Must Love Golden Retrievers 

I’ve been getting real, real high since the election, y’all. I mean, truth be told, I’ve been getting real high for a few years now, since I developed nerve pain in my feet. I’d rather be a stoner than an opioid addict, so I chose medical marijuana. Who would have guessed that a drug that barely interested me in high school or college would be one I’d embrace in my forties? But there you have it. Life’s funny like that. 

Anyway, the election. Right. So since Trump was elected, I’ve upped my intake to deal now not only with the pain, but also the rage. Some days the marijuana fails to contain my rage, and I sit on Facebook, my despair and anger growing as I scroll through my feed, gnashing my teeth at the stupidity of Americans and our elected officials’ brazen disregard for what’s best for our citizenry. But other days it works like a charm, and I lie on my bed, listening to chillwave radio, watching the dappled sun flicker across my bedspread, hand buried deep in my cat’s sun-drenched belly, shit-eating grin on my face, thinking about things, both small and large.  

It’s in these stony, quiet moments of reflection that I spend a lot of time thinking about my wife and the relationship we’ve carved out for ourselves. Marriage is a tricky thing, y’all. I mean, when you think about it, after you’ve been together for years and you have the inevitable plummeting of The Sex (and trust me, Lesbian Bed Death is an actual thing), the person you’re married to essentially becomes your longest-running roommate situation. Sure, you may snuggle and kiss occasionally, share a bank account and mortgage, and have “holiday sex,” but at this point, most of your interactions are no different than the interactions you used to have with the stream of people you lived with in your twenties when you were Single and Sexy in the City. It’s your turn to take out the trash. No it’s not, I did it last time! I know you didn’t drink the last of the wine last night and not pick any more up on your way home today. You forgot to pay the PG&E bill last month. That sort of thing.  

So you can go a couple of routes when the relationship morphs from hanging-upside-down-from-the-chandelier-humping-four-nights-a-week into the roommate-best-friend-with-shared-life-and-financial-obligations situation. You can either be bitter about it and fume about the absence of this thing in your life (and I get that it’s a BIG thing). This usually results in cheating and/or divorce (or, in rare exceptions, new kinkier realms of exploration). Or you can realize that just because you’re no longer having The Sex all day, erryday, it doesn’t mean your relationship can’t be incredibly romantic. You can either watch your relationship slowly deepen as the physical part fades, revel in those less-tangible things, and masturbate. Or you can throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they used to say. 

The longer you’re together, you start realizing that your person is sexy in other ways. Or maybe it’s just that what you’re finding sexy is different the older you get. But one day you realize that it’s kinda hot that you know exactly what story she’s going to tell next at a party. And you know exactly at what point during your story at a party, she will jump in and finish your sentence. You can learn to appreciate that you both laugh at the same things, that you both find the same things ridiculous, that you both love lying in bed after a party gossiping about what you each learned from others at the party. I have to tell y’all, it’s a deeply, deeply satisfying feeling. And okay yeah, the feeling is different from an orgasm, but the effect is much, much further-reaching. Besides, that’s what vibrators are for. 

These are the sort of things I’ve been thinking about during my stony bliss sessions, and trust me when I tell you that it’s doing infinitesimally more for my mental health than scrolling through social media. It’s made me appreciate the hell outta my wife, who is an amazing human being, even if I do resent her for never being the one to wake up at 6:00 a.m. when our cat is stomping on our faces and yelling at us to get up and make with the food. 

Let me tell you about Melissa. Everyone who meets her falls in love with her. I was no exception. If Melissa were a dog, she would be a Golden Retriever. No, not dumb. Impossibly friendly, happy, and able to win your heart in a hot second. I have married Tigger. Being an Eeyore kind of girl, this has been something that I recently realized I’d been fighting against instead of accepting and reveling in. Sadly, I spent a good chunk of time at the beginning of our marriage being annoyed by her relentlessly positive outlook on life. In the throes of a deep depression, I resented her upbeat attitude and perky worldview. I was sullen and angry; I guess I need her to be too? Who knows what the human mind can conjure up when it’s in the depths of self-loathing and pain, but I wasn’t very kind to her during that time. And, yet, still she hung in. 

And honestly, yeah, sometimes I’m still annoyed when she comes home and spends 45 minutes telling me about her 30-minute trip to the grocery store. Or when she’s telling me a story that I’m interested in, but then she wanders off onto a dull tangent, and I shake my head and find myself impatiently saying (out loud!) “doesn’t matter...just get there.” But more often than not now, I accept that this is as much a part of her as her blue peepers are and I settle in. 

Because you know what? We are all deeply flawed critters, y’all. I may have to listen to the occasional rambling story about bulk grocery-buying, but she willingly proposed to a someone she knew was so much of a control freak, she insisted on giving her instructions on the best way TO PET THE CAT. No honey, you have to do it this way. NO, THIS WAY! (There is actual video of me doing this. So much cringe.)

I mean, this is the woman who actually thinks it’s hilarious and adorable that I create entire conversations every morning between me and our cat (of course, changing my voice to a higher pitch to denote the less-developed vocal chords of our furry child then answering her [me] back in my normal voice). I wander around the house babbling away at the cat, who follows me around and yells back at me. This woman actually said to me “Honey, I think you should create an entire podcast around these conversations” and meant it. She believes in me that hard.

She knew she was getting The Fun Girl, the Life of the Party. But what neither one of us knew at the time was that she was also getting a person who would develop chronic pain and subsequent depression, but she’s adapted like a champ to even those enormous things.

Because we are married. And marriage means in sickness and in health. It means It’s your turn to clean the shitbox. It means I will be the one to get you through the death of your parents. It means God bless you for still loving my boobs even though, naked, I now look so much like an African tribal woman I should be talking to you in a series of clicks. It means You should go get that suspicious mole looked at, honey, I’m worried. It means I hate you one minute and I cannot imagine how I will function if you die first the next. It means Sometimes the only thing that’s keeping us together is that marriage license so thank god they let The Gays get married. And it also means I will accept you, scars and all and love you to the very best of my ability, even on days when I don’t much feel like it, because you are my heart.

It means different things from minute to minute. And some of those things are unpleasant and ugly. But if you’re lucky, the moments filled with laughter, snuggling, giggling, shared jokes, security, teamwork, and even the less-frequent sex outweigh those other things. Hopefully, you take your own stony moment to realize that you and your best friend are in this whole thing together, and as long as one of you isn’t lying in a hospital with numbered days, everything else is gravy. 

So you better spend some time lying in the sun with your eyes closed, listening to good music, and thinking about the things you’ve got going for you as they wash over you because that shit is golden. 

And it probably wouldn’t kill you to go down on her once and a while either.