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Better Than Diamonds

I pulled my bare feet onto the bed and smiled awkwardly at the stranger in the room. David and I watched as the man excavated a shard of glass from behind a sofa cushion. He held the shiny bit up to David. “How did this get all the way over here?”

As usual, I was faster with the words: “You know, we only just arrived? I mean, we just checked in. The first thing we were going to do was have a champagne toast with this bottle we got at the market down the road. I was putting out snacks when this one,” I gestured at David, “somehow bumped the glasses together on his way to the table, and they exploded. It can never be a simple crack; it’s always a shattering affair. Seriously, it’s impressive how frequently he destroys glasses. Even thick water tumblers can’t survive him.”

“It’s true,” David said with a shrug as he found another shard and handed it to the man. “I have a problem.”

“More like a hobby,” I quipped. The man smiled politely and then apologized for the noise his super-industrial vacuum was about to make.

After the guy left (kindly refusing the tip David tried to give him), I said, “You sit down. I’ve got it,” and carried the replacement glasses to the table. David smiled sheepishly as I poured the rosé champagne into our glasses. “Ten years ago today, I was worrying about what to wear on our first date,” I said, raising my glass.

“Ten years,” David said. “And still awesome.” We clinked glasses carefully and then made a series of astonished and incredulous faces at each other.

During our decade together, David and I tasted wine at vineyards in Mexico, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, and even Long Island, but we’d never made it up our own coastline to Napa Valley. When figuring out where to go for a much-needed break from our frenetic schedules to celebrate both my birthday and our milestone anniversary, a road trip promised to be more relaxing, fun, and affordable than air travel. And, of course, Napa.

It was on the drive up, as I was navigating the winding, coastal mountain road through thick fog, that I realized I’d forgotten David’s card. I announced the fact so as to dispel any expectation on David’s part and thus minimize his disappointment. David tried to assure me that he was unlikely to haul me into divorce court because I’d forgotten his card at home. Now, seated on the freshly vacuumed sofa, I couldn’t help but bring up my blunder as David handed me a card. “I’m so sorry, Beh-Beh.” To ease my shame, I joked, “Hey, how ’bout I take you to Napa to make up for it?”

I turned my attention to the card in my hand. On the envelope, David had written, “My Love.” I smiled and began to feel sappy, but my emotions were cut off by my guffaw as I read the front of the card: “We go together like Milli and Vanilli. Girl, you know it’s true.” When I finished laughing long enough to read the handwritten stuff on the inside, I reverted to sappy. “Thank you,” I said.

Five minutes later, after we’d sipped our champagne in a content, contemplative silence, David produced another card. “As your hypercompetent sidekick, as always, I have you covered. This is a card from you to me.” I watched, stunned, as David accepted the card from himself. He opened the envelope, giggled at what was written on the front of the card, and then read the contents. He looked touched by whatever was in there, and when he’d finished reading (which took a while…apparently, I’d written a lot), he looked up and beamed at me, his face the perfect representation of adoration and appreciation.

“Let me see that,” I said, shaking off my bemusement. The envelope read, “Beh Beh.” The card was in the same graphic embossed style of the one David had given to me, but the punch line had changed: “We go together like blogs and comments.” I smiled, tears welling in my eyes, as I read David’s handwriting again, this time in my voice, from the sweet joke I would have begun with, to my familiar sexy goading.

It was so much more than a card. It was a declaration that delved deeper than our so-called wedding vows, those stock statements the local government had forced us to read before we could collect our marriage certificate. Some men give their women diamonds. David had given me something much more valuable, something every human craves to their core — evidence of love.

The next day I had to work — just because I go out of town doesn’t mean I take vacation. This is one of the reasons we insist on staying in comfortable, spacious rooms with Wi-Fi wherever we go. While I worked on my laptop, I could glance up and see David — across the rock-garden atrium that separated the living space from the bathroom — as he explored the giant granite tub (so big that with water up to his chin, he could still spin around in circles or, as he called it, “break-bathe”).

When I’d fizzled from working and David had finished soaking in all the relaxation he could from our Japanese-inspired “Zen Suite,” we went to the main house where all the inn’s guests gathered daily for the evening reception with wine and cheese.

While sampling the complimentary wine, we struck up a conversation with a young couple, Kiera and Frank, who’d come from Boston. After chatting for several minutes, Kiera — who’d been sporting a huge grin the entire time — blurted out that they had just gotten engaged. “Like, five minutes before we walked into this room, he dropped the ring in the garden outside, I was so surprised!”

“Yeah, mine drops stuff, too,” I said. “But — wow! — congratulations! That’s huge. How wonderful.” I looked pointedly at Frank and said, “You can do no wrong on this trip now, man. Bask in it.” Then, back to Kiera, “We’re celebrating ten years.”

“Ten years married?” she asked. I shook my head and was about to give my standard explanation, that we eloped and don’t even remember what date or year we went to the county office, that we celebrate the anniversary of our first official date, but this time, David was quicker with the words.

“Yes,” David answered. Then he looked at me and lifted his glass. “We’ve always been married.”

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