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Lone shovel stuck in ground

We planted trees in the backyard on Friday night—a tiny Magnolia with shy, pink blooms, and a straight and sturdy Pear. GB dug beneath gray clouds while I waited for the sky to unfurl. I pitched in wherever I could; this was, after all, 36×37 assignment #35: Plant a Tree.

Here’s proof:

foot on shovel

This is my shovel, this is my foot

I’m glad I got this photo, because I really did try. In all honesty, though, I’m a little short on brute force, and when it comes to digging, I’m largely unsuccessful.

I’ll admit, then, that the scene mostly looked like this:

GB digging a hole for the magnolia tree…and this

GB puttling the magnolia tree in the hole…and this

GB planting the magnolia tree

He We didn’t have much time to work before the sun set, but it was enough time for me to thank GB for being so supportive and for helping me with the project this year. (You can read my first post and the explanation of 36×37 here.) If I thought he was my best friend before the last 365 days, I know it with all my heart now.

I tried to tell him so as he scooped soil back into the hole. I hoped he could tell I was sincere.

It started to rain. He didn’t pause, he just kept planting.

~*~

Magnolia tree

Magnolia tree

At its start, this project was really just a cover for my early mid-life crises. I hypothesized the lengths I thought I’d need to go to keep from smacking my head against the predictability of daily routine. I thought I’d need big doses of adventure to keep myself from growing old and stale. What I didn’t realize was that I’d been planting and harvesting adventures all along—even in the smallest things, like sipping a new Greek coffee, or planning a quiet evening out with GB, or whispering bedtime stories with the boys. The big-time adventures—like flying the Light Sport aircraft and doubling down in Vegas and taking trapeze lessons and standing on the state line—were great, truly. But when I started to look for new experiences, I realized I don’t need to work so hard to create them. They find me, they find us, until it’s absolutely intoxicating.

I did right to bring my family with me on this year’s adventures. They were essential, because all along I understood how much they are the critical ingredients to my happiness. It’s so much better to see life’s surprises together, and no matter which direction I look, I will always land on my family’s faces.

Just as importantly, this blog became a place to seek out a community. I had no idea the blogosphere was full of such remarkable people. Now I’m rich with friendship—the face to face kind, and the screen to screen kind, too, because I’ve found both to be equally important. I’ve met good people, excellent writers and story tellers, all with a love for experience. Best of all, I’ve become entrenched in dozens of funny, insightful, engaging, ongoing conversations. No small talk here.

It was so much more and so much better than I expected.

~*~

Pear tree

Pear tree

This morning, at breakfast, I had an idea.

“You know what we should do this year?” I said. “We should start a box. And every time we do something new or interesting or different, we should find a token of that moment, bring it home and put it in the box. At the end of the year, we can look at it all together. I can blog about each one so we have a quick record of each…”

And now, I finally know what the next phase of 36×37 will be. Forget the race against time. Forget the numbers. We’ll just look at this life together and see what we can squeeze out of it.

As for assignment #36? I did it. And I ate the most gorgeous ice cream birthday cake to celebrate.

~*~ Follow me on Twitter: @36×37
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Now, two days before this 36×37 adventure comes to an end, I’m staring down the barrel of my most sentimental assignment to date—Build a Family Time Capsule. I wish I’d given this idea more thought before now; a recap of the year so close to its end is anything but a good idea.

Because at first, my family searched the house for tokens to represent ourselves as individuals. I gathered: a three-year-old photo of the four of us outside on a sunny fall day; a dog-eared copy of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; a widowed blue topaz earring that belonged to my grandmother.

I thought these things could sketch an outline of my character. But given the context, that sketch had no meaning, and I knew it.

Meanwhile, my fellas chose items that made much more sense. The boys handed me Lego guys and plastic, four-inch super heroes. (Appropriate selections, to be sure; they dominated nearly every conversation we’ve had this year.) GB added his ticket to OSU Vs. Miami 2010, his grandmother’s obituary from January, and last June’s Father’s Day card.

All tokens of April 2010 to April 2011.

That’s when I realized this assignment shouldn’t speak for us one by one. It should show the things families do to sustain themselves, to sustain each other.

~*~

Tonight, H sits down to dinner and reads us four books. He does this after 30 minutes of bike riding on a bright spring day. He can add and subtract now. He has a best friend. Soccer starts Saturday. Karate starts Monday. All of these things are new.

