Friday, May 17, 2013

Who Aaron Is

The other night we went out to eat with Aaron's mom, who was in town visiting, and his brother Ben. We went to another of Phoenix's hundred million little independent restaurants; another hole-in-the-wall that really isn't, but that I've driven past hundreds of times and never noticed. It was adorable. All dim and warm; clinking dishes, muffled laughter, smelling of garlic and onions and everything wonderful. I loved it.

We sat on the second floor and once I was finished complaining about all the delicious-sounding menu items that were fatally full of gluten and ultimately decided on a less-menacing vegetable stir-fry, we started chatting about our days, as people do. It was a lovely dinner, really. Good food, good people.

Aaron still winks at me.

When Aaron has something to say, I listen. And it's because I want to listen. Aaron talks about his day with the simultaneous innocence of someone whom life is happening to, unlike some Big Fella In Charge of All Things, but also with such knowledge and wisdom and insight that it almost makes you self conscious. Like, he knows everything about everything - what could he be thinking of me right now? He is electric. And I love it.

He was no different that night; alternating between sharing the stress of his work day and remembering a funny quote from Family Guy, then beginning to repeat it but stopping himself in the wake of my prudish glare. And he listens the same way - intently; giggling at the right times, indignant at the right times, thoughtful always.

People don't listen like that very much anymore.

And even during that dinner, as our conversations wove around through the four of us, it still felt like Aaron and I were on a different plane. He laughs when he knows what I'm thinking. I laugh when I realize he's laughing because he knows what I'm thinking. He takes a bite of my dinner without asking. I take a bigger bite of his. He grabs my hand under the table.

Sometimes I think about how strictly we tend to relegate people to certain "roles" in our lives. Have you ever noticed how many people, whether on Facebook or in conversation, refer to their significant other as a Role rather than their name? "The hubby and I are going out tonight!" "Going shopping with the boy!" I always cringe at that. Don't you cringe? Doesn't it sound horrible?

I remember when Aaron and I had just gotten engaged. Some hometown friends of his were visiting us, and one of them told us that upon hearing of our engagement, Aaron's ex-girlfriend got very sad and said "Wow, if I were still with Aaron, I'd be getting married right now."

I think I spit out my Diet Coke. It was one of the weirdest, and saddest, things I'd ever heard.

Aaron is my husband. He is my best friend, he is my partner, he helps provide for us and he makes decisions for us. But before any of that, and above any of that, to me, he is Aaron. He is not The Husband. He is not "the boy." (EW.)  He was not a Place-Holder for the Altar or a Face for my Christmas Card Photo. He is Aaron.

When I said yes to his proposal, it wasn't because I had some life calendar upon which I had written "Get Married at 23" regardless of who I was dating. Neither did he. In fact, before meeting him, I didn't even want to get married that early. I didn't even know if I wanted to get married at all. But then I met Aaron. There would have been no one else.

It's like on Say Yes to the Dress when the producers ask the brides - why is your fiance the perfect guy for you? And I understand that the "for you" has some implications but their answers always make me hide under my blanket for that portion of the show. "He just treats me so great! He just gets me! He loves me! He wants to give me everything I want!"

I just feel so differently! I married Aaron because Aaron is Aaron. He is so kind, and so smart. He is funny. He cares about people. He has integrity. He likes funny TV shows. He likes to be outdoors. He is cute. HE is these things, as Aaron. Obviously I love and appreciate how he loves me, and the impact he has had on my life, and how he makes me better and treats me well. But I love him first and foremost because of him, not who he is to me.

I'm afraid that's what we're teaching ourselves to do - love whomever 'loves' you. It does not matter who they are. Look at everyone else in your life as simply having a role to play. Souls are not important. Actions are - the ones toward you, anyway.
How superficial would that be? How superficial is it already? How selfish is it? And isn't it plausible that THIS is why we're so broken with each other anymore? Why we get divorced so frequently? Why we're so let down when people - regular people; nasty, selfish, lazy sinners just like us - don't Perform their Role like we had expected?

I hope we can stop this, and that we can see people as people; as living, flawed, horrible, wonderful people who sometimes will make our lives better and other times will make them worse but at all times will be themselves and not our property or simply cogs in our wheels. And as having a purpose beyond the one they simply happen to fulfill toward us.

I am guilty of this too. So I will try, too.

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