While I don’t necessarily believe in LOVE at first sight, I can easily tell you the moment I first put my eyes on my husband. I have developed a couple of theories as to why that is:
- My soul recognized his as its perfect match in that timeless, primal song of human attraction
- I had just arrived in Mexico and couldn’t fathom why the guitar player on stage at this funky little bar was wearing a flannel shirt and jeans in the middle of August
Either theory has a great deal of merit, because first of all I thought he was really adorable, and second of all I was sweating from what seemed like my own eyeballs, something I never knew was possible until I hit the sub-tropics mid-summer.
Eventually we really did fall in love, and boy did I fall. I fell in that way you sometimes do when you trip on a root on top of a tall, thorn-covered hill. Like, you know it’s really going to hurt later, but it’s kind of fun on the way down. And it might as well be, because there’s no stopping it anyway.
It also felt like it was forever. The reasons for my budding amor seemed pretty real and pretty obvious. Gil was mysterious, with a deeply attractive accent that made everything in the English language sound gorgeous (have you ever heard a Mexican ask for Vaporub? You really should). He played guitar better than anything I had ever heard live in my whole twenty-seven years on the planet. He had old-school, courtly manners and always made sure he walked next to the street when we were together. He was the kindest person I had ever met, and I’ve met a lot of kind people.
Years have passed, and sixteen years after we began obsessing over each other’s most superficial traits, we are still together, and we are still in love. But guess what I have discovered?
Love is weird. Deeply, disturbingly weird. Love is so weird it’s almost like it has its own sense of dark, twisted humor. You know all that stuff I loved about Gilberto when that was all I knew about it him? Now it’s almost like I kind of love him in spite of those things.
The accent, combined with my slightly (!) unrefined Spanish has resulted in colossal misunderstandings.
It turns out that the only way you can play guitar at least as good as Carlos Santana is by practicing all of the notes in all of the songs about twenty-eight hours a day.
Courtly manners in a dad mean he tends to treat his daughter like spun glass who deserves all of her deepest wishes including two fish tanks (on the same shopping trip).
So what I have learned is that love changes over the years, and it should. I love him for many more reasons now than I ever have before. He speaks my native language even though we are in his birth country. He is loves our family so much that he works as hard as he can to give us a good life. He teaches our children to be respectful to everyone around them. He laughs at my jokes when I’m happy, and he never leaves my side when I’m not.
And he is still the kindest person I have ever met.
Love has so many forms. When you first fall in love, it’s giddy and superficial and fun. Through the years, as it endures the trials and the tough times that are inevitable, it is tested over and over again. If it’s real, it stands the tests of time. If it’s real, it doesn’t leave when it gets hard. If it’s real, it simply grows along with you.
Happy eleventh wedding anniversary to Gilberto, who grows along with me. Thank you for loving me too.