There was that one time, the day I nearly grabbed the notebook from in front of him and shot it at the wall—that I wanted to fight more than I wanted to fix it. I was mad and he needed to know it. I had cut my teeth on matches like this in a past life: 3 a.m. brawls over static and a dying cell phone, heavy tears wiped with monogrammed napkins at yet another wedding, months of unexplained silence. Let’s go, I thought. I’m ready for this.
But before I let my hands move from my sides, I saw something lurking behind his furrowed brow. He was mad, too, and he wasn’t going to hide it. But, he was still there. He still wanted to hear me, even if he didn’t want to talk. Taking in his frame, broad and strong next to the little tray table before him, I felt my blood pressure tumble. He always looked the cutest then, the moments my temper percolated with rage. His jaw seemed to sharpen into an even cleaner edge, his skin radiating even more sweetly. And it drove me nuts, because it made it entirely impossible to stay mad.
Without permission, my hands softened, slipping out of the balls of fury they’d become. My words came out more carefully, punctuated with question marks instead of exclamations. His answers came even more slowly in response, but that they were coming at all reminded me of what the anger had made me forget. The whole time I’d been seething, he had been, too. I had hurt his feelings just as he’d hurt mine. It made me realize that all those years I’d spent fighting weren’t training for some big match, some argument I could win with a low-blow to the heart. They were teaching me all the things I shouldn’t do. They were teaching me that the real war isn’t him vs. me, us vs. them or even us vs. the world. It’s us vs. the war.