Happy Valentine's Day, dear reader. I hope you are surrounded by those you love and have time to appreciate those individuals and what they bring to your life. I am late writing my blog because I had a date with one bib overall wearing wonder buns. You may find this shocking, but The Bibbed Wonder and I don't get a lot of alone time together, let alone time off the farm. If you talk to Eric, my life is one big Valentine's Day because I get to work with him, live with him, cook for him, do his laundry, laugh at his jokes etc., etc., etc. Sigh. Actually, I do enjoy our life together. I'm not saying I wouldn't enjoy a two or three-day business trip alone once a month, but overall I like my business partner, husband, and personal stand-up comedian.
I say "like" because I believe that is the root of a good relationship. If we're being honest, once the lusty part of the relationship is over and you have to face the reality of life and the ups and downs it offers, I feel like quite a few couples don't really "like" each other. I love Eric more than life itself, but more importantly, I like him. Along with liking him, I respect him, admire him, and trust him. Let me reveal a little-known fact before Eric came along; I was offered several engagement rings and accepted several engagement rings for very short amounts of time. Like four times, but I was engaged for less than forty-eight hours all proposals combined, except for the last one. I know, it's ridiculous. Eric laughs and says he was the one for the thumb. I was a chronic long-term dater from the get-go. I dated each person for multiple years, as many as five. There were many factors involved in why I never married anyone else. Mostly, I was immature and not ready for a lifetime commitment. Also, I didn't have the best example of what a marriage was and didn't want my life to be a repeat of the marriages I had seen. Lastly, I enjoyed my independence and not feeling like I had to answer to anyone. My parents, family, and friends nicknamed me "The Runaway Bride."
When I met Eric at the farm where we live now, he was building a fence for my dad. I was twenty-nine and engaged to someone else. I had wedding plans, kind of. I had dresses, I had a photographer, an event hall, a caterer, a cake maker, but I kept kicking the date down the road. I knew I was never going to marry this guy. The fact was, I didn't like him. I didn't like him at all. I didn't respect him, admire him, or trust him. He was repugnant, really. I had just postponed another wedding date when I met one twenty-one-year-old bib overall-wearing, bald man who had sparkling eyes, a fantastic sense of humor, who could hold an interesting and intelligent conversation and wore a bandana around his bald little head. I kept imagining him with a gold hoop earring, and he would have looked like a sexy little pirate. Sigh. My dad was always playing matchmaker. He didn't like the guy I was betrothed to either. My dad introduced me to Eric in a very casual way and then proceeded to encourage me to have an interest in him. Initially, Eric's age was a turn-off. I knew where I was at twenty-one; I couldn't imagine anyone else being interested in a long-term relationship with a much older woman. "Thanks, but no, dad. He's twelve," was my response.
My dad then hosted a BB-Q and just happened to invite Eric. I arrived with my fiance at the time. The fiance disappeared with a group of men and the beer cooler. He casually made a path toward Eric as we walked and talked. My dad then ensured Eric and I were engaged in conversation and quietly disappeared. Eric and I sat down at a picnic table and talked for over an hour. Everything and everyone but him disappeared. I was smitten. I was also engaged to someone else and eight years older than him. Several weeks later, I took a chance and e-mailed Eric, telling him I had really enjoyed our conversation and wished him luck with his student teaching. I also offered any assistance if he needed to discuss lesson plans or classroom management. We continued to e-mail for several weeks when Eric asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. My response was, "let me tie up a few loose ends and get back to you."
That night, I officially broke off my engagement. Eric and I went out to dinner a few weeks later and nine months after that, we were married. I bought a new dress, had a simple cake, a simple venue, a small country church, and only our immediate family in attendance. I didn't find out until later that Eric didn't want anyone else at the church in case I decided to run away again. He didn't want a big audience to witness his humiliation. Dear reader, it never crossed my mind. We have continued to keep it simple, and that works for us. Today, we went out for breakfast together. We went to our favorite little restaurant, Krouse's Cafe. I had homefries...Krouse's has the best home fries ever. We spent the morning talking about everything under the sun. Almost twenty years later, we continue to have enjoyable and intelligent conversations. As I look at this man after twenty years together, we buried our fathers, faced infertility, ran the gamut of the adoption process, remodeled two homes, moved three times, changed jobs, built a business, dealt with family issues, and met a hardship we never imagined in a million years, I am still smitten, and even better, so is he. When we first went out, I had made up my mind this was merely a fling, something fun, nothing serious. In the words of the great Elton John, "some things look better, baby, just passing through" up until Eric, that was the ongoing theme of my relationships. Twenty years later, I would never have imagined fried taters, and those sparkly blue eyes would make me so happy and content. The difference is, I like him, genuinely like him. I think he feels the same about me...I think.
On this Valentine's Day, I hope you like who you are with, I hope your life is full of laughter and intelligent conversations, and I wish you all the love in the world. Also, as always, stay safe, be smart, and keep washing your hands.