Hear ye, hear ye

I’m getting married.

You hear me? Married. MARRIED!

I’m not sure I ever really believed I’d do such a thing.

Once upon a time I was in high school when marriage was entirely abstract and I had dreams about Husbands and Children but in reality I knew I had to go to college and do some other shit first so it was a nice thought but nothing too pressing.

And then some boys told me they loved me but mostly they didn’t mean it. And that’s totally fine.

And then one time I got knocked up and went around telling my family (and myself) that I was going to get married to the man whose child I was having, even though he hadn’t asked me to or ever actually exhibited any interest in doing such a thing. I told my folks that so they wouldn’t freak out so much over the whole unwed mother thing. And to soothe my own aching heart, which wanted so badly to believe that I was intentionally building a cozy family life, starting right there in my uterus and branching out to the people around me.

Didn’t happen. And that’s perfectly fine too.

None of that made any sense until I met the man I was meant to marry.

Love came to me out of nowhere. I had tried to remain open to love after a period of feeling completely deflated and unworthy, in a relationship where we didn’t care much for each other at all and resentments built up and curdled like cups of milk left in the sun. Insanely, wonderfully, I did not even have to wait that long or try that hard to be loved once I freed myself from that toxic relationship. It makes no sense to me. It blows my mind. I’m so grateful. I left the bad shit behind and got out on my own and this lil dude came along right away, all funny and real and sincere and woke and smart and handsome and kind, so insanely kind, and he was over here crooning and playing guitar too. He was perfect in every way for me and instead of making me guess about his heart, he let me in and let me love him. And he loved me back, no reservations. I was guarded at first and tried not to fall too hard but we both got stuck on each other real fast. Hot damn.

I knew early that the thing we had was special. At the time I was trying to sit on it so as to not show all my cards but it did not take long for me to understand that our chemistry was rare. We didn’t have to try too hard; it was just ridiculously easy to love each other in ways big and small. I’ve never had a man look at me and be totally delighted by all the shades of my ridiculousness. His kindness, encouragement, empathy and understanding: I knew six months in that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’m not sure when he came to that conclusion. I’m honestly not sure how I’ve convinced him to do this crazy thing with me; I sincerely do not feel worthy.

A hundred other dudes would have been weirded out by the fact that I have a 5-year-old. This one made it his mission to build something meaningful with my son. Something not superficial. I watch them together and am awed by how quickly they’ve built a bond. Mom is usually pretty serious but Richard goofs around and wrestles and plays mucsic and buys water guns. When Holden and I FaceTime when he’s at his dad’s house, he always asks where Richard is.

It’s not always easy, the life we are living, but my heart feels swollen and full most of the time.

I am eaten up with gratitude and so crazy excited to make this thing official. I’ve waited a long time to pair up with someone who I feel is an equal partner.

I’m excited to see where this adventure takes us.

Pre-nuptial rumination

It’s hard to think about without wincing but sometimes my mind wanders and I think of the stupid things I’ve done to get men to love me.

How I’ve shushed that voice inside me that protested. How I’ve talked my way around it. How I knew going in that it was a bad idea but how I convinced myself that no matter what at least I’d get a good story out of it. It’s always worth the story, right? Yeah, sure, may be. But you don’t just carry the story with you and break it out at parties and then put it back in its case and back on a shelf until the next time you need it. You carry the shame too, and that shame will creep up on you and buckle your knees in the shower or in long walks across parking lots when your mind wanders. Is it still worth the story then? Yeah, sure. May be.

Maybe not.

There was this one man who came after me like a bull running toward a billowing red flag. That’s how it felt to me. It was exhilarating. He must have smelled the sadness on me, a bloodhound hunting the lovesick. He made me his mark and he must have known I’d think it felt so nice to be marked that I would go along with what was a very bad and very hurtful plan for everyone involved. He must have known. He must have laughed to himself at how easy it was. Maybe he did.

Maybe not.

There was this one man who spent many of his waking hours and of some his sleeping hours radiating a disdain for me that was palpable. You could walk into a room and feel it. I could walk into a room and feel it. He told me when I confessed my unhappiness that we had made our bed and even though we weren’t happy, we needed to lie in it. Forever. Because that was the right thing to do. I imagined myself dying a withered and dried-up husk of a person. Sometimes I think about what life would be like had I stayed and lived out my life pushing that boulder up the hill. The thought errors out every time. It cuts to a “footage not found” screen. Maybe that man would have grown to love and respect me with time.

Maybe not.

