Living in the Bay Area for so long, I always designate it as my go-to meal when there’s a date night or something special to celebrate. I’ve driven hours and scheduled reservations weeks in advance for a really good crab leg or bowl of clams, and it has always been worth it. As satisfied as I am with my aquatic-sourced meals, I couldn’t imagine that being the only thing I could ever eat. I’m a person that craves variety, and will always jump at the opportunity to try some new and adventurous food. As of this writing, it has now been 80 days of sheltering in place, only being allowed to go to work and the store. The boundless buffet that was my life has now become a steady meal of chicken breast and steamed vegetables. But I don’t hate it.
A couple months into being stuck at home, Krista and I were eating dinner on the weekend, talking about our previous week, and I just looked up at her and said, “You know what’s weird? I am not sick of you yet.” This thought surprised me as I said it, and based on her face, it clearly surprised her too. This led to a serious conversation about our relationship that caught us off guard. This wasn’t a bad thing of course, but we both really wanted to know why. Everything about the state of the world and all of the anecdotal evidence we were seeing said we should be at each other’s throats begging for even a second apart. Sure it hadn’t been easy, and we desperately missed our lives before, but neither of us were unhappy with where we were at.
Before the pandemic, we had been poly for about a year and a half. There were of course plenty of moments during that time where all we did was stay at home. But for the most part, we spent our free time together with our other partners, doing new things, or usually both. We would talk about how much we enjoyed our more relaxing nights at home with each other, but I always saw these as extra special because they had become the exception, not the rule. All the activities we were doing were allowing me the time to miss her and miss the downtime we shared together. Then without much warning, the norm was turned on its head and we were forced to be with each other whenever we were at home, and with her working from home and me working nights, this meant all of our time.
I’ve spent a lot of time since my revelation pondering why it is that I don’t hate my wife, and I think I finally cracked it. When I imagine that meal of meat and steamed vegetables, I see food that looks as bland as it tastes, on a colorless plate that doesn’t try to hide the truth of what you are about to eat. But therein lies the problem: perspective. The food isn’t the problem; plenty of my favorite meals consist of not much more than a protein and vegetables. Instead, it is the ingredients. The base foods are stable and secure, and you know what you’ll get from them, but the spices, sauces, and herbs are what gives the meal its true character and desirability. So to take this food metaphor to its inevitable conclusion: my wife is a spice rack. We’ve spent the last 14 years building up our composition of flavors: sampling new ones, throwing out the ones we don’t like, shuffling them around to fit what we’re craving, and finding the perfect combination of ingredients to use no matter what the occasion.
It finally makes sense to me. My wife isn’t a meal that I crave when I haven’t had it in awhile. She is the reason why I like so many of the things I like.