The thing about Spencer is that he’s the best person I’ve ever met.
You can see it in his thoughtfully gentle eyes. He one of those rare kinds of people who is just himself, effortlessly and always. He never puts on a show, never wears a mask. He looks people in their eyes and sees them, without preconceptions of who they are or who they might have been. He shows kindness towards others and talks with all people without passing judgment. Spencer’s the sort of man who invites a homeless man into his home and tries to help him stop using.
Last year, when our daughter Escher was born, we decided that instead of going back to work at the end of his paternity leave, Spencer would stay at home to care for our daughter and our home (cook, clean, shop, etc – the usual arrangement). And when Escher was a few months old and we decided to finally take the plunge and build a tiny house, Spencer went into it full force. Over the past year, he's spent thousands of hours working on our house, from concept to upkeep. He does this on top of his usual caregiving and homemaking responsibilities.
Better still, he has an incredible work ethic -- the sort that bosses could only dream about. He’s the sort of guy who thinks, ‘Well, if I’m gonna do it anyway, I might as well do it as best I can’. After graduating high-school, instead of going straight to college, Spencer worked as a cook and chef for almost six years. He went from busboy to line cook at a chain steakhouse restaurant, to a sous-chef at a local restaurant and bar, to a line cook at the best restaurant in town (James Beard award winner Magnolia Grill), to back on the line at Craft in NYC (one of Tom Colicchio's restaurants). Then, he went back to school and completed his philosophy degree with straight A’s and multiple honors. When we moved to California, he worked as a wine buyer and honed his business skills. He created an almost-daily wine tasting program and make incredible margins on his sales (I don’t remember all the technical lingo, but in a nutshell, he was really freakin’ good at his job).
His work ethic carries over into all elements of his work at home. When he started staying at home, he learned how to do our laundry perfectly and folds (actually, he folds and rolls) our clothes better than any laundry service. He cleans quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly… he’s the sort of guy who actually cleans our freezer. I know, right? He shops at our local Farmer’s Market because he wants our food to both tastes as good as possible and be as nutritionally dense as possible. Oh, and he takes wonderful care of our daughter, nurturing her mind, body, and spirit. And have I mentioned that he used to work as a professional cook and chef? Yeah. I know. I won the freakin’ lottery with this one.
Spencer also takes remarkably good care of me.
He does all the heavy lifting and most of the dirty work. In the fifteen times or so that we’ve moved over the past eight years, he basically does all the packing, playing Tetris with our boxes until they fit just right in some unreasonably small container, only to take them back out again. Over and over and over again. We moved while I was eight months pregnant and I didn’t lift a finger – I’m pretty sure he might have even carried me during that move! But I’m certainly not pregnant anymore, and he still carries almost everything. He always has. When we were coming back from a month in Puerto Vallarta, he carried six bags while I only carried two. I think he also might have been carrying our daughter that time, too. He refuses my help – he wants to do this for me (and he knows how much I despise backpacks).
And the dirty work? He’s changed almost all of Escher’s diapers, especially the really nasty ones. If he throws up, he cleans it up; if I throw up, he cleans it up; if Escher throws up, he cleans it up. He takes out our trash, he cleans our spills. He cleans our toilets (and now that we’ve got a waterless toilet, it’s a bit more involved…). He learned how to clean while working in the kitchen, so he’s really good at it, too. He takes care of our car, he does most of the driving. He deals with so many of the annoying and gross situations that can come up in life so that I don't have to.
I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Spencer makes all of Escher’s food by hand, and I mean ALL of it. Escher hasn’t eaten a single thing that wasn’t made by Spencer (besides milk, of course). And how about the fact that for lunch, we eat nut butter that Spencer also makes by hand, perfectly balanced in flavor and nutrition. I didn’t even like nut butter until Spencer made some for me, and now I eat it almost every day!
He makes delicious cappuccinos and macchiatos every day. For most breakfasts, he also makes us freshly-cooked eggs, a salad, and yogurt with berries. Some days he scrambles the eggs, some days he’ll make a frittata topped with chives, some days he’ll fry them with tiny slices of bacon (“For flavor”, he’d say). He feels guilty because since we’ve moved into our tiny house, he hasn’t had time to cook our breakfasts (we’ve started drinking Soylent, haha). “But soon,” he promises. He gives me the best massages, knowing exactly where to push and how hard to rub, and he's really good at popping my back and my toes. He's GGG. He's a patient and thoughtful listener and has helped me think through every decision, every worry. He's moved with me to NYC for my grad school, to Russia for my Fulbright, to California for my job offer, with enthusiasm instead of hesitation. There are countless more things Spencer does for us, I'm too tired to remember them all. Next week, he's starting to build the deck for our tiny house -- something he's never done before, but, as with most things Spencer pursues, I'm confident it'll turn out beautifully.
Happy Father’s Day to the best man I know: my partner. I don’t know how I got so lucky, because not only have I had the good fortune of watching this beautiful young man grow and develop, but I also get the spoils.