This is the first post in a series called "Love Stories," found at jaymiranda.com.
Like many women, my girlhood views of love were heavily impacted by the final scene in Cinderella when the happy couple rides off in a carriage and you read that they lived happily ever after. This became my barometer for love -- an incessant and passionate happiness shared with a charming prince. I think I know some women who still think that's what love is.
I'm married. Love looks a little different from this side.
To start, we don't live in a castle or have birds that make our beds. We talk about the water bill, the baby's diaper rash, the mortgage, taking out the trash. We have a few arguments that we love to rehash -- I have a feeling other married people do this, too. And of course, there are those minor annoyances in one another we choose to overlook because we love each other. Sweeping gestures of romance are rare.
But I love my husband, and I fall in love with him over and over again. It's a bit like Scheherazade in One Thousand and One Nights. In order to avoid execution -- wait, wait, I'm getting to the romantic part -- the ingenious bride tells the distraught king a story each night, but doesn't end it. That way, the story continues the next day and the next day after that, for 1001 nights, and ends with the king sparing her life. The tale is close to my heart, not only because it's a testament to good storytelling, but because it reflects how I feel about love in marriage. Essentially, I don't think people "stay" in love as much as they fall in love with each other time after time.
A few months ago I went to San Diego with my husband for a work conference of his. We stayed out late in the Gaslamp Quarter, a gorgeously lively place. I felt like we'd gone back in time, to a place before babies, job commutes, and to-do lists. I sat across him and just felt profoundly in love with the man before me. We had drinks, ate food off tiny plates, people watched, danced at a club, and rode the cutest bike taxi back to our hotel.
In moments like these I feel like a fog lifts and I see my husband again. I really see him. And I feel like the woman I was in college when we first met.
But you know, a few days later I might get mad at him for forgetting to buy a can of beans or I'll sulk off when I've had enough of his CSI: Miami marathon (really, just one episode is much too much). Then he takes me to dinner on a Friday night and twirls me around while we wait for our Uber ride and I'm back in it.
I've also learned that love is more than breathless passion. Sometimes, love is quiet. It's an embrace while you're watching your father die, or believing in you even when you don't believe in yourself, or setting up a dentist's appointment for you because he knows too scared to do it yourself. My husband has done all of these things. I used to worry about love getting stale. I'm approaching a decade of time with my husband and it doesn't feel faded at all.
Love becomes deeper, distilled, and remains just as inebriating as ever -- for one thousand and one nights, and counting.