O made a duck this week at preschool. He can count to 50 with a little help, and he’s quick as a whip at building puzzles. He draws people and houses and cheerful flowers. He calls me “Mommy” now instead of “Mama.” It’s new and wonderful stuff. All of it.

GB has learned to relax. These days, there are games of chase, hoops in the driveway, funny late night conversations, a zest for traveling and exploring our surroundings. It’s hard for grown-ups to find balance, but I think he’s starting to master it.

And me, I’ve learned to take inventory. I thought I counted blessings before. I thought I did, but really, I had no idea.

Now my time capsule list is very different. To the super heroes and Lego guys and ticket stubs, I’ll add print-outs of each and every 36×37 assignment.

It just seems obvious. Let this year and this family speak for itself.

family photo at Christmas time

~*~ Follow me on Twitter: @36×37
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fairy

(via istockphoto.com)

I hear a commotion from where I stand at the kitchen sink. There is a scurry of feet, a pounding at the steps, and then a few quick taps from one excited little hand.

I look down to find a bouncing H. His mouth is open wide, and he points urgently to his two front lower incisors.

“They’re wiggly!” he shouts and then bounces some more.

“They are?!” I say. “Well, buddy, that’s great!” I ask him to stop hopping so I can check out his teeth for myself. Sure enough, they’re as wiggly as worms.

I’m happy for two reasons. First, my kindergartener—who walked at 10 months and spoke full sentences by his first birthday—is one of the last kids in his class to drop a few pearly whites. The delay has turned into a point of stress for my kiddo; lately, I’ve caught him with a furrowed brow and two plier-like fingers in his mouth. Often.

I’m also excited because I’ve never played the role of Tooth Fairy. It smacks soundly of a new 36×37 assignment. I’m thankful for that because it will replace what was supposed to be assignment #33 – Learn to Change a Tire.

H pokes through one of our many “junk” drawers and pulls out the Tooth Fairy pillow my mom gave him a few months ago. “I can finally use this!” he says, flashing a smile that will one day soon be two teeth short.

~*~

Now, I don’t know about you, but some of the people I know get competitive about certain things, like where they went on their last spa vacation, or what luxury car they plan to buy this summer. The habit extends all the way down the rank and file, because some parents in H’s class have forked over $20 per tooth, and their kids have talked about it with their friends. “That’s preposterous,” I think. “They’re baby teeth, for crying out loud.” And besides all that, H has 20 teeth to lose. Do we really need to invest $400 in this enterprise, when a $20 total sounds much more intelligent?

I take the question to my friends via facebook: “How much coin is the Tooth Fairy dropping these days?” I ask. My friends give reasonable answers: One to two dollars seems to be the going rate.

I dwell and dwell and dwell on this. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t, but look at it this way: If I take the reasonable route, will H come home and ask why the Tooth Fairy gave him $1, while Joe received a cool, green Jackson? If yes, what answer will I give—that the Tooth Fairy donated the other $19 to his college fund?

So I dwell some more. In fact, I dwell so much that I do something really stupid.

“I ran into Scott at the store,” I tell GB. “I told him H has two loose teeth, and asked him his opinion on the going Tooth Fairy rate. He said he gave his kids $20 for each tooth. I told him I thought that was crazy!”

I notice a strange look cross GB’s face. Then I remember where I am and what I’m doing: standing at the boys’ bathroom sink, helping H brush his tiny chompers.

Oh no.

H looks at me quizzically. “$20 per tooth?” he asks.

I give him a hug to hide my face while I back pedal. “That was a long time ago…” I say eventually. “Mr. Scott’s kids are teenagers now. I don’t think the Tooth Fairy gives away that much change anymore. You know. Because of the Recession.”

I look at GB who shakes his head and laughs. “Good work,” I tell myself. “You’ve just added another idiot move to your growing collection.”

~*~

H with his first missing tooth

We spend the next few days doing everything we can think of to extract the wigglier of the two teeth. H takes to apples. Steak. Hard candy. Rigorous brushing. In the end, GB takes matters into his own hands—literally. It’s a quick and painless yank, and H is ecstatic.

He slides the tooth into the pocket of the Tooth Fairy pillow then places it under the cool side of his blue and red pillow case.

“You might not want to shove it under so far,” I say. “I’ll bet the Tooth Fairy is about Tinkerbelle’s size; the pillow might be hard for her to lift.”

H nods appreciatively at my advice and slides the tiny pillow to the edge of the bed.

“I should go to sleep!” he says. “I don’t want to be awake when she gets here!”

“Good thinking,” I say.

