Husband, remember the other night when you fell asleep on the couch in the middle of Homeland? You let out an irritated bear snarl when I tried to smother your face with your Penn State blanket. Remember? (In all fairness, how else is a wife supposed to snuff out thundering snores and politely wipe drool puddles?)
That night, with your head pressed between your arm and the corner of a throw pillow, I noticed something I had never noticed before. Husband, you have aged.
You now have tiny white hairs sprinkled throughout your eyebrows. The other night I saw them and thought about how a decade ago, I once suggested you try tweezing, and you responded, “Men don’t do those girly things.” More recently, one of our boys went through a phase where he pretended to be Tinkerbell. When I bought him a green glittery costume, your son beamed with excitement and you happily “flew” around “Neverland” with him. I love how you have aged.
There are now vertical lines in the middle of your forehead, the kind earned from concentration and worry. Noticing them, I thought about how when we were dating, your biggest concern was whether there’d be a line for a cab at bar time. In contrast, earlier this month you sat in traffic, furrowing your brow, and concentrating nervously. That night your intense priority was making it home in time to cheer on our son at his Tae-Kwon-Do belt test. I love how you have aged.
You hands are now rough, and your knuckles leathery. I thought about how when we were younger, your smooth and youthful hands grabbed my..errr…hand…without much thought. More recently, those hands carefully held and soothed a scared little boy wearing a bloodstained Superman costume in the ER waiting room; Your gentle fingers drew squiggles on Superman’s forehead during a cold and terrifying CAT scan. Then, three winters ago when pregnancy prevented me from being able to fly to my grandmother’s funeral, those hands reached out to hold me and my anger and overwhelm. I shook my head and tightened-up my spine in resistance, but your hands broke me down and went on to wipe my desperate tears. I love how you have aged.
Your eyes are now surrounded by tiny lines. I remember your squinty-eyed laugh back in the summer of 2006, that time your friends had turned an innocent game of Pictionary into a contest to see who could best incorporate tiny penises into their drawings. That was funny back then.* Just last week, I saw that same squinty smile come out when our son told you the “banana, banana, banana, orange knock-knock joke” for the thousandth time in a row. I later saw those eye creases again when you introjected, “Orange you glad I didn’t say I told you so?” into an argument. I laughed despite my annoyance. I love how you have aged.
There is now a thinning hairline where you once had dark waves. Noticing the change, I thought about how, ten years ago, you paid four times as much for a haircut at a trendy barber shop in Chicago since they offered beer and sports entertainment. Last weekend you paid four times as much at the town cheapo barber shop since three little boys sat in the chairs beside their dad and offered “Let’s talk Dad’s ear off about Mario” entertainment. I love how you have aged.
Husband- I am sorry to break the news but, it is now time to invest in an ear hair trimmer. Despite the tiny forest growing your auditory canal, you’re still a good listener. You’ve always been good at listening, even in your 20’s. Over the years, however, you’ve learned the wisdom of feeling instead of fixing. When we had our oldest, you suggested I “take a nap” so often I wanted to “take a punch.” You have since learned the ridiculousness of empty and unrealistic suggestions, and now offer me actual forms of relief: texts full of sympathetic frowny faces and profuse appreciation with a side of wine and neck kisses….during which, don’t worry, I can close my eyes to avoid glimpses of the ear hair situation. I love how you have aged.
Your chest and arms, although still fit, are slightly softer than they were in your 20’s. I remember how when I first met you, showing an impermeable and hardened facade was your goal. You laughed when you felt uncomfortable, smiled when you were nervous, grinned when you felt insecure. I am now privileged to see you, to be the person who is told what is behind the smile in quiet whispers late at night. Your willingness to share your self with me and use those “soft” arms to pull me into you for comfort, are the reasons I now see you as so strong. I love how you have aged.
As your snoring shook the house and drowned out an HBO shoot-out and roaring train station scene, my appreciative contemplations no-doubt saved your life. Instead of kicking you out to deafen our neighborhood squirrels in mid-December, I left you undisturbed on the couch next to me.
I suppose your only punishment for not purchasing a Zeepah or installing a soundproof room is this post which mentions your ear hair. A younger version of you may have been embarrassed. I love how you have aged.
Your wife and your partner and your best friend who loves you more than anything but, being female and not quite as personally evolved as yourself, would really NOT appreciate any commentary on her own aging appearance, thanks.
*Okay, fine. You got me. Penis Pictionary is indeed still funny today- There are some things that even exquisite maturation and personal growth will not change.
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