Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rescue Me

Hello Naked Man Readers! I am Joan’s husband Alan and for some time she has asked me to “drop by” and bang out a few words so that you would all know I actually existed. The problem with that, of course, is that I am no writer, and the dilemma of subject always poked me in the eye. Isn’t it funny that you can live for four decades and still pause and stare at a blank piece of paper?

But today as Joan and I ran on a nearby trail I watched her cute butt for about 25 minutes and realized that there have been times in my life I have turned to her to rescue me. I was running very close behind her because I needed her to pull me through the 5K we were running. For those of you who know us personally you know that despite spending years in the Marine Corps and working on my feet my entire working life, I have never been able to outrun Joan. I finally realized that a couple of years ago when she beat me by several minutes in a half marathon despite my longer legs and months of training for that specific race.

But so what? I needed Joan to pull me around the track this morning just like I needed her to pull me out of a very dark time in my life almost exactly 20 years ago. So really this morning was nothing new for me.

Twenty years ago this summer I was in a very dark place. My first marriage had been crumbling and most of the crisis in the relationship was my fault. Laurel and I had been married for seven years during which time I completed my service in the Corps and both of us had worked our way through college without ever getting a hand out, a loan or a grant of any kind. We just worked our butts off to finish school, and we did. But the time of mission and purpose came to and end, and so did our relationship. We spent time apart and I began to drink. When Laurel was nervous about how much I was drinking I started putting vodka in my coffee so she could not smell it on my breath. I drank every day and eventually we split. But I was still in a terrible place. I continued to drink and did terrible things that summer 20 years ago. I hurt a lot of people and drank to hide from the damage I was causing. Like the character William Munny in the brilliant Eastwood movie “Unforgiven,” it wasn’t that I didn’t care about the pain I was causing. I did care. I cared so much I was drinking a half a bottle of Stoli everyday.

Thanksgiving of that year my mother and father came to my apartment in Atlanta to visit me. During the conversation my mom began reminiscing about my high school sweet heart, Joan. Mom had stayed in touch with Joan and wondered aloud if I had.

“No” I said. But I felt a warm spot in my heart when I started thinking of her. We had split up amicably shortly before I met Laurel as Joan worked on her degree at Syracuse. Eventually Joan fell in love with a classmate there and they married. I had not seen Joan in over eight years.

But I had never forgotten Joan. If a 16 year old boy can truly be in love, then I had been with her in 1980. She was spectacular. Joan was beautiful, talented and a great kisser. Who doesn’t remember how wonderful your first was – in memory?

But I needed something to pull me out of the terrible hole I was falling into. Something tangible. Not a faded memory of someone likely to have gone through as many changes as I had since then. I needed someone to rescue me. What could be left of the Joan that I knew so long before?

I learned that Joan was in Syracuse, NY again and I called information (that is the way it worked back then, my younger readers) and got every derivative of J. Donnelly in the book and left them all the same penned message. “My name is Alan Emery; I went to high school with a Joan Donnelly. If she is at this number I would love to get caught up.”

Man did we get caught up… We spent weeks talking on the phone and for the first time in what seemed like ten years, I felt happy. I felt a sense of optimism and fun. And I quit drinking. When I came to visit her a month later I was already madly in love with her again. I walked up the stairs to knock on her door and paused for a second before knocking. I had never felt the butterflies so significantly before. And after knocking I heard Joan ask “Are you ready?”

How could she possibly know how ready I was?

Now twenty full years after our reintroduction she has continued to rescue me. Just like Claudia rescued Will Munny from his dark days. "She cured me of my wickedness” Munny would say. After losing my job on my 15th anniversary, and the phone call from her doctor telling us that Joan had an incurable form of Lymphoma, times for us were pretty tough. I had never gone without a job and I could not ask Joan to be the strong one. She was dealing with enough already. So I found a job quickly and soon knew that I was in a much better position with this new company than I ever had with my old company.

But soon after taking the job an amazing opportunity came my way to accept a promotion that would move us far away from everything Joan loved about Orlando – near her mother, a job she had loved for 15 years, a cancer doctor that always told her it was going to be OK and some wonderful friends. But Joan gave up all of that to let me have what I wanted out of my work experience. And remarkably, she is doing it again just one year later as we prepare to move again.

I often wonder if I deserve the things I have in my life. Quickly I realize that I do not. But like Will Munny says: "Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it." Clearly for me it does not. But in my moments that I mourn the man I used to be, I am reminded by Joan of whom I have become. And when reminded of that, I know it is Joan who tossed me the rope and rescued me to become who I am.

40 comments:

Julia Reilly said...

Well I really loved reading that!! So nice to know true love still exists!

Being Me said...

That Will Munny is a poignant, wise fellow. Right?

And you thought you had nothing to write about. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thanks Alan! It is a brave person who admits to even half of what you have. The man you "used to be" would be ever so proud of the man you have grown into. Surely.

Lisalulu said...

thank you, that was really good to hear... the rescue, the love , the great life you are living.

Cate P said...

Well, it's rubbish that you are no writer for starters. When you write from the heart, as you have just done, you become a writer.
And what a beautiful, sometimes hard, but amazing story you've shared.
Bravo :)

Cheeseboy said...

Uh, you are way too hard on yourself concerning your writing ability. This was poignant, engaging and sublime.

You are very lucky to have Joan. She seems like a cool lady just from her fascinating blog.

Sylvia K said...

You are a wonderful writer because you can relate your feelings in a very meaningful way that touches the reader. I've been in contact with Joan for a while and you are both very fortunate to have one another. This is beautiful and I have been very moved by the honesty of both you and Joan. You're both very fortunate to have found one another. It doesn't happen that way all the time. Thank you for sharing your feelings. Much love to you both and I hope the latest move will be wonderful one for you both. Enjoy!

