The Calculous of Love 💗

It’s St Valentines Day here in Spain, and around the world. Love 💕 is in the air.

We don’t celebrate Valentines 💘 Day quite on the level we used to. Our first Valentines Day was spent at a Tom Douglas restaurant in Seattle – The Dalia Lounge. It became our tradition. Jeff would meet me there for lunch every year to exchange cards and gifts. We had kids, so going out for dinner wasn’t usually in the cards.

These days, finding greeting cards in english are hard to come by. I gave Jeff his early this year with a new Louboutin wallet. It was in Spanish. But he can read Spanish now. He gave me mine. He had brought a stack of them back with him the last time he was in the US. But he’s out of Valentine’s cards so it was a Mother’s Day card with the Mother’s Day crossed out and Valentine’s Day written in, in the unique script I know so well. Surprisingly, the sentiment still applied. He’s tickled pink we are still humming along after all these years.

Jeff is my soulmate. Although I wasn’t always convinced of that. We are opposites. At our wedding my 6ft 5in maid-of-honor, Curt, told those gathered ‘Kelli and Jeff are proof that complete opposite’s can fall in love and be perfect for each other.’ But even though Jeff and I have the same world view, back at the beginning I wasn’t sure it would go the distance.

I had been through a bad marriage to a complete narcissist. I loved Jeff, but I didn’t trust anyone. And I had a small child. I couldn’t make another catastrophic mistake. So, when Jeff started talking about us moving in together I broke out into hives. Then I did what I always do. I created an issue log and called a meeting to review it. My issue log was just a simple one I had used at work many times.

~ Date

~ Issue Definition

~ Risk Level

~ Assigned To

~ Options

~ Proposed Resolution

~ Track Progress

~ Final Resolution and Date

At our first meeting I invited Jeff to add any issues he had with me to the log. A very smart man, he stated emphatically that he had none. But reserved the right to do so in the future.

I ran through my issues with him. Relationship deal breakers. Then I explained that I could not move in with him unless I began to see clear and consistent progress toward resolving them. Right about now you are thinking Kelli, this is insane. If I were Jeff I would have gotten up and walked away. And I understand your perspective. But I needed to manage my love life in a logical fashion. Head over heels is fine on your first time out. But I was a veteran of 💔. If this was going to go the distance we needed a different approach. And we were both familiar with troubleshooting and software application issue resolution. It just made sense. And it worked.

The following year Jeff woke me up at 5am on a Wednesday morning, loading me and my son in the car, he drove us out to a state park in the Cascade Foothills.

‘I don’t know what we are doing out here.’ I told him looking at my watch. ‘But I have a nine o’clock.’

Jeff marched us to a waterfall with a beautiful bridge. Then he got down on one knee and opened the box in his pocket. Inside was an enormous platinum diamond ring flanked by two sapphires. Sapphire is both their birthstone. Before he asked me, Jeff turned to my son standing there holding his pony stuffed animal. It went everywhere with him.

‘Is it OK if I marry your Mom?’ Jeff asked.

The reply made us both laugh. ‘If I can play Nintendo whenever I want.’ He sold his Mom for a video game. I totally understood.

Our life together has had ups and downs. Like everyone. And when the downs were so deep to feel like the bottom of an endless pit, I could count on Jeff to wrap his arms around me and whisper into my hair ‘Hang on to me. We’ll get through this together.’ That, to me, makes every day Valentine’s day.

The Next Generation

As parents, you wonder about how your kid’s lives will pan out. Who will they fall in love with? Who will be the first to marry? Which one will decide to have kids? These days you can do whatever you want without shame. I love that. In one generation all the old norms fell away.

When Ryan started his PhD at barely 22 yrs old, he was living alone in Boulder, Colorado. That first year I asked him if there was anyone special in the picture. Man or woman, I didn’t care. I just hoped he had someone to love who would love him back. But he schooled me in typical Ryan fashion.

‘I did some research on how successful relationships are for PhD candidates. The percentage of those who began a relationship during their Phd. The statistics aren’t promising. So I think I’ll avoid it.’

I loved that, so much. A data driven approach. Jeff and I were thoroughly behind it. But then, in May of 2017, as Emilie and I sat at the communal dinner table at Refugió Orrison, having just walked up the mountain from St Jean Pied a Port in France, a photo came through on my phone of Ryan and his girlfriend, Olga. Jeff had driven up to Boulder to see him, and Ryan invited her to breakfast with them at a local cafe. He had been seeing her for the past 9 months and was ready for Jeff to meet her. I showed the picture to Emilie.

‘They look like twins!’ She said, smiling. And she is right.

They met in the computer lab at the school. The perfect meet cute for two budding scientists. Jeff spent the long Memorial Day weekend with them having fun. Working together to get out of an escape room. Playing brain games. Three genius introverts in their own sandbox.

I got to meet Olga that September for Jeff’s 50th birthday. And they came to Thanksgiving before we moved to Spain. We just love her. So much that we made them both the people who will make medical decisions for us when we are too old to do it for ourselves. A data driven approach to end of life.

Modern Love

When Ryan was here in October last year, he casually mentioned, as only Ryan can, that they were thinking of marrying after 6+ years together. I tried not to freak out and scare him. So much was my excitement for them.

‘Where? When?’ I asked.

‘We don’t know. We’re still thinking about it. We might not even do it. I’ll tell you if we do.’

Then, this weekend they called. At 9am on Friday they are getting married at the courthouse in the county where they live.

‘Is it a significant date for you guys?’ Jeff asked.

‘No.’ Said Ryan. ‘It’s just the first available appointment.’

Of course.

‘How did you decide to finally do it?’ I asked. ‘Did you do a threat assessment or a risk matrix?’ Being entirely serious. I know who I’m talking to. And, hey, I had my own issues log, with regular relationship status meetings.

Olga laughed. ‘Just a pros and cons list. There are more pros than cons.’

Old school. Simple. I like it. To some, this would seem thoroughly unromantic, but to Jeff and I making emotional decisions using facts and data is the only way to keep yourself out of a ditch. We applauded their approach.

I asked if we should purchase them some monogrammed Mr and Mrs towels but Olga had a better idea.

‘Better if it’s Dr and Dr.’

She’s right, of course.

On Friday at precisely three pm, I’ll head to my favorite church in Valencia, light a candle and pray for their marriage. I know a piece of paper won’t make them closer than the nearly seven years they’ve been together. But it puts positive energy out into the universe. As physicists they can both get behind that. A wish that they will enjoy the happiest life together. And that when the storms come, and they will come as they do for all of us, that they will wrap their arms tightly around each other and, like Jeff and I, hang on until it passes.

4 thoughts on “The Calculous of Love 💗

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s