I’ve focused on a lot of topics in my blog over the past year – twindom, football, politics, family, and school — but one topic I’ve never really discussed at length is the extreme distances that were overcome in order for me, a small town girl living in a lonely world and Mike, a city boy born and raised in south Detroit to become what we are today: a crazy, chaotic well-blended postmodern family, complete with toddler twin boys, grown adult daughters, a couple of grandkids (with another on the way) and an arthritic dachshund.
Now our love story is far from typical. But then again, it’s also classic. And I think you could even argue it’s entirely commonplace. I guess it’s a little of everything all rolled into one.
And it was definitely written in the stars. Stars in alignment long before we knew one another. Stars that were galaxies and galaxies apart. Stars scattered like fairytale breadcrumbs, like metaphysical connect-the-dots, like paint-by-numbers serendipity. Stars patterned by God and physics and football to bring the two of us together.
Mike grew up in the frozen tundra of pure Michigan. A place of legends. A place of snow and ice and everything nice. I remember the first time I ever visited. It was the holidays. There would be snow. On Christmas. It was gonna be epic. And then I landed. “Welcome to Detroit,” the pilot announced. “The temperature is currently zero degrees, and there’s a wind chill of negative fourteen.” Hmmph. Maybe not so epic after all.
And me, I grew up in a hotbed of humidity, where we steam your dumplings and sauce your giblets. Where it’s too hot for Satan – which is the real reason we’re known as the bible belt. Where swamp ass ain’t just a condition, it’s a way of life. Mike came here for the football — the second reason this is known as God’s country.
So, yes. There were some miles between us to overcome. But that was nothing the universe couldn’t handle. But then, there were also the years…
You see, my husband and I are eleven-and-a-half years apart — and not in the traditional, socially-acceptable, romantic Hollywood couple sense because… well, I’m the older one.
Did you hear that? The tires screeching? The record scratching? The world’s axis grinding to a halt?
Yeah, me neither. But I did worry about that in the beginning, when we first started dating. I was totally stressed out that I was upsetting the natural order of things and that the world would suddenly stop spinning and people would start staring. And pointing. And judging.
And believe it or not, even though I write a blog that encourages me and you and everyone else I know to stand up against injustices and double-standards, encourages us all to go against the grain, to be individuals, to be rebels, and lovers, and fighters, I’m still an incredibly private and sensitive person who has deep-seated insecurities. It’s really easy to be brave when hiding behind a computer screen in the privacy of my own home. It’s another thing entirely when I can see and hear people talking smack about me. And I know for a fact that we got some of that in the beginning of our relationship.
Now I told you our love is the trifecta of contradictions – it’s atypical, classic, and commonplace all at the same time. And since I’ve explored the major atypical bits, let me jump ahead to the commonplace…
We met in THE most common of places: work. And after half a semester of lunches ‘round the teachers’ work room table, I invited him to my Christmas shindig.
Now let me say right up front, there were no, as in absolutely ZERO, ulterior motives behind the invite. He simply ate with my crew at lunch –and since I’d invited all the rest, it would’ve been downright rude not to invite him. Besides, he’s hysterically inappropriate, and every party needs a heaping helping of that. Plus vodka. It needs that, too.
So he came to my party. He brought the jaeger. I supplied the potato juice. Things progressed quickly. It was a match made in heaven – truly an orbital realignment of stellar properties from the very first kiss.
Yeah, that kiss threw me ass-over-tea-kettle right from the get-go. But I was also really, really terrified to let it show. I was forty-one, after all, and he was two weeks shy of thirty.
I got a lot of cougar jokes. (I know you were wondering.) I got bookoodles of cougar jokes. They cut me. Every time. I would shrug them off, trying hard to deflect the pain with a joke or a giggle, but they knocked chink after chink into my relatively flimsy confidence.
And I also had concerned and loyal friends who worried about me. Worried a lot. It’ll never last, they said. Your heart will be broken, they said. Watch out, they said.
And to be perfectly honest, I was afraid they were right. I did my research. I tried to find couples who matched our gender/age ratio who were actually going the distance. I found a few celebrity prototypes: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins; Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon. They gave me hope. They boosted my confidence. But then, over the course of Mike’s and my relationship, those rare and beautiful unicorns crumbled under the weight of Father Time’s death march. Both couples separated and divorced.
So I feel a bit like we are in unchartered, unsanctioned waters. Even to this day my insecurities get me at times. Twelve is a lot of years, David.
But then I think about the classic nature of our love and how it is made of far sterner stuff than time. It is made of two hearts beating to the syncopation of the stars that stitch up the constellation of us. They blaze and gleam in the wink of his eye, the flicker in my pulse, the flash of his smile, the flare in my chest, the heat in his soul and my answering own.
Our love is dense and wide and galactically strong. It is timeless.