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mid life love storyI like to talk. He doesn’t like to listen.

I like to talk for a long time. He doesn’t like to listen for a long time.

“Get to the point,” he says.

“I’m trying”, I say, “but you keep interrupting me.”

He grimaces, sets his lips. I continue.

I like to explain things. He likes the quick answer.

I need to tell him how I got there. He wants to know the result.

When we met that first night of international relations graduate school he thought I was Italian-American. I wasn’t. I had long dark hair, talked fast, used my hands a lot.

I thought he was good-looking. He was wearing a khaki work-shirt with flapped pockets and well-worn pants. He was from a working-class family and didn’t have many clothes.

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I remember what I wore the night we met. He doesn’t. A blue and white flowered, gauzy shirt with jeans. I was from an upper-middle class family. I had an overflowing closet.

We would go to the graduate school library together every night after dinner. I promptly took a seat at one of the trestle tables, opened up my books and dutifully started to study. He would put his books down next to mine and wander off. After an hour or so, I would wander back into the stacks and find him on the floor, reading foreign policy magazines.

“Aren’t you coming back to the table? Aren’t you going to study?” I would ask him.

“In a while.  I’ll be there in a while,” he would assure me.

The library closed each weeknight at 11 p.m. At 10:55 p.m. I would gather up my books and papers and get ready to leave. At 10:58 p.m. he would emerge from the stacks to join me. If he ever studied, I never saw it..

I liked to be prepared in advance for any contingency, to plan ahead. He was spontaneous.

I knew the dates of our final exams in early January. He forgot them. He depended on me to remember things. I liked being depended upon.

I was very detail oriented. He preferred the big picture.

I was Jewish. His parents came from the region in northern Greece from Macedonia when his Mom was pregnant with him.

I didn’t know where Macedonia was. He was eager to tell me, with maps, stories, pictures, long explanations of its historical significance, its connection with Alexander the Great.

I was eager to listen. I was in love. I still am.

When our teen-age daughter asked me how I knew her Dad was “the one”, I told her, “I didn’t know. But I did know that he never bored me. He still doesn’t.”

He fascinates me. I intrigue him.

We argue. I cry. He gets frustrated. I stop crying and flounce out of the room. He gets very quiet.

Then we make-up by not really making up. I’m too stubborn sometimes, he says. He is too stubborn many times, I say. We both say “I’m sorry” often.

We finish each other’s sentences. Even now when we sometimes don’t remember what we said.

“What was the name of that actor in that movie we saw years ago at that theater that isn’t on that corner anymore?”

And we both sort of remember the actor’s name. And the corner where a trendy condo building has replaced the old movie theater. Or we pretend that we remember. And then we forget that we forgot.

He still says I am beautiful. He still complains I am too wordy.

I think he is still very handsome. I will always be bothered that he can be cryptic.

We’ve been married for 36 years.

 

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