Friday, May 13, 2011
Saying I Love You with gravel
When I asked Joe earlier this afternoon, by way of inviting him to carpool home with me, whether we needed two cars this weekend, he demurred. In a mumbling kind of way. I should have known something was up.
A few weeks ago, we started making a list as a consequence of one of my rules for the year: Fix The Small Stuff. We have a habit of leaving small tasks undone, because we put them off until we do the Really Big Project. This is how we came to use janky stacked-up old fence-parts outside the French doors of our bedroom in lieu of stairs for at least 10 years, thinking we'd do stairs when we made a deck out there. Stepping off from our room onto the first quasi-step was a big drop, something none of us, not even Jas, could manage gracefully. I never liked the look of those stairs, but whatever, there they were. And the deck? Hasn't happened, and it probably won't for a while. I'm pretty sure we're not alone in this small task deferral. It's easy to gloss over the small things.
But when it comes down to it, the small things make all the difference. It's the little details that make a house or a garden or any place really, so remarkable. It's the details, truly, that delight.
When you take care of them, that is. Put off, ignored, the undone-details rankle or remind you (like the unread pile of New Yorkers by the table) that you can't really stay on top of the business of your life.
Enough, we said. Well, OK, I said it, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.
And so we started the Small list. And then added Medium and Large. And lest you should think I'm just adding stuff to the Honey-Do list unilaterally, I protest: the compilation is entirely collaborative, something we do in restaurants when we're waiting for our food or while driving distances in the car.
The timing of starting the lists was a little tricky. We started in April, not long after Joe had that last horrific bike crash, 4 broken ribs, the clavicle, the scapula, the punctured lung. While making it, we agreed that we were just probably going to move forward on small Small items, things that didn't require a lot of arms.
So naturally two days later, I came home from work to find stairs, actual stairs, constructed from those janky fence-parts, proper-sized steps and all, freshly stained, lined up outside the French doors. True to form, my sly husband snuck home early that day to unload and install them, all to surprise me.
Which is a thing he does that explodes my heart every single time. Because I know he does it all from love, even when he only has the use of one arm. That's just how he is.
I could make another list, and it would be a super-long one, of all of the projects Joe has undertaken to surprise me -- the built-in bookcase in our room, the fence, inumerable little secret plantings in the yard, now the stairs, and so many more. And always, really, he's just looking for one thing: for me to jump around and clap and sing my total delight.
Just last night, as we were waiting for our food at the aptly-named BJ's at the mall (and allow me to digress and say I love getting the 5 oz beer and the fish tacos there, freaking delicious), we were, of course, perusing the list, crossing things off (yes!), moving some items over to Medium, reconsidering some of the items on Large. And we added one item to Small -- filling a space next to the driveway with gravel, a spot where there's a bit of a hole, disconcerting as you're driving in or backing out, clunk.
You know where this is going, right? Yep, when I got home tonight, there was my delightful husband, shovel in hand, saying I love you with gravel.
So sweet. And of course, he did it one better -- prettified the other side of the driveway at the same time, and while I was greeting him, offered to fix a stranger's bike of its loud squeak, chatted with the neighbors, was his usual so-friendly self. I am a bit in awe.
I am reminded on this Friday The Thirteenth of just how lucky I am, how loved and how lucky, and how much I love too, him that is, crafty funny sweet clever Joe. I couldn't have a better partner in this life, a better companion to make lists and get shit done with, to make a home and garden with, down to the smallest detail. So so lucky, so so wonderful and sweet.