"You will always be my Odessa, my goddess." he says, wrapping me in a bear hug. I lean into it, revelling in his strength. "And you will always be my Oggie, my gorgeous one." Odie and Ogie, contemplating a life together, thinking we know, like fortune tellers, just how it will turn out. We rest, sated, new lovers, mouthing words, lovers slang. "I love you", "I love you more." I trace the words tenderly on his back with my fingertips, challenging him to guess what I am writing. He always knows.
Time was short then, there was never enough. There was never enough of each other.
Neither of us realised then where our paths would lead..things wouldn't be perfect but that our relationship would transcend hardships and challenges and still have something left.
If someone were to ask me the secret what would I say? Never go to bed angry? Compromise? Forgive? It is all those things and more. It's remembering how it was but appreciating how it has changed. It's looking at the life you've created together, beyond the surface, through all its faults and problems, but still thinking that you wouldn't do it differently. It's having strength for each other, and still having strength for yourself. It's about being annoyed and angry, but getting past it. It's seeing the imperfections in each other, the worst of each others nature, yet loving each other anyway. It's being able to still make each other laugh.
We're not twenty year olds any more, there are no flowery endearments, lovers slang replaced by the warmth and reliability of two people who know each other the way that no one else knows them. We laugh about how things have turned out, how they used to be, and still make plans for the future. His fingers follow the marks on my stomach from bearing his children, the extra kilos, the scars from some injury or another. His fingers and gaze wander up to my face. He doesn't see the marks, scars, lines from our journey through this life we have built, he has his own. "I love you," he whispers. "I love you more."