Saturday, 9 p.m.
I get my wife back tomorrow. We’ve known each other 18 months, been married seven, apart the last two, but already we’ve chalked up two deaths, two scary illnesses, two transcontinental dislocations, four careers and five addresses. If my wife were here, I’m sure she would insist I add: There have been many good things, too.
I met my wife at the wedding of a good friend of mine and ex-boyfriend of hers. I had seen her perhaps twice before, several years ago, when she was not my wife but Miles’ girlfriend. I don’t remember thinking much back then other than that Miles sure had a swell girlfriend. But that Saturday afternoon, when a huckleberry Saab pulled up to a miniature golf course somewhere in western Illinois, the woman who emerged with cold beer was my wife. I figured Miles wouldn’t mind, his marrying somebody else and all. A few hours later I proposed: Becky, I wrote on the back of a business card, I will marry you at any time. It was a joke, but not really.
I proposed, really, just after Christmas, in the Brooklyn co-op I had bought for us (I had never owned property, or spent more than 72 consecutive hours with a woman, before). Becky sold her house in Chicago, quit her job selling real estate, and moved to New York. A couple of days later, her grandmother died. A couple of weeks after that, I was hit in the head with an oar and subsequently developed a form of aphasia in which I often cannot recall common words like “soft” and sometimes accidentally call tables “plateaus” and eyes “balloons.” Two weeks before our wedding, my father went in for a checkup and got a quadruple bypass instead. An hour before we left on our honeymoon, we were told that my Uncle Joe in Ireland had died suddenly. As luck would have it, that was where we were going on our honeymoon. The day after Uncle Joe’s funeral (I had promised Becky a raucous Irish wake, but everybody drank tea and wept quietly), I got a call from work: My boss had been fired. I decided to quit my job the moment I got back, then I decided to wait until I found another job, then I decided to quit via telegram right that second, and so on, for the remainder of our honeymoon.
(I’ve just read the above to my wife over the phone. “Jesus,” she said. “Write some nice things.”)
My post-honeymoon unemployment and job search were very nice, made all that more pleasant by the fact that Becky hated selling real estate in New York and consequently didn’t do it anymore, so we had plenty of time to hang out in the house together and compare levels of hysteria.
Just before Christmas, Becky got an exciting new job in public relations; then about 5 p.m. on Jan. 2, the night before her first day, my agent called to ask if perhaps I wanted to move 3,000 or so miles to write for The Simpsons. My wife gave notice on her second day of work. A week later we were in Los Angeles finding me a temporary apartment. Four days later we discovered we had somehow bought a supercute house in the Hollywood Hills. Becky went back to Brooklyn and sold our co-op in two days at a tremendous profit. Then a week later, the sale fell through. A day later, Becky sold the co-op again, for almost as much.
As Becky would say, a lot of it has been nice. But all I know is, it has been a lot.
* * * * * *
Sunday, 8 a.m.
Becky will be here in three hours. We haven’t seen each other since Valentine’s Day, when we both had the flu.
I had better clean up this apartment.
Two bags of assorted garbage, including: Two wine corks (one in the couch), three empty toilet-paper rolls, leftovers from at least four restaurants in the refrigerator, a bottle of Tylenol in the freezer, newspapers dating back to mid-February, and a facial tissue speckled with blood that I swear I’ve never seen before.
I will miss the bachelor life.
The apartment is merely filthy now, the kind of filth women expect to find men living in, unable to imagine the horrible truth. I remember that before I got married, I would sometimes look around my apartment and wonder how I could live in such squalor. Actually, that’s a lie; I never really thought about it.