Marriage is chock full of surprises. There are the things you thought you would never do, but more often there are the things you thought you’d never say. For example my sixteen year old self wouldn’t have pictured opening the fridge, realizing it was clean, then turning to my husband to say “You cleaned the rotting leek that decayed behind the giant bag of organic flour out of the fridge. I’ve never been more turned on in my life.”
Today I did something so stupid that I’m still struck dumb by it. And then I said something surprising to my spouse.
Our house is 85 years old, it houses a doctor’s practice, a particularly hardy centipede named Merle and a number of mice, none of which are pets. So I had always thought that our house would burn down as a result of a mouse fire. Meaning that a mouse would decide the electrical wires in the walls were tasty, start to snack, then be electrocuted and consequently lit aflame. From there the 85 year old insulation in the walls would make for quick tinder, and there would go our home.
Today our house was nearly burnt to the ground by an idiot fire. I of course was the idiot in question. We have two very nice votives that we burn candles in. However one candle had burned down funny and would go out a lot. So I lit a match, stuck it in the soft wax, and created a temporary wick. The candle now stayed lit. After puttering around in the living room, I moved to the kitchen, leaving the candles unmanned on the dining room table. After all, what could the candle do? It was in a votive so the flame couldn’t go anywhere.
I began washing the dishes while running our loud, twenty year old dishwasher. While hand washing the dishes that wouldn’t fit in the machine, I heard a distinct “tink” over the din that our ancient dishwasher makes. Roscoe generally texts when he is driving home from his work which is an hour away, so assuming it was the sound of my phone receiving a text message I thought nothing of it and continued with the scrubbing.
After the dishes were nearly all clean I remembered the candle with a match in it and so as I had always considered myself a responsible home owner, I went out to check on it, leaving the remaining dishes in the sink. The “tink” I had heard was the sound one of the votives cracking in half, the melted wax had oozed out the side and the match that I had placed in it as a wick was listing closer and closer to the table, which was covered in a highly flammable tablecloth.
Five feet away, I saw the pool of wax on the table first and tried to figure out how the candle, had managed to overflow. Then my eyes took in the cracked half of the votive lying inches away. I moved quickly to blow the candle out.
By my estimation had I been ten seconds later we would have lost our antique dining room table that we spent the summer refinishing to fire. Twenty seconds would have cost us the entire dining room set as the fire jumped from the tablecloth to the chairs that I had carefully reupholstered with my husband’s staple gun. The smoke detector, almost directly above would have gone off by then, at which point I would have run out of the kitchen to see what was wrong, and had to have raced back to retrieve fire extinguisher from under the kitchen sink. I’ve never operated a fire extinguisher before, my inexperience would have cost me another twenty seconds and possibly our love seat. The heat from the table being lit would have already caused the antique glass on our china hutch to explode, creating more damage.
Standing, watching the pool of wax slowly cool on the tablecloth my Gran had made, I marveled at how lucky I’d been that one breath had puffed out the tiny flame. My shock at how close the orange and cream tablecloth and my home had been to disaster held me still for a moment before I tried to clean up the mess on the intact dining room table and around on the floor beside the unharmed love seat.
In all, removing the wax from the tablecloth and vacuuming the surrounding carpet to be certain there were no shards from the tiny explosion of glass took an hour.
Roscoe, having received my text, “OH MY GOD! I nearly set our house on fire!” called as soon as he finished work just as I was starting to vacuum. Our conversation was short, his primary goal was determining if I was ok. Just before we hung up I apologized “I’m so sorry I almost burned down our home” I said.
“It’s ok.” He replied kindly.
Out of all of the things that I ever thought I’d say in my life. That wasn’t ever one of them. But knowing that my spouse not only forgave me, but could do so kindly meant so much. It is my belief that everyone has a right to have someone who loves them so much that they could be forgiven kindly and with love for any act, regardless of whether they love men, women, or both. And if you do care and can forgive someone like that, marriage is a way of proclaiming that to the world “This person is mine, and no one else’s, and they can do whatever they like, including set our house on fire, and I’ll still love them.” Everyone should have a right to that.