The first time Bob called me, he was looking for a rent house and wanted information about one in my neighborhood. We’d met a year or so before at a recovery meeting; he remained more acquaintance than friend. I don’t like getting attached to newcomers at meetings; experience tells me that they are not likely to stay. Experience has also told me that I’m not likely to stay if I start picking up newcomer men at recovery meetings.
I think he really wanted help putting a “Roommate Wanted” advertisement on Craigslist. He didn’t have a computer at his house, no smartphone, no IT experience at all. Ever the helpful busybody, I helped him out with the ad, texting him when I got confirmation it was submitted.
I was more comfortable texting Bob than talking to him. My son Jack was the person who introduced me to texting. We carried long text conversations especially when we were angry with one another. After Jack died on January 15, 2009, my phone was silent. No longer did I get “I need cigs” or “Come get me” texts. I missed them like crazy.
It was awkward talking to Bob. That’s not his fault; I just steered clear from men. My husband, John, died the first year I got sober. My M.O. with men was to look for someone, anyone to restore my life. Money, men, food can all look like great solutions to problems in my life. I had to ditch that thinking if I wanted to have a future with my friend God and learn that the solution is within me.
My conversations with men were limited to either recovery or work subjects. We might branch into family topics if we talked to one another much. Talking about anything beyond that didn’t happen. Twelve years of keeping men at arm’s length had left me out of conversational practice. It was much easier to text Bob than talk to him. I didn’t have to see his facial expression if he thought I was saying something dumb. I also had time to deletedeletedelete before sending a text. That’s not an option with face to face communication.
We blew up our phones texting with one another. It was fun to look forward to getting texts again. When Bob got a roommate nibble, he texted that he’d like to take me out to dinner in thanks for helping him. For some reason, Bob was as easy to talk to, eat dinner or ride in a car with as he was to text with. He slowly transitioned from being my text buddy to being my friend and love.
Talk about marriage in the early years was dismissive. (Been there, done that, got the divorce papers.) Why would we want to complicate things?
We lived together at Bob’s house, but I wouldn’t let go of my house. I resisted all talk of OUR house. Three and a half years down the road, we decided to simplify our lives and move into my small house. The house payment was half the cost of his lease payment. It just seemed practical.
A few months after that, we got a cancer scare. Bob had bronchitis and a chest x-ray showed suspicious shadows. While we waited for the MRI, I told Bob that we HAD to get married if he had cancer. I didn’t want to be waiting outside the room while he listened to medical catastrophic reports.
As it turned out, the shadows were nothing. Bob asked, “Would I have to have cancer for you to marry me? I’d like to marry you, anyway. Would you marry me?” Yes was the only possible answer.
December 21 I married my best friend in a ceremony at our local AA clubhouse. I almost got cold feet as we were waiting to walk up the makeshift aisle. Listening to David Ramirez’ sing, “There are things I have lost in the fire of time, things I thought again I’d never see,” I became fearful. So many things lost because I didn’t value them. Would my love for Bob become one more thing that became tarnished and devalued by my ungrateful heart? My best friend hugged me as I choked back a sob and whispered, “You are marrying your best friend. It’s okay.”
I listened to Bob’s vow, “My Margaret Rose, I love and cherish the magic we have together, you are my friend forever. When I am not with you, you are in my thoughts. I am blessed beyond measure by God. I commit myself to you before our precious heavenly father.”
I answered with mine, “My Bob. You are my friend and my love. I commit myself before God who is beyond my understanding, who healed me and guided me into your arms and your heart, who gives me the freedom to be happy.”
And I know my BFF is absolutely right. It is okay.