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Why I’m with her: domestic bliss edition

November 14, 2016

When I titled a recent blog post “Why I’m with her,” my wife, Leila, was mock-disappointed to discover that it was about my fondness for Hillary Clinton.

Now that the election is over … I’m going to tell a story about another remarkable woman to whom I am not married. But we’ll get to Leila soon.

It was January of 1996, I think, in the office shared by the new physiology and neurobiology Ph.D. students. Room H210, for you UW Health Sciences building insiders, or “the dungeon,” as we referred to it at the time. We were back from Christmas break, swapping vacation stories. My friend Elena mentioned that, back at home in Ohio, she had enjoyed catching up on her sleep, but that one morning she had been awakened too early by a bunch of noise coming from the kitchen. As she told it, she groggily staggered out of bed to find out what was going on. But nothing was going on! It was just her parents, animatedly squawking and cackling, as if still in their first days of courtship.

To a first approximation, that is what my ideal marriage looks like. I want to be in a relationship where the conversation flows easily about everything: serious things, funny things, important things, trivial things — everything that both of us care about.

Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize that at the time, and went on to marry someone whose many virtues did NOT include a predilection for endless talking. But after getting divorced, I thought back to Elena’s story, and — to quickly summarize several months of awkwardly re-entering the dating scene — I found a new partner who, above all, makes me talk, makes me listen, makes me think, and makes me laugh, over and over and over. Leila, the perfect embodiment of the “yes, and…” rule.

Some day, when our son is home during a college vacation, he will grumpily awaken to find that we’re still at it.

Pickering Barn gazebo
Revisiting the Pickering Barn in Issaquah, the site of our wedding two years earlier.

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