Ode to my husband on Our Anniversary

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He does not write sonnets. He does not dedicate love songs. He does not fill bathtubs with rose petals. He doesn’t even unload groceries most of the time.

But when the time came for me to rent a car last summer, he made sure there was a Mustang GT, v-8, in red waiting for me at the airport. And yes, it does go from 0 to 60 in under five seconds. (Don’t worry, I didn’t try it with the kids in the car.) This is the kind of thing I appreciate about my husband.

Here’s what else:

1. He takes my old minivan to gas up before a snowstorm, and he’s the one who
cleans the salt and mud off after the snow has melted.
2. He never, ever hassles me about the bills.
3. He does laundry, even lingerie, and he does it RIGHT.
4. He makes a mean Margarita, and doesn’t count how many I’ve had. If there’s a little pressure behind the eyes at daybreak, he’ll bring me an Advil and tell me I didn’t say anything embarrassing, even If I did.
5. He encourages me to fall asleep on the sofa, in sweats and warm socks, if I am “tired.” (I’m not a person who can admit to being sick).
6. He stays up with sick children. If I am exhausted he will take a shift, even if he has to go to work in the morning. He understands how lucky he is to have a family, and doesn’t want to miss any of it.
7. He will help me clean up in a hurry if someone calls and says they’re coming over.
8. He will watch the PBS version of “Pride and Prejudice” with me for the seventy third (or seventy fourth?) time and listen to me sing the praises of the very young and handsome Colin Firth.
9. Sometimes, he even listens to country music, or takes me to a concert where some cowboy from down home is singing about Georgia red clay, turnip greens and/or drinking Tequila. It’s easy to forgive the eye rolling.
10. His recipe for banana chocolate chip pancakes is to die for.
11. He has a deep, hearty, and joyful laugh, which can drag me out from the darkest emotional doldrums. Nothing makes him laugh harder than the facial expression of a small child who has eaten something yucky, or if he hears someone use the word “poo”.
12. He can think on his feet. Once, when we were dating, my very pretty roommate walked out in a thong with her nether-regions fully visible from where we sat watching TV. He could have reacted ten thousand negative ways, but he looked at me with a puzzled expression and said “has she gained weight?”

There are so many more reasons to keep the guy around, but mostly it’s that he gets it that I really, really dig fast, shiny, loud cars, even if learning to drive a manual transmission is hopeless for me. “There’s nothing wrong with a girl who appreciates a big engine.” he says, and that’s why I love him.

Home

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Some days I just want to go home. Today is one of those days.

I live in Colorado, and walk with my children to the school bus each morning beneath what is arguably the most majestic view on planet earth, but it is not home.  The people here are wonderful, and supportive, and I have made a few true and lifelong friends among them, but they are not of home.

Home to me is south of here, way south, although I am not a true southerner.  I was not born in the south, nor was any member of my immediate family.  My ancestors who fought in the civil war served Abe Lincoln, not Robert E. Lee.  I do not speak with a southern accent.  I was born in Chicago.  I arrived in Atlanta at two years of age, when my father accepted a job transfer, so I have no childhood memory of being anywhere else.  It was in the south that I learned to be.  It was there that I was educated, and there that I fell in and out of love with the now enlightened grandsons and great- grandsons of slave owners.   It was there I learned to negotiate friendships with southern women, and became a southern woman, sort of.

Because I didn’t share their history, and so was not permitted to participate in their romance with the lost glory of the old south, I never really fit in with the true southerners who I grew up with, but still I feel, keenly, the siren call of the south.  It’s a feeling I share with those who were born there and whose people have lived there for generations.  I know my yearning for home is not only mine because I hear about it from others all the time.  All I have to do is turn on the radio.  Have you ever heard a tune called Sweet Home Toronto?  No.  Midwestern Chicken?  No.  The Devil Went Down to Arizona?  No!  You have heard, though, Sweet home Alabama, Dixie Chicken, and the Devil Went Down to Georgia.  There is something magical and poetic about the south.  Even the musicians, the poets of our time, feel it.  It’s no wonder that I feel it too.  It’s no wonder that I miss it.

I miss the oak trees and the azalea and the dogwoods of spring time.  Heck, I miss spring time.  We don’t really have spring in Colorado.  What they call spring is nothing like the long Georgia season that begins with the daffodils in February and ends with the perfume of the cherry blossoms being carried away into summer by the last of the cool breezes.  Springtime in Colorado is characterized by snowstorms, not flowers.

I miss hot nights (literal ones, not metaphorical ones).  I miss not needing a sweater on a summer evening.  I even miss the overcast, gothic, depressing heat of late summer.  I miss the warm damp rotten smell of the earth in the garden.  I miss home grown okra.  I miss red dirt.  I miss fireflies viewed across a suburban yard from an Adirondack chair.

I miss the slow brown roll of the Chattahoochee under a white sky, when the next bridge you can see from your innertube is blurred by the haze, and you can feel the faint tug of the plastic cooler afloat in the water behind you because it’s tied to your tube with bright orange plastic twine.

I miss the smell of honeysuckle that grows in the chain link fences around playgrounds. (I’d like to teach my daughters how to gently pull the stamen from the base of the honeysuckle blossom, so that they can taste the sweet drop of liquid that it carries, and drop the spent flower to crush under their flip-flops, to release the last of the scent).

I miss fall leaves.  I miss acorns.  I miss the sticky crunch of a Rome apple in season.  I miss the first cool crisp day of autumn.  All days are crisp in Colorado.  It’s so damn cheerful all the time. 

I miss the rain tap tapping on the roof.  Snow on the roof does not make a sound, and therefore does not create the restful, safe, and cozy feeling that rain does.  Snow, also, refuses to run helpfully into the storm sewers like rain does.  It demands to be shoveled.

I miss delicate shoes; they just don’t make sense in this climate.

I miss the low, lingering, musical voices of the people.  I miss the sense of history and the high ceilinged architecture.  I miss box fans in windows.  I miss sweet tea, and waitresses who call me honey.

Maybe it’s because today, I’m mad at my husband, and he is the reason I reside in what today seems like an airless, cold, treeless, brown and grey wasteland where the howling wind never calms, that makes me crave the feeling of home.  Maybe it’s because, today, I am weary of the staccato rhythm of life above the Mason Dixon line.  Maybe it’s because a few days ago we had a rare and precious rainy day, which reminds me of home, no, causes me to feel at home, and today we are back to the relentless glaring sunshine that somehow makes me feel guilty for needing to rest.  Maybe it’s because today, I just happen to be feeling sentimental.  

Whatever the reason, today I just want to go home.