Marriage in the Middle of the Night.
These middle of the night concatenations are brought on by The Mister's earlier inspired blending of eggnog (soy) and rum (definitely not soy), freckled with grated nutmeg.
We indulged in a few hefty glasses of the traditional holiday grog. It's how I deal with Christmas, but that's another story. The Mister becomes hilariously drunk after a few sips.
Most evenings pre-and post-holidays are spent in productive pursuit of our muses. The Mister's day job makes his free time more precious and when I am less involved in the song writing after the lyrics are done I leave him to the Back Room where he immerses himself in the music, the vocals and finally recording the song in our home studio before posting it on myspace.
I don't have a day job. In fact, I don't have a job. But that's anther story.
Tonight we settled in with our escape tools: the eggnog, stripey-patterned Mexican blankets to snuggle under, which we picked up at a Sante Fe flea market on a trip out west and a dvd. The dvd choice was the Cohen's Burn After Reading. We are both big fans of these filmmakers but disagreed on this one. Bickering ensued throughout. Well, I bicker singlehandedly; he opts as he nearly always does for calm overview, looking for the best parts of the film. I say, she (Frances McDormand) is not right for the role this time and posit unfounded suspicion that there must be trouble in the marriage. The Mister charges me with always looking for the negatives: the "glass half full" theory. I retort that the glass is half full and then go on to complain that Brad Pitt's character was killed off too early in the film. Searching for a positive to counter his rolling eyeball I add: "George Clooney, dreamy as ever though." Of course The Mister, even with a snootful of eggnog, is dreamier still.
We decide on the film for the following evening, being on a mission of denial at the holidays: The Italian Job. He launches into a deadly accurate mimic of Michael Caine and a sly reference to how I trip life's wires: "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off," which pitches me into hysterical laughter. Before turning in, The Mister pops a few charcoal capsules to head off the morning hangover. The moon is full—very full, an amber disc lit from within—and he knows there is no chance of me crawling in beside him before 3 A.M. He leaves me with: "My eye is twitching. I see stars, bright lights." IDS (imminent death syndrome) is predicted and I ask if his insurance is still in place.
So, here I am at my desk in the middle of the night, gazing out the window behind my laptop and wondering about this thing called marriage. Our adored black cat, Sidney Vicious, curls up next to my desk on his chair, prepared to stick it out with his fellow Leo until I call it a night and he follows me to bed; to his pillow beween me and The Mister. A Metro North train blasts a melancholy hoot beyond the silhouetted onion tops of the Russian church. Light traffic below swishes past and I imagine I can hear the ocean waves at Montauk in the soft, shushed retreat. We'll be there for the New Year—our reward for getting through this season.
We have weathered nearly twenty years together, The Mister and me. Not all of it calm. In fact, it's been a bit like the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio Four: very rough at first, often becoming cyclonic. Occasionally moderate or good, sometimes squally, though the gale force of our coupling seems to have died down considerably if not entirely ceased. Fair skies cover our relationship more often than not these days.
We met in Paris, France through friends. He was a bass player then and had been on tour with his band outside of Paris before detouring to the city to see his friends. I was visiting my own friends who had a slender connection to his. It's another story, for sure, but we hit it off immediately (he got my sense of humor), did what couples are expected to do in the love-struck City of Light, impressed and aggravated individual friends and after a few days and nights, with a great sigh of relief I bid him safe journey back to London. I say relief because then I was a footloose painter who had come to Paris intent on finding a way to stay and paint in the south of France and unwilling to commit to anything more than hot and heavy and most importantly, casual sex. One failed marriage had been enough for me and I swore never to cross that line again.
Cut to the present nearly, as I said, twenty years on the other side of that line. The Mister's dogged determination pitched us dazedly in front of a clerk at City Hall in lower Manhattan less than a year after we met and most of that time had been spent apart. Two weeks after that he returned to London and his band for some months.
But we are still here, I mull, as I search the darkened buildings for signs of life on the block. A pumpkin-colored glow snaps on in a window across the road when the cacophonous exit from the bar on the corner giddily shatters the silence until the shrieks of laughter from the young women and bawdy bellowing from the men disappear as quickly as it arrives and the night becomes silent again.
We met. We married. There has been much shrieking and bellowing over the years, mostly (okay, okay, all of it) from me. But there's laughter too. He came to the marriage with the tightly folded contents of his proper English baggage. Straight off I tore into the disheveled, bruised mess in my battered baggage with seemingly no compunctions while he furtively, over time, rooted out the less savory and more rumpled bits of his family history. We duked it out until we exhausted that method and slipped into the only alternative left for two people in love: We found a way to make it work.
He often leaves me love notes; makes me a cup of green tea before he leaves for the day job. We squabble in the song writing process, where the squabbling makes sense in the end. Even when I start us out on a darker note, he always manages to bring it around to a love song. I can still be a pain in the ass but have channeled my nervous creative energy into writing a novel which will be posted in successive chapters in the New Year. He indulges my refusal to return to the corporate world where I never fit in and exhausted myself from the effort of not trying. He encourages me to pursue the writing. We aren't rich financially—far from it—as two people living on a single moderate income is a challenge these days. But we have circled the wagons, hunkered down to our creative path and find we are much richer than we have ever been.
My eye catches a note The Mister has left for me. As long as these notes keep appearing and until I uncover two plane tickets to Zürich, a reservation at a spa called Dignitas and discover only one of the plane tickets is round trip, then I think we're doing just fine.