I was 18 when I got married the summer between the junior and senior years of college. I was working at the radio station. Jeff, my first husband, was Station Manager. Garry, my now and forever husband, was Program Director. The two were best friends.
We were having a great time. Young, creative, a radio station to play with, life felt like a party that would never end.
Honeymoon in Ireland
I married Jeff in 1965, finished my B.A., had the first surgery that put me on the D.L. for a few years. When I pulled myself together and got on with life, I promptly got pregnant. My son was born in May 1969. We named him Owen Garry, making Garry his godfather. I wanted to be sure Garry would stay part of the family and my life. I couldn’t see the future, but I knew I wanted Garry in it.
Thirteen years later, I walked away from that marriage. It wasn’t horrible. It was merely empty, a good friendship, but as a marriage, it was nothing much.
Off to Israel I went with my son. I married in Israel, a mistake that even today I find hard to accept. I know why, but my behavior baffles me. It’s as if my brain was off and something else ran my life. I was in Israel for just under 9 years and for all the years, Garry wrote me letters. Every week, two or three letters, always typed in capital letters and mailed special delivery arrived in my mail box. I began to think of them as my fan letters. I lived from letter to letter as the marriage which started as a mistake morphed into a disaster.
No one writes real letters anymore. Email has eliminated personal mail. But those letters were so wonderful. I carried one or two of them with me wherever I went. I read them over and over, until they fell apart. Garry kept telling me I was wonderful and it reminded that someone thought I was fantastic, an amazing woman. The rest of my life didn’t exactly support that.
I wrote letters to Garry too and when I got back to the States, I found he had saved every one of them. A drawer full of letters. Obviously something was going on. I’m sure we both knew. We just weren’t ready to deal with the implications.
I don’t think either Garry or I has written a letter to anyone else since.
I was back. Depressed. Poor. For the second time in my life, I’d abandoned everything and bolted. My aunt Kate had died and left me a little money, enough for a plane ticket to the states with a few hundred dollars left. I stayed in Jeff’s guest room a couple of weeks while I reconnoitered life.
With a little help from a friend, I got a job in the Boston area. Garry and I were an item. The previous decade hadn’t dealt kindly with either of us and we saw one another with new eyes. We’d always been a little in love, but there had been an endless number of reasons why it wasn’t the right time to do something about it. Now, after my Israeli divorce — and Garry’s extraction of his live-in girlfriend from his apartment and life — we got married. About time, too.
Garry was 48 and had never been married, though he’d hardly been living the monk’s life. So how did I finally get him to propose? The truth is, it was all him. Really.
I’d been in California for a couple of weeks on business. I’d come back early because I came down with the flu. That turned out to be just as well, because the big earthquake — the one that stopped that year’s World Series — happened the day after I left. If I’d stayed, I’d have been crushed under a collapsed highway.
Garry was glad to see me … until I coughed. Then he wasn’t so glad. What is the definition of “mixed emotions?” A man in love who knows that first kiss is going to give him the flu. Definition of true love? He kissed me anyway. And got the flu.
After we stopped coughing, we went to dinner. Our favorite restaurant, Jimmy’s Harborside, was only a mile away on the harbor, but it took nearly an hour to get there. Garry was nervous and kept looping around Leverett Circle, missing the turn off. He was telling me how real estate prices were down and maybe we should buy a place. Live together. Forever. Would that be okay with me?
So I listened for a pretty long time because this was the most unexpected speech I’d ever heard. I never expected Garry to marry me. I never thought he’d marry anyone. Finally, I said: “So you want to buy a house. Move in and live together? As in get married?”
“All of that,” he said and looped around one more time.
“I definitely need a drink,” I said.
The following morning, I asked Garry if I could tell my friends. He said “Tell them what?”
“That we’re getting married,” I said.
“You said we should buy a house and live together forever.”
“Yes,” he agreed
“So we’re getting married. You proposed.”
“That’s a proposal?” he asked. “I didn’t think it was a proposal.”
“You want to buy a house with me and live together forever. If it’s not a proposal, what is it?”
“Just an idea,” he said.
“It’s a proposal,” I assured him. A couple of weeks later, I suggested a ring might be in order. And setting a date. He moved through these steps looking like a deer in headlights, but eventually, he realized all he had to do was show up in a tux and he’d be married. That he could do. We were living together anyway, so …
We were wedded 6 months later having known each other a mere 26 years.
Garry and I will celebrate our 24th anniversary next September. We have both mellowed. We know each other so well. We know each others faces. I know when he hurts. He knows if I’m upset. It doesn’t mean we don’t squabble, but it does mean we never stop caring and loving and being there for each other.
The man who was never going to get married has become as close to a perfect husband as any woman has a right to expect or hope for. I often think, with my endless health problems, he’s gotten himself a lemon and maybe should return me to the dealer and get a wife with a warranty. But he like this model, however decrepit.
It doesn’t seem like 24 years. I don’t know where the time has gone. Turns out, when you find the right one, time flies.
Daily Prompt: That’s Amore
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