Julie & Allan Showalter – Married July 20, 1980
After Julie left her home and secure job and I left my unsalvageable marriage to be together, we settled into a stable relationship. Julie ran a division of marketing research at Sears and I had become a Michigan Avenue psychiatrist. While we never developed either the credentials or ego to think of ourselves as Tom Wolfe’s Masters Of The Universe, we were sometimes able to maintain the Look, I’m a stylish young professional living large in Chicago pose for minutes at a time before giggling ensued.
What can I say? We were both from the sticks, we were doing well for ourselves, and we were together. We both worked long hours, hit restaurants for most dinners, attended hospital parties and balls, and, thanks to Julie, made batches of friends.
Julie was always flying to New York or Philly or wherever for Sears. I was seducing referral sources at fancy-schmancy restaurants. We joined the East Bank Club. We jogged along the bike paths beside the Lake. We developed a complex system for keeping track of who had already read what parts of the Sunday papers in bed.
We even bought furniture for the apartment (we weren’t a great advertisement for either careful or extravagant shopping – in the middle of a snowstorm, I drove around the block while Julie ran into a shop that ran an ad in The Reader that advised, “We Sell Sofas,” and bought a sofa).
Shortly after our high-rise, bland, modern, functional apartment was furnished, we moved across the street to a much hipper breed of dwelling, a condo in a landmark building (i.e., a building that prohibited those incredibly anachronistic, incredibly efficient storm windows) that substituted character for convenience and charm for working appliances. We were so cool.
The core of our joyfulness, however, was the time we spent together – talking, reading, hopping in the sack, and, especially, planning for the future.
And, as Walter Cronkite was saying in those days, that’s the way it is.
Or, at least, that’s the way it was until Julie decided we wanted to get married.
And, since I never denied Julie anything, we were wed. Our parents as well as our friends showed up, we recruited a Unitarian minister (who told us, “The only thing most people know about Unitarians is that we’ll officiate at anyone’s wedding), we had an impromptu wedding feast out our favorite Catalan restaurant in Uptown, and we were deliriously, drunkenly happy.
Within a few days of our wedding, Julie received a diagnosis of breast cancer and within two weeks, she was recovering from her mastectomy (leading her to observe, “Michael Reese Medical Center is not what i had in mind for a honeymoon destination”).
So, I can’t offer a and they lived happily ever after ending to this story. Our lives together as husband and wife were more realistic and more joyful than any fairy tale.
Julie Was Right – As Usual
Midway through one of Julie’s short stories, The Secret Andrew, she limns the changes in the grief experienced by the protagonist, a woman whose husband had died a year earlier, by noting that she is then (at that point in the story) still unable to bear re-reading the letters the two of them had exchanged when they first met but, as the conveniently omniscient narrator points out, sometime in the future
… she will get out her letters from him and collate them — his to her and hers back. She will have a picture of two very young people amazed at their luck in finding each other, giddy with all they had to say, knowing a lifetime together will not be enough.
Julie was profoundly, terrifyingly on the mark – a lifetime together was not nearly enough.
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.