Monday, February 13, 2006

In Between Days

So yesterday--February 12th, 2006--marked the 12th anniversary of 'Stine's and my "couplehood". We've been having sex for a few months longer than that, and have been friends for a little over a year longer than that, but February 12th, 1994 was when we started "dating". Come August, we will have been married for ten years.

Whoa, huh?

Sitting wedged between this anniversary and Valentine's day, I thought I'd be forgiven for using this in-between-day as an occasion to remind everyone what a glorious spot I'm in, and for paying an homage to the woman who's given me most of what I have worth keeping.

When I first met Christine--late September, 1992--I hit on her. Not all that consciously, really; at 20, I hit on attractive women without really trying or being particularly aware of it. With her impressive stature and cartoon-character eyes, she won me over as . . . what, exactly? I was at a socially isolated place in my life, trapped in an ugly undertow with an ex who kept pulling me back out to sea for the sort of "misery sex" that college exes sometimes have when they can't find anyone else willing to have sex with them. 'Stine was everything the not-to-be-named party wasn't: giddy, generous, romantic, naive despite harrowing experience, open-minded despite clear moral conviction and pointed aesthetic preference.

I imagine, in hindsight, that we were doomed to frustrate each other endlessly; her devotion to new agey principles like relativism, positivism and unconditional love clashed with my love of dissonance, my belief in chaos and my inability (to this day) to accept the notion of being loved on any other basis than for my own merit (hence conditional--and hence my difficulty in appreciating either parental or divine love). What was funny was that our opposition felt fun, whereas my rivalries with . . . the other girl were usually characterized by acrimony, deliberate cruelty, mockery and disdain.

Our early friendship stumbled through at least one complete miss of an attempted sexual encounter (attempted by me, which is, of course, why it failed), and was interrupted before it really got started by my suicide attempt in December of 1992. A piece of trivia that wouldn't come to my attention until later: As I realized through the heavy limbs and psychic stupor of the 80-or-so sleeping pills I'd taken about an hour before that I didn't want to die, I called the aforementioned ex, out of the aforementioned perception that no one else gave a fuck. Unbeknownst to me, Christine was AT the girl's apartment at the time. Small world and all that . . .

As the remainder of that school year played out, with my hiding my suicide attempts and its attendant bills from my parents, seeing a therapist on campus to avoid forced hospitalization or medication, scrambling to regain my academic composure after spending fall-quarter finals getting my stomach pumped, I found myself reaching out less blindly, but with greater transparency, to the people who were in my life but not fully integrated as friends or confidants. Christine had a way of listening to me compassionately while deflating my reflexive seriousness with warm, giggly humor, the occasional cutting insight and a consistent context of "I think this chick might be crazy, but DAMN she's entertaining." Her support and friendship to me during this time was a huge boon to my recovering from . . . well, from where I'd been before (the story of my suicide and how I got there could be the subject of its own post).

After an awkward-but-fun near-sexual encounter in March of 1993 (on the day I got my nose pierced, natch), and a far more successful (finally!) sexual liaison exactly 6 days before Thanksgiving '93, we moved from friends to friends-with-benefits for a few months before finally deciding on February 12,1994 that it was time, as I'd put it, to stop making a molehill out of a mountain and doing this for real. I was vulnerable that day, coming down off of LSD from the night before, sluffing my volunteer duties as a judge for a high-school debate meeting and trying to keep Christine from ditching me to have sex with a good friend who'd driven down to Cedar City from Logan for a booty call (we were frequent but NOT exclusive lovers). In hindsight, I probably would have had a good case for a temporary insanity plea (the statute of limitations is SO over by now). Sidelined that spring by a temporary breakup, we finished that spring in an essentially positive spot, increasing our levels of transparency, intimacy and vulnerability, and creating a strange community of misfits that included our own Missuz J and amandak.

That next fall, we found ourselves sharing an apartment during the turbulent Cedar Crest Year. At the end of that school year, June 1995, when 'Stine graduated and it became apparent that I never would, we moved to Salt Lake City to live with her delightful, insane mother for the summer and into the fall, all the while saving up funding to move to Seattle to . . . well, that was less than clear. I had vague notions of being a playwright, though I hadn't written anything in the year + that had passed since an ill-fated production of a play that will likely never again see the light of day, and an old high school friend (or rather, a friend from when I was in high school--she was in college at the time) who was on the staff of an Open Circle Theatre had been reading my scripts and giving me great encouragement. Christine still had interests in pursuing acting opportunities. Really, though, we wanted to live in a city with liquor and theatres and art films and public transportation, so we packed up and moved to the nearest city of any cultural distinction where we happened to know anyone. Seattle it was to be.

