Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Holy Shit, I'm famous.

Thanks, Creative Loafing. I heart you back.

Now back to your regualrly scheduled navel gazing.

My Own Natural Bridge

The Republican and I were standing in the middle of Christi's new living room, getting married, when I noticed there was something wrong with his voice. I looked up into his eyes - I had been trying not to look at him, not to look at anything because formal ceremonies freak me out - but I looked up into his eyes just then and he almost lost it. He was Southern Man-Crying. All choked up, struggling to speak, no tears but clogged nose. So I said: "Don't cry! Don't cry, motherfucker, because then I'll cry."

And everyone cracked up. I'm so romantic. Christi took a break from her role as clergy and retrieved tissues while I, The Republican, Tony and Andrew were consumed by humor and a tidal wave of emotion I should have been more prepared for. I didn't expect to be so affected by the marriage ceremony. I did cry. The Republican blew his nose several times. We laughed. I think Andrew cried a little too.

After the ceremony Christi fed us all homemade apple pie, and Tony insisted on taking us all out to dinner. Then The Republican and I curled up under an old quilt loaned to us by Andrew, and that was it, folks, I was happily married.

Three days later I was driving to Harrisonburg, Virginia on my own. Just because I'm married doesn't mean that the world stopped. I just means that my home life has changed. I still have to work, and I'm still me. It's only that everything about my home life has changed, once again. I'm moving more towards being stable soon though. I hope.

I was driving up the interstate from Roanoke to Harrisonburg to work, and I noticed that this interstate that I was on repeatedly crossed Highway 11 , the metaphorical Road to Devon. Off of Highway 11 in Virginia is The Natural Bridge, a phenomenon that sparked one of Devon's best short stories. I thought a lot about Devon and Erin and Dust a lot on this trip. My old Scribbling Mob friends, they're mostly still single, or still in the same romantic cycles they were five years ago. I have broken free. I am still part of them, but I have taken this act, marriage, and separated myself a bit from their lot.

Harrisonburg is in north-west Virginia, and I thought that because of this, I might be able to meet Dust for a meal or talk or something. On the map, it only looked as though Morgantown were a couple of hours away, but on further investigation I found that the drive from Morgantown to Harrisonburg is over four hours. The map is flat, but Appalachia is not. Huge mountains lay between us, impossible to cross as we both had deadlines in the work we were meant to accomplish. Like everything between Dust and I, our timing was off, and the obstacles were just too big. Dust and I are still friends, but there will always be this between us: not enough time, and too many mountains.

I enjoyed visiting Harrisonburg, even if the quilt museum was closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays, precluding me from a visit. I flew back to Atlanta Wednesday night happy to see my new husband again, but with a heart full of lead for another reason. Wednesday morning, Dust and Jill's dad died.

I never met Mr. Collins in person, but I felt like I knew him after all the stories I'd heard. Mr. Collins was an alcoholic, just like my dad. Many of my friends have alcoholic fathers; having an alcoholic dad grants you an automatic pass into the secret club of the cynical, the clubhouse of black humor. Mr. Collins was a man that everyone remembered well. His funeral was large and attended by nearly everyone he'd ever met in his life, and they all sang his praises. I sent flowers, only to have everyone wonder who sent them at first. My last name has changed.

I didn't go to the funeral. It would have been the wrong place at the wrong time, my attempt to comfort friends would have only drawn attention away from their grief. I sat on the edge of my bed holding The Republican's hand that Friday morning and choked back tears. I didn't cry. Truthfully I am done crying this year. But I sat and had my moment of profound grief, another emotional wave to surf in a month where everything seems significant. Random acts of geography have displaced me from my life. I have crossed my own natural bridge and forgotten to bring a map. But really, I've been off map since I left grad school.

The Republican and I had a lovely weekend together, and then I was away from home again for another week; now I am home for the rest of the year, still working and still off map. I find that I don't worry so much, with The Republican around. He is reassuring, if just as lost as I am. It's nice to hear two footfalls for every one that I take, and it's nice, sometimes, to know that for once, I have changed something as permanently as I can. I am married. I crossed my natural bridge and burned some others behind it.

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