We’ll kiss the first of a million kisses
and let the past fall away
~From Allelujah by Fairground Attraction
…then I did the simplest thing in the world.
I leaned down… and kissed him.
And the world cracked open.
~Agnes de Mille
It took eight years for Julie and me to get from our first meeting to our first kiss.
To get from our first kiss to our first home together took four months.
Well, it was a pretty good kiss.
In those four months before we finally moved in together,
- I had (another) I want a divorce confrontation with my wife, filed divorce papers, and moved into an apartment.
- Julie gave notice at her job, arranged to end the lease on her apartment, packed the belongings essential to her (i.e., clothes and books), and sold or gave away the rest.
- Julie flew to Chicago and we spent a couple of hectic, wonderful weekends together.
- We called two or three times a week and exchanged letters (in that benighted pre-email era) daily.1
Of course, a series of bullet points cannot convey the anxiety, guilt, frustration, excitement, and joyfulness we experienced during this time. Everything was happening and happening fast.
After giving notice, Julie still had job responsibilities until the end of this our month period, and the demands of my residency continued unabated. Because my wife and I had no children and no money our divorce was uncomplicated legally but was not without tears, insults, accusations, and recriminations aplenty. My soon-to-be ex-wife’s obligatory suicide threat was followed two days later by a polite, if urgent, request that I talk to the movers who were insisting that it was physically impossible to carry a sofa from her apartment to the moving van.2 I needed money so I was working extra hours in my part-time job at a halfway house for recently discharged state hospital patients. That such arrangements were officially forbidden but traditionally winked at by the residency added one more unit of ambiguous risk. Yada, yada, yada, …
Neither Julie or I ran this gauntlet unscathed (that’s not how gauntlets work), but we were sustained by our belief that we were, finally, destined to succeed. This conviction that the result of our liaison was preordained was, I now realize, a fallacy, albeit a fallacy with anodyne properties for which I’m grateful.
And, that element of faith may explain my current difficulty describing this period of alternating (and sometimes simultaneous) angst and excitement in a way that communicates the experience. I’ve tried a half-dozen approaches to express the emotional roller coaster ride of those four months in this posting, but this effort has been unrequited. When all this was going on, my life was hectic and unsettled but – and this appears to be the key – never in doubt. I knew what I wanted was to be with Julie; everything else was secondary.
So, I am, I suppose, apologizing for my failure to fully articulate my own, let alone Julie’s internal state.
You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.
Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.
- The built-in USPS delay resulted in three or four parallel mail conversations. The response to a joke mailed today would arrive perhaps four days later; in the meantime, two or three notes responding to other letters would arrive. One had to be on one’s toes. [↩]
- I pointed out to the workmen that they were the same crew that had moved the sofa into the apartment and that the sofa had not grown nor had the apartment doors shrunk [↩]