Only I wasn’t tied to a whippin’ post. I was just working.
I spent Friday night in the GW Emergency Room. I thought (and so did they when I got there) that I was having a heart attack. I had been sitting at my desk when all of the sudden I just started feeling very, very wrong. Throw in that for the last 2 weeks my Dr and I had been trying to figure out why I’d been having all sorts of pain in my arm/shoulder/chest and yeah, I bolted for the ER.
The long and the short of it is that I was not having a heart attack, but am dealing with ulcers or GERDS (still figuring that out) coupled with Pericarditis (basically swelling of the lining of the heart) and/or Pleurisy. (swelling of the lining of the lungs) The pain was hard to describe, and the fact that it was coming from the left side of my chest made it, in a word; terrifying.
Understand, I quit smoking in January. I gave up drinking to excess. (I am a Ninja Jedi Champ of hard drinking) I gave up every bad habit I had (and I had a few) and have been trying to take much, much better care of myself these days…and then BANG. I am in the ER, can’t breathe, and have a team of people trying to get an EKG attached to me. And the worst, worst, WORST part of it?
My fiance sitting there watching this all with a shell shocked look on her face. And there’s nothing I can do. Nothing I can say. I can barely speak b/c the pain and the shortness of breath is just so paralyzing. I wanted to say “I love you”. I wanted to say “I’m sorry”. I just wanted.
And then I heard the words “It’s not a heart attack”. While it didn’t make this attack of whatever it was STOP,it certainly brought out a chorus of “thankyougodthankyougodthankyougod”.
I spent the better part of the night in the ER getting blood work, chest Xrays, etc. (Ironically, my lungs are amazingly clear for anyone, let alone a long time former smoker. My heart, according to my EKG, is fine, too…aside from the swelling) I slept on and off. The pain would come and go, but never reach the level that it had when I first got to the ER. I started thinking of all kinds of things that came from all kinds of places. My nieces. My dad. The coast of Maine and the hills of Vermont where I grew up. Yankees games in Fenway park. And of course, my fiance…and the TV show Six Feet Under. No kiddin’.
There’s an episode in which an old black man wakes up one day and finds his wife dead beside him. They have been married for something like 40 years, and he’s burying her alone. He’s an ornery old cuss, and I dug that about him. He tells Nate that he “don’t know shit about shit when it comes to love”…and he says at one point that she left him for 6 months once years before, and that it was his own damn fault. And that now that she’s gone, those 6 months were like a hole inside of him. Six more months he could have had with her….gone.
The irony of that, in the time I spent in that hospital, was hard for me to miss. My girl and I were apart for six months. We had started taking each other for granted after 2 years together. We stopped talking. We just kinda coasted. We were together, but we weren’t really there. And one day she said to me, “Do you think we’re going to break up”. I didn’t think, really. I just said “Yes”. And we did….just like that.
We went our separate ways. I went on a bender that I really didn’t even think about. I wasn’t moping…it wasn’t shock. But I found myself at one particular DC bar night after night with a group of friends and regulars. And I mean EVERY NIGHT. Every day I’d get up and go to work. Every night I’d go back to Foggy Bottom, drink, watch baseball, and stumble home.
We were always in touch, and we always talked. We actually talked much, much more openly about what we’d become and why than we really ever had before. We got to know each other on a deeper level than we’d ever really even tried to before, and lo and behold, we didn’t take each other for granted anymore. We started remembering why exactly we’d made it to 2 years in the first place.
The rest…well, that’s history. But lying in that hospital, I realized that what I WANTED was more time with her. Not just more time. With HER. I wanted to take her to Fenway in a Yankees hat. To show her everywhere I love in New England. I want MORE.
But that 6 months? I know what he meant. It is like a hole in me now…and we’re both filling it up. I didn’t NEED a reminder, but a night in the ER…chest pains…the look on her face…and the thought that I might be seeing it for the last time?
Yeah…I got it. Every minute counts. EVERY. MINUTE.
Of course…now she wants to elope. Go fucking figure.
I haven’t mentioned this as yet, but my girl’s got no idea this is being written. The plan is that she not find out, and I let her read it when we’re on our honeymoon. (which by the way, looks like it’s going to be in Brazil.) I can say “here’s what I’ve been thinking for the last 11 months”..she’ll laugh, I’ll get “You’re so sweet” sex, and life will be good. Of course, we’ll be on our honeymoon…AND in Brazil…so I doubt that I’m going to have to angle for sex.
I will be leaving your comments in, unchanged, assuming anyone ever starts reading this. I figure, why dumb it down or remove something that I don’t like? What’s that going to gain? People were shocked when they heard the two least likely to marry people they knew were getting married…to each other, no less. What’s a few “I fucked your gf” comments REALLY going to change?
To that end, here are a few reasons why we were the longest of long shots to ever get married, especially to each other.
1) We met on Craig’s List. In the Casual Encounters section. For rizzle. I had gotten out of a ridiculous relationship with a bartender from one of those swanky DC Hotel Bars, and was NOT NOT NOT interested in dating. If you want to know WHY you should never EVER date the bartender, VK said it best just a few days ago in his post, “The Dime Piece Chronicles, Don’t Do It”. (Brilliant stuff, really) At any rate, I wanted someone that I could have sex with, maybe be my date to the occasional 930 show, and that was IT. No expectations of anything else developing.
