Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eighteen Years on the 18th

18 yrs ago--with a weird shadow behind our heads.

For a while, I called him my Chicago Guy. Technically, though, he's my New Jersey Guy. Born and bred, baptized by Springsteen. But he has the heart and soul of Chicago. He has its big shoulders, beautiful parks,  the cool and calm of its great lake and the tenderness of Lincoln Park's polar bears (oh, but how they roar). He does not have any of its corruption.

Twenty-one years ago I got to know him in Chicago. For nearly a year, back and forth, Logan to O'Hare, O'Hare to Logan. Our life together began along that corridor and from there extended itself far and wide. It is from Chicago and its surrounding Midwest areas, where he traveled, that his twenty-five year old self wrote long rambling letters in which he noted on "unused pieces of legal stationary about to be fulfilled..." things like this:

"As I put pen to this paper I'm driving I-94 to Detroit--literally. My current problem would seem to be navigational by nature as it's damn difficult to hold a Mitsubishi on the road while steering with your knees. Just imagine how Captain Kirk would have felt if every time he launched into 'Captain's Log stardate 9312.23...' he had to worry about the Klingon hanging out in the breakdown lane. In fact, now that I think about it, that's probably just about the only reason they had that scrawny little Chekov guy on the show--so he could steer while Kirk stardated up a storm."

Romantic, eh?

Not to mention, a bit... reckless?

(It would seem that writing while driving is not a modern phenomenon. Texting, at least, condenses the correspondence. Not that I condone it!)

Today, we've been married eighteen years. Before I met Michael marriage was something I avoided with all the criminal ingenuity I could sum. I would sabotage advances and plot escapes. I was a cat burglar--slipping in and out of hearts, taking what I needed and hightailing out of the affair, almost, almost, unnoticed--until my husband walked me down that straight but not too narrow path. Much like one of his favorite movies, The Quiet Manhe is Sean to my Mary Kate, balancing the downward force with the upward. He first appeared in my life when things were a little shaky, we went for a long walk along the Charles and he took me by the hand, a blade of grass in his mouth, and said, Slow down, you will get there.

I've never written about my husband, and probably won't again. He's a quiet and very private person, and probably wouldn't like it if I said much. Eighteen years is a long time. It's a long time of this and that and give and take and figuring it out together. I'm grateful for his Sean to my Mary Kate.

So, in lieu of telling more, I offer this gem of a video, a gift of love and literature to all: Litany (click for text), by another kind of thief, Billy Collins, who can ply more words from a literary device than I can from my husband:


So, did I get there? I don't know. But I feel like I know where I'm going. And I've learned to slow down. A little.

I wouldn't at all mind going back to Chicago. Soon. With my husband.
(And if you think this entry is a ploy to get him to read my blog, you are correct.)

61 comments:

  1. Happy Aniversary. You both wear it well. Jersey guy-Chicago guy. He is a good guy and that goes a long way. See you at the 50th. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are still the bread and the knive...still lol

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happy Anniversary, Jayne and your husband. My husband and I are both from the Chicago area and I loved the phrase "he does not have any of it's corruption". I like to think we got the good things from being Midwestern but without the bad things mixed in.

    I find the fact your husband was so devoted to writing to you, he even did so while driving. I marvel at the fact that is even possible. I find an enormous amount of humor is his letter and think it is amazing you kept track of it for 18 years. I don't have any of my old letters. (a shame really)

    I wish for you many, many more years together. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd have fallen for a fella who wrote like that. In a heartbeat.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good on you. It's just the beginning of the sleigh ride. We have 35. That either tells you how young I was or how old I am.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are the cushion on my chair and the chair near my desk, you are the paper on my desk, you are the pen on the paper, and the glasses on my nose . . . so why can't I sit here and write like you, lol! Happy Anniversary!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Duke- He is good guy, all right. 50th? You mean as in age, right? Not, as in reunion. :~/

    Actually, I think I'm the pigeon on the general's head. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cheryl - Thank you, and you got the good things, definitely!

    The letter from my husband was a four page, double-side rambler written during four days of travel, and complete with a poem and song lyrics. No kidding. Travel will do that to you, I guess. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nance- Have to admit, the writing, of which there was plenty, won my heart.
    Those Creative Writing majors do know how to woo. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ellen- Ha! As long as the bells are still ringing I'm on for the ride. Oh, that doesn't sound good. Well, what can I say, I want bells! I do! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Linda- Sheesh, no wonder I am so worn and tired.

