{living in sin} An unprecedented favor

by Rachel on September 24, 2012

ponytail holders

On Sunday evening, after a long weekend of home improvements, I went to touch up some spots in our just-painted workout room. The purple paint was a total nightmare to work with — I will never buy Olympic brand paint again — and within moments of re-opening the can, I had a lot of wet paint on my fingers and under my fingernails. I realized this as I was bending over the paint can with my hair dangerously close to dipping in it. Crap, I realized. I forgot to put my hair back up. After getting paint in my hair the first week we were painting, and bits of it staying there for weeks, I didn’t want to take any chances.

This was a dilemma. I didn’t want to just pause, wash my hands, and put my hair up because this paint was incredibly messy; I really didn’t trust that I’d be able to get my hands completely clean. But after how much it had migrated during the course of the day — literally dripping off the walls and onto the carpet in spots — I didn’t want to leave my hair down as I finished touching up the paint. It was entirely possible that I’d look like Katy Perry within seconds.

Suddenly, I knew what I needed to do.

I went and found Eric in the bedroom, where he was wrestling with the TV. “I need an unprecedented favor,” I announced. I held up a hair tie. “I need you to put my hair in a ponytail.”

Friends, if there was ever new ground to break in my relationship, this was it. I hate when people touch my hair and I honestly can’t think of the last time I let anyone other than a professional style it for me. The most contact Eric has had with my hair up to this point is dramatically swatting at it/his face when it starts to creep onto his pillow in bed.

He took the ponytail holder, thus accepting the challenge. I turned and faced the mirror; Eric stood behind me and and started gathering my hair in his hands. The look of concentration on his face showed how seriously he was taking it. A new doctor performing open heart surgery for the first time, a teen driver parallel parking for her driving test…these people have nothing on his focus at that moment.

As I looked in the mirror, our new bedroom showed behind us in the reflection and the transformation that had happened over the weekend became really apparent. Suddenly, it seemed, I had the bedroom of my future, and also…something else from my future too. I know Eric and I are a team when it comes to the big things — buying a house, dealing with unemployment, having surgery — but it’s these little moments, like when he cleans up my vomit or puts my hair in a ponytail, that I feel like are when things really fall into place.

My guess is that everyone has different “doing my hair” types of things when it comes to relationships, those little things that you aren’t sure about putting in front of another person, even after he or she has access to your deepest darkest secrets and your bank account. I feel like it’s easy to focus on the big stuff when it comes to building intimacy and only consider the grand gestures when we think about romance, but for me, it’s the unexpected moments in between that make me feel secure and confident and all warm inside. It’s not enough to trust someone with your life; the real question is whether you can trust him or her with your hair.

Have you ever had a moment like this?

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie September 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

I couldn’t agree more, I think it’s incredibly important to focus/think about these little things. I feel like our society’s dependence on romantic comedies has give us a distorted view of what a relationship should be like. It’s these little trust moments that are so huge in building your relationship, your partnership – and savoring them is key.

I’ve definitely had my share w/ my beau – Nothing fosters intimacy quite like being diagnosed w/ IBS when you’re dating someone or having a debilitating spinal injury that results in epidurals, painkillers & many many feeling sorry for yourself moments. Who knew I was dating Florence Nightingale? :)


2 Rachel September 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I totally agree on the rom-com thing! And I think that makes people more likely to judge their relationship (and others’) by the big stuff and think it’s not a good relationship if there aren’t huge crazy displays of romance. We need to give more credit to the small stuff! Hollywood, are you listening?


3 Drake September 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

I have had many moments like this lately. My boyfriend and I moved in together in May of this year, and my brother lives with us as well. My mother came to visit last weekend, and my brother and I had a huge fight that unearthed a lot of heavy family stuff right in front of my boyfriend. Having him sit next to me, withholding judgment and comforting me afterwards was huge. I know I looked like a crazy person, but he was so kind and supportive and made me feel safe.

The biggest thing for me in a relationship is being able to be wholly myself, for better or worse. My boyfriend definitely saw me at my worst, and he was still there for me in the same way he always is. BIG deal.


