Saturday, April 5, 2008

A tough time to wed (Pt. 3)

An hour or so after we had our argument, Marcie returned and put her foot down on where we would marry and how.

"We are not having anyone at our wedding," she said. "No friends, no family, no reception, no priests and no wedding poo for me to have to do."

I just nodded and listened. She was still pretty fired up.

"We will get our license here and we will get married at a chapel, or we'll get a license in Las Vegas and do it there, whatever works," she said. "Don't complicate it, don't add things to it and don't mess with me, Frank."

"Mess with you?" I asked.

She looked at me as if she knew I was aware of what she meant and glared. "Just don't stress me out! You always have all this... this shit to say about everything! Lay off me and don't pick fights with me."

I just nodded and pulled her into a hug. She thumped me on the chest lightly in the hug and I could hear her voice shake as she added, "If you don't want to get married, just say so, because I don't want you to sabotage everything. Just be honest with me."

I was very hurt, but I wanted to get her back to normal. Still, I had to think clearly about how to make her understand her fear of me not being on board was unfounded. I sighed.

I gently leaned back and looked her in the eye. There were tears, and her chin was wrinkled as she looked down and away. I lifted it a little and kissed her gently as she started to sob.

"Honey, I asked you first, remember?" I said. "Many years ago? You said no, never. It was very hard for me to deal with that. But I always wanted to get married, so you just need to not freak out on me so much and we'll get there."

I held her close again and she moaned her apology into my chest.

"Okay, honey, I love you," she said, her breath hitching. "I am sorry I am such a big mess, and I know I am being difficult. I'll try to calm down."

I chuckled and stroked her back, but she leaned back and looked at me very intensely.

"What's so funny? I'm upset, honey, why would you laugh at me?" she asked, her pout on full display.

Primarily, I had chuckled at the irony of my future wife, who kvetched endlessly over 'Bridezillas,' being so hard to deal with near her own very basic, stripped-down nuptials. But, of course, I was not foolish enough to open that can of worms.

"Oh, honey I am just glad you're home and we're standing here holding each other, and I am relieved it was all a big misunderstanding and not some burning issue to deal with, okay?" I offered.

She nodded and squinted, and whispered, hoarsely, "Okay, honey, thank you."

It was true, I was relieved. It may seem deceitful to have not shared both thoughts, but I rarely have less than three in mind at any given time, so I just chose to share the one most germane to her needs

Not that she believed me completely. She just accepted the premise and moved on... to our next little hitch before the hitching, as it would turn out.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A tough time to wed (Pt. 2)

So we had finally set our plans and picked our date (or rather, Marcie had bought tickets to Vegas and I had been happily ambushed). However, as could be expected, I wanted to protest a bit, modify the plans slightly, imprint the occasion with my own touch... BAD idea. Everything I said was taken wrongly.

"Maybe we should just get married here and then fly off to Vegas," I mused as we talked about the hotel to stay in and the attractions to sample.

"Well, where do you want to get married?" she said, her slightly higher voice sounding more like exasperation with room for compromise than frustration and anxiety.

"I don't know, just someplace local, I guess," I said.

She nodded and typed loudly on the keyboard, slapping it as she huffed. "How about Wedding Bell Chapel, the one my parents were married at?" she asked. "They just need us to have our marriage license and set an appointment. We can be married in San Diego and gone an hour later."

I thought about it and figured she was trying to be low-cost or modest. I wanted her to have a nice wedding, which I thought all girls wanted. As it turns out, I was way off, though I did not know it when I crossed the line and suggested something she was not willing to consider ever, at all: the big church wedding.

"Well, we can probably get into one of those one-day Catholic marriage classes and get married at Sacred Heart, if you want," I offered. "Then we can have a nice wedding. We won't have to pay for much, and everyone will be pretty good to us in my family..."

She glared up with her lips drawn and pressed together, then waited for me to explain myself. I did not know what to say. "What?" I asked.

"FRANK!? Are you stupid? The last thing I want is to talk to a priest about marrying the man i have been living with for seven fucking years," she said. "I don't want a big wedding, I don't want a big reception, I don't want any of that."

