Mel and I met 16 years ago at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse. She was the garden specialist and I was the assistant gardening manager. We were both in our early 20s, and we were both technically management, not that I took any of that management stuff too seriously. Anyway, we weren’t allowed to date because of company policy, so our relationship was a secret. And let me tell you, having a secret workplace relationship was totally irresponsible, while also being incredibly sexy and exciting.
Not that our secret lasted too long. Word got around the store that we were dating within a few months, because people can’t keep their mouths shut. We were confronted by our supervisors about the relationship, and eventually we had to spill the beans, and what we did next was also pretty awesome. We both triumphantly quit so our relationship could go on unencumbered, and although we lost our income, we gained each other, so I feel the trade was in our favor.
Anyway, during those first few months of secretly dating, we would often sneak in between the rolls of fencing and make out. It wasn’t an open-mouthed, drooling all over each other nasty makeout session. Believe me, I tried for that sort of thing, but Mel was too classy — and to be real, I dug that about her. It was just a quick few kisses when no one was around, our red vests rubbing against one another, one or both of us grabbing the other’s butt.
I must say, there was something really exciting about the two of us sneaking into a corner, passionately kissing for one hot moment, and then walking out in different directions, both of us straightening our red vests and grinning, trying to act casual but not doing a very good job. At the time, there were security cameras back there. I’m pretty sure we were out of view. Or at least, we told ourselves we were. But who knows. Perhaps that is how our secret really got out.
Flash forward 16 years, and now Mel and I are married. We have three kids and a mortgage and college degrees. We both work and we’re both up in the night with kids. Our lives are pretty predictable in the most exhausting ways possible, and nothing now is as exciting as those stolen moments in fencing.
Sometimes, though, we will get a babysitter, and between going out to dinner, and hitting up Target, or maybe a movie, we will stop by a Lowe’s without the kids and kiss between the rolls of fencing like we used to 16 years ago. No one wants to see two late-30-something parents kissing in a hardware store, and no, you don’t have to imagine it. Just know that it’s happening, and it’s awesome. We wait until the coast is clear, and just for a moment, we kiss and feel like we did back in the beginning. Then we step away, casually smiling, hand in hand.
I know, this isn’t exactly flowers and candy. This isn’t a traditional romantic show of love, like putting down rose petals leading to a hot bath with candles lit. This isn’t an amazing surprise tropical vacation or a trip to the jewelry store. It’s not poetry or a love ballad. It’s just two dorky married people kissing like they used to when they first met. But it’s also impulsive. It’s exciting in its own way. It’s totally cost effective, and, considering we have three kids, that’s important.
The best thing about it is that it shows that both of us are still trying to keep that fire going that we lit so long ago. It’s wholesome and it’s harmless, and it makes us both feel, for just a moment, like we are those carefree 20-somethings who would do something as crazy as risk our jobs in the name of love. That sort of thing can’t be bought, and it can’t be sold, but it can be remembered — and sometimes, when you’re in the throes of a multi-year marriage, where every day can feel maddeningly the same, doing something as silly as stopping by a hardware store and making out in the fencing section can make all the difference.
So, my friends, I implore you to think back to when you first felt that spark. Then take a trip down memory lane. Go back to the beginning and see if you can find those old feelings. It might seem silly in theory, but in practice, I assure you, there will be something special.
Realizing that love doesn’t always fit in a box of chocolates, and finding that old spark, might be the best thing you ever did for your marriage.
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