OPEN LETTER TO MY WIFE

Aquarian Weekly
6/12/24
 
Reality Check
 
OPEN LETTER TO MY WIFE
On the Occasion of our 25th Wedding Anniversary

I know you hate this.

My professing the joy of loving you in print is irresistible even in the face of your abhorrence. But to be fair, if after over a quarter-century of living with me and quite of few of these published missives (I lost count) on our seminal anniversaries, you should be used to it by now. I would say you should have already braced yourself, like I do when we enter a cat shelter and expect to leave with one. But for the sake of decorum and to alert readers of how much you are a painfully private person married to a pathetically loquacious public one, and someone who clearly has no problem using this space to express my ecstatic bliss and utter shock by our unbroken chain of civic monogamy, I decided it best to begin with this disclaimer.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the glaringly obvious: There should be a congratulatory citation for living with me. Maybe a trophy. At the very least a silver plaque (it is silver for 25, right?) with “For Outstanding Achievement in Dealing with a Lunatic” embossed on it. But, shit, words don’t matter. As much as I worship at the Literate Altar, they pale. There is zero chance I can capture what it has meant to be by your side these 25-plus years – counting the half-year of bunking and one trip around the sun in blissful if not harried engagement, and then the plunge on June 12, 1999 on the cusp of the millennium.

For those reading this space long enough and having endured these missives over the years, they know the tale of our nuptials, the poetry readings, song-singing, head-shaving madness. Married by a woman in a theater in Syracuse. That is how we rolled. Went west. Camped at the Grand Canyon, then cruised northwest to Joshua Tree and up the coast among the red woods into Big Sur. If I close my eyes right now, I am there. Try it. It’s cool. You and me, bald, grimy, and filled with wonder, sipping beer and gorging on left-over Indian food. Billiards with the barflies in North Beach. Coyotes. Giant flies. Tents. L.A. Solidarity. Arguably the best two weeks of my life.

Being with you, and now with our current triumvirate filled out by our daughter, who is a strange combination of us, has perhaps topped it. That girl. Sixteen. Wise ass. Funny. Creative. Way cooler by rights than should be allowed. She travels well. She likes to sleep like you and argue like me. Plus, she is a cat nut. That one is more on you than me, but we share it because we share the blood coursing through her veins – the crazy lust for life (mischief and revelry), and furious anger at all the other stuff – kind of blood. Music. Passion. Art. Feminism. Our Pagan Warrior. I am lucky to wake her up every day.

We did good, huh?

All those walks discussing our future, what we wanted to do, what we wanted to create. Your photography and painting and yoga, my writing and the other distractions. 

My main distraction, though, let’s face it, has always been you. 

I love being distracted by your beauty, your quiet grace and impenetrable strength. Your wit. Dark. Biting. Your smoldering calm and impassioned defiance of bullshit. I love being distracted by your voice when we sing together. Friday nights. Beer. Guitars. Songs. When we sing on stage, I am always distracted by sitting next to you, listening to your breath, your tone, your phrasing, your rumbling nerves, your unwavering courage. As I am distracted by wherever you are, right by me, in that place you should be, whether in a theater on Broadway, in the car traversing the miles, a beach in Mexico, a café in Paris, a pub in Dublin or London or Greenwich Village (okay, so we like bars), and lying next to you in our bed, no matter what country or city that bed might be in. We own it, you and me.

There is zero chance I can capture what it has meant to be by your side these 25-plus years

That is a nice distraction from the have-tos and sort-ofs and musts and everyday clamor that gets in the way of merely being in your presence.

Okay, so back to 25.

How the fuck did this happen? We were huddled in the Putnam Bunker – blessedly poor, hungry, confused, and hourly amorous, and then those glorious couple of years at Fort Vernon – alone, together, our embrace of independence, and then nearly two decades at the Clemens Estate. That was some fine distractions. Watching baseball. Hiking. Drinking. Dancing. Lounging. 

Fort Vernon is arguably my favorite two years. I mean, if I had to choose. Don’t make me choose. I cannot fathom a world before or after we met that doesn’t have our daughter in it. It’s like she’s always been here, but quietly waiting to invade the duo. She fits like a glove.

The girls. My family.

So damn intensely, supremely distracting.

Along the way we survived births and deaths, our growth as artists (you’re the artist, I’m a craftsman – writing is a craft, and art, well, we can go back to that argument about what art is) has been a fine journey. I write for you. I tell people this – interviewers, fellow scribes, friends and family, and it is true. Vonnegut wrote for his sister, Hemmingway for his first wife, Salinger for some kid he met on a beach, I write for you. I envision you reading my books and I hope you dig them, and when you don’t totally dig them or this column or any feature I crank out, you tell me, and I am better for it. 

And when you do like it, like those paragraphs in my first book, or something I wrote when Warren Zevon died, I am lifted. 

This is why merely holding your hand is a kind of resurrection for me. Strike that, “merely” connotes it is a banal gesture of intimacy, but for me it is a silent reminder of why in your presence, your distraction, I am invincible, and when you are not right here next to me, I can still feel it. It travels well, like our daughter. And it is also cooler than it has any right to be.

And so, happy anniversary to you and your incredible spirit and patience and vulgarity and resolve and humor and your force of feminine sexuality.

Take this as my gift.

Sorry it is not a trophy.

But I am sure a pub will do. 

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