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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Bill

Last night I was watching Giuliana & Bill again.  In the episode, Giuliana went to see a mock-up of a magazine article that she was interviewed and photographed for one day before her mastectomy.  She and the magazine’s EIC reminisced together about her cancer fight, and Giuliana remarked that she would never have been able to get through it without Bill.  “I am lucky to have a Bill,” she said.  The EIC agreed.  I did too.

I’m lucky to have a Bill, too.  Not Bill as in Bill Rancic.  Giuliana and I aren’t Sister Wives.  A Bill as in my forest-fighting, animal-wrangling, do-everything husband.
I think it goes without saying that I am not an easy person to deal with.  My internal temperature is usually set just north of “snarky,” and I’m often quietly asked to remove myself from many public settings.  Like playgrounds.  Cocktail hours.   Bail hearings.  Especially bail hearings I try to make into adult playgrounds by bringing cocktails.

I say and do stupid things all the time.  Literally, all the time.  There’s not a second that ticks by over the course of the day that I could confidently say I dominated.  Maybe it’s because I look like I’m one eye-mask away from being the frumpy-version of a caped crusader.  Maybe it’s because I tried to do a sit-up at the gym and I got stuck on the way down.  Maybe it’s because I tried to fill awkward silence by telling a terrible story that was meant to elicit laughter but instead managed to hugely insult my listeners.  Or maybe it’s because when I try really hard TO dominate some moment in time, I just screw it up royally.  Like the time last night when I tried to microwave organic “fish nuggets” for my daughter and almost set the house on fire.  That’s an example.
But somehow, right around the time of my 21st birthday, my then-friend decided that all of my short-comings were something he could take a long view of.  He didn’t care that I walked around reading a book.  He didn’t care that I was prone to tears.  He didn’t care that unless a task required memorization and regurgitation, I would be able to contribute frightfully little.  He was willing to hang around because…well, I have no idea.  The universal appeal of biting sarcasm?  My strong proof-reading skills?

Regardless of the reason for his gamble, he took it, and twelve years later he’s waking up with me on my 33rd birthday. 
We’ve survived law school together, law firms together, and lawlessness together (I’m referring, of course, to all those times we go over the speed limit).  We studied for the bar together.  We spent our first year of married life together in a fourth-floor walk-up in Hoboken that made up for its lack of a/c with its abundance of mice.  We traveled through Spain and Portugal, staying at hostels where we pushed dressers and chairs in front of our doors at night.  In one of those rooms, we found out we were pregnant with our first child.  We watched the entire Sopranos series on DVD over the course of a couple weeks in the wee hours of the morning after too many hours in the office.  We renovated two apartments, one by ourselves and one with help.  We rode subways and buses together to work.  We spent two years trying to figure out why we weren’t able to have another kid.  Then we got pregnant again.  Then we lost the pregnancy.  Then we got really tired and decided to make some big changes.  Then we got pregnant again.  And then we moved to Maine.

Through it all, my husband has been the problem fixer.  Sometimes I help, but he’s team captain.  From clogged pipes to broken screens to boo-boos to front stoops to unorganized drawers to complicated taxes to hurt feelings, he fixes.  He has words for moments when I have none.  He has patience for story-time and elderly aunts and stubborn jar lids and tightly-taped packages when I don’t.  He has an eye for detail, an ear for nuance, a touch of genius.  He can be a frigging riot, and he has been a one-man dance party.  (Twice, actually.  In the same month.)
He’ll figure out what to do with all those wood chips, and it will probably be something along the lines of fashioning them into a water-tight dinghy.  He’ll finance his company’s next deal during the day and come home to order pizza when I charbroil dinner.  He’ll laugh at me when I’m unintentionally funny, and explain to me why jokes about head lice aren’t appropriate anywhere, most particularly during preschool drop-off. 

I am the one thing he’ll probably never be able to fully fix.  And maybe that’s how I nabbed him. 
I look forward to many more birthdays of trying to figure it out. 

In the meantime, I’ll just remain thankful for my Bill.

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