I am stuck sitting on my bus for what is starting to feel like forever or, at the very least, eternity inside the bowels of Port Authority behind a very long line of other buses trying to get through the Lincoln Tunnel.
I’m on the late bus tonight–the last bus from NYC to New Hope. I stayed in the city to go to my company holiday party. I am not great at parties in the best of times. Situations where I don’t have total control unnerve me. And tonight at our holiday party I felt melancholy for some reason. Nothing sad happened. Well…except that there were very few low-point Weight Watchers food items. “I’ll have a seltzer and that little piece of lettuce under the barbecue chicken wings please. And is anyone else eating this napkin?” It’s very sad being skinny. Oh, and also everyone in the room works in cable which doesn’t seem to be a rising industry. Some days I feel like a cashier at Barnes and Noble three years ago.
But mostly I find I don’t like to be parties without my husband, Saul. This is rather shocking since I spent much of my twenties and thirties in Alanon meetings being taught to not be codependent. (I don’t want to say that my family has a history of alcoholism but every time I’ve gone to a medium and asked to talk to a dead relative the first thing they inevitably say when they contact someone is “I smell alcohol. Did any excessively drink?”) I learned in Alanon to detach and not to ever depend on another person for my happiness. It’s not that this was awful advice. At the time, I tended to date vampires who sucked the joy out of me leaving only a dried husk where my soul used to be.
(The bus still isn’t moving. Besides being hungry I am trapped inside a bus terminal that was bombed earlier in the week. Note to Saul: If I die on this bus and this is my last blog, please remember to play Storms by Fleetwood Mac at my funeral (the alternative version from the Tusk reissue) and make everyone sit quietly and listen to it and cry.
So how did I, this fiercely independent guy, not only get married two years ago but buy a house last week? (Mortgage I am finding is a much stronger bond than a wedding ring.) Why do I crave getting home to my husband? The reality of me arriving home hardly ever plays out like the fantasy in my head. Usually when I am telling Saul about my day I have to remind him to look up from his phone and at least look like he is listening. And then I often get irritated that he doesn’t have the perfect reaction to whatever story I happen to be telling him. Then he will tell me something he is worried about that is usually some version of something he has worried about a million times before. “No dear, I don’t think the cats will die from eating a piece of lint.”
Saul worries a lot. He worries so much that I almost seem calm in comparison. On the day we closed on the house he found a form letter in our new mailbox saying that our underground water table somewhere on our block was being routinely investigated as a result of a toxic spill from a factory literally sometime around 1900. It was more of a required notice than anything to be alarmed by but it sent Saul reeling. He quickly became convinced we had moved next to our area’s version of Three Mile Island or that Erin Brockovich would be knocking on our door before the end of the day. Throughout our closing between signing large stacks of paper, Saul was on the phone with several environment agencies trying to get to the bottom of it. I was becoming more and more stressed. I wanted to tell him not to worry, but 9 years ago I told my mom not to worry about my sister’s headache and then my sister suddenly died. That definitely felt like the universe saying, “Don’t get too cocky, buddy. You don’t know anything.” Saul finally got reassured that our ground water was totally fine and we closed on our first house together. (Still we are going to closely examine the first batch of tomatoes in our backyard to make certain they don’t have three small eyeballs or two tiny arms.)
I don’t think Saul’s nerves aren’t just about fear. They are a result of all the compassion and passion that is practically bursting out of him. On the very same day we closed on the house, he got a lease for his very own art gallery. I never in a bazillion years thought I’d be married to a man who painted what one patron recently called sensual gay art. I mean I never saw that one coming. “Do you maybe want to hang a wolf or maybe a cheetah up darling?” I often ask. Saul was an English teacher when I met him but it seems I brought out the sensual gay artist in him. If only my father had lived to see this (He died due to the effects of alcoholism. See paragraph 2 above.)
When I see Saul talking about his work with interested patrons and how excited he is to share his vision, it makes me so proud I could cry. I don’t cry because it tends to alarm people and hurt his sales.
I love seeing Saul joyful and he is quite joyful when he is immersed in his art.
It’s not a one-way street. Saul listens to me read a new chapter of my endless memoir every week and gives me valuable feedback. How lucky am I to be married to a writing critic I trust?
I made out with a lot of toads before I go to Saul. A lot. I speed dated until I bled. I had so many terrible first dates that I had stopped trying to impress anyone and showed up wearing sweats with holes and an oversized T Shirt. “This is what they will mostly see me in if it works out” I would tell myself. “Why try to impress with false advertising?”
But then I met this knucklehead Saul and he was not scared off by my sweats. We worked hard from the start to figure each other out and to make the relationship work. Our first fight occurred when he napped for two hours on our third date and I woke him up by screaming in his face, HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO NAP?
He didn’t seem to like that.
Now I send the cats in to walk on his face when I’m bored by his sleeping.
I look at that as a compromise.
Saul went to a hypnotist for his anxiety last week. I waited outside the office to meet him afterwards. Perhaps I was being codependent but I knew he was anxious about the appointment ironically so I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone. Plus, I was worried he would be acting like a chicken and follow a stranger with bird seed home.
When he came out of the office, he walked over to me standing on a street in the West Village waiting for him and embraced me said in my ear, “I love you so much.”
I liked this hypnotist.
And I knew why he was saying this. Saul and I fuss and argue but in the end, we always want what is best for each other. I don’t want him to be anxious and if a hypnotist can help (and she did) then why not support that 100%? Plus, he has been very nice to me ever since that appointment. When he asked me yesterday if he should go back to her, I screamed “YES. YES. FOR THE LOVE OF SWEET JESUS YES!” perhaps a little less subtly than I intended.
The bus is finally moving now I’m excited to go home. We haven’t moved into the new house yet. That won’t be for a few days. But home isn’t the place I will be paying a mortgage for the rest of my life until the day I drop dead from exhaustion because I had to work way past my retirement.
Home is my relationship with husband and I’m going to work on a strong foundation, build it up a little at a time and keep it as safe from harm as I possibly can.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Hoffman is writing a non-sensual gay memoir.