I never expected it. In fact, I was dead set against it. In theory. For other people. It’s not really couple tattoos or wedding ring tattoos specifically but the whole putting someone’s name on your body. It seems so permanent in a world where almost nothing is guaranteed. I remember the day I saw my sister-in-law’s name tattooed on my brother’s arm and I thought to myself, “Well, that wasn’t smart.” I guess in the end I’m a cynic.
Two of my brothers are tattoo artists. They warn against putting significant other names on your body. It hurts to have wedding ring tattoos removed unlike taking off engagement rings. I’ve joked a lot how the only names I would ever put on my body are my children’s. I’m not good with permanency. I’m really not good with hanging my happiness on others and I might have some trust issues if we’re being honest. Not that the Big Guy has ever done anything to warrant losing my trust. I was just raised waiting for the other foot to drop.
This morning, the Big Guy said he was going to swing by “the shop” (my brothers’ tattoo shop) and discuss the final details of a new tattoo, A Call of Duty Juggernaut. I don’t quite get it but if it has meaning to him, it’s his body. Before I left, I jokingly said, “Make sure you have my brother sneak in my name. It can be like a hidden Mickey. You don’t even have to use my first name. It’ll be our little secret.” He left. I continued Marie Kondo-ing my house that’s looked like a hurricane hit since I started organizing way back in January 2019. Yep, that year-long month.
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An hour or so later he returned. I asked if my brother had stenciled his calf and if I could see this “juggernaut.” Sure, he bellowed. He’s a big guy, he sometimes bellows. He bounds up the stairs and I’m waiting for him to show me his calf. But he’s just standing there and I was so confused.
“Let me see it.” I was anxious to see what they had come up with and if he had, in fact, had my middle name hidden in the stencil. But he just smiled with an outstretched left hand and there it was, “Deborah” “5/15/99” and “Always” on his ring finger, where his wedding ring sits. I was speechless. I’m never speechless. If you know me, you know that I am a talker and never without words. Yet, there I was with no words.
As Bella says, I.Was. Shook! But I shouldn’t have been. This is just who he is. He jumps all in with his whole heart where I’ve always been cautiously optimistic. There was a time when I would have jumped blindly into matters of the heart. I loved love but then I got burned a couple times, more like set on fire by the frogs I kissed. By the time I met the Big Guy in college, I just expected things to be hard.
I was never one of those girls who felt like I needed to get married and have kids. I wanted all of that, eventually and I knew it would happen but it wasn’t anything I was losing sleep over. I had dated a few guys, been naively all in, written all the sappy letters and did all the silly things people do when they are teenagers/the early twenties and I was left with a lot of relationship “buyers remorse.”
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Then I met the Big Guy, 4 days after a break up with a guy I’d been dating for some time. We broke up for the last time on my birthday because he forgot my birthday… after almost 3 years of dating. Let’s be brutally honest, he didn’t forget so much as chose not to acknowledge it. Lucky me.
The really honest truth is that the Big Guy and I never should have met, logically speaking. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I was supposed to be in Boston. I was supposed to have already graduated. And on the night we met, I was supposed to have a boyfriend and I was supposed to be home studying for an astronomy exam.
But fate intervened or maybe destiny was in control the entire time because, under normal circumstances, he and I should have never met. Yet, here we are 22 Valentine’s Days later about to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this spring. And they thought we wouldn’t make it?
I met this guy, who ended up being everything I never knew, I always wanted. This giant, loud, humble, sweet, smart, cute man who knew from about week 4 that he loved me. The same guy who told me that very thing. He wasn’t a game player. The certainty with which he loved me scared me a little bit because I’d never had s relationship like that before. The man who after meeting me that September, told my mom and sisters at Thanksgiving he was going to ask me to marry him on Valentine’s Day. (No one told me.)
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The gentle giant who jumped the gun from nerves and asked me to marry him in the middle of the dance floor at our favorite college bar with no ring and no speech. He caught me off guard and still takes my breath away on the regular. I guess it’s kind of his thing. He re-proposed to me on our 11th anniversary, on bended knee.
I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked when he showed up this past Saturday morning with my name tattooed on his finger. Nothing should ever surprise me about this incredible, generous and loving man. He can do anything. He’s more romantic today than he was on the day we got married. He lives through actions and not just words.
When he proposed he told me that I was his “soul mate.” I’m not even sure that I believed in the concept before him. He makes me want to be a better human being. His love changed me for the better. When you have someone as kind and thoughtful as the Big Guy loving you, you feel like you can do almost anything.
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It’s not about what you have or don’t have. It’s about who you have. We fell in love through conversations under the stars. We fell in love in a bar on campus. We fell in love watching a Salma Hayek Rom Com. We fell in love sitting on the roof of his college house drinking beer and looking up at the moon. We fell in love staring into one another’s souls over the head of our newborn baby. We fell in love in the rain in New Orleans. We fell in love watching our oldest meet her sister for the first time. We even fell in love when we lost our third. We fell in love living in separate states. We fell in love poor. We fell in love rich. We’ve fallen in love a million times over the past 22 years and I fell in love all over again Saturday morning when I saw that tattoo.
I’m going to go and get one of my own because I realized that he’s already tattooed on my heart and he always will be. The imprint is already there. It probably has been since we met that night in 1997. I’m the only one who didn’t see it because I was afraid to let myself believe that I deserved to be loved like that. I’ve felt it every day since we met.