"Honey, I just thought you would want this to be special, and," I said, but shut up.

"I HATE weddings! I hate weddings and I will NEVER make anyone go through all the shit I did for my girlfriends' weddings," she said. "Everyone becomes this greedy, selfish monster and just craps all over their friends until they get their stupid day of attention from everyone and collect their loot."

I began to agree with her and put my hands up to calm her down, but she slapped them away before I could hug her.

"I don't know how many times I told you what HELL it was to be everyone's maid of honor, BLAH BLAH!" she said. "Sure, you are the maid of honor, pay out the ass and then 'Whoosh!' off to the honeymoon they go, never to be heard from until they get bored with being someone's wife."

"I'm sorry, I did not think you felt that way about your own wedding, honey," I said.

"Whatever," she said. "If you are so stuck on being in a big wedding and having your herd of family members dropping off their tribute for your father's approval, then we can just not get married. How does that sound?"

She did not wait for me to reply, but stomped out of the room and grabbed her purse. She did not say where she was going, but she drove off as I asked, stamping and cussing me out under her breath.

I was bewildered. But we were just getting started.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A tough time to wed (Pt. 1)

Everything went off as planned when Marcie and I were married. Except one little element. I was as sick as I think I could ever be. Unfortunately, the run-up to our marriage made this condition completely suspect in Marcie's eyes.

Marcie had always sustained that she would never marry me. I was first to propose, in 1996, before we went to Humboldt for my journalism degree. She immediately rejected me.

"No way, I am not marrying you," she said. "I don't even know if I am ever getting married."

I do not know if I was hurt, offended or both. Whatever the case,  I shot right back at her. I cannot remember exactly accurately so far back, but I can approximate. I may have even had a little acid on my tongue, as well as egg on my face, so to speak.

"You've probably got the right idea," I said. "I don't want to be tied down, either. We're happy how we are. Besides, I promised my dad I wouldn't get married, and I planned on keeping that promise until I at least turned 30."

We did not speak for the rest of the night, and I felt distant from her until we moved into our house in Arcata. In the mean time, still smarting from my rejection, I told my father I wouldn't marry her, as much to prepare him in case I left her for a marrying girl as it was to let him know we would be living in (delicious) sin for some time to come.

Time healed that wound over. I put away the idea of marriage, which had been skeptical of despite my Catholic pedigree, and enjoyed my life with my apparently permanent wonderful live-in lover and all of her domestic talents. I thought the issue of matrimony was off the table forever.

But Marcie didn't forget my words, though we never discussed it again. She held me to them, in fact, in a way I never thought she would.

The day after her birthday in 2000, she came to me crying and sat next to me, holding my hand and looking down as she heaved and sniffled. I was completely baffled. "Honey, what's the matter?" I asked. "Is everything okay? Is your family okay?"

She shook her head "no," then "no" again, and then sniffed and wailed in her hoarse, sad, heartbreaking voice. "You're 30 now, why haven't you asked me to marry you? Don't you love me enough to try again, Frank? I think I deserve it."

"Of course you do," I said, feeling the sting of hot tears on my cheek. "Are you sure? I thought you didn't want to marry me?"

She looked up infuriated and shook her head and squinted as she spoke. "I knew you would mention that, you asshole," she spat. "If you don't want to marry me, just say so. You fucking..."

I cut her off and pulled her into a hug. "Shhh, shhh..." I said. "no, no. I love you, honey. I love you. Will you please marry me? Don't be mad."

And after smacking my back and sobbing for a few minutes, we went to bed. Some time later, as she panted in post-coital-making-up exhaustion, she gasped in my ear, "Yes."

"Huh?" I asked, half adrift already under her.

"I'll marry you, stupid," she said. "I love you, Frank. I want to get married."

""Thank you," I said. "When?"

"I got us tickets to Vegas for November," she said. "Next month."

And so that was that. I was pleased, even though I knew I had been very had in the best possible way.