“You should get to sleep, too, Mama,” he says. “I don’t want you to ruin this for me.”

“I wouldn’t think of it,” I say.

Fifteen minutes later, my boy is in Snoozetown. Already he has turned away from his pillow to assist the transaction. Carefully, I swipe the tooth for the cash. When I retreat from his room on my tiptoes, I realize I’ve been holding my breath.

In the morning, I wake to find H snuggled warmly against my side. He’s reluctant to open his eyes until I remind him about his nighttime visitor. He rushes to his room, casts aside all pillows and blankets and finds two gold $1 coins where his tooth used to be.

Based on his new jack-o-lantern smile, it is exactly enough.

~*~ Find me on Twitter @37×37
~*~Visit the 36×37 facebook page

You have to understand: When I see a place like this, there’s no way I won’t stop for it.

Merry-Go-Round Museum, Sandusky, OH

Merry-Go-Round Museum, Sandusky, OH

The building is one of the first things we see when we drive through the heart of downtown Sandusky. It’s just the sort of unusual thing we’re searching for today. But lunchtime beckons, and so does a glimpse of the water. I make a mental note, and resolve not to leave town before seeing The Merry-Go-Round Museum for ourselves.

So we hit the bistro and the Maritime Museum. (I’ve told you all of this already.) When we finish, we power through the doors of the Merry-Go-Round Museum until we eventually come face to face with this:

Stork carousel seat

I survey the 7’ carving slowly. “Is that…a stork?” I ask aloud.

The boys have already left me to see what else they can find, and GB ambles behind them. I realize then that I’m talking to myself, or at the very least, I’m talking to the painted wooden form of a gigantic bird. That strikes me as funny, but then I look to my left and see this:

Shark carousel seat

And then I look to my right and see this:

Seagull carousel seat

Suddenly, the atmosphere takes a dreamlike quality. I wonder half seriously if I’ve fallen into some sort of strange and freakish slumber. When the organ from a working carousel begins to play, I follow the boys to their seats, feeling heady and a bit out of sorts, but that’s not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

~*~

"Carousel St" street sign

You might not know this, but carousels are almost extinct. One of the only remaining manufacturers—The Carousel Works—is based in Mansfield, OH; and it’s the only firm that designs, carves and assembles under one roof. Given that nobody makes hand-carved Merry-Go-Rounds anymore, and everyone loves a good monopoly, it’s no surprise that a fully-loaded carousel will sell for anywhere between $300,000 and $1 million dollars.

If you ever find yourself at the Columbus Zoo, which boasts a Carousel Works original, you can think about that price tag when you pay for two tickets to ride.

~*~

The carousel ride lasts five minutes at least. I try to talk O into riding the baby bunny and H into riding the zebra, but in the end, they go for traditional horses, like this one:

Horse carousel seat

Meanwhile, I’m still struck by the beautiful, slightly oddball carvings:

Cat carousel seat

Dragon carousel seat

frog carousel seat

giraffe carousel seat

yak carousel seat

lion carousel seat

When we leave, I still have that same vague feeling of otherworldliness. I don’t know how to describe it, so instead I’ll redirect you to The Merry-Go-Round Museum online. You won’t see much beyond what I’ve already shown you here, but you’ll hear a bizarre, fun and uncomfortable little jingle to give you a true flavor of the place. It’s funny and mostly normal, but still just freakish enough to give you pause and question whether you really woke up this morning.

~*~ Follow me on Twitter: @36×37
~*~ Visit the 36×37 facebook page

It’s Saturday, and as far as Saturdays go, this one begins like all the others: Little boys awake and whispering by 7:30; everyone showered and dressed by 8:30; pancakes on the stove by 9:00; full bellies and clean dishes by 9:30.

With that routine officially under our belts, I pull out my computer and Google the map of Ohio. I call the boys to me, and when they arrive after some coaxing, I position one on either side of me. “Put your fingies together,” I say. “…Yep, together like this. Great. Now point to the map. Wherever you land, that’s where we’ll go today.”

And so they do. They put their pointer fingers to work, and by 1:00, we’re driving along the Ohio coastline, breathing the crisp Lake Erie air.

~*~

There’s no itinerary for this excursion, which is all very well; 36×37 assignment #32 includes picking a place the day of the trip, then going there without additional planning. Now that we’re here, we have nothing to do but drive around to search for adventure. And so we find a few things. They jump out at us the way tourist attractions sometimes do.

