Password, please.

I corner S at the refrigerator after he’s changed out of his work clothes, and is on the hunt for a snack. With lips puckered, I bombard his personal bubble with a kiss. “Hiiiiii, how was your day?” Thinking he’s slick, he turns a cheek to my still puckered and eager lips, letting me have a few more quick kisses before attempting to force me out of his face. “Nooooo” is the message he wails as I hold him in strong bear hug.  I laugh and feel him squirm; desperately trying to free himself, and secretly getting a kick out of my attack.  The only way out of my bicep prison, is for him to give me the password.  With lips still pushed out and intruding, I murmur “what’s the password?” He throws his head back – probably reaching his physical contact limit in this moment – he lets his face fall to mine, gives me an I-will-kick-your-ass-if-you-don’t-let-me-go kind of look, and gives me what I’ve compelled.  My grip loosens as I laugh and return to the dishes. He knows the password, and no matter how many times I torture him with belly to belly, chest to chest bear hugs, I get the cheek for more than a handful of attempts. The last kiss is the password, and for now, I’ll leave him alone until we meet under the sheets, and say goodnight.

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The Last Slice

“NO! You have to save that piece to eat on your first anniversary!” M’s voice filled our kitchen with both protest and excitement. The gluten-free, red-velvet, cream-cheese-frosted cake she had made for our wedding day was beyond delicious, and I wanted nothing more than to take another bite out of the lonely slice of its remains. This Saturday is my husband and I’s first marriage anniversary, and that last piece of delicious memorabilia – that’s been hiding under alcohol and frozen meat – has survived the year and would meet its end come May 16th.  I wasn’t familiar with the cake tradition at all until M shared it with us that day in our kitchen, and the pending arrival of our first anniversary has me wondering if holding on to that one, last piece of cake means something. Out of sight out of mind is the notion that comes to mind almost immediately. “The first year of marriage is the hardest” is what every tells you when you tie the knot, and much like our frozen slice of wedding cake, married life blinked right by us in a time-warped state of reality. Has it really already been a year? I guess this slice of cake will be even better than tasting it for the first time, because it’s serving as some kind of reward for getting through our first year as husbands. Our relationship has always been smooth sailing; crossing choppy waters here and there, but never truly rocking the boat. As I think about eating this cake, exactly a year from when I tried to finish it off, a dormant excitement is awakened. I haven’t taken the time at all to note, or keep track of anything we’ve done during our first year of marriage! We did move from our one-bedroom apartment to a lofted condo, AND we are expecting our first fur child – a rat terrier puppy we plan to name Reynold, and who’s a direct descendant of S’s family dog. This first year of marriage has been out of sight and out of mind. It was a good year, and eating this cake will give us a great excuse to reflect and really honor our first year of marriage. I want to thank M for sharing this tradition with the both us, because come this Saturday finishing the cake we started a year ago will mean so much to both my husband, and myself.

Playing with Fire

A handful of months back, I asked my husband to help me with one of my entries for Gays in the Life. I had the crazy idea to write a blog entry where we shared our pet peeves, and talked openly about the things that secretly drive us crazy when it comes to one another. He let out an incredulous laugh, and then proceeded to ask “is that a good idea?” I believed deep down that it was a good idea, but perhaps my inner artist was feeling a little too hungry. Writing a blog entry like this with my husband could offer a fun, real, and honest peek into our marriage and everyday life, but I wondered if my ambitious spirit was approaching an edge that we – because I’d have to consider his feelings, along with mine – weren’t quite ready to dance upon. Would I be taking a bite out of something we couldn’t quite chew? Issues we couldn’t quite swallow?

Almost all of my friends were in and out of relationships before I met my husband. Having a front row seat to every argument, scolding, and various other quibbles helped me realized that, depending on the couple, the smallest annoyance could cause a relationship to crumble, crash, and burn. Remembering those couples and scrolling through memories of their successful, or failed, relationships ignited my current thoughts on whether or not our relationship – our fresh marriage – could survive knowing each other’s hidden pet peeves. Obviously I would say my marriage could survive, but we have to keep a realistic view in regards to our relationships with ourselves – inside the marriage – and as one unit; because every moment isn’t peaches and cream. At this point, we know what sets each other off, but these triggers were discovered as our relationship developed over the years.

