Wednesday, June 29, 2005

stories worth a thousand words #24

A WARTS ‘N ALL AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ORDINARY GUY

1000 WORDS ON…MY EX

Written: December 30, 2004

Though the chapters in this book are presented in a somewhat chronological order, they were not written as such. I listed 50 topics and gave myself until January 1st to complete them. Understandably, I have left the writing of this chapter until the eleventh hour. When the source of my anger and frustration is not my mother these days, it is invariably the person whose name adorns this chapter.

Of course, it was not always bad times. From February 4th, 1988 to March 16th, 2000, there were a hell of a lot more good times than bad, and to summarize my association with her purely on the grounds of any bitterness I may retain would be grossly unfair, especially to my kids, for whom this book is supposedly being written. I deal enough with the split in other chapters, so I will try to confine my scope to the happier times.

We met through a mutual acquaintance called Barry Mullen. He had mooched her at a few parties, and I had become friendly with him through the first year Psychology class. The Feb 4 date mentioned above was UCD Arts Day, and all the Arts students were to dress up in pyjamas and basically get blind drunk for the whole day to raise money for some charity or other.

I have to assume that Barry had hoped to be with MyX on the day, since she and her friends were sitting with us in the bar, but as it turned out she knocked over my pint of lager and was extremely apologetic, while I was extremely forgiving! Before I could say “Wait a tick, I’m still in me bloody pyjamas!” I was in her mother’s kitchen having coffee, since we had to go back to her house to get her tickets for a ball that evening, and I understandably wanted to get away from being around Barry for a while.

MyX's attractive features at the time were a stunning figure and a mass of distinctive red hair. I was still somewhat on the rebound from Cathy Neary, and naïve as I was, it was not hard for me to fall headlong into a new relationship very easily.

It wasn’t long before I was bringing her home to meet my grandparents, and she was the first girlfriend they had met. My grandfather was so interested to meet her he actually sat in the living room of our house in Blackrock, a place he rarely frequented. After I had seen MyX to her bus and returned home that night, he said to me something like; “She’s a lovely girl Jeff but don’t think she’s the only girl you are ever going to meet!” His words fell on deaf ears, and only now do I see their wisdom.

Every single stage of our association was dictated by her; our first date, our first shag, our first trip away, our first place together, our engagement, our wedding, our first baby, our first house, and ultimately, our separation. I was delighted to tag along, just happy that someone wanted to spend so much time with me. I never considered myself being led in a particular direction, nor did I even consider that a life without her wasn’t so terrible a prospect. Even when other women would flirt with me, and at the risk of sounding vain several did, I assumed that it was the fact that I was spoken for that proved the main attraction.

And so, four and a half years after our first kiss, I was shaking like a leaf at the altar in St Agnes’ Church in Crumlin as we went through our marital vows before all our family and friends. I never thought I would be nervous, but in the church I was a trembling wreck. On the contrary, she was the personification of calm, and was actually dressed and ready before her bridesmaids! After a great day for everyone, we stayed the night in a honeymoon suite and ironically got the 46A bus home to our flat in Donnybrook the following morning, for instead of the traditional 2-week honeymoon we planned to take off to the USA en route to “travelling the world”.

Although to us at the time so much about the wedding seemed perfect, a lot of it showed just how unprepared we were not just for the ceremony, but for the marriage that followed. Neither of us thought to ask the priest back for the wedding dinner! Also we actually had the nerve to ask our friends for money as a wedding present to see us on our way to the USA. If someone told me they wanted money today I would think them extremely rude, and no doubt ours felt the same.

We were happy when together, and very, very rarely had fights. What ones we had usually came when I tried to suggest a course of action contrary to that put forward by her. As she is an extremely intelligent and practical person, I rarely had a cause to disagree, but now looking back I realize that a strong relationship must involve input from both sides if it to stand a chance of surviving. It was when she asked me to give up my position as sports store manager that I finally had to draw a line in the sand, and was a line not to be crossed.

I did love MyX, and despite my transgressions, was willing to spend the rest of my life with her. Ironically it was her sense of looking at things in a practical light that rubbed off on me enough to help me get through our separation. Now, I do not resent her, I see her more as a co-worker, someone with whom I must associate without feeling the need to get too involved. We agreed to explain to our kids that they were both born out of love, a fact they will hopefully one day come to appreciate.


NEXT, THE STORIES SO FAR

2 comments:

Buffalo said...

Lessons learned along life's highway

Heidi said...

your story was written very well, Jeff. thanks for sharing it.

I especially like the mention of her as a "co-worker." I think that's a great way to look at it. I think my parents tried to do the same with me after their separation. I know it took a toll on my mother, but I am very appreciative of her efforts to keep things civil.