Today is my 4th wedding anniversary! In honor of that, I’m finally getting around to a subject I keep meaning to write about: Joshua. I was hoping to write an essay about him as a Christmas present, then for his birthday. If I don’t do it today, I doubt it will ever get done, and 4th anniversary is the blog-post anniversary, right?
Once, along with my class (twice, really because it happened in two different classes with the same professor), I was given the assignment of thinking about how I would write about the most important thing in the world to me. Everyone in the class did it wrong (both times). I hope that this time I will at least approach coherence. Please forgive me if things get crazy. When I write about Joshua, I feel all Shakespearean.
Joshua is a man in a world where it has become unpopular to be one. He takes pride in the sweat of a hard day’s work because it means that he is providing for his family and because coming home completely exhausted makes him feel like he has “accomplished something.” We live in a time when men Joshua’s age are expected to be little more than tall boys. Go to college, the world says, find yourself, then be a grown up. Joshua went to college for a year and realized that an expensive four-year daycare wasn’t worth his time, so he quit, got married and started supporting me.
In New York City, he built a thriving business out of nothing, paid our rent, bought my books, and kept me from giving up even though he hated Brooklyn as much as I did. Our second year there, a man turned a gun on my husband in broad daylight and told him to hand over his money. There was $400 in his pocket, but Joshua didn’t try to be a hero and wasn’t a coward; he used his brains. He eased a twenty out of the roll, then pulled it out and handed it to the guy. Our last month in Brooklyn I had such severe morning sickness that I couldn’t go an hour (sometimes thirty minutes) without throwing up. Joshua worked every day, built and delivered furniture that had taken two of us to carry before I was sick to 5th-floor walk-ups and basement apartments. He never rested and never complained and by the end of the month our bills were paid and we had enough money to move back to Missouri.
There are a lot of things that Joshua is now at the age of 23 that it isn’t cool to be. Responsible, intelligent, logical, moral–and there are times when he can’t understand why the rest of the world isn’t all those things, too. Even the hint of infidelity on a television show is enough to hurt him. There isn’t any reason to be untrue to your spouse or girlfriend and nothing will ever convince him otherwise. When it comes to me, Joshua is a jealous man, but I can’t fault him because I know it comes out of an overwhelming love, not a guilty conscience.
Joshua is the only person I’ve ever met without that evil in his heart that makes him want to hurt other people to make himself feel better. He’s a good man, truly good. I’ve done things and said things that should have made him pack his stuff and leave, but he stays. No matter how terrible of a person I am, no matter what awful thing I’ve done to him, he won’t let go of my hand. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just his promise to have and to hold me as long as we both shall live that keeps him by my side. He’s dedicated enough to honor that I wouldn’t be surprised, but the dedication he has to seeing things through from start to finish is stronger. He didn’t just promise to stay with me, he promised to love me, and he does.
I’m very good at writing romantic leads. This is because I base everything good about them on my husband. His selflessness. His sense of honor and justice. His honesty. His devastating good looks and his spot-on comic relief. Which isn’t even to mention the things I’ve refrained from talking about here because they’re just for husbands and wives.
I give up. This is too hard and I’m not even approaching organization.
Joshua, I plan on you reading this tonight. I’m sorry I couldn’t turn this into more of an essay and I’m sorry that this is the worst example of my writing yet. I wanted to do so much better for you, to show you somehow all of the beauty you’ve brought into my life, but how can I even begin? I know how you’re going to react to all this praise: you’ll find nice things to say about me, turn the conversation away from you, and I appreciate that. Don’t forget that you’ll always be my knight in a scuffed-up leather jacket and blue jeans. You’ll always be the only man I’ve held hands with, dated, or kissed. You’ll be the father of my child and the man who agreed to name our son Oak Elijah for the sake of a pun. It almost goes without saying that I love you, but I do. Happy anniversary. Sorry about the mess.