There are the splatters of bacon grease that freckle the stove top.

And the tinkling sound that accompanies the breaking of glass, like when I accidentally knock over the French press that we’ve owned for exactly one week.

There are the stray clumps of flour and butter smudged on the counter tops.

And drips of ice cream on the floor.

Soiled and crumpled paper towels litter the place.

The blaring of fire alarms still rings in my ears from a smoking oven, as the remnants of spaghetti squash cook off its bottom.

This is the mess that is my kitchen, but if you squint hard enough, you’ll see evidence of hard work, effort, and love.  It’s the midnight snacks, the glasses of water in the middle of the night, the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners prepared together, for one another and with one another.

This kitchen isn’t showroom ready or even Instagrammable.  There have been dirty tennies placed on the counters where I’ve rolled out pie crusts.  Sometimes it smells like onions for weeks, and don’t look now but there’s dirty silverware marinating in the sink.

Relationships show the same wear and tear.  They have the rents, stains, and wrinkles - with my initials attached.  All those things that I wish were nonexistent or, at the very worst, could have remained under wraps.  Those scars and symbols of ugliness which have been a representation of how I’ve felt or things I’ve said, sometimes in the heat of the moment and sometimes with cold calculation.  There’s rubble from minor explosions that I’ve set off on a weekly basis and also a desperate path that’s been cleared through it, swept daily by both of us.  The unwavering policy through it all is one of honesty and communication, and it is with those two things that everything is exposed.  It’s only then in a relationship that a person is truly naked.

In those moments, it requires faith and trust to keep from hiding in the shadows.  It is humbling to be imperfect before those who I would like to be The Most Perfect for.  Standing bare in front of those on whom I rely on for their understanding and patience, and I cross my fingers that theirs is much longer lasting and more resilient than mine.  I’ve constantly told myself that imperfection is a result of not trying hard enough when it’s just a side effect of the human condition.

It takes a special eye to peer through the disorder and see the true beauty of a relationship, of what’s been built with the remnants of skirmishes and battles, through partnership and compromise.  Perfection - is that really what you would want in either your kitchen or relationship?  Where then is the evidence of creation, of improvement, of celebrations and mourning?  To get dirty and live through a few minor explosions and emerge whole and improved is a proud badge of honor for both a kitchen and a relationship, is it not?