Back in 1998, on about the fourth or fifth date with the guy who would become my husband, we went to a record store.  For a few minutes, we meandered our separate ways.  When we met up again, he was carrying a stack of CDs: a bunch of classical symphonies that were way above my head – and the Spice Girls.  It was a defining moment.  “I like this guy.”

In early 2001, as we prepared for our wedding, we met a few times with our rabbi.  We took one of those scantron tests that most clergy give in pre-marriage counseling, evaluating the couple’s goals, values, etc.  After getting the results, the rabbi walked back into his office studying the results and shaking his head in disbelief.  “I have never,” he said, “seen a couple more compatible than you two.”  (The one striking exception was our family dynamics growing up, but he probably wouldn’t appreciate me outlining that here.)

Some other things:

— He eats a banana louder than you could imagine.

— He forgives my bad mom moments, my stupid moments, my hormonal moments. Always.

— Like Barack, he takes the dog out late at night for the last pee.

— He values charitable giving in a way that I never knew existed.  (Before I met him, my version of charitable giving was donating just enough to KQED to get a free subscription to San Francisco magazine.)

— It takes him 2.5 hours to get out of the house in the morning.

— He is a world class real estate lawyer, yet he’d have been an equally good computer engineer (if he’d been born about 10 years later), architect or rabbi.

— When I was in 8th grade, he was in law school.

— His incredible tolerance of my beloved 17-year-old deaf/arthritic/kidney disease-ridden/senile cat, who howls in our bedroom at 3 a.m., is proof alone of what a great husband he is.

— He is more open to my music than I am to his.

— His birthday is the day after mine.

— In the 11 years I’ve known him, he’s read two books.  But he reads the daily newspaper religiously and thoroughly. 

— He has never, ever said I should spend less money on yarn.

A few months before I met him, when I was in graduate school, I heard a poem that, quite simply, took my breath away.  A few months later, I realized that my hearing the poem was a premonition of sorts.    Here it is:

FAST GAS by Dorianne Laux
Before the days of self service,
when you never had to pump your own gas,
I was the one who did it for you, the girl
who stepped out at the sound of a bell
with a blue rag in my hand, my hair pulled back
in a straight, unlovely ponytail.
This was before automatic shut-offs
and vapor seals, and once, while filling a tank,
I hit a bubble of trapped air and the gas
backed up, came arcing out of the hole
in a bright gold wave and soaked me—face, breasts,
belly and legs. And I had to hurry
back to the booth, the small employee bathroom
with the broken lock, to change my uniform,
peel the gas-soaked cloth from my skin
and wash myself in the sink.
Light-headed, scrubbed raw, I felt
pure and amazed—the way the amber gas
glazed my flesh, the searing,
subterranean pain of it, how my skin
shimmered and ached, glowed
like rainbowed oil on the pavement.
I was twenty. In a few weeks I would fall,
for the first time, in love, that man waiting
patiently in my future like a red leaf
on the sidewalk, the kind of beauty
that asks to be noticed. How was I to know
it would begin this way: every cell of my body
burning with a dangerous beauty, the air around me
a nimbus of light that would carry me
through the days, how when he found me,
weeks later, he would find me like that,
an ordinary woman who could rise
in flame, all he would have to do
is come close and touch me.

Happy birthday, Dude!