Sunday, February 14, 2016

all we needed to know

           That first Valentine’s Day, I flew to Los Angeles. Michael met me at the airport with a dozen red roses. His apartment full of red balloons; shiny hearts and a giant pair of lips bobbing in the living room. A cocktail party of balloons. In the fridge was a small round cake with I Dig You Baby scrawled on white frosting.
            On Saturday we strolled the sunny streets of Santa Monica. Michael wore a big straw hat. We held hands and wandered in and out of shops. Two people with a camera and microphone stopped to interview us about an upcoming John Gray video they were shooting; John Gray, the author of Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars. 


         The question was posed: How do couples stay together? We smiled, arms wrapped tightly around each other, so certain. Talk to each other, we said. Communication is everything.
           Two years later we sat down with Victor. Victor was the minister of the old red brick church where we wanted to be married. Victor with his square glasses and strip of puffy hair wrapped around his head. My father will be marrying us, I said. We were wondering if we could borrow the church. Victor agreed but longed to put his seal on our marriage.
           So, he said, there’s a video I though you might watch. We could discuss it after. It’s called Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars. Michael squeezed my hand. The two of us, puffed up with love, laughed gently.
          Oh no, we said, We’re not interested in pre-marital counseling, Victor. Thanks so much, but here’s a funny story, and we launched into our day in Santa Monica; the Valentine’s weekend when the skywriters drew loopy hearts over Santa Monica Pier. We told him about the John Gray people, how we told them we knew all we needed to know about love.

Valentine's Day 1997

Oh my! 
Little did we know how much we had to learn 
+ how lucky we are to have found each other. 
xo b

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Remember The Exorcist?

Of course I fantasied the whole thing: the empty living room filled with soft candle light, sipping champagne while eating shrimp with broccoli in garlic sauce out of cartons on the bare cherry floors. Claire (a happy three year old) running up and down the stairs with delight. Our heads tossed back, my long blonde hair swinging, laughter ringing in the airy rooms.

We'd be rolling in joy, 

except I've never had long blonde hair and fantasies, although juicy and fun, don't always pan out.

I'd always been a renter. We'd had five wonderful years in our old house. The lone bending birch tree out front. The great neighbors, the house where I painted the door Chinese red seven months pregnant with Claire, it's still red.  This was a big step. This new house would be ours (and the bank's).

Closing day, Michael's back went out so bad he could barely lift a coffee cup. Timing is a curious thing. His back went out when he proposed to me too. To add insult to injury, he was vomiting buckets in the bathroom, a sudden, horrific attack of the stomach flu.

Wait a minute, buster. 
You can't do this. 
It's moving day. 

Does anyone remember The Exorcist? Somehow, papers got signed.

During the closing, we learned the electric had been turned off without switching the account to us. Okay. Our new house had no lights, no heat. It was the middle of winter. Michael's head was in the toilet. I'm pretty sure there was no drinking champagne that night. Who would I clink my glass with? The dog?

I remember turning the key, stepping into our new house. The empty rooms, my dog's nails clicking on the wood floors. The electric guy showing up in the dark, shining his flashlight. I shined mine back. I thought, if he tries anything, I'll hit him on the head and run. Instead, Che licked the guy's hands, we found the fuse box, lights turned on, heat too. I stood in front of the picture window, hand on Che's velvety head and felt the deepest surge of gratitude. 

Like all the places we live, if only the walls could talk. A lot happens in fourteen years...

Our beloved dog, Che, died. 
Dad lived here. Now he's gone.
Jesse beat cancer here.
Storms took down huge trees. 
Claire's princess slippers turned into cross-country running shoes.
My beloved mother-in-law slipped away this past September. 
Last week's house anniversary would've been her 90th birthday. 

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Michael's never had the flu like that again. 

xo b