I told my husband the name I came up with for my column. "Trenches?" He looked a bit hurt. "Is this combat?" Hmmm, no. But it is sometimes a battle -- to keep the wonder from slowly leaking out of our union, our own identities afloat, and our feet firmly planted on the ground, all at the same time. Hopefully, though, we'll never be bored if we are in the foxhole together.
* * * * *
I remember riding a bus with my husband as a married couple of two weeks, both of us barely twenty years old. We were groping at one another and whispering and giggling and, in general, acting like idiots. We weren't drunk; we just couldn't get home fast enough to put out the fire in our pants.
Those days, thankfully, are gone.
Those days, sadly, are over.
I'll admit it: I miss the adrenaline. I'm still young enough to have single friends who are happy - thrilled - to be "out there." Still young enough to watch the cast of Time of Your Life seduced in the shadows of sequined city lights and say - Hey, wait a minute…those actors are MY AGE! Why am I sitting home watching them, exactly?
The edginess has softened, the wondering has been quenched, and the barely ripe has already been reaped. The heat is still there, but it's a simmer, not a rapid boil.
There is a depth, surreal warmth, to married sex that I wouldn't trade for anything. His hands have a history with me; they know me, and they've held my babies, and they've washed the kitchen floor (although only occasionally.)
We married young; this is why I dwell on these nuances. Why I sometimes shake my head as I notice the difference between New York in June and Texas in August. My collegiate quest for the fabulous fling is still programmed into my She.N.A., even as I have retreated to suburbia and have half-filled a mini-van.
Now and then, I look at my husband in his deep blue button down and khakis, and I think, DAMN! But there's work in an hour and apple juice (pronounced: apa-gis) on the floor, there's an outfit to pick out, and a phone to answer. So ripping off baby blue with my teeth would kind of be beside the point.
On the other hand, the even keel is a much-underrated place. Having my own house and a steady gig as mattress mate beat the hell out of wondering what he'll think when he sees me naked, and if he's serious, and if he's any good.
Besides, there is a depth, a surreal warmth, to married sex that I wouldn't trade for anything. His hands have a history with me; they know me, and they've held my babies, and they've washed the kitchen floor (although only occasionally.)
And because of all the days and years and little pairs of shoes and socks underneath the bed, there's an element of vacation in it; sex feels like dessert. Just desserts.
We don't have to perform, we don't have to fake, and we don't have to wonder - - anything. We can just relax and enjoy it and sleep soundly where we land; we don't have to find our way home at three a.m.
We can also decide to call it quits in the middle and no one gets insulted. Or we can be incredibly into it, and no one feels self-conscious.
Yes, those carefree summer nights fumbling on the docks of various Eastern Seaboard harbors are behind me. And yes, those honeymoon marathon days of creating the ultimate urinary tract infection may be gone.
But there is life after lust, and it lasts much (much) longer.