Sometimes, I just stand there in the morning listening to my oatmeal spinning around inside the hum of the microwave and I wonder: how hard would it be to just dump some damn coffee in a cup and put some toast or something on a plate and take it up there and bang it down on the nightstand by my wife’s sleepy head?
Not that hard, I know.
Beyond that, I wonder how difficult it would be to just wake her up with a bit of back rubbing, my thumbs digging lightly into her shoulder blades like I already know she likes…
It wouldn’t be too tough, huh?
I mean, seriously, it would be probably the easiest thing I would do all day. And yeah, she might not be in the mood for waking up to that, and she might lay there and not react at all, which could then be misinterpreted by me as her reacting as if me touching her first thing in the morning was like a spider moving slowly down into her ear hole…but that’s over thinking it, isn’t it?
I never do that stuff. Or, almost never.
I mean, I have dropped off some coffee a few times, placing it there just beyond her sleeping head without a word until, as it often goes, I notice it still there an hour later, untouched, her body still sprawled horizontally across the bed. There have been times when I even see a big black dog hair floating around on the cool milky surface of this thing I was so careful not to spill coming up the steps, and then I know the truth: the jig is up. My little attempt at love, at something tender or thoughtful, is now just another pain in the ass thing she has to deal with when she wakes up. Otherwise one of the kids will spill the damn thing eventually.
So, I just take it back down to the kitchen and dump it down the drain; she never even knows it was there; the whole thing never even happened.
Now and then, when I’m watching the cold coffee splatter down in the sink, I even suspect that I wanted things to turn out this way. That I would have been uncomfortable if she had found it and appreciated it. I actually think that’s what it is, to be honest. It’s like I feel like I want to be the most loving guy in the world, and that I might even know how to get it done.
But I never freaking do.
Why can some people walk right into the big, echoing hotel lobby of Love and never even hesitate for a second? How come some people are so confident when it comes to their hearts?
Everything is rooted in your past, they say, and that would make sense, I guess. I’m from a typical place, more or less: single parent home, one sibling a little younger than me, my mom worked hard, I played Little League and collected baseball cards. Nothing special on the surface.
But down deep, I’m beginning to think there’s another story.
I mean, why am I afraid of being the man I want to be? Why am I afraid of hurling love around like it’s strong wind in my hands that’s meant to be thrown? We all have the power more or less, I can’t deny that. No one is ever stopping us from the act of reaching for our lover’s hands as we stroll across the stupid parking lot towards the mall or whatever, but for me, I have spent years building up walls that move alongside me everywhere I go.
Reaching out and taking her hand should be almost natural, I figure. After almost ten years of marriage, you would have thought it would be second nature now. But I know I am not alone when I just don’t do it. People like me, we start walking across the lot and we start screaming at ourselves to just do it, to just reach out and take her hand, but for whatever reason, I can’t.
Or I don’t.
I’m not sure what the reasons are, you know. I don’t even really care to know anymore. I just wanna do better. I just wanna find the guts to do better.
Because this other way of doing it, of loving someone? I hate it.
Be honest: wouldn’t you hate it?
I think that if I stand there long enough and look in at my own beating heart swimming through my guts, like I’m standing there behind the bullet-proof super-glass at the zoo, watching the polar bear swimming around in his bright blue fake ocean, I can actually see what is really going on.
Love is no sure thing. You can fake a lot of confidence in this world, acting tough and acting cool, acting like you’ve really got it going on and go around and try to act like you’re some kind of keeper of someone else’s heart, but if you know that you are holding back from the wild glorious impulses shooting through you like good electric, then you are cheating the natural world, aren’t you?
You can fake so much in this life, but you still can’t fake the funk.
Either you know you’re good at loving a person or you waste a lot of your days wondering how come you can’t get it right.
If I take a cup of coffee up there tomorrow morning and set it there and then start in on the morning massage thing, I need to do that without anything else in mind. In places where overt love can scare its own shadow, people like me need to make sure that we can tiptoe into a 6am bedroom and not want anything else.
You can’t go in there connecting the dots. If you want to get close to love, to being a student of it before your time is up, then you can’t confuse it with lust or with duty or whatever. You can’t try and utilize love to your advantage. You have to tap into the pure places inside of you. You need to be doing it because you want to be doing it.
I need to make an extra cup of coffee because it makes me freaking smile to do it. I need to reach out for her hand because I’m dying to feel my heart race the moment our skins connect and because, as dumb as it sounds, it scares the living hell out of me.
And that usually means it’s worth fighting for.
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