Last Friday A asked if I ever really loved The Genius. He read HGM and was left feeling that I never did. Or he wondered if I ever did. So, while I deal with dictatorial texts from said Genius, I will simultaneously attempt to tell you the tale of our love affair. An IV of Malbec might be required.
I met The Genius the month before I turned 30 at a live music venue. I was there to support a fundraiser for victims of a really awful fire and to hear some of my favorite local bands. At that time in my life I wasn’t looking for a man, or a mate, and I certainly wasn’t looking for a husband. I wasn’t itching to plan a reception, buy a white dress or get pregnant. The whole Disney fairytale never appealed to me. I was completely content with my single status and didn’t feel ‘less than’ as my friends got married. I was killing it in my career, casually dating a handful of guys that were completely cool with my independent nature, and basically having the time of my life as I closed in on my 30th birthday. Not unlike many women in this day and age.
Then I felt a hand close around my elbow and someone say in my left ear, “It’s cool that you come out to listen to music alone.” My elbow went haywire and a blast of energy radiated from that joint through the rest of my body. I kid you not. I turned and looked into gentle brown eyes on a face that immediately struck me as a dead ringer for Antonio Banderas. Not my type. (I love Flea. He’s the antithesis of Antonio Banderas. If I had to pinpoint my type I’d say ‘light’. Light eyes, light hair, light personality, and perhaps a little wild.) But the vibration that coursed through my body was impossible to ignore. I perked up big time.
We spent about 20 minutes together talking before he departed that evening on a two week trip. When he left he squeezed my elbow again and said, “I’d love to see you when I get back.” I think I replied. I might have just nodded and smiled and tried to not twitch noticeably.
I could feel his hand on my elbow the entire time he was away.
We met at my place two weeks later. I lived in a one bedroom apartment with a long hallway that led to the kitchen first and then the living room. We made it to the kitchen before I turned to him and we fell into an embrace against the wall. It took me by surprise. It was a full-body hug that lasted for minutes, complete with deep breaths until we squeezed so hard we pressed all the air out. I lost the sense of where I left off and he began. The fit was perfect. (Full disclosure: I noticed his small-ish belly and thought, I wonder if he works out? Nah. He’s a musician and not in a boy band. Probably not a gym rat.) Honestly, it was a little overwhelming. Actually the entire night was a little overwhelming. We spent the evening talking. For six hours. The ease, the flow, the thought-provoking topics, the laughter – it all led to a feeling of familiarity that was just shy of unnerving. As evidenced by his abrupt departure.
“I have to go.” It was said nearly mid-sentence.
“Okay.” I hopped up from the floor where I was sitting and gathered his Kurt Cobain-esque cardigan. I walked him down the long hallway and stood at the open door, sweater in hand. We hugged again. And again it lasted for years. When I closed the door I thought, ‘I’ll either never see him again or I’ll spend the rest of my days with him.’ (He later said that he had to leave because he felt flustered by the whole evening. He needed fresh air.)
Over the next 10 weeks we both traveled for work and squeezed in about five encounters. The first time I saw him after our date at my apartment was in Los Angeles. I was there for a few days of leisure before heading to Hawaii to collect a really big award for work (I stood on a stage and everything, and I brought my Mom as my date!), and he was there on business. I met him at the Sunset Marquis, in the bar.
When I found him amidst a gaggle of friends and locked eyes, I couldn’t have spit out a complete sentence if you had told me that we’d live happily ever after if I did. I truly was wordless. I smiled, ordered a cocktail and tried not to sweat through my dress. We held hands while I sat on the edge of an ottoman and watched a woman’s mouth move. I don’t recall a single word she said to us. My insides were going all Carnival. I would have believed you if you told me that noise makers, beads and streamers were flowing from my every orifice. A float even.
This connection of ours was primal. Two people who were not looking for love were slammed up against the wall by it and went along for the ride willingly. We spent our time together talking, listening to music, talking, cooking, playing pool and talking. It will sound cliché, but we felt like a long-time married couple out of the gate. We settled into what felt like how our life-long relationship would play out almost immediately. There was no ‘get to know you’ stage. If reincarnation exists, and I believe it does until someone proves different, The Genius and I decided to get back together for an encore on the blue marble.