*I am taking a little break from the posts on Seamus to revisit the story of our wedding trip. We resume Seamus Week Sunday with... film!*

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Seamus' and Marcie's everyday homecoming ritual

Marcie and Seamus had a huge love affair, with complexities that rivaled Marcie and my own. There were spats and reconciliations, worries and insecurities, and more than a few scares to go around. There was depth there that some of the damaged and cynical might doubt or deride.

Marcie referred to Seamus, as I indicated in another post, by a variety of nicknames. "Little lover," Little Lamb," "Love Bug," "Love Bear," and even cuter names from time to time. He always learned the new monikers dutifully, then responded to them as he did "Seamus" until they passed out of vogue.

When I came home, Seamus was in either of two places. He was in Marcie's presence or locked away in the bedroom for a timeout. Yes, a timeout.

Seamus is a worrier. He watches over his house with a keen eye and expects that within it is maintained a rhythm he can rely on. Marcie provided that for him. If she was a few minutes late and I was already home, he would begin pacing the house and, later, the side yard and back enclosure, letting out low, cautious meows to draw her out, as if he were a lost kitten in the wild. It was adorable, if a bit melancholy.

But the sound of her car pulling up was all he needed to perk up and fly to the door, meows and chattering happiness overwhelming him as his whole body shook and purred. It was very precious to watch. As she would approach, he would start twirling and rubbing, his head waggling to and fro to keep eye contact.

"Oh, helloooo, my little lamb," she would say, the "o" sound raised to a high falsetto.

Seamus, a very prompt-driven chatter, would immediately let out a series of half-meow-mews. Marcie usually stayed outside the screen door as if awaiting an invitation in.

"Did you miss me? Did you wait for me in the window?" she would ask, smiling and totally enjoying his little prancing, punctuated with toe-carpet tugs and the sound of his contented purr-meows, which usually started by the time the ritual questions of greeting had commenced.

"Have you been a good boy?" she would ask, biting her lip or chuckling lightly as his whole body vibrated. "Oh! You want me to come in? Well, I don't know..."

By this time, Seamus would usually have raised hi meows to a fever pitch again, drawing them out over a second or two.

Marcie would relent, opening the door and slipping in, carefully setting her bags down or handing them to me so she could squat and pet him, gingerly avoiding stepping on his toes as he tried to simultaneously rub against her and pull on the carpet.

"I know, baby," she would say. "You had such a hard day, didn't you. You just tell me all about it, that's right."

About the time I started to feel jealous, he would run off to the kitchen, leading her to the pantry, and I would get my kiss from her. I am sure that I had a ritual she assigned to me as well, but to observe the one she played out every day with Seamus was quite a privilege.

Sometimes, I don't know if he has forgotten or just has more hope than me. But he'll stalk the house and the yard, letting out his low meows and mews. He still sleeps under her shrine and sometimes stares at it from the floor. I imagine he recognizes her picture.

I try to greet him at the door like she did, because I know he loves the certainty and the security of it. He seems to enjoy that a lot, even if sometimes I choke up at the memories the act evokes.

When I see him staring at her picture from the floor, I pick him up and put him in my lap so he can purr and sleep, then I gently settle him on his pad under the shrine. Maybe he dreams of her like I do. Maybe she greets him at the doorway to dreams and they play out their little ritual.

That's something I would like to be a witness to again.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meeting Seamus

Marcie was keen to pay attention to my memories and try to heal me where she could, as I mentioned in previous posts. Seamus is a living example of this trait of hers. When we first moved in together in early 1994, I commented that I missed having a cat.

I had had only one cat of my own. Garfield, named so by my little sister Virginia, was a beautiful part-Siamese, part Burmese with grey-striped points. He was tall and strong, and I got him from a newspaper delivery customer when I was 13. He was like a dog in a lot of ways.

Garfield came to his name being called, and usually with a loud, very Siamese "Miaaaaaaooooowwwww" as he walked, letting me know he was on his way. He would leap onto me when he got into range, into my arms, and either curl onto his back or hang his paws over my shoulder. He simply trusted and loved me absolutely, and I loved him too.

