- I have had 2 weddings of my own.
- I am 44, and for one second thought " That's what kids do".
I often wonder if my first husband, J, is still on this planet. It took me almost 2 years to FIND him for a divorce, and I have not spoken to him since I mailed him papers to sign. We got married almost exactly 17 years ago and the wedding question got me thinking about J and our "spirited" marriage. Looking back made me say aloud "what the fuck" so often that I cannot believe I was there.
The first time J and I met was at a house party in San Francisco, and I was listening to him talk smack to the delight of many bystanders. J had a significant reputation preceding him, was very self assured and commanded attention. He was wearing the standard bike messenger attire of a Hanes white T, black cut off Dickies, a studded belt, black high-tops of some sort, spiked hair and smoked a cigarette with attitude. All this being said, I had to give him a taste of his own medicine, so I pointed to him, and asked everyone " What's with the mini Andrew Dice Clay? "
Pretty much love at first sight.
He'd skate board or ride his fixie from a shitty apartment in the Tenderloin to my apartment with many fabulous roommates in The Mission. Our lives consisted of parties until the sun came up, seeing some of the best bands ever play live, consuming mass amounts of PBR way before it was cool at The PBR House, having friends that we would take a bullet for, and fight with such passion it would take me days to recuperate.
One fine Saturday, J and I met many of our messenger friends for a game of soccer followed by a BBQ in Golden Gate Park. In the middle of the game J said something rude to one of our female friends and it set me the hell off. We proceeded to launch into a very long, very NOT sober, and very loud YELLING match that makes me uncomfortable to think about. I share this because it makes me laugh super hard remembering that it ended with one of us throwing our raw steaks very dramatically into the bushes in our fit of rage.
what a waste of meat.
Another common memory was receiving a phone call In the middle of the night about J's whereabouts. One call woke me up stating that J was taken by ambulance to a hospital after splitting his head open. Apparently J mooned the audience at a Bad Religion show and the drummer threw his drum at J's head, and knowing J, he probably deserved it. Who in the hell knows what else really happened, but I am happy to not have witnessed it, and glad that all I had to do was wake him up every hour to make sure he was alive and didn't bleed out over night.
A fond memory where J didn't get physically hurt was during the Russian River Ride. Every year SF bike messengers would ride their bikes up to the Russian River for a weekend of camping and debauchery that was the back drop of many, many stories around the city. The one and only year I went, I drove up with some non messengers and met J and about 75 or so other's on the bank of the river. The first night there was a bonfire that would give Burning Man a run for the $, and I think it's safe to say not a sober person in the bunch. J (5'5") and our friend (and ex boyfriend of mine) Matt (6'2") ran around the camp ground wearing nothing but aluminum foil helmets, and doing butt dances around various small bonfires around the grounds. Later in the evening, the fires were even smaller, and decisions were less intelligent. Matt and J decided to jump over one last fire, and mind you, they are both still naked. J was a bit more agile and light on his feet, and Matt was not. As Matt made his last fire jump of the night, his crotch caught on fire, proceeded to run in to the ONLY tree on the river and provide one of the funniest fire scenes I have witnessed.* Thankfully our friend Leigh could drive Matt to the ER, where he was treated for the burns and received dressings for his crotch and I am thinking some clothes. The next day, Matt probably wished he didn't survive the jump, since the shit talk was deafening the rest of the weekend.
* Matt is just fine.
This was normal in my 20's.
While J and I were in VT visiting his mother and step dad around 1998, he proposed, and we decided to move to MN to step away from the party scene, chill out a bit, and "be responsible." We both had enough of the Go Go Go. We wanted to embark on a cleaner, positive life, and he could try to let go of his shit childhood.
The many events that led up to our wedding on May 29th, 1999, in a small park in Edina MN, are pretty hazy. I worked at Garden Of Eden in Uptown selling natural bath and body products, spent almost every Friday at The CC Club, got in a bar fight at Triple Rock and was asked to "leave for a bit."
