I met my wife online, which is how people meet these days. Now we rarely see an ad for matchmaking sites without rolling our eyes and scoffing at the kinds of freaks and weirdos you’re likely to meet that way.
We saw that we matched up well on paper: same taste in music (Wilco, Ryan Adams), we both liked reading, we were both Democrats. We were about the same age and so on. I was weary of the matchmaking game, and happy to meet someone who didn’t LOL at her own jokes or consult her book of “The Rules” before answering an email. She was glad I turned out to be pretty much who I said I was.
We met in person for the first time at Como Conservatory, an indoor garden in St Paul that is a nice retreat from Minnesota winters. We got along just fine, but I think we knew it would be a long term deal when she met the cats. She was a dog person, a bit worried about a cat person, but when she met my cats, it was love at first sight. I handed her Torii and she kissed him when I wasn’t looking. Gilda, usually cautious with new people, came out and let Angela rub her cheeks.
Before long Angela was eyeing my bachelor’s house with eyes to making it into a home. I can’t remember what her first project was, but gradually curtains appeared where there were blinds, walls changed color, weeds in the garden became flowers, and the kitchen got organized. She gradually moved in, and when we got engaged it was more like we acknowledged the relationship we already had grown into.
I don’t think there’s anything coincidental about getting traction on my dreams after I got married. My wife is a good reader, a constructive critic, and supportive, and most of all helped me focus on finishing a project instead of starting a new one when it got difficult. She insisted I continue on Mudville more than once, when I was ready to shove it in a drawer and start over from scratch or write something else entirely, and sincere in her belief that it was good and worth pursuing. She was (and is) willing to read upteen drafts as they come off the printer, and as a writer it’s helpful to have a reader waiting for those pages.
There are other things I’ve gotten from my wife… a new seriousness about cooking, for example, and more attention to the details in the kitchen. I made soups before, but now I make my own stocks. I use better ingredients and better tools. I think that parallels my new attitude about writing: don’t cut corners, allow yourself creative impulses but do a little research on the science behind the art, etc. Oh, and I don’t think I would have watched Project Runway without her, or had any idea that fashion designers could “editorialize.” I wouldn’t have gone to White Christmas, the musical, which I actually enjoyed a lot. I wouldn’t have read the charming novel Water for Elephants, and I wouldn’t know about the amazing Andrew Bird.
And for her end of the deal, she learned that she’s a cat person, too, and a bigger baseball fan than she realized, and knows (and cares) who Jimmie Rodgers is. She hasn’t warmed up to football, and isn’t intrigued by snakes yet, and still doesn’t want me to listen to hard rock on long car trips but I’ll give her a few more decades.