We are in Madrid. The heat is relentless. As we used to say in Boston, it’s underwear-in-the-freezer weather. The kind of weather where each activity entails negotiation. We are eating at delicious, air-conditioned restaurants only after dipping ourselves in hot lava. At the Prado Museum, we stood in a long ticket line, and then looked at paintings of hunters with their dogs. I mentioned I hadn’t seen any dogs in Madrid. Not one. Soon after, within ten minutes of leaving the museum, I saw a small black and white dog on the shady side of the street. Then a large brown one wearing shoes. Later, when we were eating salads (with ham) and drinking Coke Zeros, Dave said, “Look! A standard Schnauzer.” I missed it but I asked if it was the big kind of Schnauzer. Taking a bite of manchego, he said, “Mid-sized. Standard.”
My husband is a great traveler. I told him this today before realizing that is a strange thing, maybe even a condescending thing, to say to an adult. He asked me what I meant by “good traveler,” and I said it’s because he is a very “can-do person” and “has ideas for restaurants.” We are coming up on our twentieth wedding anniversary. It occurs to me I could have married someone who was not up for things, and now that thought makes me wince. If you are going to go through all the trouble of being married, it’s wise to select someone who doesn’t complain about humid, outdoor markets.
When Dave and I got married, we agreed to sickness and health, and were thrown a doozy last year when I got cancer. When you go through cancer treatments, you get to see if your husband can dress your wounds while steering away well-meaning friends you don’t want to see. Part of why I married him is because he is an excellent roommate. Clean and thoughtful. I’ve always encouraged our children to live with someone before considering a more permanent arrangement. Now I’m thinking I should amend my advice to include, “and also go through a very hard time together.” It doesn’t have to be cancer of course; something less severe would be preferable.
When we fight, I want to rip his face off. I once confessed that to him and he said, “Oh that’s normal.” I appreciated that he didn’t tell me he also wants to rip my face off. I told my friend Alex this and she said I feel that way because I love him so much. That doesn’t sit right with me, but she’s probably right. She is a therapist.
As I write this, my husband is next to me on the hotel bed, on his laptop, trying to change the date of our train tickets to Seville because he booked the wrong dates. He isn’t wearing a shirt because of the hot lava, and he just muttered, “This website fucking blows.” I want to lean over and kiss him, but I know it will irritate him to be interrupted like that. That’s what happens when you’re married for this long. Kisses aren’t always romantic. Sometimes they are distractions. But he is a problem-solver and I want to thank him for that.