Four years ago this week, Chef Matt made an honest woman out of me at the magnificient Cathedral of St. Paul. The day flashed by in a flurry of taffeta and vows and tears and dancing, and I made a desperate attempt to take mental snapshots of everything that was not caught on camera, to file away for reminiscence's sake or for the rainy days of marriage.
Among a thousand other memories, what I remember most was a new husband who looked at me like he could not believe his luck. I was never one to think that I was a great catch for anyone, but that look was unequivocal in its meaning: You are a great catch for me. I still see that look sometimes, but as more time has separated the present from our wedding day, I see that belief more often in his actions than his eyes, which, to me, is even greater proof.
Everyone's marriage is perfect on that first day, when the joy is intoxicating and everything seems more beautiful under the influence of a white dress and a haze of champagne. You learn quickly that married life, even if it is wonderful, is not a fairy tale, that it demands hard work and compromise you never could have imagined while gazing at each other over a first dance.
Over time, the little actions show love far more earnestly than words at a wedding dinner, because they come amidst nasty bouts of the flu, stressful losses of jobs, empty checking accounts, and children who will not sleep. When my husband, who was prone to leaving cabinet doors open and a trail of socks across the bedroom floor, makes sure that the house is picked up before I get home from work, I know he loves me.
For us, our great love affair with food has only served to strengthen our great love affair with each other. Every time he cooks me up something special after I have had a long day, or saves me the last scoop of cookies and cream because he knows I love it, or thanks me for my suppertime concoctions even though they are rarely fancy, I know he loves me. Each anniversary, when he recreates our wedding dinner, I know that he does it not just for tradition's sake but also to demonstrate, through his great gift with food, that our love is alive and well.
I do not mean to be overly sentimental. But when the first week of November each year sweeps in with wedding flashbacks, I cannot help but remember that gush of emotion and the promise of great things to come. And the great things have certainly come, disguised as thoughtful pots of etouffee and late-night Blizzard runs in my third trimester and sincere compliments on my improvised lasagna. These are the actions of love in our house, and they abound.