A day when hearts are uncamouflaged

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Dear Camo Man,

Happy first married Valentine’s Day, Honey. Not that we need excuses for romance ... our days are filled with it.

I know this letter might make your co-workers roll their eyes — you appear to have a well-earned reputation as a bit of a pot stirrer and just as ready as the next guy to jump into the thick of things.

But I don’t think they know the man this letter is addressed to. I’m sorry for the ribbing you’ll take, but I did warn you on, what, our third date? I said, “You should know I write about the people in my life.”

You smiled and looked down (do you have any idea how my heart swells when you do that?) and said, “That’s not going to bother me.” I’ve taken you at your word, dear husband, and then some.

Let me start at that moment in each day we come into consciousness in the pre-dawn. We’re almost always within seconds of each other, our brains having already memorized the breathing pattern of the other. I love how you allow me to trace your profile with my finger or cuddle up to your back for another minute of warmth. Then when you turn and tell me I’m so beautiful in the morning? Yeah, that’s really good.

It’s like nectar to the hummingbird when you make our bed as your “good morning” to me. I love that, coming back into our room and finding the bed as neatly dressed as you.

You know how sometimes I come out to the kitchen and you have “Heaven” by Bryan Adams playing? That still makes me melt. We now have many songs together, but nothing can replace the first one we identified as “ours.” I like that we still go through spates of trading love song links back and forth like we’re fifth-graders passing notes ... it was our first currency in this relationship and you’ve made me a wealthy woman.

I like how you make the coffee when I’ve forgotten to load the pot. Even when I tell you it looks like tea. And then we drink our first cup together on the double bench we bought just for that reason. Super corny and darned fun to cuddle on, especially when our teens gag as we kiss at dinner.

Then it’s time for you to leave and sometimes I follow you to the door. I like when you turn around and tell me to stand on the step above you then show me how it puts me at the perfect spot for that sweet smooch.

The one I feel down to my toes.

The fact that our days are spent in eager anticipation of being with each other again disgusts some people. Can’t be helped. We work miles apart and I swear I sometimes feel my cells leaning toward yours.

OK, those people are right, that IS disgusting, but there you have it.

Then come the treasured evenings. We nearly fall through the door, exhausted, with about a 20-second window before being bombarded by the kids. Usually you-know-who is tattling, another needs a talking to and one is just needy, period. It’s been a learning curve, but we’re on the cusp of figuring out how to respond to each as a team.

There is nothing more romantic, in my book, than a man teasing a sullen teen out of a bad mood or teaching him or her a new skill. And when you occasionally take the role of bad cop and let me play good cop, you’re rebuilding a soul worn down from single parenting.

That right there will excuse you from kitchen patrol for the evening, sir.

Finally — dogs crated, teens in their caves, adult kids phoned, last load of laundry in the dryer — we make it to the best time of day. That hallway might seem a mile long by then, but we’re back when we started. You’re pretty adorable when you put your legs on my side of the bed to warm it up as I’m washing off my makeup.

I love how we read for a bit, quilts pulled up, speaking aloud some snippet of our day suddenly recalled. And then ... the lights go off and we talk and we talk. We marvel, nearly every night, at the series of events that put us together. Oh, and the near misses and “what ifs,” both of us so aware things pivoted on nothing more than a couple of phone calls and a game of bowling.

What if you had given up on me or I had never called again?

It’s painful to consider, and we can only be soothed by the happy reality.

You have my heart, Camo Man.

Love,

Mrs. Camo Man

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