Nora once asked me to describe my perfect gift.  Always evasive, I only offered up, “Spending time with you, my love.”

As she walked off in a huff, I meditated on materialism and waited thirty minutes (allowing her ample time to pout) before gently knocking on our bedroom door.

“Can I come in?”

“Only if you give me a straight answer.  Come on, what would be your perfect gift.  What do you really want?”

What I really wanted was space and silence.  I wanted to be alone and not speak to anyone for an extended period of time.  However, when one is in a relationship, this is often not an acceptable answer.  As was now the case.

Gift-giving was Nora’s love language.  These was this new-age-y book she once showed me that asserted that we all have our love languages and that gift-giving was hers.  We had been together for almost four years and she never ceased to amaze me with her efforts in gift-giving.  She was obsessed with finding me the perfect gift.

Trips to Mexico, sky-diving lessons, wine-tastings—these gifts were all thoughtful and appreciated, but silence is what I craved.

I looked down into her sparkling hazel eyes.

“Silence.  That’s what I really want.”

She let the weight of the words fall into her ears carefully.

“Silence?  You want silence?  How can I give you silence?”

At least she wasn’t angry.  Yet.  I took her hand.

“Here, I want to show you something.”

I guided her into my home office and tentatively opened the top right drawer, extracting a brochure.

“There’s a monastery about 200 miles from here.  You can stay there in exchange for working on the grounds.  And you take a vow of silence while you’re there.  You don’t speak.”

She looked up into my eyes.  I was almost shaking, not sure how she would react.

“This—this is what you want?”

I nodded.

“How can I give you this?”  She turned the brochure over in her hands, examining all the pages.  “It doesn’t cost anything.  I can’t buy it for you.”

“I’d just like to go.  Try it out.  You giving your permission would be the gift, I suppose,” I answered hopefully.

Eyebrows furrowed, she regarded the brochure once more, finally shrugging her shoulders.

“Well, of course.  If going here would make you happy, of course you can go.  You don’t need my permission.”

I hugged Nora with great force.

She laughed.

“If I had known this is what would make you happy, I would have booked this trip for you long ago.”

I went away to relish my gift of silence.  When I returned, I was surprised at how much I had to tell Nora.   Most importantly:

“Thank you.”