Ode to my Wife
Otto is probably the most beautiful person I know, both inside and out. She’s intriguing, quirky, funny, brilliant and gifted with her words. It’s a privilege to share a life with her, to share a home with her, to share parenting with her and to share love with her.
Otto has a memory like nobody’s business. She remembers more of my past than I do, in particular details from pieces of my life that she wasn’t part of. She delights in telling our kids, or any captive audience, about my old boyfriends and girlfriends, the antics of my childhood, and especially the embarrassing moments. She recounts these events through hilarious stories as if these memories were her own. These stories roll so easily off her tongue, while I struggle to remember much of it, the more the years sweep me away from the event itself.
I remember emotions. I remember how certain events made me feel. If I’m lucky, I’ll remember what happened at a high level, but I can no longer recall the specifics of who wore what, who said what or even put together a correct sequence of events. I might remember being mad, but I won’t remember why. I might remember being joyful, but I’m not sure what made such an impression.
The other day Otto struck me dumbfounded when I was teasing her about how I fooled her into thinking I was much neater and cleaner than I actually am. My grad school apartment was always tidy, perhaps clean even, but I organized my life into piles of paper that surrounded my desk and clutter on my dresser top.
I remember organizing paper into piles on the floor. Otto reminded me that I also used to have disastrous dressers that housed slips of paper, buttons, hair product and ties, loose change, strewn clothing, make up and books.
Otto told me that she thought I was a clean person because I asked her to rinse out the kitchen sink and this is something that she had never really encountered before.
See, Otto and I lived in different cities in different provinces when we met. We didn’t really date. We u-hauled between our respective abodes. I had an apartment and she had a dorm room.
After our initial meeting, she came to me for the weekend. I wanted to impress her with my then non-existent culinary skills so I got a roast chicken recipe from my foodie friends and we cooked together. It was a citrus and cumin chicken. A dish we think is still delicious till this day.
I remember snippets of our cooking together. This is where I learned that Otto doesn’t measure. It’s a skill that makes her a true cook and a horrible baker, which I can now only appreciate in hindsight. Otto instinctively knows how to flavour her food, and on this occasion she put the appropriate amount of cumin, salt and pepper into the raw chicken’s torso using guesswork and a sniff test.
After we ate she must have washed the roasting plan and left bits of chicken and twigs of oregano in the sink drain. Or maybe it was soap scum up the side of the sink. Apparently it was something I commented on and asked her in a matter-of-fact manner to not repeat in the future. I can’t even remember a older version of myself who would have been so bold and assertive.
Otto now claims to always rinse out the sink. I wonder how that’s possible cause I’m always still picking out food bits from the bottom of it. Maybe I need to better train my big kids?
The thing about this shared piece of history is that I don’t remember it playing a big part of my falling in love with Otto. It’s kind of vague and fuzzy and only familiar when Otto recounts this tale to me. But it’s quite a poignant memory for her.
I think when we’re old ladies together, sitting in rockers, sipping lemonade on our front step, it’s going to be Otto who tells the tales of our falling in love to our kids, grandkids and great grandkids. She’s going to be telling me the tales of our great romance. I’m going to hear these stories like it’s the first time, like I never lived these legends, and I’m going to fall in love with her all over again.