The Transcendent Familiar 1: There Is Water at the Bottom of the Ocean

I will probably never fully understand how I stayed with Robert as long as I did. We were only good at two things: making beautiful babies and bringing out the worst in each other.

Water dissolving…and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

In the summer of 1990, I wanted to move into the having-sex-on-a-regular-basis phase of my life. I had had just enough sex to decide that I would like to have a good deal more of it.

Fortunately, I knew enough about myself to be aware that a series of brief, meaningless encounters would be hard on my heart. Unfortunately, I did not know that I would believe I was in love with the very first man who granted me predictable access to his penis. I couldn’t tell the difference between the hormones of sexual satisfaction from the feelings of love.

I also tried to vomit myself inside out during each of my three pregnancies, so it’s safe to say that I am more vulnerable than average to the effects of hormones.

Beyond the desire to achieve and maintain a hectic sex schedule, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was nineteen years old and floundering. I had a job teaching preschool; I took some college classes; I had some vague ideas about career and family. What I lacked was goals, even general ones that would propel me toward, say, the university. I went to work, hung out with my friends, drank coffee by the bucket-full, and smoked cigarettes as if I was involved in a secret government brain-dehydration project.

OK, so the coffee thing hasn’t changed.

I was on the cusp of adulthood and I was rudderless. If a cult had found me then, I guess I would have joined, but instead I met Robert.

Enter stage left: plentiful sex.

Within a few months, we broke up. I mourned the absence of sex and little else. We didn’t have much in common; for interesting conversations I looked to my girlfriends, not Robert. A few weeks later, we got back together. I’m unclear now on the order of events, but between the summer of 1990 and the spring of 1993, we sometimes lived together; I sometimes lived with my parents; he sometimes lived with his mom; for a time he slept on the couch at my parents’ house; he sometimes had an apartment of his own; he sometimes lived with roommates; we were often together; we occasionally broke up; we both had sex with other people when we broke up; we decided to get married three (or was it 4?) times; we planned a wedding and cancelled it just three weeks before the big day.

As chaotic as our relationship was, there was some magic click that would happen when we were together, some inexplicable comfort that drew us to each other time and again. We fit together like two misshapen puzzle pieces. My dysfunction fit his and his dysfunction fit mine.

Ultimately, no matter how wrong we were for each other, we had to ride the train until it stopped. No, not until it stopped; not even until it derailed. We were going to ride our personal relationship-hell train until it exploded like a bomb.

And then on April 2, 1993, the rabbit done died.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself

Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads

Part 2

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18 thoughts on “The Transcendent Familiar 1: There Is Water at the Bottom of the Ocean”

    1. I’m kind of a long-form writer by nature and people hassle me for writing excessively long posts. Solution? A series!

      I don’t know how many parts it will be, but def. more than two, so there is lots of teasing to come. 😉

  1. I’m laughing because my and the hubby’s start was, while not quite as rocky, not totally dissimilar. And we laugh hysterically that it all worked out, despite our sometimes best efforts to the contrary.

    Can’t wait for part 2.

  2. The part about being on and off for years and the something that just clicked, totally sounds like a broken, unhealthy relationship I endured on and off for 7 years…. We don’t speak now. Looking forward to part 2,3….

  3. “…granted me predictable access to his penis.” Hilarious! Oh how your writing gives me the uncontrollable giggles! Waiting for more…

  4. I like the misshapen puzzle piece metaphor. You are an amazingly poignant and truthful writer. Thank you.

  5. first? love talking heads…but not as much as I love you.

    second? that is how my parents told my grandparents they were pregnant with me: the rabbit done died.

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