We used to ride the same bus during grade school. She was always neat, prim and prepared for school while I was always late and drowsy. Her brother was the laughable bully in our community church boys’ group.
It was during college that I came to know her again. I was the sensational kid from the mighty campus of Diliman and she was the loudmouth of that old school along Padre Faura.
We exchanged furtive glances during the anti-Estrada rallies in 1999. The most memorable was the mammoth gathering in Ayala in August. I was with visiting Taiwanese students and she was the head of their school delegation. Was it the heavy downpour or something else, but it was during that fateful day when I realized that I am smitten with the girl who used to mock me in elementary.
The formal courtship took place in the picketlines of the Grand Boulevard Hotel. I was a lousy suitor (she always reminds me) but then sooner or later she has to confess her true feelings for me.
At first we thought we are a mismatched couple. After all, we have obvious differences in our interests. To cite a few examples, she prefers the rustic mountains; I would always choose the rugged seas. She adores Selena and TLC while I appreciate the songs of Andy Williams. She is a talented artist; I’m more of a filingerong artista.
Our theory about our incompatibility would be disproved by our same passion for the writings of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Stalin and Ed Villegas. The two of us are professional street rallyists, crowd control managers and advocacy experts. We both love pasta, Divisoria and Chinese movies.
But more than our shared fondness for many things, one secret of our enduring relationship is our mutual respect for our distinct interests. She agrees to watch Eat Bulaga, Mr. Bean, Monk and Frasier as long as I also agree to watch Sarah Geronimo on ASAP, the Buzz and Will and Grace. She seldom complains about not eating shrimp and crabmeat because of my skin allergy as long as I can tolerate not eating mongo which she finds unpalatable.
I’m not really superstitious but when we celebrate a special day in our relationship, something ominous or enormous occurs in the political life of the country. When Chavit made his expose against Erap in 2000, we are on vacation in the Hundred Islands of Alaminos. When we celebrated our first anniversary, that was the week when Erap was arrested in his San Juan residence. When Magdalo soldiers attempted a coup in 2003, that was when I proposed marriage to her. During the Valentine’s Day bombing last year, my wife was in labor at the PGH.
Marriage brings so much pleasant complexities in a relationship. It is the most satisfying stressful phenomenon in life. No more of those mushy love letters, phone conversations till dawn and text quotes every hour promising supreme happiness when you spend the rest of your life with the woman of your dreams. It will be replaced by bills from utility firms, phone conversations about getting home before 9pm (or else!), text reminders of diapers and vitamins to buy and a candid realization that you are stuck with this one person for the rest of your mortal life. And I believe this is what makes marriage exciting and enjoyable.
In the past week, my wife and I had arguments and shouting matches about who will baby-sit, who will cook, who will clean the bathroom, how the money was spent, where are the keys, where is the remote control, etc. But at the end of the day, we will resolve our petty quarrels. We can’t sleep harboring bitterness against each other.
We have our own ways of expressing regret for something offensive which was said or done. On my part, I always offer a soothing back massage, ginger tea and the initiative to wash the dishes and mop the floor.
While the world continues to be more violent, unforgiving and depressing, I have already found my happiness in life. I am comforted by the thought that another soul is dependent on mine in order to survive this wicked land.
Perhaps what inspires me to be a better person is to prove that I deserve to be blessed with a wife who tolerates my perverted humor, eccentric behavior and demented beliefs. I deserve a wife who irritates me everyday with her complaints; I deserve a wife who is affectionate, beautiful, intelligent and kind. The prospect of spending the rest of my life with this one person is always the source of my contentment, pride and delight.
I tease, argue, fight, reconcile, serve, ridicule, adore, ignore, fear, loathe, respect, venerate and honor my wife everyday. Some would say this is the regression to the boring domesticity called marriage. I say it is love. And love has a name: Frances.