There’s no one thing you can point to, in the end. There isn’t 1 weird trick that fixes temporary apathy in a relationship; that rekindles a connection.
I know. I was certain they’d made a pill for that by now. Or, that at the very least, it was nothing a couple Four Lokos couldn’t solve.
A step forward was made on Superbowl Sunday, when after the Audi commercial in which a teenaged boy gets the gumption to stride up to the prom queen and plant a wet one on her, and after everyone else at the party had responded favorably (“Cute!” was the general consensus), the beau asked rhetorically: “But what if she didn’t want to be kissed?” And I turned my head and openly gaped at him, because thaaaat. Was pretty hot.
Then there were several steps back until I shared with him that I was thinking about getting a dedicated standing desk to work at in Denver, as opposed to the somewhat temporary setup I have now. He disappeared into another room after I said that, leaving me to chop vegetables and silently wonder at our lives. Ten minutes later, he came back with his laptop and an excited look on his face. Each tab in his browser showed a different kind of desk option, and not only did he want to show me all of them, he wanted to discuss them with me, too.
This is a person whose interest in both furniture and talking normally hovers below zero, and here he’d embraced both in the spirit of investigating a problem that only affects me, really.
Pretty hot, that.
Then he went away for a week on business, which afforded me the opportunity to miss him. But within an hour of his return I, stress-sick on the considerable workload I’ve been under, was bristling and snapping at everything in my way — and he was my latest, biggest obstacle.
Later that night, after I’d gotten my head on straight and apologized for being a dick, we were lying sideways across the bed. I had one foot raised in the air, silhouetted against the overhead light. If I squinted, the light started to look like the sun, and I could pretend we were lying near the water on a yellow summer afternoon, sand sticking to our bare legs. All the visceral pleasures I’ve lost touch with over these endless weeks spent indoors, orbiting a computer screen and staring at the walls of my own head, came flooding back.
“I just want you to be happy,” the beau said, out of nowhere. I turned to look at him, and our faces were so close that I couldn’t even see all of his. “Oh yeah?” I asked his eyebrow.
“Yeah,” he said. “Your happiness makes me feel good.”
I lifted my foot to the light again; listened to imaginary waves breaking over the berm. “Me too,” I said.
But even after all these little things, I didn’t truly realize that we were operating at full capacity again until I complained about the seagulls.
“Have you noticed,” I inquired. “Over the last few months we’ve started getting seagulls at our house? And we’re — how far from the ocean?”
The beau hadn’t noticed.
“They’re so annoying. All they do is pick screaming fights with the crows over the contents of the trash bins.” I paused to see if he was listening.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” I continued. “Dude, ‘sea’ is part of your name. You need to go back there. And stay there. Forever.”
“Donny, you’re out of your element,” he replied, as if addressing a gull.
I stopped, turned, and stared. This person who can never quite recall lines or lyrics, this person now quoting The Big Lebowski — one of my favorite movies — without prompting or context; this person was surely not my husband?
I poked his arm. “Hey, stop it, jerk,” he said, and chased me for a few steps.
I was impressed.
Sometimes I get so caught up in how my partner doesn’t get me that I don’t notice the ways he does.
Sometimes I get so caught up in myself that I forget to show an interest in him.
That’s okay, sometimes.
Other times, you have to give until you start getting over.