4 Emily September 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Aw, this is so sweet! It really is the little things that matter most.
Hope you’re doing well. xoxo


5 Suzanne September 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I have an organization system that verges on neurotic. If I’m not able to type out (yes… type) a to-do list every night before bed for the next day, I am a MESS. I also have separate lists for each month, plus cleaning schedules pres day. Those don’t even include my work and school lists… I’m a freak. I know it’s ridiculous, and I’ve hidden these lists (and the binder I keep them in) from every roommate I’ve ever had. Yet at some point, I became ok with my husband seeing my lists. I don’t even mind the fact that he jokes on me for putting everyday tasks like “go to work” or “eat lunch” on there. It’s just a weird thing that I do, and he hasn’t ran away yet!


6 Andrea September 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Aw, that’s so cute. Bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “hair care”. :)

I have a totally weird and kinda horrible story. When my boyfriend and I first moved in together, I technically still had my old apartment for a couple of months since I had to give 60 days notice. But I was basically moved in with Shaun, which meant I didn’t go back to my old apartment except when I finally went to pack up my stuff. When I got to the old apartment, I found — wait for it — A DEAD BIRD ON MY LIVING ROOM FLOOR. It was a starling. To this day I have no idea how that dang thing got in, but it did, and it flew around my empty apartment for days before it finally died of starvation or whatever. (Sorry, I told you this was a horrible story.)

Well, I was so upset I started sobbing. I couldn’t bring myself to touch the bird so I put a pot over it and kept crying. Finally I called Shaun and told him what had happened, and he took a cab all the way over to my apartment just to dispose of the bird’s body for me. Never once did he make me feel bad about being kind of a big baby about the whole thing. Mostly I try to be a competent human being around him, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do this one thing — and he was so nonplussed about it, like OF COURSE he would come and do this for me. Definitely left me thinking, “YUP. Totally doing the right thing.”


7 Rachel September 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I wish you could have seen my face when I was reading this story! It was the perfect blend of shocking/funny/tragic. But seriously, I’m all about finding romance in the most unromantic places, and a dead bird is pretty unromantic.


8 Rachel September 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one with a similar experience. I came home on my birthday to find a dead mouse in the middle of my kitchen floor. I immediately burst into tears not out of fear, but because I was upset that the little guy had to up and die on my favorite day of the year. (Three glasses of wine were involved beforehand).

Luckily my guy — like yours — stepped in and consoled me after cleaning up.


9 Rachel September 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Ah, couldn’t agree more! It’s the little things that mean the most, like the fact that I got violently sick during a romantic dinner during our first month of dating & he wasn’t grossed out, the sharing a blanket late at night or being there at those perfect moments. Well said.


10 Lori September 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm

My husband had one for me. During the reception for our wedding, he asked to speak with me outside in the hallway, away from guests.

He drew me close and asked, ever so sweetly and quietly in my ear, “Can you smell my armpits? I think I smell…”

I did. He didn’t. And so we began our marriage.


11 Rachel September 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm



12 Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight September 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Lori–your story made me laugh and happily sigh for the romantic undertones of a not-so-romantic request. :)


13 Besss September 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I can definitely relate to this…about 2 months into dating my boyfriend, he had a relatively invasive surgery (couldn’t talk, eat solid food, etc) and the experience actually bonded us closer together.


14 Annabelle September 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm

It is TOTALLY all about the little thinsg for me. When we were together, my boyfriend/ex/whatever we are now (looong story) always made a habit of buying me a pack of Reese’s whenever he went to the drug store or grocery store, just because he knew it was my favorite candy. And one weekend when his BFF from out of town was visiting, I ended up drinking too much and spending an hour over the toilet feeling like I was going to die and he was there with me the whole time, rubbing my back and asking if I needed anything – whenever I apologized for him being stuck in the bathroom with me on the one weekend his friend was there, he just told me it was totally fine and he’d rather be taking care of me, since I obviously needed it. He also made us a “ChrisSexmas Fort” for the holidays by putting up Christmas lights over his bed (which was hilarious), after I’d mentioned how I hated not being able to put the lights up over the bed in my dorm. :P

And honestly, I’d rather have the little things like that than the big, huge romantic guestures. To me, they mean more, because the little things like that just say “Hey, I’m doing this because I remember you saying it, I know it’ll make you happy, and that’s all I want to do”.


