Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Notes from the Rising Tide

When discussing Marcie, I have been accused of being overly airy or romantic about our relationship by those who I can only consider must have far more concrete and firmly grounded ones in their own lives. That is not an indictment, but I am glad that Marcie and I had what we had.

Our relationship was, to me, always new and exciting, at once both comforting and familiar, yet unpredictable and volatile. I liked a little struggle, deciding in an argument whether to "win" a bitter victory or "suffer" a delicious defeat. Marcie did, too. It all worked out between the lines and the sheets.

But how does one relay that the strength and fire of a relationship over a decade old was not just my own take to the more jaded? By making everyone sick, of course. I know no way of doing that more adroitly than sharing Marcie's and my notes and letters.

I will save the cards and notes she sent me for another post. Instead, I will share an excerpt from my planned book. It's raw, but it's completely honest and puts across where we were and how we were feeling back then.

Not fit for family, folks.

The Summer of Lust (1)

The long days at The Learning Annex in the dark back room, and the ever quieter and increasingly demoralized office could not dampen my ardor for my wife. I blew out of the office every day and flew home.

She told me I was a menace, and I was and knew that to be so, but I could not get enough of Marcie that summer. I was wild, and she was gleefully willing. But Marcie had her limits, if not in principle.

"Look!" she demanded, motioning at the pile of sheets on the floor. "Look at this! Honey, this is ridiculous. I cannot do this much laundry every week. This is one week. One!"

She glared and kept her finger pointed down at the pile of sheets. Two sets in three days, and last week's to boot. I smiled, and I imagine impishly so. "Maybe we can try the floor again?"

No sooner had I asked than I was dodging the pillow she threw at me from the room.

"And that's ruined, too," she said. "Honey, that was a feather pillow, they're expensive. I don’t know why you shoved that under me. You don’t care, though! You just don’t think about these things."

Her eyes narrowed and she put her hands on her hips as she responded to me, a little frustrated, "Oh, the floor, huh? Yeah, so we can enjoy rug burns again? I don't think so. Maybe I'll just cut you off for a while."

She smiled and nodded her head, biting her lower lip. Her protests amused me. I read them as her way of saying, "You have been home 10 minutes. Why are you not all over me?"

I decided that what she needed was what caused the problem in the first place. “Cut me off?” I asked, standing up and slowly sauntering her way. “Cut me off and do what? Hmm?”

She squealed a little as I caught her around the waist when she turned to run into the room. She didn't put up a fight unless you count play wrestling. But she did make me do the laundry that night. It was worth it, all four loads of sheets.

They came and went, these long spells of satyriasis. And at the time, I needed the release, love and lust aside. I had made the mistake of not being attracted to a vain girl.

Having no desire for my rather snotty boss's hipless, assless, breastless and thoroughly unwomanly form offended her, I know. I took that to be her frustration speaking. It's hard to manipulate people who don't want the only thing you're good at selling.

But marital fidelity and indifference to a manipulative alpha bitch's charms had its price. There was grumbling and lying to my supervisor, who did not believe a word of what she said, but he still acted on her feelings. He was a besotted fool.

So, I was usually caged all day and separated from free air by the malice of the vapid bit of fluff in the front office and the dissolute nature of my also-married supervisor. Unless she was home playing sick, as she did about 40 percent of the time, I recall.

I was a menace to anything in Marcie’s social calendar that took place when she was not at work. This would be intolerable to Marcie, except this all involved the one thing she enjoyed even more than being organized and punctual.

Marcie and I were on a major roll in our relationship in 2004. I was working two jobs, but sometimes I had time off to relax and plan for graduate school, and I was taking an occasional course at San Diego City College.

I could tolerate the vain coworker’s borderline personality disorder gone wild, and I could cope with the hectic schedule. But I decided to make a move.

But when I applied for a graduate school slot in the UCSD Communications Ph.D. program, there was a problem. My Summa Cum Laude Journalism and Mass Communications degree from Humboldt was simply not there.

By way of a failed petition for credit, lack of proper documentation and changing general education requirements, I had graduated with a diploma that had no value.

“Honey, you need to go back and finish your degree,” Marcie said in the afterglow of yet another stress-relieving sheet wrecker.

“We can’t afford it,” I said. “I would have to stop working and enroll full-time, and then I would have to spend two semesters at state or UCSD getting enough units to graduate.”

