my partner (left, below) and i have been together for 30 years today.
i can clearly recall the first time i saw you; standing against the wall at the bushes on halsted in your suit, tie undone, its knot playing peek-a-boo with a thatch of dark chest hair. that smile you gave me. then standing between my outstretched legs, did we kiss?
a week later, our first date, seated at the wooden picnic table at the back of halsted street fish market (so much of our lives in chicago took place on halsted they should name it after us — and you and you and you and you, you know who you are–and of course, the ghosts that haunt any love story that started in 1982), my friend joyce, the owner’s wife, sitting with us, her little girl rasp and giggle smoothing over any awkwardness there might have been.
but there wasn’t much, was there? we fell together and in love quite naturally, an “as if it were meant to be” moment if ever there were one. i laugh now at how you received a full body immersion with my friends; ralph and the french deaf theater group just a couple of weeks later — taking over your apartment as you and i discovered just how small my little attic hideaway really was. but it didn’t matter, did it?
i believe we kissed. a lot. (there’s more, of course, but this isn’t that kind of story.) and we may have kissed some more, and held each other, and smoked a cigarette or two (or a pack, who remembers?) we drank wine, beer, cocktails–you a scotch, me a tequila gimlet — there were times when even that seemed unnecessary, the joy of being with each other a completely lovely high all its own.
you taught me about the ‘do-nothing’ vacation, which i took as my birthright, and who knew getting naked on a beach could be so much fun? (what? you’ve never? darling, trust me, you absolutely must do it at least once, somewhere where you can go swimming in warm clear blue water, with white sand, a palm tree leaning from the tradewinds, it is to die for.) but had it not been for you i may have never had that experience.
we bought a house. that golden brick bungalow just north of pratt blvd. and i would walk to the touhy station to take the train downtown in the winter, and it never got tiresome, although i do think that summer’s were worse, that walk a sweat factory, suit, dress shirt soaked through, but i loved our home and our yard, and nicky in his kiddie pool playing with the water squirting out of the hose, and the clematis; oh god, do you remember that strip of earth between the sidewalk and our neighbor’s driveway that we planted with a gazillion bulbs and seasonal perennials that made it the most beautiful one foot wide strip of earth you’d ever seen. crocus, tulips, daisies, asters, and mums. iris, roses, and the vegetable garden, such bounty. just like our love.
our careers took off, you got into the art biz; we had an opportunity to live in paradise–your family came to visit and all of the wonderful friends we made there…and speaking of friends, have we not been lucky? all these years later and we still have so many: cheryl & sophia, bill & ralph, rosie and sister arlene, lenny, barbara, and joe, vicki, patricia & corey, sally and our dear charlotte, charlie & jerry; oh i know i’ll forget someone, so i better stop by saying we love you all, thank you for being a part of our life.
and now, we find ourselves here, warm and dry, loved by billy and joey; each of us with a lot less hair and a few more pounds, but here, together, and that counts for something, doesn’t it? i know it’s not always easy, but we always hang in there, find a way to make it all work.
thirty years. ain’t it grand?