I have chin burn.
My husband shaved his beard this week. He didn’t discuss it with me or let me know. I just woke up to find a familiar old face in my bed, and was taken aback by my own reaction. Baby!!! I cried. You shaved!!! I kissed him on his cheeks and his chin and rubbed my bare skin against his.
I have been married to this man for twenty-one years (and dated him for a year before that). We are very much in love and have a solid, respectful relationship, but moments of squealing joy and giddiness are rather rare at this stage of the game.
Hence my gratitude at my reaction. At my excitement. At my joy.
Twenty-two years with someone is plenty of time for life to throw you some curve balls, to send you to your knees, to punch you in the stomach, to crush even the happiest and most optimistic of us. It’s enough time for being wrong, being deflated, being humbled. For finding out that you were a better parent before you had kids. That you don’t always want what you want. That love and loss are deeply intertwined. And that very little is what you thought it would be.
But it’s also enough time to realize that you don’t need to be right, that he loves you even though he has no idea what you’re thinking, that it’s OK that he’d rather go fishing, that he may never get you exactly what you want on your birthday (and that he can never seem to figure out what exactly that is), that he thinks about you more than you realize, that making you happy brings him more joy than anything else. That yes, sometimes he takes you for granted and forgets that you still need to be courted and asked out and told how beautiful you look even though he’s told you about a thousand times before, but that he didn’t mean to ignore you and you know how much he loves you so twenty-two years and three kids later why on earth would you even ask him that?
Twenty-two years is a long time to still light up when you walk in the room, get butterflies when you see him, sneak a kiss when no one is watching, hold hands, dance closely, play a game of backgammon every single night and smooch so much when he shaves his beard that you get chin burn.
Twenty-two years is a long time to be in any relationship and to be in one that still makes me squeal with joy is the result of some confluence of timing, pheromones, stars aligned and sheer dumb luck that I can only be grateful for.
Which I most certainly am.