My brothers and I.

When looking back at old childhood photos, what I love most is our facial expressions.

The smiles are big for a reason.

We are each looking at,

no,

smiling at, and being loved by,

our father. And our father makes us laugh.

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The Word “Perfect” Can Also Mean “Whole”.

For my 24th birthday, he took me to a Detroit Tigers baseball game. It was my first game of the season so naturally I had been babbling excitedly to my coworkers all afternoon.  The ladies of the office peeked out the window trying to catch a glimpse of my new man as he pulled up to to the building.  Knowing we were being watched, I met him outside with a quick kiss. We hopped in the car and onto the freeway, all smiles and anticipation. As we hit rush hour traffic on 94, he convinced me to open my birthday presents.  I was a little embarrassed but also slightly anxious.  I hate opening any sort of present in front of other people, especially when I actually care about them.  I was twice as nervous because I have a long history of poor-gift-giving boyfriends and I’ve found that I am truly terrible at hiding my disappointment.  Don’t get me wrong, I try hard to not be materialistic or high maintenance, but society tells us that birthdays are magical and presents are sure to only contain everything we ever wanted.  As I prepared myself for artificial enthusiasm, I found that I had nothing to fake.  From the Heather grey Old English Detroit hoodie right down to the Haribo gummy bears.  Everything was the baby bear of Goldilocks: right color, right size, right emblem, right texture. I would have picked each item out myself and we’d only been dating a month!  How the hell did this guy know me so well?? (Answer: HE PAID ATTENTION.  Imagine that!)

In the parking lot outside the stadium, a peddler was trying to wash the car windows.  The man called out “Now that’s a beautiful car!” while ducking his head down to see me through the driver side window. He called out again, “AND a beautiful lady!”  MP gripped my hand and said, “I know, right?  Forget about the car!” *Swoon*

Walking into the stadium, I was proud to be on his arm.  (Actually… scratch that.  I was proud to have him on my arm!  This is 2018 after all!)  He was polite and conversational and knew exactly what to say in the awkward situations that normally made me want to run away or hide. Somebody better yell “Timber” because this girl is F A L L I N G.

Settled into our nosebleed seats with our ice cold “summer” shandies, we tried to pretend like it wasn’t 40 degrees in the middle of April.  We cuddled under a blanket eating Cracker Jack and peanuts.  Being the true gentlemen that he was, he even gave me the sticker prize inside – a 3-D cartoon of a beastly ball player over a cutout of home plate with the words “Go ahead, throw the curve.”

My feet were freezing, but at least the Tigers were winning.  We booed the bad calls and cheered for home runs. But mostly we danced and laughed to each walk up song.

We toughed it out for the 7th inning stretch only because it would feel criminal not to. But as soon as that music ended, we made a b-line to the car, practically running down the never-ending ramp out of the ballpark. We blasted the heat once we got in the car, shivering and laughing at the limitations of our own bodies.

Driving home, I studied his face as he studied the road.  For some reason, I found his  profile even more attractive under the freeway lights. He looked so serious and stoic, but very soft and kind as well.   I held his hand as we listened to the rest of the game on the radio. I traced letters into his palm during the play-by-play, assuming that he was too focused on the road to read what I was writing.

{iloveyou. ILOVEYOU. ILoveYou. YOU.}

I wasn’t ready to say the words aloud, but I had been feeling them for days. I remember thinking to myself:

“You are exactly what I want, what I need. You are every check on my list. Oh my gosh you are the one.”

It sounded crazy and felt like it way too soon, but… when you know, you know, and I knew.

I fell asleep on his arm, still holding his hand the rest of the way home.

Sleepy from the travel and cold air, we walked downstairs to his room. We were both beyond ready for bed.  Yet again, he had another surprise waiting for me. A dozen roses and a hexagon shaped box. I was already overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude from the evening. I didn’t even open the present (which turned out to be a handmade Edison lamp!) or even smell the roses.  My heart was so full of love and the feeling of being treated right that I needed him, right then, right there.   I needed to let him know how perfect this was, how perfect he was.  I had been waiting for this perfect for so long that I didn’t want to wait another second. And let’s be real, my favorite way to say thank you to a man often leaves us both out of breath and undressed.

Afterwards, he held my face in his hands. Our legs tangled, hearts racing.  He looked me in the eye and said, “There’s something I want to say that I’ve been wanting to say for a while now.”

My knee-jerk reaction was to shush him. I even put my finger to his lips, because I was convinced that I was not ready to hear what he was about to say.

I was scared that I was not ready to say the word “too.”

Instead of holding back, he ignored my hesitation, held me closer and whispered in my ear, “Maggie, I’m in love with you.”

Go ahead, throw the curve.

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