Best Mistake I Ever Made

I realized it about 24 hours after the last grain of rice was thrown at our wedding. I had married a total nut job. The marriage lasted 20 years, fortunately – because now I can claim a matching share of his social security!
My husband was brilliant in many ways. He was a Mensa member, quite handsome and had all sorts of travel stories relating to his work with U.S.A.I.D. in Vietnam and his work with the PeaceCorp in Nigeria as well as his courses at the Goethe Institute in Germany. What I did NOT realize was that the person I was marrying was a died-in-the-wool, card-carrying, indoctrinated bureaucrat, with all the attending bureaucrat mentality and innate laziness.

After marriage my husband had applied to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for an M.A. in Anthropology. He had really wanted me to get a job but decided, evidently, that going to school was the next best thing as it was fun, easy, and he’d meet new people to share his glory days in the State Department with. We finally rented a tiny house on a dirt road that was constantly bathed in a thick smog of dust kicked up every time the slightest vibration hit the road. And, of course, there were the Hispanic Street gangs that patroled the neighborhood, shooting guns and screaming obscenities that I thankfully was not privvy to. It became winter and the first snow came with a vengeance. I woke up one morning and shook the snow off my pillow and hair – my dear husband just Loved sleeping with the window open, even in the dead of winter – and set about looking for a job. I worked for two restaurants, a dry cleaner, and finally for a department store as a dressmaker in alterations. Dear hubby was exercising his ample bureaucratic grey matter all the while and he’d procurred the friendship of an independently wealthy drunk who he waxed eloquent with regarding their mutual rich and varied lives.

I survived that quite nicely, I thought, only to enter the next phase or our life in our return home. After actively looking in the newspaper for any job that an English major like myself could do he happened on one calling for a dressmaker to sew little girls’ smart and snappy tennis frocks for a per piece pay of around five bucks. Ahhh, what glorious luck! But I saw the shop, a little sweatshop of a garage with three sewing machines, and I talked to the “owner” who was making a fortune selling the snappy little tunics starting around $49 each. She did not advise us having radios on while working but she Would give us a full hour for lunch. How nice. I declined and poor hubby had to go to work in a local bureaucratic job at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Memphis. He hated every minute of it. But fortunate for us the job did carry lovely medical insurance which paid for my son’s birth – Truly the pinnacle of my life thus far.

The third phase of our life together should be condensed for sheer kindness to the poor reader. We bought a house in the slums for $10,000 that was supplied as a gift from my long-suffering father. The experiences there were as follows: a home invasion from a drug-crazed maniac who chased me down the hall, survival of an earthquake that shook all the dishes and glasses while our neighbors had a gun battle going around the corner, a party for “our” friends that involved a home-made pizza that my hubby made, dropped on the floor and then scooped up and fed everyone too drunk or hungry to notice. Our entertainment that evening was sitting outside sweating while we watched the lovely fires all around the city started by striking firefighters. My husband finally quit his job, frustrated that he had nobody who appreciated him there, and got a job as a courrier at FedEx – the first private-sector job of his life. He was delighted to just listen to the radio and drive around the city. We now entered the era of weekly ranting about the “unfairness” and inefficiency of the entire FedEx Corporate. But he made a mistake. He climbed to manager at the night Hub and things escalated. We managed to sell our house and move into a rotting duplex which I had to paint the outside of myself to get our loan appraisal. I held three part-time jobs during this time while my son was in school – Public Relations assistant at an advertising firm, teaching assistant at the local university, and private contractor writing deposition summaries for lawyers. It got me out of the house while hubby was sleeping and complaining about the slightest noise. Poor hubby began to hone his radical ideas. He began a bio-dynamic French Intensive garden in our yard, he started growing mushrooms under our bed – a dismal failure that produced copious mold but no mushrooms – and he began to read books on the virtues of eating insects for protein as a solution for the starvation problems in the U.S. All the while my son was constantly growing. He loved his dad. He loved me. He was growing a true sense of humor. He was the delight of my days.

The final years of our marriage were spent in a wonderful stucco home with an attic fan and wonderful radiator heat and real ceramic tile bathroom floors. All this because my mother had died and left a very nice inheritance to her four children. My friend Calvin noted that everytime he came over hubby was in the rocking chair. Calvin also had a sense of humor. So did all the rest of our friends. They all were acutely aware that My Hubby’s true ambition in life was Retirement. We finally divorced “amicably” after 20 years of marriage. Using a lawyer my hubby knew and who he said was a real “advocate” for the little guy, I ended up having to spell check and date check her entire Marriage Disolution Agreement, because there were so many errors. I became a tri-athlete, met lots of new people, became fairly successful in real-estate till my hip needed replacing. But that is another story.

Thus I have entered the last part of my life in this story – my status as a divorced woman in her 50s who is not at all interested in any more marriages. But I would do it all over again if I knew that this same son would be the product of the same 20 years! He has his father’s number. He has my number. He is happy, intensely ambitious without being the least mean-spirited or vain or totally materialistic. He laughs at the foibles of us all. Everyone who knows Alonzo adores and needs him to brighten their lives. He is interested in so many things and every time I think about the wonder of this young man I marvel at him – his interest in people, his love of reading and writing, investing, horticulture, music, truly beautiful things around him. He entered this life with a slight smile on his tiny face, probably because he knew the comedy-drama that would unfold around his life. Hmmm. With prescience like that I trust he will have better results when he picks a mate for life. But then I think. . .hmmmm.

Perhaps such prescience is not such a good thing after all.

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