Friday, February 13, 2009

To Get You in the Mood...

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day around here much in the same way we didn't celebrate Thanksgiving the first year we were married. FX was broadcasting a 24-hour X-Files marathon that day and there was like, noooo way I was going to miss that. I mean, come on — it's Fox Moulder all day. I made the mistake of thinking that Brooks would be happy with a rotisserie chicken from Smith's. Wrong-o. I finally caved and we went to his folks' that night for the real thing.


But really — we don't celebrate Valentine's.

It must have been Brooks who set the tone early on in our relationship. We hadn't even been dating for a month when he presented me with a Valentine's gift. Bold move — or so I thought. On closer inspection, I was confused, no "troubled" is a better word for it.

See for yourself:

"poems about love
and other such things
master thespian

LEONARD NEMOY [aka Mr. Spock]
Jenny Winkel

edited [and appended] by brooks briggs"

Brooks Briggs, a man I hardly knew, had taken some awful poetry and inserted a few ad-libbed words of his own into it. He then presented the final product to me in the form of a hand-bound booklet. Hmmmm...

A peek inside, you say? Sure.

"I have learned again to trust myself
It isn't easy
Someone who seems to know
Someone who seems
to be wiser
Can convince me,
[that Fred on Scooby Doo
wasn't gay. But then
I watch it again, and I know
that he didn't wear ascots
Because they were cool.]"

Brooks and I came together more as an act of God than an active choice on our parts. He thought I was shallow and conceited (he was right) and I thought he was stiff and boring (because I didn't know him). He ran in intellectual circles and went to poetry readings, I put off Advanced Writing until my very last semester (a class he used to teach, no less), he loved discussing politics and current events, I thought NPR stood for "No Possible Refund" at ZCMI. He loved cycling and being outdoors, I preferred the small enclosure of a darkroom. He — soft and intelligently spoken, me — loud and opinionated. The only reason we were spending Valentine's together that year was because, after trying over and over not to go out with me, he finally gave in to Divine pressure and called me up.

(That and he thought I was hot.)

Take another peek:

"Love — from me to you.

My beauty — take my hand.
I'm so proud of you
The way people love you
The strength you offer
To those in need
[And the way you beat them
If they get too pushy about it]"

So, on Valentine's Day eve, ten years later I say to him, "Don't get me anything for tomorrow. I know you didn't but I don't want to be surprised. I didn't get anything for you and I don't want to feel like a jerk."

This sort of rhetoric pretty much defines a pragmatic relationship like ours. Is it because it's been ten years? Is it because we skipped the romantic beginning and went straight to "for time and all eternity"? Well, who knows. What I can say is this: even though I wasn't a fellow student in his grad program, I ain't no dummy neither. I don't care if Brooks married me because the Blue Fairy told him to, I'm runnin' with it.

Over the course of our marriage, Brooks has given me a fertile patch of soil in which to sink my roots and sprout, to discover the self I always knew was there but that just needed the right environment to grow. He listens, doesn't criticize, is patient, has a wealth of information in his brain, and is the only one who can calm my troubled waters. Brooks is the nurturing component of our parenthood, he reminds me that keeping perspective is essential, and was the one who finally told me that NPR is actually an acronym for "National Public Radio" - a station that is always on in the car when I drive.

OK, you have better things to do to celebrate the holiday so I'll finish here. Even though all of the above is true, what really sealed the deal in the end was that Brooks Briggs, from our very first date, made me laugh harder than I had in a very, very long time. From that moment I knew I never wanted to be without that feeling again. And if God could be so gracious as to make things work out between us, I would never let Him live to regret it.

Love does happen
like a touch
of grace

It falls
Into place
Where there used
To be
Empty space

When I hold your
In my hands
I ask
How did this happen
To me?
[I thought it was attached
Firmly to your head.]


Sarah said...

So sweet and so funny at the same time. I just love you guys! You are absolutely perfect for each other. I've always thought so.

Heather said...

Very very sweet!

MiddleEastMama said...

Holy cow--those poems are so funny I was doubled over, laughing, as I read. It made the reading hard. Thanks tons for sharing them. I especially like the part where he finds your face in his hands.

Super Kate said...

Ahhhhh Brooksy, so poetic. Oh and btw we are the same with V-day.

Heidi said...

I think you two are a great couple.

MattyGerber said...

Your marriage is the perfect example of yin and yang. You balance each other perfectly. I adore you both and your wonderful boys. I am happy to consider the Brinkels a part of my surrogate family and some of the best friends a person could ask for.