Friday, November 16, 2007

Part the Second

Roommates! Weird, right? Three weeks into a committed relationship we were living together - as much out of financial convenience as out of love at this point, but we were young, broke, in love and extremely happy with each other's company.

I wish I could say it was all roses but what did we expect? When your parents don't meet your new significant other until after you move in together, they don't take it well. I still remember Paul's introduction to my father. My father called threatening to kick his ass. Nice, huh? Of course, on the flip side, my mother met my in-laws as I was showing her the house. The master bedroom was upstairs and my brother-in-law John walked in the front door hollering "Dammit! Are you two upstairs in the swing again?" Whoops! Meet my mother. Needless to say, these were first impressions that lasted a long, long time. Priceless.

I suspect my mother-in-law thought I was some kind of gold digger because, you know, young, single mom... I had to be after only one thing. I was but she was guessing the wrong thing. *wink*

And, of course, the exes had to be assholes because that is what they do. Before me, Paul got his kids every single night that his ex had to work. After me: none of them. Only the mandated every other weekend. Like I said, she's a bitch. She also called at least once a day for the entire first year we were together. For the next year or so, it was on the average every day before she finally tapered off. To this day, we really get apprehensive about taking calls after 9:00 at night. This was like clock work. Every night, 9:30, Paul's ex calling to bitch. Thanks.

I had a stalker too. But I'm not going to talk about that. It was kind of scary and it's part of the reason why I think Caller ID is the GREATEST. INVENTION. EVER. Once we got it, we used it judiciously. It solved a lot of problems, let me tell you.

But you know what? We were still good. There was a lot of love there. The kids all got along, for the most part. Paul's kids didn't like too much that my kids had their dad all the time and they had him as little as they did, but they got over it. It was kind of unsettling how they started calling me "Mom" with no prompting. My kids would never have done that with their step-mother but Paul's kids did it well before we were even engaged. All of those bad stories about blending families and all that just never happened. The girls were like sisters right away and the boys learned to respect differences. They fought a bit but for the most part they learned that they had nothing in common and stayed out of one another's way. Fine.

About a month into this cozy cohabitation arrangement, we started talking marriage. We'd both been married before but had decided that what we had working this time was so much better than that. It seemed inevitable that we'd make our living in sin a little less sinful. We got our rings from my friend Andrea who had just broken an engagement. They were beautiful little white gold rings with the tiniest diamond in the engagement ring that she'd gotten at a Going-out-of-Business sale or some such. She'd broken her engagement so she sent the rings to us. I remember the night they came in the mail. I got home from work and Paul was standing in the kitchen with the box. He proposed and, of course, I accepted. I will happily take his hand forever and he is most welcome to mine too.

We were really in no hurry on the whole being married thing. In fact, the rings were so thin that I just wore both of them. Married in your mind is married, right? Well, that's how we felt about it. We were in the groove for about a year.

Toward the end of 1994, we started thinking about how Paul had gotten screwed over on his tax return the year before much simpler it would be if we could just file a joint tax return. The 1993 tax year, I'd gotten a bunch back as head of household, but because he filed as a single person, he had to pay in. Remember we were flat-ass broke so the refund was spent before it arrived helpful and having to pay in was a pain. Pragmatists that we are, we decided that perhaps we should be married before the year was over to avoid another tax liability for Paul. Yes, kids. We got married because of the IRS.

So we called the judge, got the license and planned the shindig for New Year's Eve. The catering was provided by Sam's Club, the invitations printed on the laser printer in the Office of International Education at the University, and the ceremony was lovely. My sister and my daughters stood up for me and Paul's brother and his sons stood up for him. It was all we needed and the rest, history.