    Well, I may be the cushion on your chair and the chair near your desk, and the paper on your desk, as well as the pen on the paper, and the glasses on your nose, but I am most definitely not the fingers on your keyboard. I am barely the fingers on my keyboard. No, no, no, that is a slow, arthritic process and you don't want my fingers near your keyboard. You my dear, are the fingers on the keyboard. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hah! I had no idea you had a husband! 18 years, that's a good start. We just celebrated our 30th.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Happy Anniversary. Such a sweet and happy picture of the two of you. And you wrote real letters on real paper! And I know you wrote them beautifully because you write everything beautifully, and it turns out, he's quite gifted in the word department. too?! What a lovely box of letters you must have. Congratulations on 18 years!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Happy Anniversary and many, many more.

    How romantic.

    I've been on that stretch of I-94 many times.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh, how lovely and romantic. Happy Anniversary for yesterday! What a writer your husband is... can he start a blog too? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dale- 30! Congratulations to you and yours!

    Yes, a husband... I've made reference to him in some of my posts, but I thought--given this occasion--it was time to more formally introduce him. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Seré- Thank you! I have letters dating back to when I could first write. I hadn't looked at those letter-filled boxes in a looong time, but I needed to go to them to remind myself of who we were back then. (Maybe that's why I've saved all my letters.)

    The rest of my husband's letter is even funnier that what I quoted, but too lengthy to print. I remember waiting with great anticipation for the letters to be delivered to the Boston building in which I lived--I never knew exactly what to expect, but knew they'd be humorous and looong! :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Loree- I hope you weren't on the same stretch of I-94 as my husband was when he wrote that letter. If you remember seeing a beat-up little, white Mitsubishi swerving across the highway, it was probably him! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Bth- Ha! I love that idea--even asked him once if he was interested in blogging, but he can't fit it in. He has written, though, for certain trade magazines. And he's working on a longer term project right now. Maybe some day it will show up on the grid.

    Thanks for your wishes! :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Happy Aniversary to you both. Writing whilst driving...nice.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Happy Anniversary! You sound like a lucky woman, my guess is that your husband is a lucky man. And the picture of you two dancing is priceless.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Dicky- I know, huh? Do not recommend this to anyone. I suggest a digital recording device for road-trip-stream-of-consciousness memos. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Happy Anniversary, just a day late. It is a milestone. Your circumspect, privacy-respecting writing of him tells us some of the story, yours and his. And what a fine poem for a Monday morning, laughing is the best start to a day...so now I go and look at more of Billy Collins' work - his name always on the 'best sellers' list of poetry. I hope it was a wonderful day for you both.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Angela- Thank you. :)
    That picture was taken by one of our guests with one of those single-use Kodak cameras. It's obviously not high quality and, even though we did have a professional photographer at the wedding, it's one of my favorite photos from that day.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a sweet love-letter of a blog post. If the two of you talk anything like you obviously both write, it's gotta be difficult for others in the room to summon up even the slightest interest in interrupting!

    And I completely understand the spousal privacy thing. You've done much better than most of us. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Marylinn- It was a wonderful and beautiful fall-like day here in New England--reminiscent of when we were married, though our weekend days have a different purpose now. Instead of rummaging through finds at antique shops, we are schlepping ourselves to soccer fields and cross country trails. No time for antiquing anymore. (Which is just as well--no place to store the trinkets.)

    Thank you for your kind wishes. Love that Billy Collins. ;~)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Danger- Especially since we no longer have to hire a sitter! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  28. JES- Well you know what they say about writers vs. conversationalists... I sometimes feel like, at least since I've been writing--really writing--my conversation skills have atrophied! Why is that? Living inside my head more, perhaps. Hmm...

    ReplyDelete
  29. Actually, that is a very romantic letter, but I am biased.

    Happy Anniversary, Jayne and Jersey boy.;)

    ReplyDelete
  30. No wonder you locked onto him with your tractor beam. He's a funny funny guy. I just hope he didn't drag you kicking and screaming through an Irish village:) Ah, and it's nice to hear someone with a more poetic voice than mine talk about my transplanted city. It's going to be pretty here for a little while longer. But I can feel that winter shell creeping up quick...

    ReplyDelete
  31. Of course I have no way of knowing, but I refuse to believe that you and The Mister are or have ever been awkward conversationalists. WHILE writing, well, perhaps. But BECAUSE of writing? No way.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Happy Anniversary! Eighteen years is amazing!
    Jayne, you made me smile with your careful mention of your husband Michael and his sage advice to you. I imagine his quiet strength is a balm of balance for you. I wish you many more wonderful years together.
    I got a good laugh from Billy Collins;) Thank you for that!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Awww sweet jayne (a la velvet underground), congrats to both of you in holding all together. Great piece.
    Those shadows you know are probably ghosts...not to scare you or nothing.Heehee :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. When I was young I remember telling Marge Doughan that I wanted to marry a woman just like Mary Kate in The Quiet Man. Really, I'm not kidding. I never told you that but somehow you just figured it out for yourself.
    Is that fate? I'm not sure. Whatever it is I'm lucky to be the Sean to your Mary Kate. You balance me, pulling me into your orbit, letting me know that its ok to just be.
    However, I do have to point out that Mary Kate always had dinner waiting for Sean. And that Sean was allowed to go bar hopping with his buddies. And he did have a cool horse. And, now that I think about it, Mary Kate always agreed with Sean too...whether he was right or wrong.
    Oh well, we have many years ahead to make these small adjustments my dear Mary Kate. Just remember that I love you and that, for me, you will always be the pigeon on the General's head.

