G and I were in our early twenties when we met. I was living in Rome, struggling to navigate the mare’s nest that is Italian bureaucracy in the wake of my grandparent’s passing. He was a dark-eyed Roman who loved football and poetry and I was seduced by his gift for storytelling and his deep sensitivity to the offenses of exploitation.
It didn’t take long for the reverie to transform into one of the faces of romance that rarely seems to make it into the story line: panic. I haven’t forgotten the way that my 20-something hubris was decimated by the urgent realization that I needed this lanky Italian boy.
I couldn’t have gathered much about practical matters like compatibility back then but time has revealed that we function well together. He is analytical and calculating. I am intuitive and idealistic. We are both drawn to living simply. And we happen to share a set of cultural traits whose importance I am only now beginning to understand.
We have now been through a lot of changes together but none has been nearly as profound as having children. As a father, he is extraordinary. Not only does he routinely neglect his own needs in favor of those of his children but he genuinely delights in their company. And when we get to the hard parts, he taps into a hidden reserve of strength and composure that sustains us all.
The difficulties that besiege us come in the form of the day to day: finances, household maintenance, kids who refuse to learn the basic skill of sleep. It is during those times when no amount of shoveling fills the trough of domestic necessity and, arms sore, we cast sideways glances that say you’re not keeping up. I am prone to erecting defenses. I cleaned out the vacuum cleaner today. But I too tend to forget that the real reason that the trough never fills is because there is a gaping hole in it.
Wise people point out the need to make time, the importance of date night. I know that they’re right. How can we be sure that the bond that we take for granted is strong enough to bear the necessary weight if we don’t tend to it from time to time? But if I had just one wish right now it would without question be for someone to just please please fix that goddamned hole.