Today is the twenty-second anniversary of the day I married Beloved Ex, and he’s been much on my mind of late. We’ve talked a couple times in the past month or so, and I’ll call him tonight to wish him well on our day and reminisce a bit like proper oldsters.
BEx was twenty-two (hah) and I nineteen when he and I first met. He was a would-be rockstar and I was – really quite unformed. I’d been through my little hippie kid phase, and entered into a bit of a groupie rocker chick mode when he and I got into a relationship, but as to who I wanted to me, or was, there were a lot of questions unanswered – indeed, unexamined at all – back then.
We were together six years before we married, and all I knew was that I had a good man and that was valuable enough I couldn’t look beyond that point. I clutched on entirely because he was (and is) a fine person and not half bad looking.
It’s funny, but I never had a thing for blonds nor the Nordic God thing in a man, but the fella I married was all of that. His resemblance to Michael Hurst of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys has always struck me, because – though Hurst appears a good deal shorter than BEx – the humor and goodness in their smiles were alike. But for maximum recognition value: BEx resembles Rutger Hauer to an almost alarming degree – physically. His demeanor is nothing so forbidding (men Diane likes: nerdliness comes first, then good-looking), and BEx is twenty years younger than the Replicant, but feature for feature the similarity may be stronger than Aeolus’s.
A friend of mine during the years I was married to BEx once explained to a table of friends out for a drink and a nosh, about the color of BEx’s eyes. She told the story of how her dad used to take her and her brothers camping. They would climb this beautiful mountain, in fresh air in the sunshine. They would stop at the top to lay out food and eat by a beautiful lake. The water was blue, and so clear you could see to the bottom. Her story went on a good five or ten minutes. And it ended, “And THAT is the color of Diane’s ex’s eyes.”
Gee. And all I ever did was gank from Carla Tortelli, who said, when asked if a handsome man’s eyes were blue, “*Sigh* Like Windex!”
I Googled him this week – why I don’t recall, but sometimes you Google an ex, and this is one of those “aww – Beloved Ex” weeks. This time, I got one of those ghastly Olan-Mills-for-the-corporate-office type portraits; weirdly taken from a high angle, so he’s looking upward and kind of cheesy, all be-suited and too tidy and slick. His blond-ness has subsided somewhat, but for one of your Nordic types, let it be said he is ageing spectacularly well. Lovely crinkles at the eyes, white teeth he doesn’t have to treat to get that way – that one crooked little incisor I was always a little too much taken with. The overall effect of the corporate pose is a bit “MY NAME IS HERB. TRUST ME!”, but the depth of knowledge if you know BEx lends a “yep, that’s him”-ness that sees that same old smile, the slight nervousness … those eyes.
I never had a thing about blue eyes themselves, but BEx’s blue eyes truly always were beautiful to me. In addition to his Nordic looks, BEx also has a Hungarian strain, and something in the expression of his eyes always spoke of the same melancholy Mikhayil Baryshnikov always had. As bright as he seemed to be, and as slightly silly, BEx houses a melancholy spirit not uncommon in the men I have loved. He and I laughed for years about an article he once read, that men who liked small breasts (I didn’t grow mine until years after our divorce) tended to be “slightly depressed” and men who liked larger chests were into football and less educated. Hooray for reductive stereotypes of men based on reductive stereotypes of women!
So last night, spending time with a nice array of the women on my mother’s side of my family (two aunts, mom, and a cousin), I shared the photo because I knew they would love it. Aunt G. would hardly have recognized the man in the picture, but those eyes were utterly unmistakable. Mom, who always did like BEx, may have suffered some resurgence of the “why the HECK are you not with this man” even as she simultaneously does know and understand. I paint a good picture of BEx and take my responsibility for my fundamental part in our divorce, but let it not be said I see no errors nor shortcomings at all.
The fundamental issue is this – I love BEx and always have and always will. But love is no reason to share your whole LIFE with someone. My life is going reasonably well. Only if, without him, it could not, should I be committed like that to any man, even if I do respect and care for him as much as I do.
