Denver, Colorado and the End of Romance

Tom and I are in Denver for almost a week to attend some meetings but primarily to go house-hunting. We’re looking to rent a home for at least a year because we’re moving to Denver at the end of March! My yearlong sabbatical is, unbelievably, drawing to a close and I’ll be returning to law firm life as of April 1st. To keep things exciting, I asked to be relocated to my firm’s Denver office. We adopted a nomadic lifestyle for the better part of last year, so it feels natural to keep moving.

After returning from our travels, we realized we were kinda over living in the desert. I love Las Vegas and will miss a lot of things about it, even the withering dry heat, but there’s something to be said about being able to go outside in the summertime. At this stage in our lives, a decently walkable city with access to outdoor activities is very appealing. We’re so yuppie now. Things like green space, public amenities, and school districts have suddenly become very important to us. Maybe I’m adventurous or maybe I’m still crazy, but spontaneously moving to a completely different city seems like something I’d want to do.

So I booked a room for six nights at Hotel Monaco in downtown Denver, and Tom lined up several appointments to view housing rentals. As I stepped into our hotel room, I glanced down and was horrified to find what looked like a trail of potato chips littering the carpet. When I saw the trail leading up to a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket, two champagne flutes and three chocolate-dipped strawberries on a tray, I suddenly remembered that the room came with a complimentary “Seduction Package,” which apparently involves ingesting champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries on a rose petal-strewn floor. Or are we supposed to enjoy them in bed, naked? The “Seduction Package” ordinarily costs an additional $30 per night and I remember thinking it was a total ripoff because for the same amount of money I could get a couple of bottles of really nice champagne, and who needs rose petals that look potato chips? But since Tom was a member of the rewards program for Kimpton hotels, we got the “Seduction Package” included for free with our booking. As someone who has been married for over 14 years, touches like these are more comical than anything else. Not that I have anything against romance, it’s just that over time romance has been gradually edged out by congeniality. It’s hard to take concepts like “romance,” “passion,” and “seduction” seriously at this point in my marriage. I might sound cynical and bitter, but I’m really not. I fondly recall the days when I was driven to distraction by my obsessive infatuation with Tom; every minute away from him was agony, every second in his presence was thrilling, electrifying. But I don’t yearn for those days. It’d be like getting dropped on your head and becoming retarded, eventually recovering from retardation, and then yearning to be retarded again. Rose petals and chocolate-covered strawberries are for retarded people. My husband lets me sleep in, washes dishes because he knows I hate to, and takes care of my parents better than any son-in-law I know. And not because they treat him well (my father has been a downright asshole to Tom in the past), but because he loves me. He loves the people I love because he loves me. Isn’t that better than romance? Or is it just another form of romance? We don’t perform conventional rituals of romance and seduction, that’s for sure. The likelihood of me donning lingerie and performing a striptease for my husband’s entertainment is the same as my husband showering me with flowers and jewelry on Valentines: approximately zero. If I wore lingerie I think we would both crack up laughing. If Tom bought me jewelry I would yell at him for wasting money and having bad taste. I don’t striptease, I tease and mock. My caresses are smacks and pinches. We’re each other’s best buddies, but that doesn’t mean the love and affection we share isn’t as intense as the couple who’s conspicuously retarded over each other. Our connection is deeper, more abiding, more meaningful than I can describe. My husband is such an integral part of me that I can’t be me without him; he’s as vital and necessary to me as my limbs. I’m hardly ever conscious of my arms and legs, I seldom think of them and don’t sit around in awe of the fact that they function, but I sure as hell would notice if they were gone. Our version of romance is no longer champagne and hearts, fire and fireworks. It’s subtler, calmer, less showy, truer. It’s more about trust, compatibility, kindness, and understanding, along with some honesty and humor.

Tom was a little disappointed that I hadn’t intentionally ordered the “Seduction Package.” He pulled me onto his lap, stroked my hair and murmured, half playfully and half earnestly, “I thought you wanted to seduce me tonight.” I looked into his eyes, smiled, and replied, “I need to go poo poo.”

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