The Odd Wife

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Odd & Even, A Perfect Balance: The Story of How We Met

Odd Wife: I was working at The Olive Garden as a waitress. EH was a waiter/bartender. I was 21 years old. I was engaged to my high school sweetheart and was beginning to feel trapped in a life I wasn't all that interested in. I was trudging along, but not very cheerfully. I had become very close friends with a co-worker named Stacey. Stacey was a redhead like me, but a very dark, cynical person and it had rubbed off.

Even Husband: Our initial conversations certainly did not lay the ground work for a relationship. She had certain...we'll say feminist convictions. One day I was working at my designated statiion when OW grunted up beside as she was hefting a large bin of ice--her statial duty of the evening. I made a comment that with all the men in the place some guy could have stepped up and helped her out. She proceeded to lay into me with a lecture about how insulting it was of me to presume she could not do the job herself and then labeled me a sexist. It was about then that it occurred to me that I had not been to my tables for about two minutes, silently feeling sorry for the guy who was marrying her.

Odd Wife: He's never going to let that damned "ice thing" go. It's true. I was heavily influenced by my friendship with Stacey and she was basically a man-hating feminist. I still wonder that she was straight. Anyway, here's the thing. EH is a cute guy. A damned cute guy. And I had noticed him, lounging in the bar reading. I'm not the kind of girl who likes to appear delicate. I always like to look strong and smart. I don't believe I actually lectured EH, but I know I snapped at him "Do I look like I'm not capable of handling this myself? I don't need macho bravado, thank you very much." In truth, his comment was poorly delivered...why make a comment about all the men who could have helped me while he's walking past me? Why not stop and help me himself? To me, he was casting a doubt on my ability to get men to do my heavy work and I was insulted. Can you believe how much shit some women (me) read into things???

Even Husband: Needless to say we were not blistering across the cosmos from the onset. Some time after that we were both briefly working beside each other when apropos of nothing she announces, "You're going to make somebody a good husband one day," and then walks away. Now this was coming from the broad--er, WOMAN--who had made a point of showing how chauvanistic I was, and she now drops this line out of nowhere. I badgered her the rest of the evening to explain herself, and she refused every time.

Odd Wife: That's a classic moment. I was really down. My engagement to Rich was tearing me up inside. We had lived together for 3 years by this time and I thought this was as good as it got. I loved Rich, but felt...empty and hollow inside. I'd had a series of affairs during our relationship. Some he knew about, some he didn't. I kept chasing men on the side seeking some sort of fulfillment. I just assumed I was a terrible person. I never realized I was missing something. It's true, I was working in the restaurant that night and EH was talking with a small group of our co-workers. I overheard bits and pieces of the conversation (which I can't remember to this day) and something EH said struck a cord in me. I walked into the kitchen and tapped him and leaned over and said that fateful quote. His jaw hit the floor. I walked away. He asked me 10,457 times that night what I meant. I couldn't explain it. I didn't know myself what I meant. I just..."saw" something in him when he was talking and that thought occured to me. You know that as a pagan, I believe in destiny, prophecy, reincarnation and so on. I still believe some voice in me was speaking up because it recognized my soul mate. With EH now trailing after me demanding answers, I turned it into a joke to hide the more serious confusion I had felt at saying it. I wrote a little note which told him it was because he was "just such an incredible man" and slipped it to him. After that, I would sigh dramatically and swoon at him whenever I saw him. Thus began the infamous letters...

Even Husband: It was something we became known for, passing notes back and forth to each other written on register tape. Most night OW worked in the office taking the receipts from the servers so each time I came to the window I would pass her a message, or she to me. It was the burgeoning of our affection, but for the most part she was off-limits to me. The idea that nothing would happen between us probably led to us getting together, because as we felt nothing would develop we were able to be more open to each other. Come Christmas time I went outside to go home one night and sitting beside my locked up mountain bike was a huge bottle of Captain Morgan and a card. Yes, the way to a man's heart is through his liver.

Odd Wife: Ahhh, but EH skipped the other "best" part. Christmas was getting closer. Working in the restaurant day and night, I watched these happy families and couples coming in, laughing and dining. I was miserable. My wedding was now 2 months away. I had sunk every dime into this extravagant wedding. Rich's family had money, but this was still getting really expensive for us. One night, after closing, I stood in the empty dining area staring out the window with tears in my eyes and EH was leaving and stopped to ask if I was okay. I just shrugged and said "It doesn't feel much like Christmas to me." Christmas Eve came and we were all working. EH passed out cards and I felt slighted that he skipped me until my card came with a package attached. EH had bought me the kid's holiday video "The Year Without a Santa Claus" to cheer me up. You can't imagine the impression this made on me. Here was a man who could literally speak to my heart. The letters we passed were many (5-6 per night) and they were all written from a joking standpoint, but were incredibly sensual. EH would write to me as his "Crimson Haired Angel" and even in jest, some of our letters were stirring. You have to remember that all the letters were exchanged openly with the entire restaurant. Even Rich was reading them and laughing. It was weird.

