holy shit. I would like to swear more, but I'm holding myself back right now...
Inside this week, the date will pass where, 9 years ago, we married. I thought, ahead of time, about how hard it would be to come to the first year anniversary of his death. I took that day off work. But somehow, I forgot to think about 9 years ago. 13 years ago, we had just barely met. What a funny thing that meeting was...there was me- previously promiscuous, willing to open my heart to any dipshit that came along. I had finally decided to quit smoking, stop drinking the way that I had been, and stop trying to pick up guys at bars. In fact, I had decided I needed space from guys...I figured I'd take a year or so and figure out how to do things starting from a better place. A literal week later, John and Charles did their show at my school. He and I spoke for about 3 hours after the show by his truck. For the next several months, we talked every night for 2-3 hours, we saw each other on weekends, and things inside me shifted.
He had been something of a serial monogamist. He was in a place where he wanted to experience fooling around, and not find another girlfriend. So we reversed roles, back to the typical gender specs. I finally emailed him that I needed something more, and that I would do anything to not lose him so we needed to fall back to just being friends. He responded in a way that no one ever has with me before. He didn't say "okay", he didn't walk away. He told me that the thought of losing me was awful and that if it was a question of just being my friend, or having me as a girlfriend, he wanted to commit to me. I read that email a thousand times. I printed it and kept it in my "happy box" for years, till that box disappeared in one of our moves.
I remember exploring his chest and belly that year. Learning him. I remember watching Eddie Izzard in his truck and long Sunday afternoons at trampoline meets where I had almost nothing to do, but couldn't imagine being anywhere other than with him. I remember when I moved and had my video camera, shooting him after he had helped and we had, um, well, touched...and saying he was the man of my dreams.
I remember being in Australia a few weeks later showing that clip to some of my fellow travelers. He was silly and smart in a strange way...he was passionate and a great listener. He was responsive and loving. He was busy...and while I was in Australia, he was doing dive shows, first at Knoebles and then in Japan...he couldn't contact me as much as I wanted and when I got on the internet kiosks to check for messages, if he wasn't there, I broke a little...so insecure.
I remember when we went to London. I was the announcer in the dive show and he set himself on fire so many times. I loved the microphone...I loved the show...I felt fat and out of shape and awkward in comparison to all the athletes in the show. We fought pretty intensely in that hotel room of the Swan Hotel, with no screens in the windows and crooked hallways, steep creaky stairs, on the banks of the Thames. I thought we might break up. And I had just bought a townhouse, my first home, in Frederick. Plus I didn't have a job in the county. It had been so easy getting a position in Charles County that I had my pick of schools. Consequently, I didn't worry too much about finding a job in Frederick. It turned out that that particular assumption really made an ass out of just me. In London, I called obsessively to find out about a job and when I finally heard about an interview, I had to ask to leave early. Dana Kunze, the owner of the show and one time Guinness Book of Records high dive record holder, broke character and said "good bye" to me in the show. John had worked with him for years and told me he had never done that for an announcer before.
That year I worked part time teaching 4th grade, as a nanny, and then at Sylvan Learning Center. And during that year, I finally asked him to live with me. What a fight that was! He traveled so much with his trampoline shows, he just wanted a place where he could come home and just be a mess. I remember sitting on the steps of my new townhouse, crying and asking "Why can't that place be with me?"
He finally caved and said okay...and boy was he a mess. And oh, how happy I was to have him with me! To know that when he was home from a show, finally I would be his safe place. His haven. The one he came home to. I'd been alone so long...and it was finally the perfect form of freedom, to have him there with me.
From the time I was a small child, my life has shown me that love was possible, but that it often hurt, was messy, unclear, perhaps even broken. With apologies to my mother and grandmother, who raised me, and my father and stepmother who were always in the background and who have helped quite a bit over the last eight years or so, I have never ever felt trust inside love. John WAS that for me...he was annoying and difficult and I never truly believed he loved me more than diving and trampoline. He was disorganized and always insisted he was ultra organized. When I thought of making love with someone OTHER than him, it hurt things inside of me that I couldn't name, that I hadn't known existed. Every time we made love after we had kids, we asked each other why we didn't do that more often, as we were so good at it...
If I could crumble my heart and soul like fish food into an aquarium, I would...I know I need to start over. I know I will hold onto him, no matter where I go from here. I know that I have the strength to do this. I don't care about any of that right now. I care about our story. I want it to live forever. I want our love to live on...so I am extra glad for our kids. But I need to remember that they are very young. And that in order for them to truly live it and embrace it as part of who they are and how they came to be, I carry a great responsibility. I have to tell the stories, I have to keep his heart in mine still beating in that special way that it only beat for me. I have to bite my tongue, find a way through this hell. I will NOT let go of him, damnit! I will move on, but he will always be loved, remembered, and honored in my house. He is a huge part of me, my love, my hope, my belief, my everything. No matter what comes next that will never change.
I love you, years ago, while you were dying, now, and forever, John. I do. I do. and I would again, a thousand times, knowing all that was to come.