Half a lifetime ago.
On September 10, 1984, the man I loved asked me to marry him.
He got down on one knee in the apartment we shared in Bayside, Queens, and presented me with a diamond ring that we’d chosen together in New York a few days before. I said yes.
At first, we were like any other newly engaged couple. There were announcements — printed, if I recall — and even gifts. I seem to recall a party at in his parent’s backyard.
I don’t remember actually planning the wedding, though — nothing beyond vague ideas about an outdoor ceremony. There didn’t seem any reason to rush into it. We already lived together and things were fine. I didn’t want children yet — as it turned out, I never wanted children.
And then I started having second thoughts.
You see, I believe that marriage should be a forever thing. After all, you take vows, whether those vows are before God or a judge. When I vow to do something, I mean to do it. “Until death do us part” actually means something to me. It means forever.
And I wasn’t sure I wanted to be with this man forever. Things just weren’t quite good enough for me to make that commitment.
Still, we stuck together for years. Our relationship had its ups and downs. My biggest complaint was his habit of belittling me in front of family and friends. When we were alone together, things were usually okay. But when we were with others, he said things to me or about me that made me look stupid or foolish in front of them. It hurt me.
In the beginning, I didn’t say much to him about it. But later, as I matured and gained self-confidence, it led to huge arguments.
For a while, I stopped wearing my ring.
When I decided I wanted to move to Arizona in the late 1990s, I gave him the option of staying behind. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him — I did. But I wasn’t willing to commit to marriage and I didn’t think it was fair for him to give up his life in the New York Metro area for me. But he apparently didn’t see it that way. Despite the way he treated me, he apparently loved me enough to come west with me and build a life together there.
We had a great life in Arizona — at least at first. We both worked out of our home and spend most of our time together. We’d take breaks during the day to run errands in town or go horseback riding. Our friends back east told us it was like we were living on vacation.
But then things changed. He left his job in New Jersey — he had been telecommuting since we moved — and tried to start an HVAC consulting business. And a solar business. Neither of them got off the ground. I gave him a do-nothing job working at the local airport for my company, making twice what my other employees were making, and he lasted less than a week. He got a job in Phoenix instead; that meant long hours in the car, commuting 70 miles each way.
I started building my helicopter charter business. He promised me that when he turned 55, he’d join me on the road half the year with the helicopter. He even learned to fly it so he wouldn’t be stuck driving the truck and trailer all the time when we traveled.
And then, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances that didn’t give me much of a choice, I married him. We’d been engaged 23 years and it looked like we were halfway to forever. If we hadn’t split yet, surely we wouldn’t.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Everything started falling apart after that. He bought a condo in Phoenix and lived there during the week with a roommate who didn’t like me and made me feel uncomfortable when I was there. I started going to Washington in the summer for cherry drying work. I still thought he’d remember and keep his promise, so I kept building my business so it would support both of us.
But I don’t think he ever intended to keep his promise. When I reminded him in 2011, he made an excuse about having to keep working to save up for retirement. I thought that if I waited patiently, he’d come around. After all, I was obviously enjoying the freedom of the lifestyle I’d built for myself. Surely he’d want the same thing.
Things got rough in early 2012 and we went to a marriage counsellor who advised us to talk things out. But he never seemed ready to have that conversation, no matter how hard I tried to start it.
Just a week after I left for the summer in 2012, he signed up for a membership on Chemistry.com. While he was making tentative plans with me on the phone to spend the summer with me in Washington, he was dating other women in Arizona. He met the woman he lives with now — a desperate old whore eight years older than him who seduced him with 30-year-old lingerie photos of herself — only a month after I left for the summer. A month after that, on my birthday, he called and told me he wanted a divorce.
What followed was a series of nasty, vindictive actions and lies — including lies under oath in court — that left me reeling. I’ve covered so much of the bullshit surrounding my divorce in this blog — just follow the divorce tag. There’s more to come. His crap never ends.
Who was this man? I don’t know.
But it certainly isn’t the man who asked me to marry him 30 years ago today. That man is dead.