On a steamy-hot day in August 1977, Elvis falls from his throne and checks out of the building. It was the 16th and I remember it well. We were at the end of a short honeymoon, having been wed on the 14th.
We were married in a Brooklyn brownstone owned by a dear friend. We celebrated with a few good friends and family members. We served poppy-seed cake. Keith Jarrett’s Koln sessions were on the stereo. We agreed to do a few things and rings were exchanged, and soon afterwards we drove across the Brooklyn Bridge into our Manhattan destination.
Two years before, I was sitting in an orientation with a bunch of other like-minded folk. We were all going to save the world starting in Brooklyn. Our group was split in two..one group moved to Brownsville (literally on the block where a young Mike Tyson was living). Our half moved a number of blocks to the east to a neighborhood called East New York (ENY abutted Queens, hence the confusing name). In our group was a bossy woman, a meekish woman who did at least speak, and an ultra-meekish woman who seemed to be mute, along with another young woman who would believe anything (we really did try hard to make up preposterous lies, but she seemed to fall for all of them).
I attempted to get to know the mute. I took her to the CITY, where we museum’d, ate Greek and walked and walked. She said little and I muttered to myself…lost cause. Our work overtook us. Our group ate together, planned lessons together, ate more together, cooked together, and were forced to go out together en masse every Saturday night for forced fellowship.
A girlfriend came into the scene for me. She was fun and smart and pretty and it was a good adventure for me. But, my heart was slowly being taken over by the curious mute who happened to be quite artistic and occasionally funny, who wore these corduroy shorts safety-pinned together way on up there…Those shorts became quite intriguing.
We fell in love, spent a week apart, and were both miserable without each other. We rendevoused upon my return to NY at a restaurant called ‘Z’ on Union Square. We ate mousaka and discussed marriage. There was no proposal..no need for that. We both knew and began to plan logistics. I forgot to tell my parents that my other girlfriend and I had broken up, so when I called to tell them the good news, they became rather confused considering they really had not heard much at all about my new love.
That spring became summer. We were making plans. Elvis was still eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches and we were getting MARRIED. August 13th arrived along with family and friends. After stashing everyone away at friends houses and hotels, we fell down exhausted on the floor of the living room in which we were to be married, realizing that we had arranged for beds for everyone besides us. We fell asleep on that floor. Several hours later we awoke, the coffee was made, the friends and the family arrived and we were wed.
We head to Manhattan and then two days later, Elvis up and dies. We head back to Brooklyn, to our project apartment and our jobs. We both end up working in Manhattan. We had little money but we had low rent and a yen to know the city. I may not have been unfettered, but I was alive, and in love.
Years pass, children are born, anger arises, fights occur, feelings are hurt, and we don’t know if we can really do this. Marriage..the full-tilt-12-rounds-for-life is hard work, and don’t let anyone fool ya. We reared some kids, and we did well and we did poorly. I loved, and I loved to be angry.
I’m the tilt-a-whirl the hyperbolic yak machine, impatient and yearning. I’m married to the steady the even and the deep. Her perseverance, her love, and her even threatening seriously to leave have saved my life. Love doesn’t progress in a steady line. The euphoria of young love is glimpsed occasionally, but the depth of all that shared experience and the underlying belief that we could make it work served us well.
Today is the 33rd anniversary of a grand experiment, a long-lasting love, and a life together. We are battle-scarred and we do know the buttons to push, but sometimes we have the grace to restrain. Those glimpses of that youthful euphoria do gift us with the memory of why we pulled together, and why despite some quite difficult times, we stopped and caught our breath, and we remembered.
Our kids become adults and they have rich lives if not monetarily rich.
Today is the 33rd anniversary of being married to a strong, beautiful and hard-working woman. I have often been not worthy. Grace has pulled me through. I am still in love, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I would like to work on that second set of thirty-three years but I don’t take any moment beyond the one I’m in, for granted. I do know that my past and my future would be much the poorer if a mute from Kansas hadn’t opened up her life and her heart. It was clearly my charm and those safety pins..’
Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. I may have the world’s worst luck with electronic devices, printers and such, but my luck and fortune with you has been the best. Elvis hunka hunka’d off this mortal coil was a landmark passing and sad time for many. However, for me, and this is about me, the rumblings of Elvis death observed remind me that an anniversary is a coming and I best be aware. Thanks, Elvis, but the biggest thanks go to Lynn. *all headlocks are merely metaphorical in nature.