Enough people have asked, and I realized I’d never really written it down, so today, on our 11th anniversary, I’m writing our story. It’s a long one.
First, a little background. I’d just lost my job and was needing some direction, so I’d gone back to school. I was feeling out of place and alone — I didn’t know anyone at school, and I’d never been good at making friends quickly.
One of my favorite classes was French. I’d had to petition to get in — the class was closed at registration, but you were allowed to petition on the first day, and anyone who hadn’t come to the first day was kicked out, and the petitioners got in instead. It was a serendipitous moment, although I didn’t know it at the time.
The class before ours always ran over, and we always had to wait in the hall. One dayI noticed one of the guys in my class — he was wearing a terrific dark grey jacket, of the sort I’ve always loved. I said, first words, “I’m going to mug you for your jacket.” He shrugged. “Ok.” Class went in a moment later.
It was a long class — three hours — and we always had a break in the middle. As we filed out for break, I felt something on my shoulders — the jacket. Confused, I mumbled something along the lines of “If you don’t take it back, you’ll never get it back,” and handed it back to him. He probably shrugged again, but took the jacket back.
Half the class was sitting in a courtyard, chatting, and the conversation turned to natural disasters. Although I’d been living in California for half a dozen years, I’d never felt any of the earthquakes that had happened. I’d always been asleep on a waterbed, or in my car. I was vocally in favor of tornadoes; you can see those coming. Loki — because that’s who the cute guy was (I’m sure you’d figured this out; you’re clever like that) — Loki liked earthquakes. I think I shouted him down.
French was my last class of the day. As I headed home with a friend, I stopped at a 7-11 for a snack. As I was perusing the snack aisle, a rumbling noise began to fill the store. I looked around in confusion; I had no idea what was happening. Things started falling off shelves, and I felt dizzy. It wasn’t until I saw the clerk vault the counter and dash into the parking lot that I realized what was happening. Earthquake!
The next day French class met, I looked for Loki all day on campus. When I finally spotted him, I stomped up and accused him of causing the earthquake. I think he just grinned. And it all started from there.
We started doing things together. He introduced me to cool clubs and cool music. I taught him about good wine and good food. We’d go to the beach, or on picnics, or just hang out. All of this was complicated by the fact that we were both dating other people — I was, in fact, living with my boyfriend and his mom.
I could tell a thousand stories about this time — the day I tried to see his band play, but left before they went on, in a welter of guilt and fear, because some friends of mine, in another band, had turned up and I was afraid to get caught; or about our first kiss, sitting on a lifeguard tower on the tiny, hidden cove where they used to film Gilligan’s Island; or how, on his birthday, I punched him on his newly-tattoed shoulder because I was freaking out about something — but it all came to an end, of a sort, when I moved to The Swamp.
I was running out of money. I was determined to finish college, but couldn’t afford it any longer. My dad offered to pay for my tuition, but only if I went to school where he could keep an eye on me. So I ditched my boyfriend and parted, tearfully, from my surreptitious crush and moved to Louisiana for a period of exile.
Oh! Wait, I have to tell this one story. Bit of background: Loki loved the movie Say Anything …. So we go to lunch — the last one before I left for The Swamp — and I dropped him off at work before going to have another lunch with my boyfriend (the things I did …). As I was parking, I noticed a pen on the passenger’s seat, where Loki had been sitting.
A pen. In the movie, Ione Skye says at one point, as she’s breaking up with John Cusack just before she leaves for England, “Here, take this pen, and write to me?”
(Turned out it had just fallen out of his pocket, but it was a wee bit freaky nonetheless.)
So I left for The Swamp in late June, but not before I persuaded Loki to come visit me. And he did, in August, and it was wonderful. A week of walking and talking and exploring (and helping us move house, because nothing can ever be perfect …).
At the end of his visit, I drove him to the airport in Baton Rouge and sat in the departures terminal. “Ask me to stay,” he said. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t condemn him to The Swamp, much as I didn’t want him to leave. So he left, and I cried all the way home, and things followed upon that.
He’d been writing to me, every day. Literally every day, a letter, short or long, would arrive. After August, the letters slowed down. The packages dwindled. And then he told me he’d met someone else.
I was wrecked. I started drinking too much — not hard to do in Louisiana, where there are two things to do: drink and have sex; since the only one I wanted to have sex with was a thousand miles away, and, oh, by the way, seeing someone else, I drank. A lot.
We were still talking, though, and writing, and I persuaded him to visit in December, mainly by buying him a ticket. And he came, and it wasn’t the same, not the same at all. For one thing, whereas the first night of his August visit was spent engaged in some righteous canoodling, the first night of the December visit he spent in my bathroom, purging some sort of nasty food poisoning from eating airline food.
It wasn’t a bad visit, all things considered, especially if you like things bittersweet. We finished up the week in New Orleans, having memorable experiences aplenty. But he left, in the rain, on a dark, dreary day. And I cried all the way home.
Nearly two years pass. He stays with his bitch girlfriend (yep, still bitter) and I drink a lot and take advantage of the fact that I have some really cool friends who are there with a hug (or whatever) when I need it, and end up dating a really nice guy who didn’t deserve to be saddled with me in my post-Loki bitterness and grief.
One day, after I’d moved out of my dad’s house and moved in with my friend Peter (the better to drink myself stupid, stay out half the night and stop going to school), we learned that Hurricane Andrew was headed our way. Peter and I went to the store to stock up on necessary supplies (Campari and an ice pick), then went home and commenced the serious drinking. I ended up on the floor in Peter’s room, in the dark, storm raging all around us, phone clutched to my chest, calling Loki in Arizona, where he’d moved with his bitch girlfriend: “I’m about to die in a hurricane. I still love you.”
A week or so later, when I hadn’t died in the hurricane (destruction all around us, though, but all that happened at our house was that we lost cable TV for about 15 minutes), Loki called me.
“Erin’s cheating on me. I’ve kicked her out. Come live with me.”
Two weeks later, I was picking him up at the airport. We loaded all my posessions except my books, which would follow by post, into my CRX and drove straight through to The Desert, 26 hours nearly-nonstop.
Fifty months to the day after we met, we were married. The story doesn’t end here, but I’m stopping it here anyway. Perhaps I’ll continue someday.
I love you, belovedest.