Roll, won’t you come roll with me, his words sing into the night, breaking the silence between us the way a heavy boot breaks hard snow, the way a flower breaks through the thawing earth in the spring. One hand holds mine while the other pushes my fly away hair away from my eyes. The notes come out cracked, not smooth and polished like the radio, but these words are only for me, and so I push past my headache to wrap my mind around them and tuck them somewhere close. His breath tickles the skin on my forehead and, through closed eyes, I watch him first learn to sing in Sunday school; I stare at him though lighted candles at a Christmas service, I stand by the doorway while he sings our future babies to sleep.
If there was one thing in the world who could make me wish to always be awake at three in the morning, who could make me long for my head to carry the weight of a thousand rocks forever, it would be this voice, who crept under the pile to sing into my ear now.
For a moment I wonder if this is his older self singing to me, opening up the tiniest fraction of a window into who we will one day become. Are we circling around, following ourselves, together then apart, then a little more tightly together again? How is life— a line or a circle? Each day, maybe, is a chance to live again and take in the sun.
We become beautiful when we’re in love. If that’s true, then there is nothing more beautiful than me with sleepy eyes and crazy hair curled up in yoga pants and a flannel t-shirt, faintly smelling of vomit. No, I want to tell myself. That is not when you are beautiful. But if he who sits up in the night with me to hold my hand and rub my back thinks that is the case, what is the point of disagreeing?
Maybe each day is a fractal, a repetition of another, and there is a certain amount of love in that day that comes in any kind of form, if we’re just willing to find it.
I love the shinier moments of our marriage— the days out, the fancy dinners, the exotic trips. But my favorite parts are the shadowy ones— the ones that could have easily been crevices to drive us apart, but he made glue to bring us together.
One time, six years back, I made the mistake of thinking Andrew wouldn’t be exciting enough for me. A farm boy from Central Pennsylvania without a passport, who didn’t read E.E. Cummings or quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, who loved lacrosse, hunting, and the slow, tedious work of taking care of animals. What would we do together?
I didn’t know then that the slow, tedious work on my heart was exactly what I needed. That passports could be bought and books could be read, but nothing could compare to the joy of living with a person completely satisfied with what he has, with who he has chosen. I didn’t know what it would feel like to marry someone who would build their own company in order to give me the lifestyle I wanted, because, the way his mind works, he chose me, and everything else falls into place around that.
I will never love like that. I am not being humble when I say this. It is true. My mind is too focused on myself, on my stories, on all the what-ifs of the future. I will never be the one to make breakfast so early in the morning. I will never get up in the night without grumbling at least a little bit. This kind of love is a small glimpse of heaven, and I can only write it down to shed some light onto it.
I don’t ever want to know, no other shotgun rider, beside me, singing to the radio.
I am slowly drifting back into sleep. My hand is still touching his. I squeeze, lightly, thankful that who he was at eighteen is who he will be at eighty, thankful he will love me the same way he always has.
Thankful for one more fractal of forever.