Dining

First, there’s lunch in a time-warped bistro—Barardi’s Restaurant. Based on our friendly and attentive server’s teased-up, platinum hairdo, I’m guessing we’re trapped somewhere between 1968 and 1972. The gargantuan burgers are slathered in cheese. The fries are hand-cut and doused in salt. There are flaky, fresh-baked pies in the pie counter. (Can you believe it? A pie counter?) Not only is that quaint and slightly adorable, but I’ll bet every last one of those cream-filled beauties is packed with unspeakable deliciousness.

H is more adventurous than usual with his meal. By that, I mean he actually eats it, and I think that has more to do with his newly loose tooth and his desire to extract it than it has to do with anything else. He’s trying to show it off for you in this photo:

GB and H at diner

Entertainment

We stop next at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, which sounds like a snooze but—surprise—it actually isn’t! First, as it turns out, the Maritime Museum happens to employ the nicest man in the world who smiles at the boys and lets us all in for the family price of a wee $6.00 total.

Secondly, the place has all kinds of photo opportunities, like this:

H & O and Scuba guy

The boys get to “test drive” a vintage Lyman Boat simulator that rocks like it’s on water and comes complete with working horns and windshield wipers…

O at the helm

They make boats…

H & O in construction hats

Model Boat

Tie nautical knots…

square knot

And admire the pristine models.

sailboat model

Later, when I ask the boys about their favorite part of the trip, they agree that the Maritime Museum wins hands down.

History

If you’ve heard of Sandusky, it’s either because you’re from Ohio, or you’ve visited Cedar Point Amusement Park, which boasts the largest collection of roller coasters in the world. However, for much of the late 19th and early 20th century, Sandusky was known for something else—the largest fresh water harbor in America and the finest fish market in the world. It produced more fish than all the Great Lakes combined.

But it wasn’t just a fishing town. In the down season, when the lake froze 18 inches thick, Sandusky morphed into the largest ice shipping port west of the Hudson River. Its harvested ice was used predominantly to ship fish and beer, and would travel as far as Havana, Cuba—10 lbs of ice for every lb of fish.

Sandusky also was an active stop on the Underground Railroad. As Harriet Beecher Stowe described in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, many runaway slaves sought freedom in Canada, and arrived at this nationally known port of escape to cross Lake Erie with the help of a captain willing to take the risk.

The American shipping industry died in Sandusky years ago. These days, when you watch the Great Lake waters and spot an industrial boat, chances are that boat is Canadian.

Sightseeing

We end up at the Marblehead Lighthouse.

lighthouse

It’s chilly, so we don’t spend much time there, but for a Maryland kid like GB, it’s nice to be back on the water. We take a different route for the ride home—one that takes us along the coast, so we can watch for just a few minutes longer the icy waves waking up to a Northern Ohio spring.

To Be Continued

That’s not all we do. Between the Maritime Museum and the lighthouse, we make another stop. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow because I need real estate for all the truly strange and excellent photos I took. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a riddle: What has two legs, a long neck, and goes up and down in a circle? The answer is “Stork.” You’ll find out why tomorrow.

~*~ Follow me on Twitter: @36×37
~*~ Visit the 36×37 facebook page

Randyland Revisited

hourglass

(via vuvan.com)

In H’s room, there sits a wall clock with a minute hand that ticks louder than it should. I always notice it, but when the house is dead quiet like it is today, I almost stop the hands so I can fold and put away my son’s clothes in peace. From his windows, I can see a slog of soggy gray clouds hanging above our house. I dismiss them happily, because by this time next week they’ll be gone, and it will be springtime, finally, in Columbus, OH.

If you’re counting, this also means that my last 36×37 assignment is due in 11 days. That’s fun to think about—the number of accomplishments and silliness we can fit inside a year—but before I can hand in #36, I have four others I need to accomplish first. This means I have some work to do.

While I’m doing that, here’s an old piece with some major tweaks here and there to refine the story. As far as 36×37 assignments go, #5 was a personal favorite. I hope you enjoy the repost…or at the very least, I really hope you’ll like Randy.

~*~

36×37 Assignment #5: A Postcard from Randyland (June 1, 2010)

A few years ago, GB drove to Pittsburgh for a weekend to help my brother and former sister-in-law with her family’s business. When they returned and I asked about the trip, they peppered their recount with stories about some guy named Randy.

“You should see this guy,” GB said. “He was a server at the restaurant in our hotel, but he’s also an artist with a huge, quirky personality. I guess he bought an old building on the Central Northside, completely renovated it with recycled stuff, and started this whole rejuvenation project across his community. It’s wild.”

