Twenty years ago last January 9, The Coach and I started dating: he was 19, I was 18, and the rest of the world in our eyes was fresh and wonderful and passionate and carefree.
The Coach, now 40, surprised me with an enormous bouquet of flowers, so many they filled three vases and took me an hour to fix (plus another half-hour to clean up after my mess). Silly me, I couldn’t help asking if they were expensive. (We are, after all, penny-pinching. Actually, he does the pinching; I do the inordinate buying of books which will take me, if I were to read a book a week, about, oh, ten years to finish.) His rebuke was so gentle I almost missed it until I thought about it afterwards. He just said, “A bit, but not for twenty years,” and smiled. Hours later he asked me if it was true that I was surprised by his present, since he always buys me flowers anyway, special occasion or no, like when he atones for sins imagined or real. And I said yes because I thought we were cost-cutting (D’oh! There I go again). And he harrumphed, properly, like an old gentleman aggrieved by the indignity of money: “Cost-cutting, cost-cutting. What's cost-cutting to twenty years?” And I just had to hug this man, this one whose masculine eyes and heart could not see that some of the flowers he bought in the huge bunch had probably withered earlier but were artfully hidden by the flower peddler to make a quick buck, the same eyes and heart who tell me day after day, truthfully, wonderingly, that I am more beautiful today than yesterday. I love eyes like those, because they know when to skip over unwashed faces and past flabby thighs, and even the occasional PMS that furrows the forehead. And it is true, what he said over a year ago, looking up at me while we were rummaging the fridge for leftovers: “Jan, would you agree with me? That we are happier now than we have ever been?”
Yes, honey, we truly are.