Our first date was a Friday night. It ended Sunday night. And we didn’t have sex. That plan went right out the window. That was 3 years ago, for those keeping score.
2) She’s a Socialist philosopher who can’t stand sports…and I am an Ayn Rand Capitalist who has season tix to the Nats. This, you would think, would lead to screaming matches that go something like this;
“Fuck you and fuck your bourgeois agenda”
“Go back to Havana!!”
OK, that’s kind of true. But, it’s really what we like about each other! We debate, we don’t argue. It gets pretty freakin’ heated sometimes, but it works for us AND the tension sex can be just un-fucking-real, as in UNREAL FUCKING. Plus, it’s really broadened both of our views on just about everything. Because I respect that she is ridiculously intelligent, I listen to her points of view and rethink mine. Because she knows that I am God damned brilliant, she does the same.
The mind is the sexiest part of the body. If you don’t know or get that, don’t invest yourself emotionally. I’m just sayin’. Sexually? Invest like it’s the .com days. Emotionally, do NOT do it.
Oh, and she will now watch the Yankees with me, wear a hat and shirt, and cheer…but she much prefers going to Nats games. (So long as she’s got a water bottle full of vodka and she can get a lemonade…that’s my girl)
3) She’s almost 10 years younger than I am. I know, I know…this was almost my deal breaker, too. When I put that ad up on CL, I didn’t write the standard “do you wanna suck on THIS” ad. Hell no. I knew what I wanted. So, I wrote it out. 8 paragraphs. It was precise. It was a work of fucking art, let me tell you. I put in there that age and race were not an issue, b/c really…it wasn’t. If you were attractive to me, what else matters for a FWB type arrangement? I got way, way WAY more responses than I could have possibly imagined. Some were ruled out right away…men, gone. Married women, gone. CLEARLY disturbed women, gone. And I kept tossing out my girl’s ad, too. 10 years younger? NO FUCKING WAY. I know I said age and race don’t matter, but when faced with the age? It mattered. I have a sister who is that age, and when you have a sister that age, it’s not hot, it’s sick. But I kept coming back to it. Her response was, well…perfect. We chatted on line, exchanged pics and met for that Friday night history…the rest is, well, you know.
And really, the only time it’s ever an issue? Pop culture. I make a “Greatest American Hero” joke or bust out with a, say, the theme song to “The Rockford Files” on my guitar and she just looks at me with a blank face. She busts out with the theme song from Jem…I’m lost.
Other than that, it’s all good.
When you are in your mid-30’s, the oldest of three, and far, FAR more interested in the Yankees and vintage Stratocasters than you are in eternal wedded bliss and children, the last thing that your friends or anyone in your family expect to hear are the words, “I’m getting married”…
Throw in, for good measure, that I’ve had several long term (Long term = at least 1 year and one of 3 plus, and a few in between since I was legal to drink away the woes they caused) relationships in my life with women that my family has both loved and loathed and well….you can see their dilemma.
“He’s just not he marrying kind.” -Mom
(They are divorced, naturally.)
And, finally, add in the fact that kid brother got married years back, has a little girl coming up on 3 and another on the way, and that kid sister got married shortly after that and then had a little girl of her own…and that that did not in any way make me say “wow, I’ve just GOT to try this” as I’ve seen several times before…
Well…folks tend to just assume that you aren’t, as Mom said, “the marrying kind”.
And I agreed with that. I would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t for me. Hell no. I’m not opposed to the idea. Never have been. In fact, I’ve been the best man on more than one occasion and thought to myself that these two are perfect for each other.
I had been to far, FAR more weddings where I couldn’t help but be that guy at the bar giving the over-under on how long this could possibly last. And there’s a difference. A BIG difference, in why I felt that way about some marriages and not others.
In a nutshell; the ones that I felt good about weren’t getting married because they HAD to…they were getting married because the wanted to. Period. The brides hadn’t spent their lives planning out what song they would dance with Daddy to, and the groom didn’t get to his late 20’s and freak out. They also realized that they wouldn’t always look the way they do now, that life can genuinely suck sometimes, and they would have bad days, weeks, months, and in some cases years together…and STILL, they wanted to get married. There was something really, REALLY compelling about this union that made it above and beyond dating…more than being boyfriend and girlfriend, way more than significant others…this was it.
The last thing that I’ll add, as I don’t think that any of my friends and family that I’ve known who married would ever say, but I will, is this;
It’s a choice.
No, wait…before you say “of COURSE it’s a choice”…hear what I’m saying. I mean that it’s a choice on a much more basic level than “do I want to do this or not”.
I don’t believe that we are naturally monogamous. I don’t for a second think that it’s an evolution, or that you mature in to a desire to settle down. I don’t think she completes me or ANY of that bullshit, and yes, I do accept that there are many ways that this will make my life harder. I don’t feel one bit more mature or evolved than I did before I made the decision to very clumsily get down on my knee.
In a lot of ways, I feel like it’s quite the opposite. I don’t get to look out for JUST #1 anymore. I have to share the decision making process on everything from what car we buy to what’s for dinner. I have to answer to someone about the things that I do…
And yeah…I still did it and couldn’t be happier about it.