We married in August of 1996 under a weeping willow in a back yard on Beacon Hill. Our self-written vows were punctuated by blasts from the Blue Angels, exhibition pilots flying blue F-15s and annoying anyone not given to public bursts of militaristic, patriotic bravado. Our wedding mix had a Nine Inch Nails song on it, and I wore motorcycle boots. Our photographer was a street troll from the Pike Place Market named Bobby, who had a beard down to his groin and wore flamboyant tie die at the ceremony, chewing a toothpick and scaring the hell out of 'Stine's family. We got too drunk too fast, and as a result didn't "consummate" until the next day; but it was really just an afterthought, really, 'cause we already knew we had great sex.

We've stumbled back into theatre since then, I rediscovered my lost passion for martial arts and she's made good on her natural talent for bodywork. Our marriage, like all marriages, has had its ups and downs, its drunken revelry, its sexual deviances, its encounters with cops and its visits to correctional facilities. And it's always had its great sex, its open dialogue. In short, it's been human, and it's been spectacular.

What can I say about Christine? I can say that no one shares the way she shares. No one embodies true generosity so thoroughly, so ceaselessly, so unconditionally. She will always speak the truth, which can drive me to distraction as often as not. She likes to be naked.

She's taught me that the meritocratic understanding of love and a belief in true, unconditional love aren't mutually exclusive. She's softened my misanthropy, and correctly pointed out all of the ways in which clearly even I don't believe my own hype on the matter. From her, I've learned what a powerful weapon warmth and humor can be; from her, I've learned that beating up on myself is counter to my self improvement. We've gotten a lot of good practice at forgiveness from each other, and the importance of that gift, on either side, cannot be properly valued.

I love to hear her sing, to watch her perform. I love the way she cries at tawdry "human interest" stories on news magazine shows, or at any given episode of Miracle Pets. I love the way she has to build a pillow sculpture, put in earplugs, wrap her head in a turban to keep the light out and flop around like a dying carp for half-an-hour before she can get to sleep. I love that she puts so much syrup on her waffles that there's a veritale wading pool on her plate by the time she gets done, a sheet of gravy following her (divine) fried chicken, greens and mashed potatoes. I love that she shaves the lower half of her leg and her bikini line while opting out of shaving her thighs (??--I mean, as we know, I don't care; but it's the reasoning that fascinates). I love that she'll put ranch or blue cheese dressing on anything. I love that she can't eat ice cream without pouring milk on it. I love that pouty face she makes when she wants to spend money or do anything she thinks I won't want to do. I love that she's into sex toys, that she's an experimenter. I love that she wants sex as much as she does. I love that she grew up Mormon while I grew up Catholic, that she's a buddhist to my quasi-nihilistic, crypto-Taoist gnosticism. I love that she's enough of a fag hag to marry this slapdash slob of a metrosexual. I love that we can drink beer and do housework together, and she squeals with delight when I put on the cutoff T-shirt that says "Pussy Boy" when I scrub the bathroom. I love that half her wardrobe is purple (as are many of our sex toys).

If I didn't love all those things, 12 years would have been a very long time.

So happy anniversary, doll, and happy Valentine's day. Here's to 10 or 12 more.


Blogger Stine said...

PDF be damned...

must. wipe. nose. crying.

Awe my hound, you are the wind beneath my wings. I love you.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Stine said...

Uhm...tee hee...that should have been "PDA", as opposed to "PDF".

Ah technology.

2:26 PM  
Blogger the beige one said...

very very sweet, Ly! congrats to the both of you for reaching a couple of milestones!

5:07 PM  
Blogger ~A~ said...

Awwwwww damn, that's one of the sweetest things I've read in ages.

Happy "anniversary" of a sorts you two.

10:19 PM  
Blogger patrice said...

that's so sweet. I was wondering how the two of you operate. I love your relationship and that it's not common. it seems rather uncommon, in that you're both allowing each other the room to be yourselves while staying together. I love it. happy anniversary.

7:17 AM  
Blogger amandak said...

Wow, Ly. What an amazing tribute to what you guys have together. You're so lucky, both of you. You inspire me daily.

Love you.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Missuz J said...

What they said.

2:15 PM  

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