I met my future husband on a dating website. I wasn’t sure there would be fireworks or anything; the internet is a weird place.
But still, I agreed to a date. And not just any date — I invited him to my apartment for dinner. He seemed harmless enough.
When he walked through my door, he froze. He looked at me as though I were some kind of monster. Not like I was ugly or grotesque, more like I was going to eat him alive. Like I was a shark and he was a minnow.
He was six-and-a-half feet tall and nearly 300 pounds of defensive lineman. I was a foot shorter and about 135 pounds, a woman alone in my crappy studio apartment.
It took nearly two hours for him to relax enough to hold eye contact for more than three seconds.
Maybe it was that he was so scared of me, the big bad internet girl, but we didn’t have another date for more than two years. We kept up our emailing, sure, but we didn’t see each other again.
I dated lots of guys, he dated a few girls, but I got the impression he was still scared.
The next time we saw each other was when I finally convinced him to come to a Halloween party at my new apartment. He showed up in a head-to-toe furry blue suit, SuperGrover.
He walked through the door and gave me the same terrified stare. I was in head-to-toe black vinyl, dressed as Catwoman a la Michelle Pfeiffer.
Each time I saw him that night, he looked me in the eyes, no doubt a difficult feat, and I felt my stomach flutter. It was as though he wasn’t even seeing the stilettos or straps.
It was like he saw something inside of me, something bigger and better than I had ever seen in myself.
The next week, we started really dating and by the summer I knew I was going to marry him.
It wasn’t that he was emotionally stable, or kind, or motivated. All those things were great, but it wasn’t what made me fall so deeply in love.
It was the way he looked at me. As though I was more than I had imagined I could be.
Because he looked at me as though I could accomplish anything, I went back to college and got my degree. Because he looked at me as though I could achieve any feat, I costumed plays single-handedly, painted murals, and published poetry.
Because he looked at me like I was magical, I felt magical. And I achieved magical things.
And it didn’t stop. I would catch him smiling at me, this sly smile with his head tilted and his eyes smiling, a look that said, “I know you’re about to make a joke, and it’s going to be spectacular,” or, “Whatever you did today made somebody’s life better,” or, “You’re here, and I can’t wait to see what happens because of that.”
I saw that look on his face at an Independence Day party when he was talking with a friend and glanced my way, and that night he proposed.
I saw that look when I walked down the aisle and he tried to kiss me before the ceremony began.
I saw that look when I held our newborn twins for the first time, and when I told him we were pregnant again, and every day in between.
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It’s not his “special occasion” look, it simply means, “You’re here.” And as many years have passed, it never stops giving me butterflies.
It never makes me stop feeling as though I have been living a lie, telling myself I’m unequal to achievements I have yet to attempt.
My husband looks at me as though I’m an endless well of possibilities, as though I could turn water into wine and spin straw into gold and make the rain fall.
And because he believes it, sometimes I do, too.
Lea Grover is a writer and speaker living on Chicago’s south side. Her writing has been featured in numerous anthologies, including “Listen To Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now,” and on websites like Cosmopolitan, AlterNet, and Woman’s Day. Visit her website for more.