15 Brandy September 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm

This isn’t exactly the same thing … but I remember when I was living with my (then) boyfriend, I felt such comfort in the fact that I could fall asleep with the tv on and he would shut it off when he came to bed.

It really is the tiny details that make up significant parts of a relationship sometimes. To this day when I think of what I miss in a relationship — that is the first thing that always pops into my head. While I am content being single, when I have to press the sleep timer button, I always take a second and send out a little “half orange” thought. (Thanks for that recommendation, btw.)


16 Rain September 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

Ahh…so cool that everything is coming together for you!!
Purple workout room???? Pics please!


17 Rachel September 25, 2012 at 10:37 am
18 Rain September 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I love it! I was picturing more of a lavender color…I love this deep purple. It looks really nice! Great choice!
Made me think there has to be some stuff about what kind of mood purple makes you in….
Here is something quick I found about what purple represents…..
Intuition, Very Happy, Deeply Relaxed, Inner Harmony, Ecstatic, Tranquility, Bliss, Content, Passionate, Lovestruck, Romantic, Aglow, In Love, Sublime

(Some of these are kind of contradictory, but still interesting! :)


19 Rachel September 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Thanks!! It’s Eric’s favorite color and while it’s SO purple, I found that it makes me feel a lot of the things on that list, as well as creative, so I figured it was a good fit for a room where I’d be doing yoga!


20 Kayla Krech September 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

Love this so freaking much. It’s true, it’s the little moments like putting your hair in a ponytail or gently telling you that the zipper on the dress just.won’t.zip that you can see your future with someone. LOVE this… and men like Eric and my husbnad. They’re keepers.


21 erin @WELLinLA September 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

It’s all about the small stuff. The daily life. The person you can completely and utterly sigh in front of at the end of a long day and they just smile, allowing you and loving you to be YOU!

P.S. Ralph Lauren & YOLO Colorhouse paints all the way.
P.P.S. Hollywood couldn’t capture the subtleties of a relationship in such a beautiful way.


22 Bridget September 26, 2012 at 7:05 am

While I just (as in this month) got out of a relationship , part of it was because the little things weren’t there. The “big” gestures were, but when it got down to it, the big gestures are generic. The little things are what make you know a person and know the other person knows you.


23 Kat September 26, 2012 at 9:46 am

For us, it was him helping me through the aftermath of my grandmother’s death. I know that in whole, that’s a BIG things – but he was (and is) there for so many little things that still crop up for me around this. He’s helped me honor her in our wedding and home, and that meant so, so much to me.


24 Adam D. Oglesby September 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You’d be staggered by just how much power a small gesture can have.

This is especially true when your romance is young and new and exhilarating.

One such event happened years ago, and yet it’s still seared into my mind like it was only days ago. One summer day my girl–we had only been together a year at that time–surprised me and brought home a present for me: A single Hershey’s Almond Chocolate bar.

It may have cost her a grand total of fifty cents at that time. But that’s not the point. She had been out somewhere and completely unprovoked and unsolicited she had thought about me.

The bar had melted in her pocket. it didn’t matter. She fed it to me. I gladly licked the liquid chocolate from her gooey fingers.

I never forgot that gesture.


25 Rachel September 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I’m SUCH a random gift person…I love giving them, and receiving them makes me feel AMAZING! I would have been super excited by the chocolate bar too. It’s so not about the money; it’s that they thought of you when you weren’t around. That is SUCH a great feeling!


26 Mica September 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Hi, Rachel!

I don’t have anything substantial to add to the list of comments, but your “About” page said to say “hi.” Congratulations on your engagement and on finding moments like this that confirm your decision to build a future together. Hooray!


27 Rachel September 27, 2012 at 8:13 am

Oh hayyy. :)

Checking out your blog now!


28 Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe September 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

It really is the small stuff that counts. And it is so wonderful to hear that these little confirmations are happening for you! I have been feeling rather jaded about relationships in this generation, but sweet stories like this give me hope!


29 Preeti October 1, 2012 at 6:39 am

I love your blog! And yes. Been married decades now, but with ‘difficult hair ‘ one always remembers…. Although of late all I seem to remember now is the number of times he has broken my hair clip… Hope the room came out perfect after that!


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