A recent conversation in my home was as follows:
“What did we even do before we got married, had a house, and created a human?”
“Oh that’s right… we laid around and made out all day.”
Just kidding. Sort of. But really, what did we do all day? It seemed more carefree then. More spontaneous, less complex.
Today, everything is planned. My calendar is organized, line by line. I have a file drawer for “utility bills.” Two years ago I didn’t know what a utility bill was. I meal plan (on good weeks), have a running memo of how many packs of wipes are left in the baby’s closet, and wipe down high chair covers after dinner most nights. On February 11th, it occurred to me that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and gasped while putting away laundry: “we’re not doing that whole gift thing, are we!?” We indeed…are not.
Let’s get back to the laundry for a moment. I primarily take care of the laundry. I like sorting, and even washing, and drying too. But that’s about where it stops. The folding and especially the putting away? I’d pay somebody for that. Recently, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and put the laundry away. I had my husband’s gigantic size XL sweatshirt in my hands and was just about to fold it up, Marie Kondo style, when he swooped in the bedroom and snatched it out of my hands and whisked it over his head. He wore it around the house for the remainder of the day, and I noticed that I never had a chance to untie the sweatshirt strings.
Many years ago as a little girl, I remember watching my Nana do laundry. If the clothing item involved any strings, she would tie the strings together before putting the item in the washing machine. It was to prevent the string from pulling all the way through, she said. As a teenager, I remember my mom tying my drawstrings together when she washed my sports uniforms. I forgot once, and she told me to tie the strings together, you know, just in case. I guess the string was lost forever and a disaster happened, I don’t remember.
And so… I’m 28. And I always tie all of the strings together. Upon taking the item out of the wash, I always untie the string. Always. I mean, who would walk around all day with the strings still tied? Only some little dweeb, I’m sure. Well call my husband a little dweeb, because he walked around all day with those strings all tied up.
It wasn’t until he took the sweatshirt off for bed that night that I remarked about the strings. “You really ought to untie those sweatshirt strings,” I told him, know-it-all style. “You look like a little dweeb.” I readily made the assumption that my husband didn’t have a clue about the sweatshirt strings. I assumed it was an oblivious nonsensical item, kind of like when a woman comes home with a new haircut and nobody notices.
“I knew they were tied. All day. I left them that way because it reminds me of you.”
He always noticed.
Tonight, Darren made dinner. It was a rushed effort, and sort of throw together at the last minute, and simple and pretty tasty all at once.
He made a simple meat sauce, pasta, and some garlic bread, and we ate it fairly quickly before it was time to head upstairs for baby bedtime. 45 minutes later after a baby bath, pajamas, and quiet time, we made our way back downstairs and were greeted by a chaotic kitchen. Darren actually went out to run a quick errand and told me not to worry about the mess, that he would take care of it when he got back. But I’m not so good at relaxing in the living room when I know there’s a mess in the kitchen. I threw some music on and had the kitchen almost entirely tidied in 20 minutes. Just as I was finishing up, I noticed something dripping onto the surface on the stove. I looked up and under, just to find some red meat sauce that had splattered onto the bottom of the microwave splattering its way back down.
My immediate response was one of sheer annoyance. “For REAL?!” He couldn’t have covered the pot, or made sure that the sauce didn’t get all the heck over the kitchen?! Strangely and quietly, something inside me told me to stop. I just looked at the hidden little mess, picked up the cleaning sponge, and put it back down. The stupid splattering red sauce was there because my husband made dinner. It was ready when I was hungry, and in the moment, I hadn’t even taken the time to notice.
He’s home now and cleaning up the red sauce remnants, in case you were wondering.
I wish I had a summary sentence for this post, and I wish I could put into words how these two incidents – sweatshirt strings and spaghetti sauce – fit like two little pieces of the same puzzle in my mind.
Romance looks different these days. It looks like continuing to tie the sweatshirt strings, even when I don’t want to take an extra four seconds and does he really even care that I do this? It looks like smiling at the red sauce instead of barking some snide remark, because for goodness sakes he made dinner. I think it’s all in the notice, and mostly about perspective. It’s less in the flowers and truffles and more in the sweatshirt strings and red sauce. And that’s okay. Though it would be nice to just lay around and make out.
Happy Valentine’s Day.