days I have worked forty hours. Mike, who is still looking for EMT work, has taken sole responsibility for the dogs, the cats, my meals, the laundry, the groceries and everything else it takes to run a household. When I leave for work in the morning my belly is full and there’s a packed lunch in my backpack. When I come home at night there’s hot tea and a bowlful of soup ready and waiting, all of the chores have been done and I am free to spend the rest of my evening doing whatever I want. I curl up with my tea and I write and I write and even though I worked for ten hours I can write for three or four more before collapsing in bed.

All week I have gushed and sighed and squeezed Mike’s hands and kissed his nose and thanked him for taking such magnificent care of me. But it wasn’t until right before dinner tonight, the fourth day of the week, the fourth day of Michael rubbing my feet and pouring more coffee and closing the window so I don’t catch a chill, when he suddenly stood up from painting and wrapped his arms around my waist, that I realized we hadn’t hugged all week. Not once.

See? Even we screw up. We work so hard all week to show each other we care; he cooks, I eat, he cleans, I compliment, but we don’t even hug until Thursday. And all that other stuff is incredible, I get that, I am not complaining, I am absolutely thrilled. But there’s something about a good bear hug, an everything is going to be wonderful hug, a you’re my best friend in the world hug, that just makes a girl feel heavenly.

Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work Our skin has a memory of “good touch” (loved), “bad touch” (abused) and “no touch” (neglected). Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the “good touch,” which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world. –Mark Goulston, PhD How To Be A Happy Couple

We just made a pact to hug every day after work. I need the hugs and he deserves them.

Think Again

I’ve spent today in kind of a daze. I got up much earlier than usual, started work much earlier than usual and worked hard all day long in twenty-degree weather. Barely two hours before I was done, one of the wheels popped off my suitcase.

In one of my other lives I’m a traveling sales girl. Kind of how Johnny Cash started out, except instead of selling vacuum cleaners, or whatever it was he sold, I go door-to-door selling holistic pet products. I’m not a very good sales person. I’m not aggressive enough. When someone says “no”, I smile and say “Thank you! Sorry to bother you!” and then I rush away, horrified. It’s all very awkward. Being that this is Manhattan and I don’t own a car, I work my job on foot. I carry my samples in a suitcase with wheels, which I drag around on the subways, the busses, and over miles and miles of sidewalk. It weighs almost forty pounds. The original wheels lasted three months before they completely disintegrated. Mike replaced them with wheels from his skates, which he made me swear I would not lose should one come loose, because they cost two hundred dollars to replace. That was last month. Today, in the middle of an intersection, the bracket that held the left wheel in place snapped in half and the wheel went spinning off behind me. I managed to catch it, but I still had four stores to visit and now I would have to drag the suitcase along with one of its wheels in my pocket.

I would just like you to take a moment and picture me, bundled up to my eyeballs in fleece and wool, dragging a one-wheeled suitcase down a busy New York street. The sound of the bottom corner dragging on the pavement was so loud that every single person I passed had to crane their head around and glare at me as if my one-wheeled suitcase was somehow offensive to them. At one point I thought it would be easier to just carry the thing but it turns out forty pounds is really heavy.

It had been one of those days and by the end of it, I was exhausted. It was only 5 p.m. but I knew I would spend the rest of the night on the couch, feeling sorry for myself and wishing we had ice cream while I watched old episodes of Law & Order. My night was ruined.

I curled up on the sofa with my laptop. Valentine climbed onto my lap and I propped the computer on her comma-shaped body. Theo folded himself against me and two feet away, Mike sat in his studio working on a still life. I opened my homepage and Amelia, perched behind me, began performing her ritual evening bath. Under the melody of Guided by Voices I could hear Toby’s tags singing against his water bowl in the kitchen.

That’s when I found out. Suddenly my night felt like something to be grateful for.

May our prayers, hopes and dreams be for the people of Haiti.