This week is B.’s 54th birthday (how did that happen — we were just in our 30s about five minutes ago) and, as usual, I’m faced with the age-old dilemma of what to do for a present. Oh, sure, there are the obvious choices — the new Grisham novel, the iTunes gift card, tickets to a great concert or a game, dinner at our favorite “special occasion” place. All of those are fine, yet none completely satisfies my definition of “special.”
After all, this is the man I’ve known since we were 17, the first boy I ever kissed (and hopefully, the last), the love of my life. This is also the guy who lost interest for a while after our first date (what can I say, he was a typical 17-year-old guy looking to score, and I was a “good girl” who couldn’t see past first base) — but things seem to have worked out since then. (Speaking of which, maybe Dodgers Opening Day tickets? No, that’s months away). From 1975 (when we met) until 1997 (when we got married), ours has been a unique relationship — friends, more than friends, less than friends, best friends. And from that day forward? We like to think we’re joined at the heart. We also like to say that even though we don’t have kids, we tend to act like five-year-olds from time to time, which is sort of fun. Or annoying, depending on who else is around.
One of the things I find most endearing about B. is his curiosity. Sure, his wanting to ask my thoughts on the meaning of life when I’ve only been awake for a couple of minutes can be a bit jarring, and his seemingly endless patience with figuring out how something works can wear on my patience (do we really have to check out all 139 functions of the remote when all we need is on, off, volume, channel change?). But I have to admire his ability to question and explore. It’s got a refreshing innocence to it — the way a kid loves to discover new things and imagine the what-ifs of life. Aha! My gift idea at last.
My husband has watched Apollo 13 so many times, he could play the Gary Sinise role and save the mission without a problem. This is the man who has asked me, on numerous occasions, if one day, budget and practical stuff notwithstanding, I’d want to explore Mars with him (my response: is there a Target store in the vicinity?). The guy for whom I bought a telescope because he loves looking at the stars (of course, being a city girl, it never occurred to me that trying to see the stars while living around city lights is damn near impossible). The person who will always regard John Glenn as a hero. Who watched, absolutely awestruck, as the space shuttle Endeavour made its farewell tour over LA last October.
So for his birthday, I’m taking B. to the California Science Center to see the Endeavour up close and personal. He’ll be able to explore, ask questions, imagine, and learn to his heart’s content. And I’ll get the chance to fall in love with him a little more.
Only one question remains — how do I wrap it?
© 2012 Claudia Grossman