Our story is a long one, as many of you know. If you didn't know, go off to the menu on the right and look for entries labeled "Memory Lane." The whole story is there. The general idea is this: We met when we were fourteen years old. For a long time, I loved him, but we were only friends. And then we weren't. And then he loved me, and I loved him back, and we got married, had two children, and a dog, a lived on. I hate to say "happily ever after" because it makes people jealous.
I considered making this a lovely tribute to Memory Lane, expounding once more on the magic of fate and how things turned out magical and wonderful, but I decided instead to give you a little dose of the real me. The real me doesn't linger in the pixie dust. The real me shoves the dust up Joe's nose and makes him sneeze it all out, because he so deserves it most of the time.
Once, in college, I had this disturbing dream. In the timeline of our relationship, Joe and I were in love, pretending to be just friends, with me taking it one step further because I was pretending to be annoyed that we were friends. (These games didn't go away; they're just different now.) In the dream, Lionel Richie's "Stuck On You" was playing, and Joe's face was close to mine, and he was saying, "I don't know what it is about you, Mary Pat, but I'm just stuck on you."
Yes, unfortunately, that is a true story.
In the dream, Joe was wearing a navy blue shirt and khakis. I might not have remembered that detail, except that the next time I saw him, guess what he was wearing? That's right. A navy blue shirt. I remember feeling that he must have somehow read my mind and was making fun of me, but he was just as cheerful and clueless as ever. Later that day, we were on the phone and I said, "I liked that navy blue shirt look today," and he said, "Oh this old thing?" or something to that effect. To my eternal embarrassment, I said rather feverishly, "You looked really, really good in that." And, well, he DID. All that light blond hair and his blue, blue eyes. He IS a good looking guy, after all.
It may be true that after that phone conversation, Joe went out and bought three hundred sixty-five navy blue shirts. I can't really know, because it was right before the point in our relationship when we stopped being friends. But I can tell you that tonight, on his thirty-third birthday, Joe is lounging on the couch across the room wearing a navy blue Polo shirt and jeans, giggling over the DVRed Saturday Night Live from last night. His hair is darker, his eyes are more green than blue, and I know that he is the kind of guy who shouldn't eat too much garlicky food (or ELSE), and that he when he watched TV, his asthma becomes more pronounced (weird but true), and that when this show is over, he's going to go into the kitchen and get a Diet Pepsi, open it noisily, and slurp it until it's gone, even though I've asked him a million times to stop drinking pop because it's so bad for him. I know that when he sleeps, he steals all the covers but then gets too hot, and throws them all off. In the morning when he wakes up, he accuses me of ensuring he was without covers all night long, even though I was unconscious for most of the night's events. I know he snores, but that if I kick him in the leg with medium strength he'll stop. I know he HATES HATES HATES that I lose everything important (including his birthday present today; I meant to hide it in a place HE couldn't find it, but alas...). He thinks Listerine is the answer to everything. His version of heaven is vague but definitely includes bacon and barbecue ribs. I know that at some point tonight, he'll peel off his gross day-old socks and LEAVE THEM on the couch, even though he'll pass both the laundry room and, separately, a hamper before going to bed. I know his voice is so loud our dog howls when he starts proclaiming things.
Moreover, I know that I have married, quite literally (and I DO know how to use that word), the man of my dreams. I have learned, in all the years we've known each other, he is far more than a good-looking blond in a navy blue shirt. But in the spirit of birthdays, I'm forced to admit one irrefutable truth: I sure am glad he was born. I sure am glad he is mine. And, as he said to me in my subconscious fantasy all that time ago, I'm stuck on him. So often, we end as we began, don't we?
Happy Birthday to my husband Joe. I LOVE YOU!