I’m every day aware that when I die I will do so having in the course of my life been truly known by exactly one person. I have a terribly slight relationship with my father, less of one with my older sister, and haven’t seen or spoken with my mother in thirty-five years. I don’t know any of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, or nephews. The work I do I do alone. I have no children.
What I have is my wife Catherine. She doesn’t know her family any more than I do mine. One of our very first experiences together was the eerie one of being the only two students remaining in the dormitories at San Francisco State University after everyone else went home for the Christmas break. Neither of us had any home to go home to. We were “home.”
When we met we were like two rats in madly rushing waters who bump into and then cling to each other in hopes of staving off their inevitable drowning.
Cat’s morning alarm just went off. So I’ll stop writing this right soon, so that I won’t have to tell her how I can’t spend time with her having a cup of coffee because I’m too busy writing about how much I love to spend time with her.
But she will come downstairs, and when I first see her I will be so dazzled that for a weirdly disorienting moment the sole thing of which I’ll be aware is how utterly I just fell in love with this stunning stranger of a woman in my house. It’s happened just like that, every single morning, for thirty years. I can never believe it. I won’t believe it again this morning.
And when she appears, I will see in her eyes what for me is the miracle, which is how much she loves me. It’s a weird thing to say, but (as long as we’re sharing) let me just tell you that girl loves me. She adores me. She’s always looking at me like she’s seven years old, and I’m a huge wrapped present next to the Christmas tree with her name on it. It’s insane. One of her many loving nicknames for me (and now we are sharing) is “Hero.”
Without question the challenge of my life has been learning how to deal with someone loving me as absolutely and unconditionally as Cat does. I had no idea anyone could ever love anyone with the unswerving intensity with which she loves me. The only thing she’s ever wanted for me is my happiness. When I wanted to be a writer, that’s what she wanted for me. When I wanted to be a car mechanic, that’s what she wanted for me. When it appeared that I might spend my life doing nothing but drinking beer and watching movies, she thought that was the greatest thing in the world.
I began trying to make a living as a writer when I was twenty years old. In the thirty years since then, Cat has not once come home from work and asked me how my writing went that day. She’s never asked because she’s never cared. The single issue of her life is whether or not I’m happy. That’s it. Nothing else matters to her. She couldn’t care less if I “make it” as a writer. If I make a living writing, that’s fine. If I don’t, that’s fine. She likes money. She likes not having money.
The only thing she really likes is me.
So she’s a freak. This, going in, I knew.
Anyway, I hear her up on the third floor of the townhouse into which we moved this time last year. She’s coming down the stairs.
Here she comes!
Here comes the sun.