The house that Jack built.
A woman asked me last night if I was married. I honestly didn’t know what to say. Hadn’t thought about it.
When I went home and went to bed, I dreamed about being married for almost the last twenty years.
I never cared for the institution of marriage after watching my parents suffer through it, but I married her because I cared for her and she had no health insurance.
And she knew that.
She had no money, no skills, no education and two grown children.
To make it worse, she had a nasty Bronx attitude about taking orders, so she was always mysteriously getting canned.
We were married in a quick afternoon ceremony with a justice of the peace and a saguaro cactus in attendance.
I remembered how I took that move back east with her for BMS and how disappointed and disillusioned I was when I got there. With everything.
I went from working on a dock, right into sales in Phoenix, so I never got the in-house politics, small talk, coffee machine, CYA thing.
When I got there, I found the whole thing embarrassing. There was no excitement, no joy, and sadly, no danger. It was just a bunch of nice local people trying to keep their gigs.
And moving back east put her in close proximity to her family and a horse barn and that was almost all she wrote. She was gone that first weekend.
The word horse never came up until then. From then on, she was either at the barn or in New Jersey.
One Sunday afternoon, as I was walking past the main bathroom, I saw her getting ready. “Getting ready” always meant she was off to the barn.
She had on her riding clothes and boots and was standing in front of the mirror..
When I expressed my frustration at her not even telling me beforehand, she whipped around with a brush in her hand and let me have it under no uncertain terms. I was stunned.
She told me what her rights were in this marriage with such clarity, I was sure she had either rehearsed it, or given that Patrick Henry before.
This was my biggest fear and why I stayed single for 53 years. Trapped.
Slowly, while thinking there was no way out, I started working my doctor for Ambien, then Soma, then Tramadol, and then Lunesta. You can fill in all the notorious pain killers right here. Check.
Around 2007, the wheels started coming off and my doc offered me Xanax. But she didn’t call it that. She called it alprazolam. From then on, you could call me fucked.
I was always home alone with my six dogs. I always had a nice buzz and something furry to snuggle with. Then I started hoping she wouldn’t come home at all.
Three years ago, feeling I had nothing left to lose after almost 40 years of hard earned sobriety, I picked up a drink.
To be continued.