Knowing if, and when, the truth is too much, is another factor that should be considered. Initially when I was playing with the idea of doing this joint piece with my husband, the spirit was light and fun, with no thoughts of potential darkness in mind.  Couples can be one hundred percent open, and still have things they keep to themselves. S’s questioning whether or not the unborn blog entry was a good idea bred life to this notion, and invited a small amount of darkness and negativity into my well-intended burst of creativity. Surely we, of all couples, could survive knowing what makes the other tick like a time-bomb, right? The answer to that question would depend on what each trigger was, and the only way to obtain the answer, is to actually move forward with my plan – for the joint blog entry – and discuss them. It’s a devilishly hilarious thing, and the answer remains unknown.

Stubborn Interlude

Sometimes all you can do is keep your mouth shut. I’m sure everyone in a long-term relationship, or marriage, has felt this way before. You could offer a truckload of solutions to a problem your significant other is going on (and on) about, but no matter what you suggest they’ll still move forward with something that was their idea; or make the idea you presented seem like it was theirs to begin with. On the inside I have to laugh, because it’s hilarious, but on the outside I have to keep up the fight – challenging the stubbornness.

The spring is here to stay, and with the change of weather comes angry allergens, twenty-four hour colds, and major sinus drama. If I notice the slightest hint of a cold, I immediately begin to take medicine. Whether it be sniffles, minor headaches, or a kind-of-itchy-throat, I make sure to keep taking medicine so the condition does not get any worse.

My husband, S, would take a completely different approach to attacking pre-cold symptoms. He would simply not take any medicine; no Airborne, no Emergen-C, no meds at all. “Maybe you should take some medicine… knock it out before it spreads” is my usual response whenever any health related issue is presented. True to form, he’ll answer in a way that basically says “no, I’m not doing that,” or he’ll change the subject. “Why won’t you take the medicine?!”

S is an Aries, and anyone who knows an Aries is very familiar with the my-way-or-the-highway mentality they manifest on a daily basis. Why so stubborn, though?! I hate saying I told you so, so why can’t he just try this one idea I’ve shared? As spouses we share our respective jurisdictions – regarding one of us being right, and the other being wrong – but there’s always one of us that won’t bend so easily… and that one is usually him.

Pumped

Finishing his last set of lateral raises, my alter ego studies the reflection in the mirror. The body in which he lives is no longer round and fluffy, but hardened around the edges with some softness left in the middle. He is built like a brick wall with fresh mortar, and the sweat-shaded shirt harnesses swollen shoulder, arm, and chest muscles. Judging by the weight and overall wetness of his t-shirt, it is safe to say that today’s workout was a success, and the urge to flirt is burning wildly under the freshly worked out muscles. All bets are off at a smaller gym, because eyes have no choice but to wander, and I’m one to give a show if I catch you looking. My shorts are already pretty short – because I hate basketball shorts – my shirts grow tighter in all the right places as the weeks pass, and I make sure my form is on point.  This voyeuristic trait really only comes to life when I’m in the gym, and I like to think it makes me dig deeper in achieving a better workout.  Whether you like it or not, you will gain inspiration from watching another participant, or you’ll unconsciously lust after them; wanting their body for yourself. Snapping out of my temporary trance, I put away the dumbbells, wipe off the bench, and make my way toward the locker room. “Oh, I’m sorry!” I bump shoulders with another lifter, and the urge is reawakened. “Get the hell out of here” I think to myself, doing everything I can to will away the thirst of my alter ego’s sweet and sour thoughts. If this internal battle weren’t already enough, running smack into my office crush – making chest to chest contact – on my way into the locker room was the icing on this mess of a cake. “Hey man! Looks like you got a good workout in today, eh?” Why is he so nice? He’s always so nice. Get me the hell out of here.

Prince Charming

Who is Prince Charming? Does the comparison – of one’s new, old, or off and on again boyfriend – truly mean anything, or has society programmed us all to think that it’s some end-defining-scare-the-man-away-anti-feminist notion? A recent exchange with friends made me consider what the idea of Prince Charming really means within a relationship. The group of us were at a bar, watching Big Ten basketball, and enjoying beers when I mentioned to my friend’s boyfriend that he was like her prince charming; keep in mind this was my first time meeting him. He handled the comment like a gentleman, and I later found out, via my husband’s opinion, that the comment was “awkward,” and that my friend was a smidge embarrassed.