One night, a group of us were discussing a new trending coffee house called "The Nocturnal Cafe" and I wanted to go, as did EH. No one else was interested. So, we made plans to go together. I invited a 3rd person (a harmless co-worker named Mike) to keep a buffer because I felt a bit nervous about being alone with EH. Well, 15 minutes into the night out and I regretted having a buffer. EH was opening doors, ordering my drinks and charming me. At the cafe, we played Trivial Pursuit and I was floored by how intelligent he was. I remember standing behind him in the bar we went to later and making excuses to touch his shoulder and back, feeling so drawn to him. I was developing a major attraction to this man. He stirred everything in me.

Even Husband: It became apparent to both us soon after that there was something happening. Once we began talking alone she became much more than the perky little girl not long from graduation. I mean she and another girl at the restaurant were about to marry guys they had been dating since high school--all the talk was of their wedding and little else, to the point of annoyance. But getting to know her I found out that she was in possession of a sharp mind and a quick wit. She was strong willed and bossy while somehow maintaining a girlish charm. And damned good looking. I still remember how she looked in the car with me riding to a sushi lunch with the sun illuminating her red hair.

It was also clear that the guy she was about to wed was not as appreciative of these qualities. He wasn't bad to her, but the more I got to know her the more I could see why she had been feeling the way she had. They got along great, but they were not a match. Problem was the wedding was weeks away. She had been confessing her feeling for some time and once we realized how we felt I continually told her not to go through with it. But she could not disentangle and sure enough, there was a wedding.

Odd Wife: There was a wedding alright. The 2 months between Christmas and my Valentine's Day wedding passed in a flash and in the time, EH and I had fallen for each other. It was no longer a joke. We were actually beginning to suffer. I tried to call the wedding off repeatedly. I heard the lectures about "cold feet" from everyone. I wondered if EH was a "final fling" for me and one night, a month before my wedding, I finally seduced him. It took a LOT of effort. EH was a consumate gentleman and not the type to take sex lightly.

The night of my wedding rehearsal dinner, I refused to go. My fiance and his brother literally dragged me there, two hours late. I told him I wasn't in love with him. I told him I wasn't happy. I told him the wedding was a bad idea. He gently insisted I was just afraid and that we had to go forward. He reminded me how many people had traveled just to come. He reminded me of how much money had been spent. He told me to just "try" and how it would be better to be married for 6 months and split up as opposed to ending the wedding days before. I was young, stupid, scared and confused. I went along.

EH was a guest at my wedding. I was far from the typical bride. The night before the wedding was spent sitting in a car with EH, crying. I deliberately neglected to pick up my altered wedding gown only to find that my sister-in-law had picked it up for me. I walked around on my wedding day like a zombie. I still have the proofs from the wedding photographer. I'm not smiling. My eyes are dead. I look sad. When my father took my arm to lead me down the aisle, I begged him to take me home. He told me this was the best thing in my life and I looked at him and said "Wanna bet?" I prayed that EH would object like they do in the movies. I was so lost. I was hurting so much. I can't even imagine being in EH's shoes watching the wedding.

After the wedding, my new husband and I were wisked away to the Presidential Suite at a beautiful hotel. We had invited several friends to come celebrate with us. I remember a bunch of them hanging out, watching "Time Cop". I stood on the balcony, twirling in my wedding dress in the cool night air. My new husband must have come out 20 times to snap at me that I should change my clothes. I didn't want to. EH was on the balcony too. He whispered "Leave it on." He understood.

Even Husband: The wedding was a surreal time to be sure. We spent so much time together the week prior, including the night before where I dropped her off at her parent's home at about 3:00 a.m. The ceremony was opulent and I couldn't help but wonder if there was something for us beyond, or if this was to be a long slog for me. The night of the ceremony was also an odd experience. I was so focused on OW that I don't recall how I was involved with the crowd that joined them in the honeymoon suite, and the two of us were talking quietly on the balcony for nearly an hour, her husband getting testier by the minute. How he tolerated me being there is beyond my thinking.

Anyway my fears were not for long. The next morning I got a phone call from OW--she was on the airplane on her way to Las Vegas...Oh, and her honeymoon. She called me every day while out in the desert and then I was certain we would be together not long after she returned. It turned out it took one day.

Odd Wife: My honeymoon lasted 7 days in Las Vegas. On the 7th day, we returned home. I had been miserable. We hadn't even "consumated" the marriage because I was so lost. I called EH constantly, terrified of what was happening. We got home late at night on a Sunday. My new husband was going back to work the next day. An hour after he left, so did I. EH and I met and went to Butterfly World to wander the gardens and watch the flittering butterflies. After, we checked into a hotel and I refused to leave. I stayed with him. He was torn between knowing I should go, and wanting me to stay. The next morning, all hell broke loose. My family had been searching me for hours. My new husband was livid. The truth came out. I was dragged to a psychiatrist that very day by my new husband who insisted I was having a breakdown and was put on lithium. I couldn't stop trembling and my hands were involuntarily shaking at all times. The next days were full of misery. My new husband trying to control me, my family convinced I was insane and me trying to run away to EH at every turn. There were no lies. I told my husband I was in love with EH. My new husband kept demanding the opportunity to fight for my heart. It was hopeless and he finally figured it out. He moved out at my request and promised to be there for me.

