The memory lives in the tip end of my second to last baby toe of my left foot, if I recall correctly. A silent Super8 movie, the vision your mind’s eye sees when you recall your earliest memory.
But last night it came into focus, the result of a chain reaction of seeing someone who reminds you of someone, and in this case it was someone’s eyes that reminded me of his eyes and BAM. There I was:
twenty-something years old and living with the person who used to call me Dear...
…when he wasn’t telling me I looked like a whore …or that I was a slut…or any number of descriptors I’m embarrassed to write.
And as I write this, I can’t tell whether my embarrassment is because I don’t use that kind of language, or if I’m embarrassed about allowing someone to call me those names even if it was twenty years ago, or if I’m embarrassed that, someplace deep down, I used to believe I was those things back then.
I didn’t realize something was off until I sobbed on the shoulder of a wise mother figure and rattled off the wrongs inflicted by him against me: all the name-calling, belittling, general meanness. To that petition, she hesitated and simply said:
You ever think that maybe he just doesn’t like you?
Painfully logical as I am, I heard what she said and understood it: people who like you are generally decent to you. That there’s no litany of wrongs punctuated by the things you yelled at each other about or recollections of the last time you shoved each other and whether you or the other person won.
But yet I wondered if what she was saying could be true. And I realized that I never stopped to even ask myself whether I didn’t like him. I realized that after three years, I didn’t know if we liked each other.
So one day I asked him. Not about the liking but the loving. Like, did he love me? He told me he needed time to think about it…and that was my answer.
It’s twenty some years later. For thirteen of those years, I’ve been blessed with a good guy. Our marriage is real, healthy and for the most part happy. He likes me and I like him. We have a beautiful daughter and even an adorable dog.
Come to think of it, both husband and dog are snoring a concerto as I write this…and it’s music to my ears.
That's enough to push that long-ago memory back down into the tip of my second to last baby toe on my left foot.
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