Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Twenty-four Scenes From a Happy Marraige

Deb and I went away for the weekend. On Valentines Day we were driving around Western Massachusetts. We decided that each hour for twelve hours we would share a romantic or happy memory about our relationship. We alternated who went first. Debby would start one hour and I’d start the next. Later we did our best to remember what year the event had happened. We wrote it all down in a little composition notebook. I typed up what we wrote in the car and then expanded on some of the entries.

6:00 AM

Debby: A romantic memory is the time we were hiking in Arcadia Park and we made love in the woods. (1992)

John: Yesterday at Walden Pond I was afraid to walk on the ice, but you convinced me it was all right. (2010)

Deb is often more adventuresome than I am. There were keep-off signs on the ice, but there were also people skating, ice fishing, and walking. The trail around the pond was icy enough that walking on it wasn’t any fun. After she coaxed me down onto the surface of the pond, the walking was much easier. In fact, it was great fun.

7:00 AM

John: Making love in a grotto-like hot springs attached to a cheap motel in Truth or Consequences New Mexico. (2000 or 2001)

Debby: The whole experience of serving in the Peace Corps together has such romantic resonance for me. (2005 through 2007)

8:00 AM

Debby: Sitting on the balcony of our house in Sonaguera drinking rum and cokes and watching the grackles fly in to roost for the night. (2007)

John: On our honeymoon in New Orleans, making love while I was running a high fever and shivering with chills.

This is the last of the explicitly sexual memories. That night in the French Quarter, I was sweating and simultaneously my teeth were chattering. There was a sense of heightened reality and I felt like I was hallucinating. It was memorable. Unfortunately, Deb’s interest in having sex with an obviously ill, probably contagious man didn’t last past the honeymoon. There have been opportunities, but fever sex has never happened again.

9:00 AM

John: Celebrating my 60th birthday at the cascada in El Sostre. It was The Day of the Nurse and everyone from the health center was there. We climbed down the rocks, swam in the river and sat under the waterfall together. (2005)

Debby: Our wedding. All of it, but especially you describing, with enthusiasm, being awoken at 2:00 AM by phone calls from laboring women. (1993)

10:00 AM

Debby: Our tradition of having Thanksgiving with the Bronsnick-Currier family; looking forward to it, planning it, figuring out where everyone is going to sleep, cooking together, playing games. I like the way it has all evolved over the years, as the kids have gotten older. (Ongoing.)

John: The time in New Mexico, in Jemez Springs I think, we hiked to a natural hot springs where there were three or four descending pools. There were goldfish swimming in the warm water. On the return walk, there was a big snake stretched across the trail. The hike ended in a thunderstorm. (Can’t remember what year this was.)

11:00 AM

John: Riding around New Mexico with Andy and Francine taking turns reading The Bridges of Madison County out loud. You were crying so hard at one point you couldn’t finish reading and had to pass the book off to someone else. (1993)

Debby: On the trip to Costa Rica, we went rafting. They picked us up early in the morning. We had breakfast on the road at a place called Posada de Luna. At the end of the day we went to a different inn with a big patio to take showers and drink beer. Another person on the trip was a seventy-four year old woman who told us she had once eaten monkey brain while riding through Indonesia on the back of a motorcycle. (1991)

12:00 Noon

Debby: The “flash” birthday party you threw for me at Sweetcakes last year. (2009)

John: Walking on Narragansett beach. Going to the end, jumping into Narrow River and riding the tide out into waves. Body surfing back to the beach. (Many summers.)

Last year when Deb turned sixty-two, I secretly invited as many friends as I could get in touch with to meet us at Sweetcakes for morning coffee and birthday cake. About thirty people showed up. The whole party lasted an hour.

1:00 PM

John: On the drive cross-country after the Peace Corps we camped in a tiny campground, I think in Idaho. Our tent was right next to a river. We could hear the sound of the water all night. There was an animal in the river, maybe an otter. We walked along the bank watching it play for a long time. (2007)

Debby: Very early in our relationship we hiked Mt. Chocorua. It was nice for me to share that mountain with you because I had hiked it so many times with camp. You were unsure about my hiking protocols. When we were near the bottom you asked if it was OK to voice bodily complaints. I said, “Yes lets complain for ten minutes straight.” That became our tradition at the end of tough hikes. (1991)

2:00 PM

Debby: I remember the day we went to Crater Lake and road the tour boat around the lake. We tried to stay at the old lodge that the Park Service runs, but they didn’t have any rooms. We heard the story of a guy who had spent three honeymoons at the lodge. We drove on down the valley and stayed in an inn from the same era. We got a bottle of merlot. That was the first time I’d had merlot. (1995)

John: I’ve got good memories of the trip we made to the Florida Keys. We stayed in a motel in Key Largo, went kayaking and snorkeling, ate a lot of good seafood, drove to Key West to watch the sun set. (1998)

3:00 PM

John: Another trip I liked a lot was when we went to Chicago for a weekend. We went to the National Museum of Mexican Art on the Day of The Dead. There was a display of hundreds of sugar skulls. Later we toured one of Frank Lloyd Wrights Houses. (Can’t remember what year this was.)

Debby: Our family vacation on Vancouver Island is a great memory for me, especially the discussion we had with the kids about money, goals and dying. (2006)

4:00 PM

Debby: Taking care of Maizie together when she was dying. (1994)

John: Opening our house to other people. (Ongoing.)

My mother lived with us for the last six months of her life as she was dying from emphysema. I’m sure there will be more entries here about Maizie. She was one of many people that we have opened our house to. Friends who were getting divorced, friends going to graduate school, high school exchange students, and boarders have lived here. It is more typical to be sharing the house with someone than it is to live here alone.

5:00 PM

John: Going to the Cemetery in Xela (Quetzaltenengo, Guatemala) on the Day of The Dead and wandering among the families visiting graves. I remember people flying kites. I think they were selling cotton candy. There was a marimba band. That was when I started keeping my list of things I want at my funeral. (2004)

Debby: Playing cribbage almost everyday and playing Scrabble as often as we can. (Ongoing.)

About the portrait: This is a portrait of me that Alec Thibodeau painted in 2004. It is painted on the surface of a small brick. For my money Alec is one of the best artists in Rhode Island. Check out his work at:


1 comment:

  1. thank you for letting us listen in on your sweet memories. sounds like a very happy road trip indeed. love, paula