Making awkward comparisons and embarrassing my friend was never my intention. The way I viewed my comparison was the fact that both of us had been through a great deal of shitty dating experiences, boys, not men, and our fair share of situations you may only see in movies; movies that usually end with someone’s heart being grinded up in some dramatic, emotional fashion.  I’m genuinely happy that she has found someone, and stand by what I said in that moment. So, why is there so much weight placed on the idea of portraying a Prince Charming-like character? I know full well that my friend does not need any man to save her from anything, so maybe I should have tried to compliment their relationship in another manner?

My view of who Prince Charming can be is not so traditional. If I were Rapunzel, there’s no way in hell I would be waiting for a man to come and rescue me from a tower – only to get knocked up with kids, who I would love dearly, and become a housewife. That’s never been me, or any of the people I surround myself with; nothing against those of you who would enjoy, or aspire to be stay-at-home parents.  What’s wrong with Prince Charming being nothing more than a man that’s extremely attractive, has a good job, sends out every signal and vibe that he loves the woman, or man, that he has found, and is an overall good fit for your life where it stands currently?

My husband is my Prince Charming because he entered my life at the right moment. He didn’t save me like some fairy tale hero, but we were ready for each other; ready to give each other a try, with no specific ending (good or bad), or timeline in mind.  He challenges me, emotionally and professionally, and most of all, he inspires thoughts of what a realistic, adult future could be. For me, this future with my Prince Charming is not a stereotype-fueled vision of what the American dream should be, but a relationship that works, is filled with love, and one that encourages our growth as people. No pressure, no awkwardness, just owning and living your relationship to its highest potential.

The Wedding

“All I know is, when I get married, I will be in a Chanel suit…” is what I would say amongst friends when we would fantasize about weddings of our respective futures.  I never knew if I wanted a big ceremony, a small event, or to run away and elope, but what I did want was that top-of-the-roller-coaster-before-the-big-drop feeling. That feeling was boldly present on May 16th, 2014, the day of our wedding.

Being married to a CPA has its perks, and the ability to budget money well was a big one. We didn’t believe in placing ourselves in debt for a wedding, or placing unnecessary stress on our families. Why follow the “go big or go home” theory for a single (wedding) day if it would only invite stress into the marriage the day after the honeymoon? The important thing was joining our lives; to officially become one. A larger scaled celebration of our relationship could wait, so for now, we were happy with our decision to marry in a courthouse, with a few of our closest local friends as witnesses.

The mild, warning rain that threatened the day was welcomed as we made the drive from Indianapolis to Champaign, Illinois. “Rain on a wedding day means renewal… this is good” was my thought as I gazed out the window. The excitement in the car grew with every mile we placed behind us as we continued our approach to Champaign and the courthouse. When we arrived, we met the last member of our wedding party at The Courier Café; a delicious little breakfast spot popular among the students of the University of Illinois.

After brunch we made our way to the courthouse. I’ve never been a nervous person but the nerves began to make their presence know the closer we got to the main doors. “Omg you guys my knife! I can’t take it inside!” G digs a small grave for her pocket knife under a tree just outside the courthouse doors. Our wedding party was the perfect mix of individuals. I’d met G working at Goodwill back in Bloomington. E was one of my best friends, of ten years, and had the daunting task of picking up our rings and delivering them to us the DAY before the wedding. SB and SC were also two amazing friends I’d had the pleasure of knowing for ten years – SB was a student in Champaign, and SC volunteered his photography services for the big day.

There we were, in the courtroom, the judge’s warm voice instructing us on what was about to happen. Enter the nerves. G was crying, E looked longingly into both our eyes – of all the people with us that day, she knew me the best – and all the others were beautiful. I never knew what my wedding day would be like, but in this moment I was beyond happy that these were the people I got to share this day with.  What happened next was a blur. I remember saying my vows and then repeating them – stealing S’s turn because apparently I was nervous – shaking with each word I shared. Then it was done. We were married.

The night that followed was priceless. Everything was so simple and so easy. M made us the cleanest most delicious, layered, red velvet, gluten-free wedding cake. SO good. The girls and I powdered our noses before heading to our hotel, where the pre-gaming for a night at the bars would take place.  There’s so much pressure put on the process of a wedding. Was everyone as lucky as S and I? We were never stressed in any moment, the night was flawless, and we had a great time with people we loved.

Returning home the next day to a bouquet of white roses was the absolute icing on the cake. I don’t know if my friends know this about me, but white flowers are my weakness. There’s something about them that make me melt and dance inside; like a ballerina riding a fiery avalanche.  Only this group of people – my beloved, and highly valued musketeers of Bloomington’s past and present – would know how to make S and I’s day effortlessly perfect. We thank them for helping us skyrocket into this new chapter of our life.

