Posted by: alegra22 | August 1, 2013

speaking in smiles

ImageI want to confess something; after eleven years together, I still get shy and awkward around my husband.  It’s because I’m in love with him. And because I’ve never wanted to be best friends with someone as much as I want to be best friends with him.

I sit on the floor of the kitchen, stretching my hamstrings, cozy from wine, fatigued from hauling stones and roughing up earth, and I say to him, “I’ve solved the riddle.”

“Oh yeah?”  He leans back in his chair, relaxing.

“Yeah,” I say, “You want to know which riddle I’ve solved?“

Dan, “Okay.”

“The riddle to every marital conflict we’ve ever had. Pretty cool, right?”

Dan, “Of course you did.”
Me, “Want to hear it?”

Dan smiles in the way that always makes me feel comforted. It’s the smile I watched the first night we sat and shouted stories at one another over the noise of The Loaded Hog club in Hamilton.
Dan, “Of course I do.”
“We kind of fell so fiercely in love with one another we didn’t get much time to hang out as friends before we found ourselves preparing for our first baby and then we were in this blur of parenthood. We didn’t get a whole lot of time to just be us.”
For eight years, Dan and I both wake up from dreams in which we are trying to spend time with one another but crowds overtake us or children interrupt us or we are missing the flight that will reunite us.  We had eighteen months together before Sol was conceived.  And for the last nine years, we’ve been renovating homes to sell or buy, finishing degrees, working, summoning bravery about my health, having babies, writing novels, talking to God, collapsing in bed way too late because we want to stay up and talk without being interrupted…

…we discuss all of this and I say, “Instead of doing some sort of party or girls’ night or whatever for my birthday, let’s go get a bunch of yummy food and build a big bed in the living room and play video games and hang out all weekend. That’s what I want. I want to hang out with my best friend.”

Dan nods and sighs, “Yes, that would be perfect.”

And as he begins to figure out the logistics of asking his mom to take the children for the weekend, Zaviera comes parading down the hallway with a birdhouse my mother hand-painted held in front of her.

“Peter Pan has been imprisoned!” she declares, concerned. She shakes the birdhouse and we hear Peter Pan rattling around inside. Dan and I look at one another and start laughing.
“What?! Why are you laughing? This is SERIOUS.”

She shakes the birdhouse again.

We glance at one and start laughing again because this is how we’ve been from the beginning: understanding one another with a look, a touch.
“We’re not laughing at you or the serious situation,” I tell her.
“That was just perfect timing,” Dan says, taking the birdhouse from her.
Zaviera looks at us suspiciously, shrugs, and walks away.

I settle in next to the fire as Dan sits in the kitchen, shaking the birdhouse, and peering into Peter Pan’s prison, trying to figure out how to get him free. I have faith that he’ll do it. I know he won’t stop until he’s solved the riddle.

Ten minutes later, he walks out, Peter Pan in one hand, the birdhouse in the other.
“Of course,” I say.
And he smiles. 
I understand what it is about his smile that gives me so much comfort: it carries the history of our past and speaks the language of our future.



  1. Nice piece of work. And, I loved the bit about peter pan. : )

  2. ❤ beautiful-

  3. As always, a gem of an anecdote (and a perfect title for your column I might add).

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