At the end of a 10 week courtship we were engaged. We had ZERO doubts about our union. It was all in. From my position, I was committing for life. I knew it was a short courtship. I knew we were taking a risk. But neither of us was willing to wait. We weren’t marrying because we envisioned that we’d be married by this time, or that we thought we should be parents by now, or because all our friends were married, or because we didn’t want to be alone anymore, or because we needed a partner to feel complete.
We got engaged and married because our love was so potent and absolute and full body that marrying was the only option. It was our love that brought us to that alter. Not some hormonally-driven, co-dependent craziness. It was calm, deep, rich comforting love that had me walk down an aisle to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons played on a harp. (Remind me to tell you about how hilarious my nipples were. That’s for another post.)
We were inseparable, when we could be together. And for a long stretch, about 2 years, we both worked from home, with only occasional travel for him. We were together 24/7 and really jelled. We would stay up until just before sunrise on the weekends, singing and talking.
People routinely marveled at our connection. And I’m not using the word ‘marveled’ loosely. Those we knew and those we didn’t. They could see the love we shared, and the closeness. I loved the way he put his hand on my lower back to guide me out of a room. The way we went to sleep, completely tangled up in each other. Our shared love of music, sports, food, wine, and interesting conversations.
When we kissed our faces melted into one. We called it ‘face skating’. We kissed with our whole head, like cats. Nose to nose, cheek to chin, forehead to jaw, cheek to cheek, to mouths. And we did that for hours. We must have looked ridiculous. And beautiful.
I loved our late night calls when he was on the other side of the world, and the feeling of accomplishment that we were pulling it off. We were going to be able to remain close even though far apart, and focus on our careers so that we could work towards not being apart anymore. We were building our future and, to me, it was a given that we were in it for life. No matter what came our way, we were committed to going the distance. We were paying our dues and would cash out large in the end.
And then it all started to fall apart. A few months after we returned from our honeymoon his father walked out on his mother (this after she told me that they were so happy together and had date night every Friday, candles lit, blah, blah, blah) and disappeared for 2 years or so. A few months later she tried to “kill” herself with, like, some aspirin or something. I was 20 feet from David Bowie who was playing an obscenely small venue when The Genius’ pager (yes, kittens this was the 90s) went off. 911. Mom is at the hospital. OD. Then he went on the road for months and left me with The Mother Genius. I think my shoulder is still wet from all the tears she unloaded on it.
Later that year he cheated on me with The Shamrock, some girl he met in a bar in Dublin. He said they had a ‘connection’. Yea, and you had a wife. And then his sister got divorced. There was also talk of a 2 year old half-sibling…by the time that came about I was too freaked out by his family to even inquire.
But I loved him. We were going to get through all that crap. Even the dalliance with The Shamrock. (He denied it. And finally admitted to it one night when he was a tad hammered.) I told him I would leave him if he ever cheated on me again, but I wasn’t going to bail on him because of The Shamrock. I figured maybe he needed some time to grow up. This all moved so fast, maybe he just needed to settle his hormones down. And the stresses from all the family upheaval would settle down, God willing. We would pull out of the fishtail and get back on track. I was so wrong, but that’s what I thought at the time.
A, I loved that man with every part of my being. I wouldn’t have stayed as long as I did if my love for him wasn’t so deep. If our relationship was a full pint of Guinness, an ounce of love evaporated every year, for 16 years, until that pint glass sat dry and stained on the night of The Pocket Call. It’s last ounce vaporized when I heard the clicking of high heels.
And 3 minutes and 50 seconds later the glass shattered. My heart hasn’t stopped bleeding.
Maybe that’s what you feel in my words when you look for some evidence of love. It’s gone, and I have a hard time accessing how it felt when it was there because it was so huge. I’m afraid I’ll remember exactly what it felt like and be overwhelmed by sadness at the loss of a love that was so beautiful, and so very important to me.
A, this was the first time I have written about my love for The Genius and it’s breaking me into pieces. Thank you for giving me the push I needed to acknowledge the love I had for for him and to appreciate the good times we had together. Don’t worry, I know how to put myself back together again.