While reading a friend’s blog recently, I began waxing nostalgic (which is English teacher speak for wondering why the hell I did what I did when I did it) about the people I’ve dated and the man I married. You all know the old adage that love is blind, but I don’t think that it is. It’s all about lighting.
We all put on rose colored glasses when we first get into a relationship. Men manage to control the flatulence that often becomes part of life once they’re comfortable in the knowledge that a little gas isn’t going to scare you away (or a lot, just sayin’). Women race to get out of bed first in the morning to freshen up a bit – you know, wash the important bits, apply heavy coats of makeup, blow dry and curl your hair – so that when their beloved wakes up, he sees the cover of a romance novel laying in bed next to him, in a lacy peignoir set, as opposed to what he’ll see a few months down the road, curled up in flannel, drool dribbling down her cheek, and her hair looking like she combed it with a rake in her sleep. We also overlook the little quirks and funny ways when things are just getting started.
Here’s how you know things are going to work out.
You know your partner is flawed. We are all products of the families we grew up in, and for much of our lives, many of us try to overcome the damage that was done or fix the parts of us that are dented as a result of our parents dropping the ball on the occasions that they did (and all parents do). But when you have an old favorite vase that was your great grandmother’s, even though it’s got a crack here or a chip there, you put it in the window, so the sun shines behind it, casting it in shadow, chips at the back, cracks covered with a strategically placed plant or flower. It’s just as beautiful as you remember it being when you first saw it on grandmom’s mantle.
That’s how you should always look at your partner. I met my knight in shining armor when he was 21 years old. He’d already been to college, at the age of 14, which put him in an odd sort of circumstance. He grew up before he was ready, thrust into the more mature world of academia, without learning some of the social graces we learn going to high school with our peers. He had no real peers – dismissed by kids his own age, not regarded by the people in college. Wearing shoes that are too big for your feet causes you to fall down a lot, and he certainly has the dents to show that he had.
But when he rides in, on his blazing steed, with the sun at his back, casting him in shadow, you don’t see the chinks in the armor. You see what a great dad he’s been and what a generous and giving husband he’s been. You see the man who slept on the floor with a new, crying puppy to keep her comforted, or on a chair next to me as I recovered from surgery and couldn’t sleep in my bed. You see the wonderful home he’s provided for us and the incredible vacations he’s shared with us. You see the outline of the hands that have held mine as we sat next to each other at a school play and the arms that wrapped around me when my sister died.
This is our 24th Christmas together. There are ornaments on my tree that Jim and I chose together at a little shop in Mullica Hill on our first Christmas together. I chose beautiful gold ornaments, which I knew would reflect the lights on the tree and make a beautiful glow in the living room of our tiny condo. When you look at them up close now, some are chipped. The gold has flaked off in some places. Some are even broken, but if I place them on the tree carefully, you don’t notice it so much because they are cast in the shadow of the lights behind them.
There may be chinks, but if you look in the right light, you still see the knight in shining armor. And despite what other people see when they look, he always seems to be standing in just the right light to me.