Whine & Cheese

Why must romance plateau after moving in with one another? “We hang out all the time” was his counter after I hinted at wanting a date-night in the near future. Lying in bed, and keeping my voice at a neutral tone, my twisted face is hidden in the darkness as I process his response to my inquisition. I’m a self-proclaimed cheeseball, so the slightest touch of romance shared between the two of us completely satisfies me for a long while. Do I keep asking for a date? Do I wait around and sulk? Should I take the initiative, plan a romantic day, and lead by example? I guess I could, instead of waiting around like some pissed off Disney princess. Restaurants and creative, thoughtful nights on the town are more than appreciated, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple walk in the park on a beautiful day, or a day of exploration together in the city. Maybe he just doesn’t get it… a classic case of the romantic and the non-romantic.

Cruised

The shower area of the gym is steamy, warm, and a most welcome feeling with the chill of winter’s approach outside. I towel off in the shower stall so I don’t track a pool of water into my private changing area, before I notice the tanned, dusty-haired, blonde that had been making eyes at me across cardio equipment. He’s an attractive guy – beefy, with body hair in all right places, and an ass that looks like it could feed a small family – but I tend to lean more towards dark-haired men, and let’s not forget that I’m off the market. Our shower and changing rooms were right next to each other, and there are only three showers so the space between the two is small. Removing his towel so only his front was covered, he offers carnal grin. “Good morning” he says, still holding the towel with only a couple fingers just under his navel; revealing a wet torso and thighs. “Good morning. Did you have a good workout?” I know exactly what he’s up to, so I slip into my changing room and calmly close the half door. Making sure the door doesn’t slam, I leave him alone and exposed in the small area between shower and changing room. I begin to dry off as he answers my question, and the small talk continues the entirety of my getting dressed. Fully dressed I make my way out of the changing stall. “See you tomorrow” he flirts with another grin. “Later! Have a good day.” My inner Beyonce tends to surface after all of my workouts – various songs of hers play in my head (complete with choreography) when I notice changes in my body as I’ve already lost 100 lbs – making me feel strong, awake, and confident going into the work day. The influence of Scorpio season and the fact that I had just been cruised at the gym had my inner Queen Bey slaying the stage; dropping it like it was hot all the way to the car. It wasn’t even 7AM yet! I can’t wait to tell S what happened.

STRAIGHT

Forbidden fruit comes in the form of the heterosexual male.  During my time in the closet – from eighth grade until about three weeks into my college career – I had plenty of secret crushes on straight friends that I knew I could not have.  I strongly believe that it’s this time in the closet that causes the craving for a straight guy to brew and reach extremely potent levels.  I remember when guys would ask me “what I was looking for” in a guy – in various gay dating chat rooms – and I would simply respond with the descriptor: “straight-acting.”  What does that even mean?! That description is still frequently tossed around in regular conversation amongst gay friends. Stereotypically speaking, the term “straight-acting” represents a heterosexual guy who is macho, strong, and handy, is into sports, and doesn’t mind getting dirty; someone that can wrestle in a godly fashion. The picture next to my interpretation of the definition would be an image of thick, burly, muscular lumberjacks; complete with tight denim and a big axes.  He would be a bearded, gloriously-sweaty – Gaston from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” – or a Gerard Butler type of guy.

Little did I know then, that I would end up with my “straight-acting” guy.  It’s always an adventure with S, especially now that we live under one roof.  My daily interests revolve around the performing arts – having played music from a young age – Pinterest boards, organizing our closet, and stressing about the growing bald spot at the back of my head.  S will spend the entire college basketball off-season counting down to the first game of the next season. He grew up on a farm with real chores – raising horses and cleaning stalls – and can change the oil on his own car.  You’d think that being from Alaska I would be a better outdoors person, but he takes the cake in that area too.  We went hiking once with friends, and I spent the entire time running from ticks. Occasionally I’ll get in his car and he’ll have it tuned to a sports radio show. “What’s this?” was the question I would ask with the look of instant boredom smeared across my face. He would then proceed to laugh and let me plug in Spotify; set to the “Radiohead Radio” station most likely. I imagine S probably has the same look on his face when I turn on an episode of ABC’s “Scandal.”   Since our beginning, I have joked with friends and family about S being my “straight curse.”  Every day I gain life from the gifts my curse provides… for this I will be forever thankful.