“Honey,” she said, holding my hand under the sheets, “You need to just go back to Humboldt and take the two classes there, and turn in your portfolio. I am sure they will honor your credit from the transcripts if you petition.”

I put it on the back burner until cuts came down to the Learning Annex office. My boss initially chose to cut across the board, but after some wrangling, the bitch got her way. I
knew days before he told me. He had left the document on the public share on our server.

“I’m sorry, I have to lay you off,” he said.

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I have some prospects.”

Shortly after that, I received unemployment benefits. The vapid ex-boss almost boned herself by trying to claim I was fired, nearly committing perjury in the face of contrary documentation, before she backed down.

Marcie set me straight when I started to plan lots of regulatory and detail-oriented awfulness for the company. "Honey, they did not deserve to have you working there, and they treated you like shit. Let them eat shit."

The company tried to hire me back part-time, so I applied for and received underemployment. They eventually gave up, so I suddenly had time to finish my degree, and an income to do it with.

Marcie set me straight when I started to plan lots of regulatory and detail-oriented awfulness for the company. "Honey, they did not deserve to have you working there, and they treated you like shit. Let them eat shit."

Shortly after that, The Learning Annex signed Donald Trump for $1.5 million. "The Donald" lied about the value of the contract, hyping it, but his television show gave the company initial success.

After a year or so of selling Trump the Chump as a motivational speaker to real estate conventions, the bottom fell out of both the convention business and the real estate market. My former supervisor lost his job. The fluff is still there, older, more wrinkled.

I found out that my makeup would only take a single intersession summer “minisemester” to complete. I was enthused. But there was a problem. Marcie had hated Humboldt the first time, and she was not going to entertain seeing that place again as a vacation.

“I am not going to Humboldt with you!” she screamed, leaning forward, face red as her hair. “Jesus, you can’t handle five weeks away? You were in the Navy for Christ’s sake, what did you do then? Cry?”

“Well, I thought you could come up for a week or two and…”

“NO! No, I am not using my fucking vacation time to go hang out with the fucking hippies and those fucking redneck lumberjacks!” Marcie said. “Are you fucking crazy?”

So the plan was in place. I packed for a week, planning every minute and step along the way north for maximum efficiency. I also stocked up on Marcie.

When she came home from work, I had a little Marcie. Before the alarm went off, after the alarm went off “accidentally early,” and after her shower, I had a little more Marcie. And the morning before I left, at 4 a.m., I had a little more.

She saw me out, looking a little tired but happy as I kissed her goodbye. “Honey, I am glad you are getting this out of the way. Look at it this way, you’ll be able to move on,” she said.

Graduate school, a job in the media or perhaps in public relations, continuing on my work at the Annex, it all seemed pretty good, even if I had thought I was already set for that months before. “Okay, honey. I’ll miss you,” I said.

“Oh, I’ll miss you, but it will be nice to get some sleep,” she said. “You just call me when you feel it coming on, mister. I trust you.”

I smiled. Five weeks would pass slowly but make her very hot for me, I knew. The trip to Humboldt was finished before the sun set later that long summer day. I called her from
the motel pay phone to avoid the outrageous in-room fees.

“Honey, where are you?” she asked.

“Arcata,” I said.

“What? Really? You didn’t speed, did you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. I hadn’t, but I also had only stopped three times, all for gas.

“Well, how was it? Was the drive nice?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, spying the statue of McKinley in Arcata square through the trees as I looked down the block.

“Well, I love you,” she said.

“I love you, too,” I said. “Which is kind of why I called. Call me back, okay? I am in room 114 at the Days Inn, (707) 822-2036. Call me in like two minutes.”

And she did. I had just gotten comfortable and smiled as I answered the phone. “Now, you hussy,” I said. “Tell me what you’re wearing.”

And so the madness continued for five weeks in absentia, with lust on the phone at night and classes by day. I moved to the dorms, wearing long coats and memorizing her dirty telephone tales before slipping into my room, keeping the home fires burning.

But all was not lust. I got to experience a little taste of long-distance love from my baby, in the form of a long exchange of letters and notes via email. What we did not exhaust in our titillating tête-à-tête conversations came out there. It was a time of joy.

More from this little excerpt tomorrow and the notes themselves by Wednesday... or Thursday.