My husband’s shout propels me off my seat and out on the balcony. The flock of White Storks are back. They are flying overhead in a haphazard pattern, lazily flapping their massive wings as they circle their way over our heads and past the mountains.
I am leaning against the gate, my head raised, my toes lifting me up slightly so I can see a bit more, my arms extending towards the wonder that just flew by and the arm of my husband wrapped around my waist.
I exhale as the last straggler disappears from view.
We go inside. I make a small remark about wanting to go to the Hula Valley to see the birds migrating before the season is over when I notice that my husband’s face is splitting with a beaming smile and a strange look in his eyes.
I love you.
I burst into peals of laughter as he says it over and over.
It’s been more than seven years since the first time he said he loved me.
He said he loved me even though I rolled my eyes when he pointed out a beautiful flower.
He said he loved me even though I told him zoos gave me a headache and that I had no interest in seeing fish swim around in an aquarium.
He said he loved me even though I told him that he could hike all he wanted without me.
He said he loved me even though I smirked as he caught a cockroach and freed it outside.
He said he loved me even though I made a face when he started talking about science.
He said he loved me even though I insisted that knowing how to tell birds apart was a weird and awkward bit of knowledge, especially for a kid growing up in Brooklyn.
Seven years of loving me without needing me to take an interest in what he thought interesting.
Seven years of smelling the flowers as I waited impatiently.
Seven years of appreciating the world around me while I took little notice.
Seven years of loving someone with an incredibly different disposition.
Until…suddenly…here I am…getting excited about a flock of birds on their way home from their winter retreat…looking up the differences between Great White Pelicans and White Storks…and laughing hysterically with someone who doesn’t quite know how he could change a person so much…just by loving them.