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4:42 p.m. - 2013-12-18
It was 30 years ago today...

Whenever I see upper management types at Shoprite they are absurdly generic. As if they'd been ordered from a catalog, 'Managers R Us', perhaps. White guys in khakis, corporate-logo polo shirts and windbreakers. Receding of hairline, pudgy of middle, their name badges always say, 'Steve' or 'Rob' or 'Doug'. Not a pierced ear or brown skin or set of ovaries among them. One glance and you know they're married to a chick named 'Cheryl' or 'Katie' and the couch in the living room of their townhouse is beige and came in a set with a matching loveseat and ottoman. Their kids, Tyler and Emma, go to pre-school at the local Presbyterian church. In the late evening after the kids are asleep and the wife is safely engaged with season four of 'Dexter' and the latest Pottery Barn flyer he sneaks off with his laptop to spend a little quality time at 'Coeds in White Panties' before locking himself in the downstairs powder room to rub one out.

And yet...whoever is choosing the music at my Shoprite is a badass. A pirate. Today it was The Smiths and on my previous visit I pushed my cart along the aisles to The Clash. I've sorted canned beans to Nirvana's 'Heart Shaped Box' and picked pasta to Jimmy Eat World's 'Dizzy'. Sometimes it's a retro mix of Motown and everyone over 30 is singing along. The tunes at my Shoprite are amazing. Everything from swing through to today's most current alt-rock favorites. (One time Wolf and I busted out an enthusiastic jitterbug shimmy in the produce dept to Benny Goodman's 'Sing Sing Sing!' and Mick and I regularly do the smoochie and the tango on our Friday night food shopping dates. Alex and I used to dance at Shoprite too, but that's probably on his 'Mom's crimes against humanity' list. Dancing! At the grocery store! The horror! The shame!)

Anyhoodle. The excellent music is just one more reason to love doing the food shopping.

Snow lies deep already. Tonight I watched a doe pick her way across the drifts hock-deep against Mick's garage. There's more snow due to start in a few hours. Wolf's school trip into the city to see the tree in Rockefeller Plaza most-likely postponed until Thursday. Mick went to bed tonight convinced there'll be another snow day. Me? I'm neither here nor there about it. All I know is the Escort had a bitch-kitty of a time getting back up our steep and curved driveway and that I don't own a decent pair of gloves. Or any gloves for that matter. My one pair of skimpy 'magic' stretch gloves having disappeared during the warm months. Never liked them anyway. They weren't warm and with my big man hands the stretch only went so far and my fingers curled in on themselves unless I forced them to straighten out.

The above was started on Monday then put aside for a crisis- feline or existential, I disremember which. Anyway, it's now Wednesday Dec 18th. What would have been the ex's and mine 30th anniversary. Astonishing. How old am I anyhow? Thinking on the day it doesn't sting or bite or make me gnash my teeth with fretty regret. We were kids, we got hitched, had a kid the following January. (I used to be pleased by the 13 month lag time between wedding and birth dates, this was no shotgun marriage...we'd been that stupid all on our own. YAY!) Even if we hadn't been so horribly, even cosmically ill-suited for one another I don't think we'd have gone on together for 30 years. The odds aren't good when the bride is barely out of her teens and the groom only needs to shave twice a week. We were so goddamn young. Add to it that I was a scarred mess of bravado, denial, and a yawning chasm of need who was desperate to know what love and kindness were like and he was an Asperger's poster child, hoo boy. An Aspie who'd been reared in a whole pack of them. All of them unrepentantly anti-social. All of them clueless, mean, and weird, Mike and his clan had made a fetish of their outsider-ness. The more offbeat they were, the more they could stymie and frustrate others, the less they cooperated with life outside of the family the more they liked it. And themselves. Proud. Delighted when they made someone cry. Pleased as punch to make someone squirm or get angry. And dopy me walked right into this snake's nest and tried to be part of it. We might have been able to pick a worse match, but only if one us had been a cannibal. I'm not laying this entirely at Mike's feet. I was too badly broken and beaten back then to have been much use to anyone, least of all myself. I just didn't know it. Walked out of my mother's house and jauntily assured myself that I was all better now. Getting free was all I needed. Right.

So. Thirty years ago two very, very young people in jeans stood before a judge and got married. That night they went to Sizzler steakhouse for their 'fancy' wedding dinner. The bride left the restaurant with two steak knives in her purse (at that time the happy couple only owned three forks and a bowie knife, they stole the knives because married people should own silverware) and they went home to their teeny apartment in a converted garden shed and proudly put their new cutlery in the drawer next to their forks. There was no honeymoon.

Twenty six years later a middle-aged couple wearing jeans stood before a judge and got married. That night they went to Outback steakhouse for their 'fancy' wedding dinner. No knives were stolen. They went home to their little grandma house which already had many fine things including silverware. The groom hugged his stepson and his bride, proud and delighted with this new family. There was no honeymoon.

I am nothing if not consistent, at least about denim weddings and steak dinners. Though I have given up larceny.

What I never gave up on was the dream of being happy. Of feeling safe and appreciated and loved. Mike, obviously, was not the guy who'd give me those things, but I was no prize basket of fun for him either. We tried. For a long time. Too long, probably. But when it was done we moved on and finally each found mates much better suited. He's happy. I'm happy. I cannot regret or be angry if that's what it took to get here.

30 years is a really long time ago. In 1983 Reagan was still on his first term in the White House. AIDS had yet to be identified (though the plague was beginning to spread). MTV still had VJs and played music videos 24/7. The Soviet Union was still intact and the Big Bad on the international scene. A gallon of gas was $1.34. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Leg warmers. 1983 was Cabbage Patch dolls. The Police and Dexy's Midnight Runners. M*A*S*H was still on the air. As was 'The Dukes of Hazzard'. And 'Magnum PI'. Motorola sold the first mobile phones. 1983 was before CDs, DVDs, PCs, and the internet. Shoot, 1983 was before ABS or Run-D.M.C. Maggie Thatcher came to power and with Reagan ushered in the era of 'compassionate conservatism'. (HA! You can see where that's gotten us.) In 1983 you wore a Swatch while playing Atari. And it was in that futuristic yet now laughably antique time that Mike and I got married.

A really, really, really long time ago.

I sometimes wish that the Now LA could go back. Go back and put the hard word on Then LA. Advise her to get some help and work off her pain so much earlier. To not waste time begging for validation from those who cannot/will not give it and simply do a kindness to herself. That she acknowledge the horrors done to her and admit it's okay to hurt and grieve and howl at the unfairness of growing up without love. All the things I spent too long stuffing down, trying to ignore and refusing any mind space to, yet the burden of that deprivation and pain colored all of my decisions and left me weak and scared and exhausted. But if it hadn't played out exactly as it did I wouldn't have had Alex. I wouldn't have Wolf. I wouldn't have Mick.

Thinking like this can make you nuts. I don't wish my children unborn. They're here and I'm glad. Mick? How could there be no Mick in my life? The man I called for. Sometimes it feels like I magicked him up with my detailed list and my aching for a hero. Not perfect, but perfect for me.

Today on what would have been a milestone anniversary I acknowledge the day by being happy and grateful for being where I am now.

Mike, I'm not sorry and hope you're not either. It all worked out just fine.


Remembering the past and loving the now, ~LA



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