Today marks a tragic day. I carry it in my heart like a stone. So do you. So does the world. Even those who don't like us as much today as they did six years ago carry it like a weight. When others like Fran and the Monkey and Pygalgia and Dr. Zaius, who speaks to us in just a photo, tell the story of that terrible day, I don't feel I've much to add.
But I can tell you a love story about 9-11.
September 11th, occurring on our calendars every year since we humans made up this calendar, marks other events for people. Birthdays. Anniversaries. My own sister got married September, 11th, 1999. She made alot of jokes that her husband would remember the date: it is a cry for help. Hee hee.
But it is not my sister's love story that I want to talk about. It is my own.
But to tell the story properly, I need to go back to October 18th, 1998. That was the day that I came home from work to find my husband sitting in the chair in the bedroom (one of those chairs for 'retreat' in the bedroom that nobody actually ever sits in) waiting for me. To Talk. He had been gone for the weekend, a business trip to Kansas City. I wanted to go along. He said no, he wanted to drive his new Dodge Viper on the trip. Kick it up. Blow out the carbon. There wouldn't be room in the two seater, he said.
So he was back and he wanted to talk. "So talk," I said.
"I want a divorce."
We had been married for eighteen months. I was in the middle of building, as the general contractor, mind you, our dream McMansion in the exurbs. It was then a half million dollar house. What it is worth now is your guess. And he wasn't alone on his business trip because his two seater did have room in it for two. But not three. Her name was Laura. And in small town land it turned out she was my brother's neighbor. Ugh.
My response was to get rip-roaring drunk. That night. And the next three hundred and some.
Shortly after we separated, I told my boss-who happened to be my dad-that I wanted to work for him for another year. Then I was going to move somewhere and start over. In the between year I signed up for classes in graphic design at a local school and shelled out big dollars to learn virtually nothing because, for the most part, I was drunk all the time.
Because my social life got taken from me in the separation, I went back to the old fall back: bartending. Not a great choice for a girl flexing her muscles as an alcoholic, but what can I say? The rug had been pulled from beneath me. Getting out of bed sober and feeling the same pain I felt drunk seemed like a rip-off to the night before. I expanded my tolerance for alcohol in ways I didn't think possible. You know the girl in the first Indiana Jones movie? I'd have drank her ass under the table. Plus I was thin. Very very thin. But that's because, in my mood, I could puke up any dinner, or skip food altogether and live on Tab and cigarettes for three days at a time. I was in trouble.
Our divorce was scheduled for May. I clung to that day as the day of my salvation for months. That would be the day that all would fall in to place. Closure. Fini. Get on with it.
What I never could have dreamed was that was the day that I fell off the cliff. The actual divorce proceeding was a bit like a game show or a poker game. Dollar amounts were suggested. Contributions to the marriage were considered. In the end, the amount of money I made was the money we would have paid an outside general contractor to build our house. It seems that in Wisconsin, a no-fault state, that marriages under three years bearing no children are summarily disposed of. As my husband said to me "I could have fucked some broad on our kitchen counter while you were making dinner and it wouldn't matter one bit in our divorce".
Thanks for that.
Anyway, once the divorce was final and my blame totem was gone, right at the time I thought I would prevail was the time I fell through the looking glass.
By the end of the summer of 1999 I had decided that I really didn't have much will to carry on. I had dated a few people and found them so incomprehensibly stupid that I really began to wonder what happened to the normal people. I determined that they were the normal people and that I was the one with the problem.
Then I hatched a plan. Have I mentioned yet how much I could drink? I realized, sometime near the end of August, that I would be able to drink myself to death. Not everyone can do this. I think you need to build a level of alcohol tolerance in your system that allows you to put in enough poison to kill you. I wouldn't be able to do it today. I'd puke first. But back then I could put a full bottle of any liquour down my gullet and then put more down after that. My thought was that if I really tried, I'd get enough down to cause poisoning and then I'd go out like Hendrix.
Problem: My sister was getting married at the end of the summer. I was the maid of honor. I would not be so impolite as to cast a pall on her happy day, one that she came through hell and back to get to, as well.
What's a few weeks. In fact, I actually drove around to different liquor stores buying 1.75l bottles to stock up. I didn't want to buy the lethal dose at one spot. I don't know why. They'd have just thought I was having a party for forty.
On September 10th I went home from work, showered, put up my hair and dressed in a brand new pretty dress I bought for my sister's rehearsal dinner and drank two bottles of wine. Only a little drunk, I realized I was running late and hopped in my car to get to my sister's wedding rehearsal about three towns over.
I was the maid of honor and I was fucking up by being late. Damn. I roared into the parking lot, ran up the stairs, into the sanctuary and whoa- wait - what's this?
There was a striking, I kid you not, tall/dark/handsome man standing in one of the last pews of the church. His cuffs were rolled up three-quarters and he leaned on the back of the pew like he had been asked to by.....well, me.
A beautiful, beautiful man. My very first reaction, upon looking at him, was to feel like my breath had been stolen from me. Or that I had been gut-punched.
But then, my second reaction, upon finding out that he was the same age as me and had never been married, was to reject him on the basis that he had to be carrying around a psychosis or failing that had gotten him rejected for the last fifteen or so years. At the rehearsal dinner he was kindness and chivalry. I told him flat out that I didn't really find him interesting and that he should probably just leave me alone instead of trying to spend any more wasted minutes flirting. I really did.
Plus, I was making moves on one of the other groomsmen. Ben was hedging his bet with the girl who was singing in the ceremony. I let him know I thought he was - I don't know - not it.
But he was.
During the wedding reception the photographer asked me if I would like my picture taken, as the maid of honor, with my date. I had no date. So, perfectly coiffed, manicured and trussed I said "listen, cheesedick! I don't have a date. I don't have anyone to take my picture with. Take my fucking picture if you want, why do I have to have someone else in it?"
The photographer, unabashed saw Ben Wundrun across the bar and said "that guy will pretend to be your date in the picture".
Fine. Bring him on.
Ben laughed his ass off that I had called the photographer 'cheesedick'. We were friends in that instant.
Oh. But it's late. I'll tell the rest tomorrow.