The last couple of days have been interesting in all the wrong ways; I'm navigating some politics having to do with the job offer, and I had my back go out on me Thursday morning in a spectacularly new fashion.
Today was spent at an urgent care center, where I was diagnosed with sacroiliac joint ... difficulties, yes, let's go with that - something, the doctor said, people with RA and autoimmune ailments like scleroderma are apt toward. I'm hobbling around with the help of Bob's old cane, and recovering from a really painful intramuscular injection of something massive and non-steroidal. I'm also on five days worth of oral steroids ... I should feel quite down and depressed. And I was earlier in the day, when I realized I couldn't clean house, or help Bob with his own fibro day. I also felt guilty, because he was waiting on me hand and foot.
But you know, the sun's shining, the shot is helping; we've ordered Mexican in so neither of us have to cook, and I have been taken care of by the man I love most in the world. And that reminded me that one of lydy 's questions was about how I met Bob. So I decided to tell you one of the only fairy tales I've ever known to be real.
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Once upon a time, there was a young and restless Canadian reporter - me - who lived in Moncton New Brunswick, and who had, within the previous few years, discovered science fiction fandom and conventions, after having loved science fiction and fantasy since she ... er, me ... first began to read.
One day in 1980, she decided that, after three or so years of flying to conventions in the U.S,, and making most of her meaningful friends at those conventions, that it was, therefore, the right thing to do to quit her well-paying job at a daily paper, sell all her furniture, cash out her retirement fund and her regular bank accounts, and head to the U.S, with two suitcases in hand.
It helped that she had visited one of her fan friends in L.A., had fallen in love with what little she saw of the city, and felt reasonably (albeit youthfully and ridiculously) sure she could get a job with one of the many small papers in and around the area. In fact, she'd stopped in at a couple of those papers and gotten what she thought were positive reactions from the undoubtedly bemused publishers/editors to who she spoke.
It also didn't hurt that she'd fallen in love with one of her editors, a married man. and was in the kind of agony that can cause when one doesn't want to say anything to the object of one's desire. When one spends the days away from work, looking at the walls and feeling as if they are about to crush the life from one, and almost hoping they will, because that would end the terrible ache in one's heart. When that happens, then southward immigration can seem a heaven sent panacea.
(We pause now, to switch to first person, because, really, talking about oneself in third person is really annoying to one's readers.)
So I decided to move, with a youthful assurance of eventual success that even now makes me shake my head at my own stupidity. My L.A. friend was willing to billet me until I got a job. The American consulate employee I spoke to in Halifax N.S. told me I should come down to the U.S. and convince an employer to sponsor me (remember, this was 20-plus years before 9/11; those were kinder days.)
I decided to stop in Toronto to visit a friend there, then drop in for 2-3 days to Chicago, to visit my fannish friend, Ed Sunden, before heading further west. He even convinced me not to buy an airline ticket from Chicago to L.A. - we'd do a road trip, he said. That was fine by me.
The night I got to Chicago, January 19, 1981, Ed said he planned to introduce me to a friend of his, Bob. Ed said he was smart and fun - and then he fixed me with a glare and said, 'But be careful; he goes through women like Kleenex." That raised my eyebrows, but did little more; I was still nursing a shattered heart, and had no interest in romance of any kind.
The next night, after Ed took me to see "Kagemusha" at the Biograph, he took me to a tiny Irish bar, called, unoriginally, Irish Eyes, and introduced me to Bob. Bob was a bartender at Ed's favorite hangout, the Barbarossa, but he was there to play at an open mike. He seemed nice to me, a good-looking man with sandy hair, cheekbones, and a twisted sense of humor.
Perhaps one night later, we closed the Barbarossa (it was a 4 a.m. bar), and Ed offered to drive Bob home to the Rogers Park apartment he shared with another Barbarossa bartender. When we got there, Bob invited us in. We spent the next hour or so listening to records, sprawled on the livingroom floor.
It might have happened while we were listening to the Roches sing Hammond Song. I was sprawled below where Bob was sprawled, and I looked at his cowboy boots, thinking how nice they were. He started to say something, so my gaze traveled up his body, from his boots to his face.
Between the moments between his boots and his face, I said to myself, "Oh. I'm in love with him."
And that was that.
Of course, that wasn't just that.
Bob didn't go through women like Kleenex. He liked and loved them, and was happy to spend time with them. But his delight in love, in which I was a besotted partner, did make for more emotional upheaval. I thought I'd just traded one aching hole in my heart for another. Other women sustained the same sort of injury. It made for nights at the Barbarossa, which quickly became my home away from home, that were at best bitter sweet.
Still, I called my friend in L.A. and told her i wasn't coming. Why, she asked. Was there a man, she asked. I said yes. And oh, the heartache just got greater.
Finally, however, there came a night when I decided I would rather be his platonic friend than risk losing a relationship entirely. It was difficult, but it was a lot less bruising. I even helped him get ready for a train trip to St. Louis with the woman he was more seriously involved with, shortly after the Barbarossa closed under its then-current owner.
That Friday, I was working at Ed's business as a novice typesetter, and Joan, Ed's business partner and future wife, was there in the office with me. The phone rang.
"That'll be Bob," I said. "He's going to ask me to go to supper with him."
Joan side-eyed me, but she picked up the phone.
It was Bob. He wanted to talk to me. He was back from St. Louis, he said; would I like to go out to supper? I said yes.
Joan asked how I knew. I didn't know - I still don't.
What's going to happen, Joan asked.
He's going to ask me to marry him, I told her.
How did I know? I just did.
So we went to dinner. And he did, in his own off-hand way. I nodded. He told me that he'd spent time down in St. Louis wondering how I was, what I was doing. And he spent more time on the train back to Chicago wondering. And he said he realized that he was happier when I was around.
That was in early April of 1981. He moved in with me in May. We married in December. We have been entwined ever since. We hope that our fate is that of Baucis and Philemon.
And there you have it; the one fairy tale I know that is true.
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