I was 18 when I first married. It was the summer after my junior year of college. I was working at the radio station. Jeff, my first husband, was Station Manager. Garry, my current and always husband, was Program Director. The two were best friends. We all met in 1963 and thus it begins.
Not the original wedding. This was our third vow renewal. In our backyard, by the unfinished teepee. An evening barbecue. Garry was wearing a tuxedo shirt and shorts.
Thirteen years later, I walked away from my first marriage. It wasn’t terrible, just empty. A good friendship, but not much of a marriage.
Off to Israel I went with my son. I was in Israel for just under 9 years. Got married for all the wrong reason. Suggestion: In a foreign country, do NOT marry the first guy who can speak your language.
For all the years, Garry wrote me letters. Every week, two to three letters, typed in capital letters and mailed special delivery arrived in my mail box. I began to think of them as my fan mail. I lived from letter to letter, carried the most recent one with me until the paper on which it was written fell apart.
On our honeymoon. Dublin, 1990
No one writes letters anymore. Email has effectively eliminated personal mail, except for cards and the ubiquitous bills and advertising. These letters were exactly what I needed. I carried a couple with me wherever I went. Garry reminded me I was wonderful. He said I was amazing. It was salve for my soul.
I wrote letters too. When I got back home, I found he had saved them, an entire drawer full of letters. Clearly, something was happening. Maybe we’d both known it but had not been ready to deal with it. But it had changed and we were moving forward.
Neither Garry nor I has written a personal letter to anyone else since.
I was back.
With a little help from a friend, I got a job near Boston. Garry and I were an instant item. The previous decade hadn’t dealt kindly with either of us and we saw each other afresh. We’d always been a little in love, but there were reasons why it was the wrong time. I had been married, he was involved and then, there was his career — which was his real involvement and the one to whom he had always been married and she wasn’t going away.
And there we were. Garry was 48, never married. I’d been married twice and wasn’t all that eager to go for number three.
So what happened? He had decided it was time to have a personal life. Work wasn’t the “everything” it had been … and I was back. Unmarried.
I’d gone to California for a couple of weeks on business. I’d come home early because I’d been hit with the flu. Which turned out fine because the earthquake — the one that stopped that year’s World Series — occurred one day after I left. If I’d stayed, I’d have been crushed under a collapsed highway. Those little whispers in your ear …
Garry was really 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 the first kiss is going to give him the flu.
What defines true love? He kissed me anyway and got the flu.
After we stopped coughing and sneezing, we went to dinner. Jimmy’s Harborside, was a mile away on the harbor. It took nearly an hour to get there. Garry was kept looping around Leverett Circle, missing the turn. He was telling me how real estate prices were down and maybe we should buy a place. Live together. Forever. As in permanently.
Would that be okay?
So I listened. This was the most unexpected speech I’d ever heard, from the last man from whom I ever expected to hear it. Garry wanted to marry me. I never thought he’d marry anyone. Fool around? Sure, but get married?
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. (I don’t drink.)
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. “You know. I thought we could kick it around a bit.”
“It is a proposal,” I assured him. A couple of weeks later, I suggested a ring might be the next order of business. Also, setting a date. He moved through these steps like a deer in headlights. Glazed eyes. When it occurred to him that all he had to do was show up in a tux, he relaxed. He had a tux. He was excited enough to get a new tie, shirt and cummerbund. The rest of it was my show.
We were married six months later after knowing each other just 26 years.
Garry and I celebrate our 26th anniversary a year ago and we’re charging into number 27 in under a month.
The man who was never getting married is a fine husband, even if he can’t cook. Personally, I think he bought a lemon and should have returned men and gotten a new one with a better warranty.
It doesn’t seem like so many years, but it turns out, when you find the right one, time flies by.