Jack Daniels for the soul

My relationship began as most do: with butterflies, feeling on top of the world whenever his hand brushed mine, melting whenever I smelled his cologne, adoring every word he said, and smiling whenever someone said his name. There were so many firsts all at once, it was like a love-bomb: first date, first kiss, first time we said the L word, the first time he stayed at my house, first time I met his family, and the first time we farted in front of each other (my favourite first).

Four years later, we’re engaged and living together, and things have naturally changed. We have all but run out of firsts. The butterflies are present but not nearly as frequent; whenever someone says his name, I’m like ‘yeah, ok’; and the conversation isn’t exactly adorable. Often I find him giving me a detailed description of the shit he just took, or telling me why tomato sauce should be a food group.

We had, as most couples do, slipped into a habit of taking each other for granted; not in a damaging way, just in a comfortable-in-this-relationship way. We were the still happiest couple I knew. But the feeling of nostalgia for all the ‘firsts’ was sometimes overwhelming, and I would find myself in an emotional state, crying to him about how we ‘won’t have any firsts again’. When he would try to console me, I’d say, ‘Oh really, name three more firsts for us’, and beyond first baby, we’d be stuck. As far as we knew, we had done pretty much everything.

This is what I assumed, anyway, until about three days ago. We went to his sister’s place for dinner and drinks. He didn’t bring any alcohol for himself so his sister offered him some Wild Turkey from her liquor cabinet. My fiance is a proud man, and insisted that he might have some in his car. After rifling through the mess in the back seat, he found an opened bottle of discoloured Jack Daniels that had been sitting in the hot sun, collecting dust and insects for God-knows how long. We warned him. He drank it.

Later in the evening, just before bed, he complained that his stomach was feeling off, but went to sleep anyway. Flash forward to 3am, and I awake to a strange sound coming from our bathroom. It sounded like a velociraptor burping the alphabet. It was like he was vomiting up everything he had eaten for the last two years. Being a bit of a vomiphobe, my reaction was mostly hyperventilating the words ‘told you so’ as I attempted to comfort him mid-spew. I think I read somewhere that true love means saying stupid things at inappropriate times.

Eventually the vomit circus ended and we both returned to bed where we began drifting off to sleep. Then: ‘OH MY GOD!’ I yelled. ‘The first time you vomited in front of me! WE STILL HAVE FIRSTS!’

We looked at each other, and we were smiling like idiots. I had intense butterflies. It was actually one of the most romantic moments we had ever experienced in our whole relationship. He pulled me close and said ‘I really, really love you,’ and we went to sleep. The next morning I felt like it was the beginning again; every word he said was so cute, and even though he stank of old vomit and deodorant, I couldn’t get enough of it. This is love.

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