Ritual, routine and romance

Yesterday, I faced an epic battle against giant cherry paczki as they kept calling my name. I originally asked my husband to refrain from stopping at the bakery. I had been trying to shed a few unwanted winter pounds picked up sometime between Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Still, Joe insisted on buying a box “for the kids.”

Talk about a fat one.

Two of our boys won’t even eat the blasted things. They consider them “health food” based on the fruit content. Consequently, I was left alone with my nemesis. Failure was inevitable.

I may have even poured a glass of chocolate milk.

Joe believes in tradition more than any guy I have ever known. He has bowled every Tuesday night for nearly two decades. Each summer, we visit the same Michigan beach and eat the same Redamak’s burger without variation. The one time I did not put up every last Christmas decoration, the only person who noticed was Joe.

He visits his mother’s grave with our boys twice a year.

He cooks his late father’s meatballs with dedicated perfection.

And he buys paczki every Fat Tuesday without fail.

While I occasionally get annoyed at Joe’s unwillingness to mix things up, I understand that creating concrete memories for our children is very important to him. I do not know if it comes from losing his parents at a relatively young age, or if it is merely the simple comfort of routine and family.

I am different. Predictability and sameness often bore me. I have a strong gypsy spirit, and I occasionally resent being tied to Chicago through Joe’s job and our families. I wonder had it not been for my husband, perhaps I would have flitted across half the continental U.S. by now in search of something better. A nicer city. Warmer weather. Maybe an ocean.

No matter my mercurial moods, Joe considers having a temperamental wife just another custom – one he values above all.

Yet, whenever restlessness visits after a long day of carpool, laundry and spelling words, I cannot help but make a desperate plea:

“Do you want to run away together? Maybe get married? Start a family?”

As I await his response, I reflect on my old views of romance and how fleeting odes and flowers can be.

Now?

I know romance means Joe will always say yes.

And he will always grab paczki on Fat Tuesday.

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