    ReplyDelete
  35. happy anniversary!

    i guess 18 years ago you were frolicking every night.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Happy (late) Anniversary, Jayne! Eighteen years, that's something to brag about...
    I loved that little letter he wrote. Typical man, risking life, limb and Mitsubishi just to reach out to his lover. awwww, romantic (and seriously dangerous...)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Antares- As romantic as it gets, eh?!
    Thanks for the wishes. :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Beer- No, no dragging, I went through the village willingly!

    And I see your transplanted city's poetry in every hot dog you consume, in every beer you throw back, and especially, in the ninja fights. ;)

    Button up!

    ReplyDelete
  39. JES- So there you have it! The Mister, the Husband, has spoken! (My ploy worked. Wow, wow, wow!) Ok, all right, well things can get a little interesting. ;D

    I'm charging forward to answer that Husband comment! Dang I wish Blogger had a thread like yours, it would be so much easier to keep track of things!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Leah- Balance is the word! Which would sort of imply that I may be unbalanced, now wouldn't it?

    Oh well. ;~) Thank goodness for stabilizing forces.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Dan! Ha! Ghosts--yes, never know where they lurk. Certainly, they are never too far away. And I love, love(d) The Velvet Underground. Who wouldn't?!

    Thanks, Dan. :-D

    ReplyDelete
  42. Husband- Wha?? Are you kidding?...

    Haha… If it weren’t for the mention of Marge I might have written this comment off as spam, for my husband surely knows that Mary Kate is sensible and smart as a whip (even when she wields clichés) and would never allow herself to fall into a traditional hole, er, role. Besides, and surprisingly, her husband likes to cook.

    Now, if I asked ‘ole Marge, would she tell me that Husband may also have had an interest in a little dowry? Oh Dear, I’m afraid the only estate you obtained with me is held in fee simple and split right down the middle. (But what’s in the parlour belongs to me! said Mary Kate.)

    And Husband is allowed to go bar hopping with his buddies every once in a great while, however cool horses do not come with four doors so he may have to wait until the cart is much lighter. Doesn't that sound agreeable?

    Which General?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Billy- Oh heck, we're still frolicking every night. Well, Friday is like every night isn't it?

    Hmm... maybe I should get Husband to clarify that.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Nessa- Crazy man, huh? Thank goodness age brings wisdom. Though the kids still remind him that he has to wear a seat belt.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Happy Anniversary Jayne!
    That amusing poem has me envisioning what my husband is and is not.
    I once started a list, "Let Me Count the Ways I Love You..."
    Meant to be a bit silly, it's open-ended so I can add things to it as the years go by.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Leonora- That is a lovely idea--and it fits in so well with the daily thoughts and blessings that you print on your blog. I'd love to see your Virginian version of the Collins poem or Barrett-Browning's. I'm sure, at the very least, that you husband will! :~)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Happy Anniversary! I wish you a lifetime of wonderful years together.

    ReplyDelete
  48. 18 years..now THAT is something to celebrate. Congratulations. And an additional congrats on finding a literate man who can make you laugh even when he's far away breaking multiple state traffic laws. You made the right choice.

    ReplyDelete
  49. "slipping in and out of hearts,"

    Always seems to be that one guy. Congrats on the 18 years. And I most certainly hope your husband reads this. How beautiful you both look.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Kimberly- Ha! It's hard to say No to a rebel writer. I like 'em dangerous. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  51. MJH- Thanks! He did read it. Even got a comment from him (Husband) in the thread! Now that's unusual for the quiet man. He does know when to come out of hiding... :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'm a little late to the party, but am still raising my coffee cup in a Happy Anniversary toast to you both ... Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. Kathleen- Thank you, kindly. :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. Joanne- It's never too late to come to the party. Clink, clink.

    Nice to see you! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  55. Congratulations. That was some love letter he wrote you - at least it strayed from the normal gushy stuff. ;-) Eighteen years is wonderful, and I hope your guy takes you to Chicago soon.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Hillary- Yes, the hubby has a way with words, doesn't he?

    Thanks for the wishes. I think he won't have any choice but to get me back to Chicago and but soon. We have family out there, too, so... no excuses! ;~)

    ReplyDelete