"God, it's warm in here," he said, circling the bed for his pajamas. "Do you have The Urchin on the bed?"
"No," I responded, peeling back the covers on the freshly made bed with its clean sheets and crisp pillowcases. "It's over there." I nodded in the direction of our laundry hamper, where our favorite winter blanket laid folded in front of a mound of clothes I had yet to wash.
We bought the blanket when we first started dating. We were walking through the Filene's bedding department, joking that there are no masculine bedsets, when I ran my fingers over what may be the softest, most amazing blanket I've ever felt in my whole life.
"Babe. C'mere. You've got to feel this," I instructed, unwilling to stop touching it myself. He came over and wrapped his slender fingers around the fabric.
"Oh my God." He looked at me in disbelief. "That is amazing."
And so we sought the blanket in its packaged form (as opposed to its on-display form). We faced a wall of the blankets, in every color and size imaginable. He let me pick the color, and he insisted on a king size, even though we were still sleeping on a queen. "It'll be inspiration to get a new bed," he said as the saleslady rung up our first domestic purchase.
Because it was summer when we started dating, the blanket sat in the closet for months. But, on the first cold night of fall, out came the blanket. We put it on the bed and fell instantly and hopelessly in love with its softness, and the way it was warm to the touch, no matter how cold the room around it was. Unlike sheets, it was warm from the moment you burrowed beneath it. It didn't require body heat to be cozy.
It stayed on the bed from that point on, and, later, it was finally able to call a King size mattress home. From the comfort of the bed, we could be heard saying, over and over, "I love our blanket." I loved that, that it was the first possession we claimed jointly. One of the first items to be stamped Ours.
Making the bed together, however, we struggled with the blanket. Because it is essentially made of two blankets sewn together along the perimeter, it tends to suck in on itself, ever shifting in shape and size.
"It's like some sea urchin," Billy said as he thrust his hand into one of the pockets created by the blanket swallowing one of its own corners.
"I know. It takes ages to dry, too, because it just keeps balling up in the dyer," I pulled the opposing corner taut to make it easier for him to reconstruct the blanket to its original shape.
And from that day forward, it was called The Urchin. And I loved that we had now moved to the arena of a relationship that allows for stupid nicknames for inanimate objects. That's a big step, as far as I'm concerned, in a relationship. You bond over something that only the two of you understand.
In bed one morning, staring at The Urchin in its lonely spot by the perpetually full laundry basket, he said "You know, I think we're wrong when we call it The Urchin. Because, don't sea urchins have, like, spikes that come out when something gets near them?"
I paused in the middle of my morning makeup routine. "Yeah...I think it's more of an...Anemone." I was shocked at myself for even knowing the word, let alone what it meant.
"That's right. Anemone."
We both looked at it. Silently, we both considered the name change.
"Nah," I said, shaking myself out of the Anemone Vs. Sea Urchin trance. "I like 'Urchin.' It's cuter."
He considered it. Then nodded. "Yeah. I like 'urchin' better, too."
It's my favorite part of the relationship: The bond we feel over a grammatical error that we've made for months. How we don't want to change it. That The Urchin sits right next to The Dresser of Strength. That we have enough time under our collective belt to actually begin to create history together, stories that make us giggle, words to which only he and I know the definitions.
There's a certain point we all reach in relationship when you realize that you are no longer just dating, you are a real, actual, factual couple. For whatever reason, The Urchin was my point.