The days prior to our wedding, however, were fantabulous. Many of our SF friends came via plane and car to have a pre wedding party at Nye's that moved on to Lake Minnetonka, etc the rest of the weekend. J played drums with Ruth Adams and the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band, we danced with the cute old men, and almost passed out in the kick ass sparkly booths. Our friends got to boat, swim and experience MN beauty and were surprised we didn't have cows everywhere. True statement.
During our marriage, J drank more and more, and I retreated more and more. I would try to support and motivate him, hoping to boost his morale so he would not sabotage his success, or go away on a bender for a day or two.
On our way to a Keeler reunion at my dad's house, he was being such an asshole to me, I broke. I started slamming my hands on the steering wheel screeching in audible words and just letting it ALL out. I pulled off of 35W on to the Diamond Lake exit, made him "get the fuck out of my car" and left him there. He came back the next day via foot.
The last big fight before kicking him out of our apartment was above the old Muddy Water's on Lyndale and 24th St and it was quite a doozy. 3 of our SF messenger friends were in town visiting with their fixie bikes and were having quite the festive time around the city. They kept using an offensive word and I told them that the only thing I ask of them while with me is to not use that word, ever. Of course they did just to annoy me, so I gave them their last warning, "or else" and shockingly they failed. I proceeded to pick up each bike that was on our deck, and throw them off the balcony one by one with quite a bit of gusto and am guessing a bit of yelling....and gratification for sure.
I would pay to have a video of that.
Clyde and Leroy were 2 pugs that J and I had the pleasure to own. Leroy was rescued as a puppy right at the end of our marriage and was allergic to any and everything. Days after J moved out I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom which was on the other side of my apartment. While walking through my dark kitchen, I slipped in Leroy's poop, smashed my face against the floor or door jamb (who knows?) and blacked out. I woke up on the floor covered in dog crap, a couple of puffy shiners, and a broken nose. It's true, ask my friend Jenny who lived across the hall from me at the time. We laughed for EVER and still do about that dog shit story.
Only ridiculous stuff like this seems to happen to me.
The last time I spoke to J was a Saturday morning while I was sleeping in bed with my then boyfriend, Mike, soon to be husband #2. It was a voicemail that I can still remember plain as day..." Your Mama Cleaning*, isn't that cleaver. I got your papers from my parents and wanted to talk to you." etc....Mike yelled " Quick call him back, you'll never get a hold of him again!". I called his ass up a.s.a.p. since no one knew his whereabouts or if he was even alive until that Saturday.
*The name of my house cleaning company back in the day.
J and I did catch up that day, and he told me he was living with a 20 something year old (he is 4 years older than me) in Boston and was clean.....and then proceeded to open a beer and drink it while on the phone, and call all of our old friends that day while having more and more to drink. He also said he was no longer using a laundry list of drugs that I had no idea he was ever using while we were together, so I hoped that was at the least to be true.
The greatest sorrow of our marriage is that I know what a beautiful soul J was deep inside, he just didn't believe it, no matter how often me or anyone else would tell him. I couldn't be the person to provide the support he needed, and was incapable of quieting the negative voices inside his head. His heart was so so polluted from his upbringing it seemed impossible for him to open himself up to get a glimpse of real happiness and no one can make that happen, except for oneself.
My relationship with J was not a walk in the park for sure, but I don't regret it. Marriage was not the healthiest of choices, but at that moment in time, we gave each other someone to count on when we needed it the most. We were totally clueless as to who we were, who we wanted to be or where in the hell we were going, and thought we could find out together. Unfortunately we were not equipped with the skills or insight to navigate through our shit storm, and proceeded to choose vastly different paths in our lives.
I hope that J is having such an amazing time in his life that he can barely sit still and shares his amazement with people that know it to be true. J and every single one of us deserves to be happy, no matter what our circumstances or history, letting ourselves feel worthy of it is another story.