I was unprepared to live alone, saddled with a mountain of debt from the wedding. I was terrified. I was still a kid for the most part. I had no idea if I was making a mistake or not. Throwing everything away for a chance at something with EH. My family wouldn't speak to me. My friends thought I was insane. EH was drawn into the heavily dramatic world I lived in. I was stressed beyond belief. One night, I was alone and decided to end my life. I unlocked the door so my body could be easily found. I dressed in a beautiful black velvet gown. I took the phone off the hook. I lit candles. I poured a glass of wine and started taking the lithium one after another.

As it turned out, my friend Stacy tried to call and was suspicious of the busy signal. She drove over and walked in. She knew at a glance what I was doing and freaked out. She called EH and told him to get over there and then confiscated every sharp object I owned. EH raced over and spent the rest of the night holding me and whispering raggedly into my ear that he needed me and I couldn't leave him. To help me make ends meet, he moved in with me. We were living together only months after meeting.

It should have been weird. It wasn't. We fit together so well somehow. It was the beginning of the happiest days of my life.

The Even Husband: I remember many things about that night but one of them was lying next to her in that bed and after she told me all the reasons for her wanting to kill herself I explained to her the one thing she had not considered: what it would have done to me. She looked at me and I could see the realization on her face when I explained to her that she had not thought about what my reaction would be to her leaving me in that fashion. You can pretty much say that from that moment forward we were together as one entity.

The Odd Wife: My new husband was being extremely cooperative. Keeping his distance, being kind. But he wasn't willing to go through with a divorce. I think he believed that at any moment, EH and I would run into problems and he could reclaim his new bride and his life. Except it wasn't happening. EH and I were flourishing. Just when the bulk of the drama seemed to be behind us...I discovered I was pregnant. EH and I had been living together for about 5 months now, so it was no question of paternity. I was terrified to tell him. I was sure he'd run, screaming. EH was at work, so I called my husband, hysterical. He calmed me down and encouraged me to call EH as soon as I could. I did. Poor EH. He was waiting tables on a Saturday night and I call in and drop this bombshell on him. Honestly, I didn't even expect him to come home that night. I was pretty sure I would never see him again. I was shocked when he came home later that night.

Instead of a serious discussion about the matter, or playing games of "what are we going to do about this", EH held several bags of groceries. He unloaded a table-full of junk foods and a couple dozen yellow roses. He told me to eat the junk food now, because he was going to see to it that I ate very healthy for the next 9 months. I couldn't believe it.

He did take incredible care of me. I was so sick that I lost far too much weight. The rare moments I could actually eat, EH would race out to get whatever I could crave at the moment. Often he was riding his bike to Subway at 2 am to grab a sandwich. He was devout in his efforts to care for me. I felt like a princess.

My husband continued to resist the divorce. He put it off, he delayed it, he fought it - you name it. He finally agreed to the divorce nearly one year after our wedding. The papers were signed on February 6th, 1996. My due date was March 17th. It was a strange moment standing before the judge at 9 months pregnant, but I had been so sick and dropped so much weight that under my heavy coat, she couldn't tell. I came home that day a free woman.

EH married me on March 1st. It was a simple ceremony on a Friday night at his parents church. We wore our Sunday best, so to speak. A handful of friends and family came to see it. After, we had cake at his parents home. In every photo, my smile is 1,000 watts of pure joy. We both look so happy.

On the way home, we were tired, but I was upset at not having a "wedding dance". Our song is "I Love the Way You Love Me" by John Michael Montgomery. We stopped at a tiny country-western bar on the way home and ran inside, asked the DJ to play our song and we shared our dance on an empty dance floor surrounded by confused and amused redneck onlookers. When it ended, we went home.

6 days later, our daughter was born.

There have been a million sacrifices. A thousand tears. A hundred crisises. But the smiles, the laughs and the moments of pure wonder at being together far outnumber them. EH and I are truly soul mates, without doubt. I can't imagine a life -even a moment- without him. I am so grateful for whatever strength or luck led me to risk everything I had to be with him...that gamble paid off tremendously. I am so thankful he chose me in return.

Destiny? Meant to be? Soul Mates? True Love? You bet. I believe in it all and I believe we have it all.

Even Husband: Yea, the night I found out I was to be a dad. Busiest night of the week, I had barely the time to field a phone call, and I get the monster of all calls. I went through some of the usual reactions--my life is over, and the sort--but soon I found myself asking, "Why?" I was living with a woman I loved, a woman who I knew was destined to be a great mother, so why would an addition be bad news? I went through the rest rest of the night explaining to customers I just found out about the pregnancy and the usual reaction was, "Is that good news?" I didn't know, I was never a dad before. But yes, it was good news. Typical of our relationship we have gone through our share of challenges and problems, but for the most part there has not been a question about us. Whatever the problem we have always been secure that we would face it together. And now here we are, still a family and still happy as ever.

Posted by Red :: 7:27 PM :: |
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