In Which We Discover Your True Grit After 15 Years Married To The Author
Me, I always have you there.
Yours for the whole life.
Once again, as has been my feckless duty for the previous two public floggings—first on the occasion of our nuptials in June of 1999, when I sent to press a confession of my many and varied ills, and then a decade later on the 10th anniversary of our legal bonding—I take this precious ranting space to applaud your courage in still calling me your husband.
This time around we find ourselves in Dublin, Ireland, on the 12th day of this pagan tribute to the goddess of marriage, Juno. I tend to have these things hit the streets when we’re abroad and you are not able to read them, but then again the internet has since screwed my insidious plan to express with glee this one-sided affair of our journey (advantage jc) with as little repercussion as possible.
Do not think I take this lightly. I know I married way above my class. Nor do I take lightly the unflinching dedication to this madness of a life we have slashed together as if a living, breathing Jackson Pollock. In fact, “abstract expressionism” would be a good description of this thing we’ve created by coming together, nay, staying together so long.
I tell friends almost daily, as I did a couple of days ago, how you have ruined me for other women. Say you come to your senses and boot me out, then how am I supposed to relate to ordinary mortals? Who would see this tornado of jack-assery coming the way you do, or fire against my brimstone the way you do, or crack wise, embrace rage, sink passion, brave doldrums, and rip through the artistic cosmos? Who, I ask you?
Fuck that. It’s prostitutes and bad poetry from then on.
You have taught me a valuable lesson lo these past 17 years; 15 in unholy matrimony: Love is not a universal concept. I probably should have seen that one coming, with all the evidence to the contrary. The idea that you can truly love someone else after being in love only works when you don’t have the scars of you, the brand of you, the scent, the fist, the silence, the exhale, the laughter, the abject mind-altering fuck-all of you. Sure, you can toss around affection and even understand random sex, but love? This comes from having your grip on my throat (I meant heart, not throat, no…wait, throat).
Here’s how you pulled that off: By allowing me to think you do not have this ironclad stranglehold on me; that somehow all these decisions that revolve around thinking of you every single day of my life since we plunged headlong into this without reason or logic have been mine and mine only. How some metaphysical hammerlock on my psyche doesn’t exist; it’s merely a “want” on my part or even (gulp!) a need. Yes, I need to have you consider me an important part of your existence, because, shit; not for one minute could you not be doing all this incredibly cool stuff—art, home-building, yoga, tequila abuse and zig-zag wandering across cityscapes—without me. Or taking care of every animal within a 60-mile radius of this place we’ve built together in the mountains, which you stripped bare and rebuilt in your lioness image.
I guess the one thing you definitely could not have achieved is this now six-year-old talking, singing, arguing, playing, challenging contraption called Scarlet. This offspring, this progeny, is partly my fault. This warped Vegan, Ramones-loving, snake-handling, cosmopolitan water-rat rhythm-machine with the innate ability to speak simultaneously with you whilst spouting divergent ideas has taken your staunch propaganda of empathy and protest and complicated my super-ego to a surprising level of boundless joy. What’s entirely my fault, however, is her shouting requests for “Dead Babies” at kiddie sing-alongs and reveling in what she calls the “bad things” like horror flicks, reptiles, punk music and whatever that creepy melody she hums late at night in bed that sounds like she’s conjuring demons.
What our daughter has received from you is the concussive beauty and steely strength and infinite compassion and the uncanny ability to draw six lines with a crayon and make me think of the Iliad or Twain or Beethoven’s Ninth or those unimaginably gorgeous Mexican sunsets. Most importantly, and dangerously for me, she also possesses your capacity to take hold of my jugular and squeeze; her grip is fierce, dare I say fiercer still than whatever it is you unleashed on me years ago and made me want to keep around. The uninitiated may call it masochistic, even fatalistic, but I call it loving you and now loving her and wondering how actually being loved by both of you is deserved.
But I am comfortable in my hoary role as the mutant in this dynamic; the bleating curmudgeon whose only purpose is to remind you of what being a mere human is like, and not avenging angels with the cute cat voices and the paint splattering all over and me over here never once struggling against your goddamn supernatural grip.
So now we’re in Dublin in search of the another bizarre heritage we share, beyond apathetic radicalism and constipated sensibilities and a dark faith that we never doubted each other for these 15 years and how much I have cherished that rare, rare trust. It is what keeps me in your sway with infinite gratitude.
Your grip is strong, woman.
Don’t let go.
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey,” “Fear No Art,” “Trailing Jesus” and “Y.”