Anthony is a nerd. He doesn't follow pop culture, he (until VERY recently) has had little fashion sense (he couldn't be bothered with it), he's crazy smart, shy and reserved, loves all things techno, passes tests of all kinds with no studying whatsoever, refuses to pay for things like a plumber preferring to figure it out on his own, likes solitary pursuits, has a Masters degree in plant biology to the tune of Organismal Plants (I have to type that very carefully...), has didgeridoos (two bought, one homemade), a homemade telescope, radio-controlled airplanes and gliders, and a plethora of sci-fi and fantasy books.
In all my years of dating assholes I never once thought of wanting any of those things in a man. I always wanted someone more like me who I could take along with me to all the parties and bars I was frequenting. Meeting Anthony as a 28 year old, unemployed woman, who'd been living on her own for almost 2 and half years was the most miraculous moment of my life. Yes, even more miraculous than the birth of my son, because that's supposed to be miraculous. But meeting your life partner isn't supposed to be that big of a deal, right? I mean, sure, it's supposed to be great and memorable, but "miraculous"?
Let me explain a little more. I had been living a careless life. The most care I ever took was to have protected sex (notice I didn't say "not have sex") with a string of raving dumbasses. It's true what they say, "Act like a dumbass, catch a dumbass!" I did tons of drugs, drank like a fish, invited complete strangers over to party at my house on a regular basis and basically treated life, and everyone I met in it, like old war buddies. The criteria to get into my life was to be a beer drinking, drug using, girl or boy who liked a fast-paced life and could hold up their end of a conversation. What low standards!
The winter before I met Anthony things started to change. I decided that emotions were more important than anything else and I dated one man who told me he could never fall in love with me, so I dumped him - that was a first! Then, in late spring, I dated a lovely man, a long-standing friend, who really made me realize that nice, nerdy guys were really the most interesting people out there - not the guy with the beer bong and gram of coke in his pocket. Sadly, that didn't work out because I was having big issues surrounding my father (shocker) and I needed to sort some things out, but we've remained friends to this day.
Later that summer, I met a man with whom I became friends and he showed me that I could wrap all the different parts of me up into one and still be desirable. I could be vulnerable, ridiculous, and romantic all at the same time. Enter Anthony that fall.
I wasn't looking for anyone (of course) and I was really at a happy place in my romantic life (alone, but busy). Anthony and I met online on MySpace before it was cool to mention it. We emailed for a week and both thought, "Wow, there's something there!" When he came over to my house "for brie and wine" he had a shaggy ponytail and was wearing oversized chords. Two of my girlfriends were there and laughed and giggled at him, as only girlfriends can do, while Anthony tried to disappear on the arm of my couch. They left and I got busy making food and opening a bottle of wine.
We talked until 5 am, I loaned him some pajamas, and we crawled into my bed like it was a slumber party. I perfunctorily told him that all we were going to do was sleep and he said, "Ok." I turned out the light and rolled over and closed my eyes. Sixty seconds later I hear him get up on an elbow and he says, "I gotta ask before we go to sleep. Could I get a good-night kiss?" I said ok and puckered up. We've been together ever since.
The silent tornado from Kansas is what he was. He came in, shook my house to its bones and whisked me away to emotional safety. His stubborn streak protected me from myself on many occasions and his willingness to learn and be more kept me interested in the most unlikely of suspects for a boyfriend, then fiance, and finally husband.
Three weeks after meeting in person I went to California for Thanksgiving. Upon arriving home at 10 or 11 at night I look up the long staircase to my apartment door and there is Anthony on my stoop with a bunch of bright red flowers in his hand and a big, goofy smile on his face.
"I wanted to surprise you. My sister dropped me off 15 minutes ago. I was really hoping your flight wasn't delayed," he says.
No one had ever done anything so astonishingly sweet for me before. I climbed the remaining steps between us and he handed me a dozen red tulips. In our "get to know each other emails" from a month before I had learned he couldn't think of roses as romantic anymore due to writing his thesis on how water moves through flowers and dissecting/mulching/decomposing thousands of roses in the process. He thought tulips were much better.
Now, tulips mean more to me than any other flower. They represent change, hope, love, wit, sweetness, courage, and individuality. They bend and arch to find the light like bendy straws and yet are so fleeting and delicate. They remind me of the man I share my life with and of who I want to be. They're a metaphor for so much more than just something pretty. They're a metaphor for a way of being. And this is why I love tulips.