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I’m thinking about these things a lot lately because of how so many of my past relationships contrast so sharply with the relationship I have with the man I am going to marry. All that time I spent positioning myself so that I could lap up crumbs of an aloof man’s affection; what was I thinking? Who was I? Why was I so sure that I had to settle for whatever I could get at that moment because it was pretty unlikely that I’d ever find more? Why did I need to self-loathing to play out externally as a relationship with another person? What did I actually learn from any of that, other than don’t do that again, dummy?

I’m under no illusions that marriage will be easy. But to be stepping into it with someone who has never once made me question my self-worth feels like a revelation, a sunrise, a new notebook, a popped cork. There is magic and comfort there, with room to grow and without fear.

It’s exactly what I have been pining for my whole life.

The difference

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My mom said something to me a few months ago, right after I had made the leap to move into my own place and try to start a new, better life.

She said, “Linz, you don’t know what it’s like to have a man love you. You’ve not had it yet. When it happens, though, you’ll know it.” She said it with frustration. Not toward me, but toward all the men in the world who’ve hurt her baby girl.

And at the time it was sort of like Ouch, Mom, but I knew what she meant.

And she was right.

I had no idea what it was like to feel completely comfortable in my own skin while in a relationship. To feel my own agency and worth but to want constantly to be a better person, a better partner, because I want to make his life better too. The feeling of being a team.

Not to say insecurity isn’t always there, creeping around and poking its head in periodically. But to live without the constant drumbeat of anxiety and instead have it replaced by a safety net of love and acceptance? Incredible.

I am grateful.

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Status update

It is weird to be watched. To have someone waiting for you display how human you are so he can come after you and exploit your weaknesses. To be the target of an emotional sniper.

I wonder if he knows the damage he’s doing. Not to me, though. I’ve been working on being immune to that garbage for a long time and it’s finally taking hold.

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I’ve taken the week off from work. Naturally, it’s been raining the entire time. You’re welcome, farmers.

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I saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” the other day and it was intense in the best way. Just balls-to-the-wall insanity on an arc that most storytellers don’t often commit to. The rolling tribal metal concert was obviously the best part. I just kept thinking about the board meetings the Citadel council had to have where someone was like, “Gentlemen, times are lean and we need to think about reducing resources that are unnecessary to our most critical warmongering efforts” and then everyone looks over to the crazy suspended guitarist who’s just in the corner foaming at the mouth and stroking the frets and someone jumps up and says, “Now just a minute, Warrior Clank! One could argue that Coma-Doof Warrior’s contributions to the war effort are as critical as any of you silver-gummed, pockmarked shitstains!” and then the whole scene devolves into flammable chaos as Doof shreds his ax in the background.

That exact council meeting probably happened multiple times because, you know, political gridlock.

Such takeaway delight is not present in many films and for that I am grateful.

Also, holy fucking Furiosa, dudes. Don’t be surprised if I have a bad day and show up to the office some time soon with grease smeared on my forehead. On that day, either say yes ma’am to whatever I ask or run away from me.

Far away.

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“I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” — Donna Haraway

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The new place is coming along. I’ve got furniture on the floor and things hung on the wall. I didn’t announce a move or anything because I don’t feel terribly comfortable announcing personal details here anymore. (See the beginning of this post.)

I love living in East Nashville. It reminds me of Midtown in so many ways and it’s great to be so close to friends. I want to explore more and today intended to do just that and got caught out in a serious deluge. I came in to Mad Donna’s and that is where I sit at this moment, gut full of burger and margaritas. Happy vacation to me.

‘Like a summer with a thousand Julys’

Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly wistful, I think that it would be nice to get married someday — don’t laugh! It’s possible that someone might actually consider me suitable for legally enforced, lifelong partnership some day before I die! — and if that were to happen, I would want this song to be the first song we danced to as a married couple, be it on a floor of grass or sand or wooden planks in front of a crowd of buzzed onlookers or privately together in our living room after a quiet civil ceremony. Whatever. Details don’t matter in dumb fantasies. What matters is how this song reminds me of The Point of It All and also The Cosmic Hangover after you fall in love and get dehydrated.

Once upon a time (2008) I wrote something so delicious about Billie Holiday that I have to copy it here, since I can’t ever top this, ever:

Putting a Billie Holiday record on has roughly the same effect on a room as turning on an oscillating fan and taking off a couple of layers of clothes. The only way the setting could possibly improve is if you’ve got one hand clenched around a glass of champagne, and your other arm wrapped tightly around a man who smells like soap and salt, your chin perched on his shoulder as you two shuffle side by side to the slow, swinging beat, your shadows long from the candlelight.

Guhhhh.

When my son gets here…

I want him to know that I tried really, really hard.