Sylvia

The Urban Cowboy said...

That was not only really good writing, it was a wonderful heart-felt story.

Eternally Distracted said...

That was absolutely fabulous and gives us all hope for a great future.

Rachel said...

So tell me again who is "no writer"???

I love this. It shows a great recognition of how people need eachother - in good ways.

You two are just the best fit. Thank you for posting this... now I need to go give my husband a hug :)

Anonymous said...

All I can think of to say is Thanks. Thanks for sharing and in a strange way, showing me how my own past has led me down the paths that I now have traveled and what and whom I am greatful to have in my life....Thanks!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

if this isn't a story of "everything happens for a reason" I don't know what is.

I love that you found each other and that you don't take it for granted. it's rare and beautiful.

Your post proves it's about the Journey.
:-)

Nerdycomputergirl said...

Beautiful post Alan. Have been meaning to pop over to this blog for ages as the title sounded fun and so glad I did just that today.

It sounds like you are both lucky to have found each other again and I wish you all the best for the future.

Karen

Delana said...

There is he is the flesh! (or keyboard) And a writer at that! Paths twist and turn but they eventually lead somewhere. And most often to a better place. Your story is food for the soul and hopeful for those of us still twisting and turning. Thank you for "guest blogging". It was such a treat, Alan.

Joanie M said...

What a wonderful love story!!! Thank you for sharing it with us.

I wasn't aware that Joan has Lymphoma. My guy, John also has/had Lymphoma. Last summer he received a stem cell transplant and so far, he's cancer free. A new PET scan next week will show if he's still in remission. Perhaps this is an avenue that can be explored. He has a fabulous doctor at University of PA. I'll be glad to share info if you like.

Teresa Evangeline said...

You made me cwy. Joan is such a cool woman. And, you two sound like a Meant-to-be kinda love. All the best to you both, as you keep on moving down the River of Life. A good write, a good read.

Pat said...

What a wonderful tribute to your lives together. It must be true, Love is lovelier the second time around.

Moooooog35 said...

So cute.

But how's the sex? Seriously, man..get to the good stuff.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

It's lovely to read about a happy relationship. Thank you for sharing :)

starnes family said...

For not being a writer, this is quite an eloquent piece!

"Are you ready?"

Love that. Great story.

Eva Gallant said...

What a great love story and tribute to your wonderful wife. That was a fantastic read!

ReformingGeek said...

Words cannot describe....

Wait. They did.

Good job, Alan!

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

awww, this is a really great entry. sometimes, the most unfortunate events lead to the most pleasant events.

btw- lookin' good in the cut off alabama shirt!

KathyB said...

Wow, so incredibly written and makes me feel incredibly blessed to not only know you two but be related to you both! Love you guys so very much.

Charlene said...

Love is not one thing, it is the only thing.

blueviolet said...

What a wonderful love story and you two are clearly meant to be. This was such a heartwarming, wonderful read. Thank you for letting us into your lives for this peek at who you are. I am honored.

Feeling Just Right said...

Dear Alan,

I am an avid reader of Joan's blog. I love her stories, her optimism, her way of looking at things, of presenting them.

I have gotten used to getting goose-flesh whenever I read her posts, but when I have goose-flesh today, reading you, I am so glad that you've changed for the better, with Joan. I am so glad to see how far yu both have come. I am touched by your love for each other.

Stay special, both of you. God bless :)

p.s. Like Joan says, Alan, you are her home!

Kristin said...

This was beautiful. You two were meant to be!

Stu said...

From one writer to another: That was well done. It was just like any great song, honest and heartfelt. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon!

Mumsy said...

Alan, first I have to say you ARE a writer. This was very interesting, well written and heart warming. I hope you and Joan have many more years together and your love just keeps growing. You are two wonderful people, that I have learned in a very short time. Hugs to you both!

CentFla said...

Thanks everyone for your genuinely warm comments. To take the time to drop a note in the comments section really means a great deal to me. I love writing about Joan but my job requires a real economy of time for such things.

If anyone enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed reading all of your comments then We are both incredibly lucky. Moog35, I could tell such stories... ;^)

Jessica said...

Fantastic! What a lovely post.

Tell your woman that she's been tagged in a meme over at my place: http://bit.ly/cKGk7t

Shan said...

Well I'm glad to see that you are just as wonderful as she is!

Danielle said...

You did a pretty good job for someone who gets nervous when confronted with a blank page! :)

Aww I loved this story. I love love. And I love hearing how other people fell in love and stayed in love. Beautiful.

christopher said...

Beautiful post. Heartfelt, loving, honest and yes-well written.

Kakka said...

What a beautiful post, written from the heart. I believe we all have the chance to meet our soul mates, but some of us stop looking. You not only found yours, you re-found her years later. Thank you for being so open and sharing with Joan's readers. xxx

Getting My Words Out said...

Great post...you ARE a fantastic writer--wasn't it your blog is what got Joan to start writing again?? Thanks for being so transparent.

I'm looking forward to you guys moving, because we'll be closer and can hopefully get together.
:D

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Aw, what a beautiful love story!

And it's so fantastic when the secret people inside blogs come out and talk - it's like a special glimpse inside people's real lives!

Kyna said...

Wow, what an amazing story. The name of this blog caught my eye in someone else's blogroll...and I stopped in to read. You two have an amazing story. And I thought the story of my relationship with my husband was interesting lol. Also involves cancer, unfortunately.

Nice to meet you both. I'll be following this blog frmo now on :)

christine said...

Wow, you think you're not a writer? Step back and read what you wrote! Tears rolled down my cheeks unchecked - what a great pair you are:-)

Opinionated Ophelia said...

Oh wow, hit me right in the heart :) I wish you both all the very best, I'll be following and learning avidly!

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