Now, I love art. And I’m fascinated by people who can cut themselves loose from social convention. But so far, nothing about the guy sounded that out of the ordinary. He sounded like a lot of other people I’ve met over the years.

GB could see I wasn’t convinced, so he opened a Google search. And he showed me this:

Randyland 1

And this:

Randyland 2

And this:

Randyland 3

“This is Randyland,” he said.

I scrolled up and down, clicking picture after picture. “Is this for real?” I asked.

GB nodded, arms folded.

“Huh!” I said, nodding back.

~*~

Now we’re here in Pittsburgh. My brother and I have seen the city dozens of times, but this trip has a special purpose: We’re here to see Randy. It’s 36×37 assignment #5.

There are rules to this trip. First of all, Randy doesn’t know why we’re here. No one is allowed to tell him, either, because I want to observe him organically.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Randy, but he’s actually somewhat a celebrity, and from what I can tell, he’s a rare and interesting guy. The Chicago Tribune thinks so. Good Morning America thinks so. The Dave Matthews Band thinks so. And so do 50,000 or so other tourists annually. I wanted to see for myself whether I should agree.

~*~

Randy was raised in a poor neighborhood across town from his current address. His mother—a Salvation Army minister—was a single parent to six children, so his family didn’t have much when he was a child. In one article I found (on popcitymedia.com), he said his interest in recycling and refurbishing trashed items began when he was small. He built bikes and made toys for his siblings year-round, then stored them in the basement. At Christmas, he placed his creations around the Christmas tree so his family’s holidays would look like the ones in magazines.

In another article, he said he’d been told all his life that he’d never amount to anything. He took that as a challenge, and redefined what success meant to him: Happiness.

I’m not sure how or when he came to live in the Mexican War Streets district of downtown Pittsburgh. However, I do know his restoration project began in 1982 with a $1,000 unemployment check and some barrels filled with dirt and flowers. In 1996, he bought the 3-parcel Jacksonia Street property for $11,300.

Today, Randy is almost single-handedly responsible for installing 800 streetscapes, 50 vegetable gardens, and eight parks across the 30-block area.

~*~

Now we’re eating breakfast, and Randy is our server. I’ll concede that he’s loud, talkative and gregarious, and I’m guessing busy and/or perpetually hung-over patrons would find him “hard to take.” But for folks with a good sense of humor, Randy’s the man. He pulls off his abundance of energy with sincerity and sweetness. He makes an impression.

Here’s what I mean:

While we’re eating, five families come and go, and each makes a special point to tell our host goodbye. They initiate hugs and handshakes. He remembers their names. They leave the restaurant feeling important, like they’ve just seen a long-lost friend.

Me? I’m taken with how he treats my boys.

“Do you know why good food is important?” he asks them. They nod like smiling, hypnotized puppets, so he continues. “The food goes down your throat and into your belly and down to your toes and up to your brain, and that’s what makes you smart! That’s what makes you strong!” His eyes crinkle into a smile as my boys shovel spoonful after spoonful of cinnamon-scented Irish steel-cut oats into their tiny, chewing mouths.

~*~

Before we arrived, some of my online research uncovered articles and posts that painted Randy as a court jester of sorts–someone to observe then scoff at in private. Not all reports were unkind; but they all did consistently force him into a kind of  “otherness.” They used phrases like “eccentric,” “larger than life,” and “colorful” to build a storied image of the man.

Maybe, but if you look beyond those words, you might see a man who is kind to the core. That’s who I see, anyway: a unique person with a tender, exposed and joyful spirit.

I feel guilty. I realize now that I came here to gawk at a man who walks to his own beat, even though I told myself I had honest intentions. Today, however, I marvel at his pure and obvious love for companionship, and his desire to turn each day into something that feels like a promise. I’m ashamed of my short-sightedness and relieved he proved to be more than just a caricature.

“Randy, when you have a minute,” I say, “Can we get a picture with you?”

Randy
I love this photo. It’s blurry, but it captures everything I want to say about Randy: He makes people happy.

Anyway, we click the picture, and the next thing I know, Randy is handing me a map and offering to give us the Randyland grand tour if we can wait an hour for him to go home and tidy the place. I figure such a tour will add a certain “flavor” to this particular assignment, so we head toward the Mexican War Streets. We arrive before Randy does, unfortunately, so we snap the photos you saw above, then pile into the car to head back home.