There are those for whom in fact that would be more than enough, and compelling and successful. Without regret: I just am not one of those people. What I do regret, as candid as I may be in this blog and with certain people I love, is nobody’s business but mine and BEx’s.
|Image: that was me|
Twenty-two years ago in the morning, it was quiet in my parents’ home. I hadn’t expected that, somehow; thought I might be the center of attention in a hive of activity. But I had breakfast alone, I think – and had to kind of pull that together catch-as-catch-can. My dress was in the best garment bag ever – my childhood twin fitted Snoopy sheet fit it EXACTLY, and pinned shut to hold it together just right, in nice soft poly-cotton. My dad and mom were not given to maudlin hugs and Very Special Moments, and so at some point I worked my way up to my room and spent a long time getting ready. I put my hair up and did my makeup and put on my mom’s pearl jewelry, and I hope I cleaned my beautiful engagement ring so it would sparkle (my engagement ring is really beautiful, as was BEx’s band; we both still have them, which seems right for us two).
I don’t really recall getting to the church, but once there I have some memory of putting on the girdle and ivory hose and shoes, and then ceremoniously being dressed, for perhaps the only time in my life post-infancy. My dress was a marvelous thing, ill-suited to a Southern summer day (long sleeves and satin, high necked, and close to the body). When we went outside for photos of the bride …. even with dress shields, you cannot stop the river of sweat that will run down your spine on a hot noonday in the windless lee of a tall chapel, wearing so much heavy textile. Even the embroidery lace was thick and substantial. This confection had been hand made for me by a friend whose own anniversary, the day before this wedding, meant she could not be with us on the wedding day.
My dad and I convened in the vestibule of the chapel and there wasn’t a dramatic moment between us. I wanted one, but somehow the business of the pageant took us away, and we walked down the aisle (never knowing a month later he would be undergoing a sextuple bypass after a heart attack).
My grandmother wore magenta.
My mother wore baby pink, and she and my mother-in-law looked so soft and so pretty.
BEx had, at that moment in his life, basically a dutch-boy haircut. After years of long, beautiful curling warm-blond hair, in that period and after what seemed to us a drastic cut, he looked like the guy on the label of Sam Adams bottles. In a tailed and cravatted tux, he just looked handsome. And nervous as hell. I looked – I don’t really know. Manic and rapacious kind of come to mind, but I may have a bias against my old self. Maybe.
Ceremony over, we took more photos and walked to the reception, which I remember mainly for my overly self-conscious feeling I was being SUCH a successful, grown-up polite hostess. I talked with everybody, smiling and unfailingly (my idea of) gracious, which I suspect was a bit on the arch side. What became of my husband, I have no idea; I was doing my duties, which had nothing to do with him.
I changed into my going away dress (a gorgeous cut, but a black dress I now remember as a haunted, bad-omen object) and hat. We drove away in dad’s red Fiat, top down, and NOBODY shaving-creamed the beautiful finish on that car. No shoes or signs either. Just two young people in a great car.
We went back to my folks hosue for a while, where we opened presents. That night, we stayed at the Embassy Suites right in town. Before embarking on what little passed for a honeymoon, we stopped at my cousin’s farm and picked up my brother, for a day at an amusement park – bro along because (a) I rarely saw him, he lived in Hawai’i back then, and (b) he and BEx liked each other, and could ride the rides I’d get sick on. I hardly really remember the day, but I think we had a good time. Then we drove up to DC to stop in what turned out to be the hotel in which Marion Barry had been busted for drugs a few years previously. ROMANCE. It was a room on an alley or some equally ugly outlook, and I ordered ROOM SERVICE as a deranged splurge.
The next morning at breakfast in their restaurant, BEx was away for a moment when someone came to the table, and I self-consciously remember saying the word for the first time: “My husband will be right back.”
We stopped for lunch at my aunt’s house, with her and one of my cousins; a gloriously tasty gorgonzola and walnut salad I still remember to this day amongst our summer treats.
Then, on the road, back to Ohio.
We did have time alone, but our wedding and honeymoon were family-packed; a varied, busy affair indeed.
If self-condemnation is clear and stark in these memories, it’s not out of regret for the marriage nor even living resentments – against myself nor anyone else. Maybe just a way to keep myself honest. But those days themselves – this day, this anniversary (which, from glorious and sunny in 1993, is now a stormy, dark, and muggy affair indeed) … they are almost as fine as the man who gave them to me, shared them with me.
Happy anniversary, Beloved Ex.
And happy anniversary to all those couples who, today, can finally marry one another in every last one of our fifty states. Congratulations, in joy and gladness.