Let me introduce myself. I am in a mixed marriage. Not "mixed" in the sense of religion, but mixed in nationality.
I am American; my husband is Swiss. We met nineteen years ago at a little camping village in the mountains of France, and recently celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary.
I knew Daniel was special as soon as we met. On our first walk, we sat in the Alps, in the shadow of a weeping willow, and he sang me love songs in French. A few days later we went to Paris, where we went for long walks through winding cobblestone alleyways. He bought me an old lithograph and a small print by Pisarro. There was a rainbow out that day.
We spent the next year at concerts and galleries. I soon discovered that beneath the official Swiss exterior lurked a sensitive and sensuous man, yet one who shared my traditional values of modesty and respect. Professionally, he lectured in history and political science in a prestigious European university. Out of the lecture hall we read French love poetry together.
We married in a little Swiss village in May, when jasmine was in bloom and raindrops slipped through the tiny holes in my lace wedding gown.
We eventually moved to a college town in the eastern U.S., where Daniel found a good position at a university and I pursued my favorite interests - painting, writing and having children. Today we have two girls, 15 and 12, and a seven- year- old son.
As we edged toward the eighteenth year landmark, I realized that slowly, without our noticing it, our lives had become more and more immersed in work and children, and we were giving less and less time to our marriage. We had exchanged concerts for picnics with the kids, gallery hopping for bicycle shopping, and love poetry for math homework.
Sometimes I would fantasize about those days from the past, when we had so much special time for each other. One day, I finally decided to do something about it.
I went to a bookstore, and browsed through the shelves of French love poetry. It had been a while, and my French was rusty. I finally found what I was looking for. I had it gift-wrapped and took it home, where I hid it in a dresser drawer, waiting for the right moment.
Then one night when the kids were asleep (not an easy feat, when you're talking about teen-aged girls), I slipped into a soft, black negligee that I hadn't worn for a long time, and some delicious perfume. When Daniel came to bed I enveloped him with long, loving kisses, and whispered, "I've got a present for you".
I pulled the wrapped book from under the pillow and watched as he slowly pulled off the ribbon and paper, curious. His eyes lit up when he saw the small volume. I could see that it had taken him back to those same days when we first discovered our love in each others' eyes.
I poured some wine, and we read some beautiful poetry together. He didn't even correct my accent. Either my French is getting better, or he had other things on his mind.
I'll leave the rest to your imaginations. Suffice it to say, I can't think of a more romantic way to begin the night...