The boys burst into tears. They don’t want to leave Randyland.

And from what I can tell, the grown ups don’t want to leave either.

Want more photos of Randyland? Check out this set on Flikr.

P.S. Randyland wasn’t the only “new thing” we did in Pittsburgh. Check out Assignment #5 (Part II) for more…

~*~ Find me on Twitter @36×37

~*~ Visit the 36×37 facebook page

cupcake with many candles

(google image via scentofmyheart.files.wordpress.com)

It’s GB’s birthday today. He’s 35, although he says he feels a whole lot older. We have plans to celebrate with my family tonight, and the boys and I are taking him to breakfast this morning. On Thursday, though, I canceled my noon meeting and met GB for lunch so we could celebrate his big day by ourselves.

As we scanned the menu, I of course spent a minute or two teasing him about The Big 3-5 in a shamefully uncreative way. “This is your last year to check the “21-35” box on forms, you know.” I said. “You’ll be out of the youth market. Beer companies won’t want anything more to do with you.”

He grinned ruefully. “Remember how, when I first started my job, the marketing team took pictures of the lab, and I was in one of those pictures? Since then, my 23-year-old self is on posters around the building. I walked past one with [Mr. Company President] a few days ago, and he told me I’d aged a lot.”

“He did?” I said. I tilted my head and tried to survey my husband objectively. To me, he didn’t look like he’d aged much at all. I could only see the same smart, preppy, smirking kid I married all those years ago.

~*~

It’s April 9, 1999. I’m at the Franklin County Probate Court, waiting to sign a marriage license for the wedding that is just two weeks away. I left work early and arrived at 3:45 by myself. Now it’s 4:19, the office will close in 11 minutes, and GB has yet to walk through the door.

The receptionist eyes me sympathetically from behind the desk. I avoid eye contact as long as I can. When she does catch my glance, she says, “I’m sorry, sweetie. It looks like he’s not coming.”

“Oh, he’ll be here!” I say in my most chipper voice. “I’m sure he’s just running late.”

She nods encouragingly and returns to her crossword puzzle.

Meanwhile, I try to decide how best to retaliate for being stood up on marriage license-signing day: If I get home first, should I pack up all his things and then wait for him, or should I change the lock, spend the night at my parents’ house and leave all his crap on the back doorstep? The first could work, because the yelling would be cathartic. But the second would be better; I’m already humiliated enough.

“No matter what,” I tell myself, “I’m keeping his CDs. He’ll have to pry them from my cold, lifeless, broken-hearted fingers to even think about getting them back.”

The clock says 4:21.

I fumble around for my cell phone. In my head I leave him a message full of furious, unbridled obscenities. Instead, I mumble this into the phone: “GB, I’m at the courthouse. Where are you?”

Then I slink back in my chair to stare at the ceiling.

At 4:23, the door swings open, and there he is. His tanned face is all smiles and apologies. I burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” he asks in wide-eyed surprise.

“I left you messages! Why are you so late?”

“I got caught in traffic,” he says. “Then I couldn’t find a parking spot. I drove around forever. You know I wouldn’t stand you up.”

The receptionist pretends she’s not paying attention. She pulls a calculator out of her top drawer and starts poking the numbers with her pencil eraser.

GB exhales an exasperated sigh then collapses into the seat next to mine. “Now, are you going to learn trust me?” he says. “You know me well enough to know I would never let you down like that.”

The clock says 4:25.

“Let’s sign some papers,” I sniff.

For once, the government does two kids a favor and stays open a little late. We leave the courthouse with our license in hand, and say our vows in front of friends and family two weeks later. We spend the next decade sharing CDs that eventually turn into MP3 files, in an apartment that eventually turns into a house, that we own as a couple that eventually turns into a family.

~*~

From this safe distance of nearly 12 years, I can say GB has kept his promises. He has never let me down, not once. I think that’s why I can’t see if he’s changing. He’s never made me question him, so I’ve never needed to take a step back, reassess, or see him for anything other than the person I know him to be.

“Did you buy me the anti-balding shampoo for a reason?” he asked me yesterday morning.

I snorted. “I bought you anti-balding shampoo?”

“I thought you were trying to tell me something,” he said.

I laughed as I squinted at his full head of hair. “You know me well enough to know I’m not that subtle.”

(Happy birthday, sweetheart. I hope it’s fantastic. – M.)

~*~ Follow me on Twitter: @36×37
~*~ Visit the 36×37 facebook page

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