Writing a story a day for a month: Unfortunately could not post yesterday because my apartment building caught fire and the internet went down…
If you’re ever planning on breaking up with someone, don’t lend them a book first. I’ve been married to my husband for 8 years now, and this is the first thing he ever taught me.
I knew he was my future husband after our second date, but by our 10th date, I had changed my mind. Not completely, mind you. He’s great, Alex, and on our first date, it was like he had read a file about me beforehand: He loved Disney, didn’t like crowds too much, his friend had just given him his first Neil Young album, was I fan?
I was, and on our second date, I brought him a flash drive loaded with as much Neil Young as I could fit on it-about half my collection, but all the really big albums. He said that was worth a drink, and order two Manhattans. Vodka’s for teenage girls and old Russian men. I was neither, and hadn’t had vodka since my 21st birthday.
We were both atheists. His parents were divorced, mine unhappily married. I was an older child, he was the youngest, but by a gap, and he’d grown up parenting his younger cousins like a sibling, so he understood. He rolled his eyes when I told him my brother was going to med school to be a dermatologist.
“Medicine shouldn’t be about the money, its like someone stripping because they don’t trust credit cards.”
I laughed, even though the analogy didn’t really work. It was absurdist, “Or a pilot flying for the peanuts.”
“Ha!” he squawked (he has an ugly, punched laugh), “Building on my bad joke, I like that.”
Later, after another bad joke: “A woman who laughs at my bad jokes, I might just keep you around.”
I smiled, feeling the drinks. I don’t like whiskey, but there was something addicting about this drink. He had an uncanny ability to order a drink just when I was most tempted to go against my better judgment. I wanted to kiss him, aware that that was half alcohol. Instead, I turned the talk back to Disney.
“How can Disney be your favorite character?”
“First off. Don’t hate on my choice. Two…off, er, second off, secondly! he’s the only one who isn’t a smart ass”
“Right, because he’s a dumbass”
“No, he’s just more relaxed, doesn’t need to rove anything. He’s sitting back going, hey, just chill out, we can make some bad puns.”
I laughed again, and in the pause, I asked him, “You’re batting ten for ten so far–Neil Young, Disney, Radiohead,that Marylin Monroe is irritating. Final test. Sci Fi?”
“Like Star Wars?”
“Ew, no, like real sci-fi”
“Calm yourself, ha. I was testing you”
“Ever read Alastair Reynolds?”
“Oh! God! Ok, listen. You need to…”
He listened quietly, smiling, half listening, half glancing at my boobs and whether or not he was going to get a peek tonight. We left soon after, and despite the alcohol, I felt like I’d never felt before. Itcs cliché, but we just clicked. All we talked about was superficial things–food, movies, cartoon characters. This is what relationships consist of: shared experiences, inside jokes, similar tastes in similar things, enough of these bricks of commonality, held together with mutual attraction to build a structure worth a damn. This doesn’t change when you have kids: You just talk about sex less and cartoons more. In our case, we already had the cartoons down, so we were halfway there.
The next week, we bought season passes to Disney. If you go more than once in a year, it’s worth it. At the hotel, we talked about marriage, and watched a science fiction marathon on t.v. We both loved it. By the time we left, we’d set a tentative wedding date for the spring.
I can’t tell you when I started having second thoughts–the more important question is when there were enough of them to break through the wall. Had we moved too fast? Yes, that was obvious. I still loved him, and new that this love, infatuation, I hadn’t felt since my first boyfriend–the feeling that you had sunglasses on that just made everything look different. Even the most mundane things became electrified by the sharing them, but something felt off, I had a panicked feeling, sometimes.
I thought I was going to end it one night, but I’d lent him Alastair Reynolds book. I thought I’d wait until he finished it. That would give me some time to think about my decision seriously. It wasn’t a long book, but anytime I asked for it, he’d say he was a slow reader, he’d left it at work over the weekend so hadn’t read much, still wasn’t done, still wasn’t done, still wasn’t done. And things kept on accumulating–we had to get photos taken for the wedding, save the dates, invitations, dresses, caterer, band or D.J.? He hadn’t read much of the book, but we were so busy with planning the wedding, that I could not really expect him too.
I teased him a few nights after we were married that the only reason I married him was so that the book came back under my possession.
“I’m not one for efficient planning”
He laughed, “Sorry, I don’t think I’m as much of a sci-fi fan as you thought.”