He was amazing.

His life was not ideal. I was not allowed to let him inside. Nonetheless, I sometimes snuck him in through my window when it was frosty or dangerous outside, often getting caught and punished for the effort. His beautiful long fur was always needing brushing and flea control. I tended to it with joy.

When I entered foster care, at 15, I had to leave him behind. I do not know what happened to him. I have been told he ran away by some. By others, I was told that, in a spiteful fit, an uncle drove him onto the freeway and dumped him there. Still another claimed he was sent to my grandfather's ranch but died there. I do not know which is truth, but they have all hurt very badly over the years to contemplate.

Marcie knew how much this wound still sat with me some eight years later. She noted and enjoyed how much I bonded with little Samantha, her family's cat. So, on my first birthday with her (actually a bit before), she decided to conspire with her mother for a very special gift.

When we took Seamus in, he could sit in my palm and clean himself, which he did. He also like to perch on my head, then sleep at Marcie's, his paws and belly straddling her, a furry little insulator.

He was also a little fervid ball of furious fur. He was bright and loved to play fetch, and battled endlessly with his ultimate enemy, a vase full of peacock feathers. Marcie fought with him for her right to decorate, and he advocated heartily for her continued replacement of the savaged plumes. His other apparent enemy was the foe of all kittens: the villainous moving feet of humans under bedclothes. He dispatched them with aplomb regularly for almost a year.

In his kittenhood, Seamus also had a fixation. Socks were collected and secreted into unknown places, never to be seen again.. No sock was safe from his collecting habit. Many a time I wondered where my socks had gone just moments after removing them. For months, the mystery continued.

One night, I removed my socks and left them on my shoes. As I began to tune into the X-files, I saw a little paw snake out from under the coffee table and snag on, dragging it away. Seamus trotted rapidly by with the purloined hosiery in his teeth. With a rustle behind the television styand, he was gone. I peered behind the stand, and no sign of him was visible.

Then, a little pink-brown nose peeked out from the small circular hole in the back of the stand cut for cords by the manufacturer. I wondered how he fit through, then suddenly he burst out from the back of the stand, pushing the flimsy panel open and racing off to some priority destination in another part of the apartment.

I opened the rarely seen interior of the stand and gazed upon a fetid lair lined in socks and a variety of catnip mice (referred to as 'catnip mousies' in Seamish). Here, then, was the mystery unraveled. I removed the most needed socks, my own stock of them being somewhat low, and left the rest, sharing my discovery with Marcie.

Seamus looked on nervously as we sifted through them, and yowled agitatedly as we collected a few for more appropriate use. As soon as we moved on, he crammed himself noisily into the back of the stand and rustled about. We did not see him until bed time.

"You put all those in there for him, didn't you?" Marcie asked. "I mean, it looks like it was all arranged in there like a bed for him."

The socks were three inches deep when I opened the door. It looked designed, not the casual and random collection of footcoverings one might expect of a cat. I was, however, innocent and as bewildered as she was.

"No, honey," I said. "We just have to face the reality that our cat is not only a little crazy, he's also a foot fetishist."

And as it turns out, he had more strange habits and practices to share.

For the moment, we had discovered the first unique item of personality in our new family member. But more importantly, he and Marcie developed a deep and special bond of their own over time that mirrored our own relationship closely, a subject for another post.


Monday, March 31, 2008

On Our Seamus

He deserves his own post. He deserves a book, in fact (at least a well-illustrated children’s book). He is Seamus, the mix of child and working cat and best friend to me, confidant, sleep-inducing, comforting, living blanket and all-around joy.


There are a number of stories that Seamus touches on, but some of my happiest moments were in being with Marcie and him in various adventures, misadventures and cuddly piles of domesticity. He is getting on in years and turned 14 today, but he is just as spry and game to play as he ever was. This week, read and learn about the little witness to our love that Seamus, a quite atypical kitty, was and is.


Of course, really cute pictures and a film or two may be in the offing as well. I’ll try to restrain myself, though.