Friday, June 28, 2013

Ode to Al -- Part Deux

This is Part Two of my Ode to Alex in honor of our 12th wedding anniversary.  Al looked over my shoulder as I wrote Part One and said, "You're just really putting it all out there, aren't you."  Do you think he meant that in a positive way?

Hard to say.  Onward!

Al moved to Seattle and we moved in together.  This was our first apartment --

It was 350 sq. ft. and had mold and maggots in the windowsills.  But it was Capitol Hill and when you're young and tragically hip (and broke) like us, it was the only place to be.

This is where we were living when Alex was arrested for bank robbery.  That's a funny sentence with the added benefit of being true.

Alex was late for work one day (he was working at an elementary school assisting a student with ADD) so he was running at full speed.  In an exquisite collision of circumstance and timing, he ran past a Key Bank at the exact moment it was being robbed.

Our friends from L'Arche, who live down the street from the bank and drive great big vans, drove past and saw him running.   They screeched to a stop and threw open the side door -- "Hey Alex, you late?  Hop in, we'll give you a ride!"  Several eyewitnesses described the dark-haired man carrying a backpack who jumped into a large silver van and sped off.

Alex jumped out of the van at the school and ran across the yard.  Moments later he heard "FREEZE!" and turned to find several police officers with guns drawn.  So he dropped to the ground.  I should mention this was on the school's front lawn, in full view of the students inside.

A policewoman came over, told him he was under arrest, and put a knee in his back.  She grabbed his backpack and opened it.  Alex can still do a great impression of her face -- hard and serious as she reached into the bag but morphing into confused and skeptical when she pulled out.... a bagel sandwich. 

They brought the bank teller to the scene.  She said "No, that's not him."  Alex was then free to enter the school with mud on his clothes and a new hardcore reputation.

But wait, there's more!  Several other police cars followed the silver van back to L'Arche.  They surrounded the house and banged on the front door.  When our friend, Cecelia, answered (with several people with disabilities squealing in ecstasy because oh lordy, how they loved policemen), a policeman barked,  "Did you just give someone a ride in your van?"  Cecelia said, "Yes, my friend Alex" and the cop said, "Well your friend Alex just robbed a bank, and it's not the first time."

They never caught the guy who robbed the bank(s).  The police were too damn busy with Alex.  That one was on us, bank robber.

Alex asked me to marry him once and I said "no."  His motivations were more practical than I would have liked;  he wasn't American and there had been some hairy situations at the border when we'd taken trips to Vancouver.  To his credit, he stuck with me even after my heartless "are you eff'g kidding me?" response.

I told my Mom I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to marry him and she said, "You'll know.  Just one day, you'll look at him and you'll know, one way or the other."

That day came months and months later.  Alex was eating a bowl of cereal in his underwear and I was sitting on the couch staring at him.  And I knew.  I said, "Hey Al, do you want to get married?" and he grinned and said, "Well sure!"

So we did.

Our wedding has been described as "pretty damn memorable" because of the mix of French-speaking people and English-speaking people with a healthy sprinkling of people with developmental disabilities.

Some came down from Victoria.  Awesome.

There was a spontaneous sing-off between the French Canadians and Americans at the reception.  At another point my friend Kenneth, a man with Down Syndrome, took the microphone away from the band's lead singer and sang some stuff.  Whatever, people, it's our wedding, obviously anything goes.

(You should have seen the singer's face.  He was so unsure, like, "How do I take the microphone back from this disabled guy?"  Priceless.)

 I was just very excited about the food

I don't remember exactly what we did with our married lives before children.  How did we pass the days? I vaguely remember Alex studying his ass off and getting an MBA.  Other than that, I think we bathed in leisure time, slept a lot, and fanned ourselves with dollar bills.

We cheated mercilessly at cards

We tried to eat our friends' babies because we didn't know what to do with babies yet

Sometimes I sat up in trees because that's what badasses do

But then, the craziest thing happened.  Quite literally --

The Looshman commeth

All hell broke loose after we had Lucien.  Lucien had colic, you see, and screamed for the first six months of his life.  It was mind-numbingly awful.  At one point, Alex, deep circles under his eyes, rocked a screaming Lucien and said to me, "What if this isn't colic?  What if he's just telling us who he is?"


Lucien was the kind of kid who got put on a leash.
Here we are in beautiful Juneau, Alaska.
(Yes, I was that mother.  Back the f*ck off.)

Lucien broke every appliance we owned.
My personal favorite was the sandwich in the DVD player.

Lucien was always quiet and calm in a car so one day I decided to drive him 20 hours to the Tetons for my friend's wedding --

Which, quite possibly, was even more "pretty damn memorable" than ours

Through the challenges and stress of raising a spirited kid like ours, Al and I tried hard to stay united.  Sometimes we failed.

This is the face.  This is what it is to parent Lucien.

But we love that boy with the fierce strength of a million suns

There have been many times Alex and I have stared each other down, fuming, hands on hips, each thinking "Oh NO NO NO, this just WILL NOT DO."  There have been times of glaring at each other, "Really?  Me and you?  We're complete opposites.  How the hell did this happen?"

Well, now you know how it happened.  And you know what's happened since -- Paris and baby Coco and houses and whatnot.  And here we are, still fighting the good marriage fight.  Our union is not perfect but our happy days outnumber our unhappy ones.  I guess that's all you can ask for.

If I had to do it again, I'd still pick him.  I'd still pick the guy who owned a "What's up Doc?" shirt and a pair of frayed denim hotpants.

Happy 12th to my companion on the journey,

Thanks, Mario
You pretty much made the whole thing happen
FYI, Alex turned out just fine.  And he learned English really really well.


  1. Just lovely...and I always knew Al was bad ass.

    have a great's a long one up here..happy Canada day!!

    1. Happy Canada Day, Debs!:) Hope it doesn't rain! I want to go see the fireworks on Parliament Hill (a whopping ten-minute walk from my place:))!

    2. Thanks Debbie, and Happy Canada Day late.

  2. What a sweet, crazy story:) Love it!:) Very touching:) And you guys complement each other perfectly:)

    Love the first wedding proposal. Very reminiscent of Miranda and Steve's in Sex and the City. The first time, Steve proposed and this was Miranda's answer: "What are you, fucking crazy?!" The second time, Miranda proposed and Steve said "Hell, yeah!":)

    What is it with French Canadian husbands, the US and bank robberies? My husband got into trouble at the US border once because he had the exact same name (first and last names!) as a wanted bank robber! LOL

    1. Thanks, Duchesse. That's a strange coincidence regarding our French Canadian husbands. Hmm. Let me think on that one.

  3. I absolutely loved this post. What a beautiful tribute to your husband. Happy anniversary!

  4. That was a lovely piece about love. Congratulation and I hope we get to read about many many more days.

    1. Thanks so much. I do love Al, most of the time.

  5. Loved reading how MJ and Al came about! Please write a book, MJ!

    1. Why yes, I should really write a book. Cool if it takes me ten years? Current pace.

  6. Wait wait wait...."and it's not the first time"? Apparently Al has a bit of a record you're not telling us about...

    1. Seriously. I always suspected he was hiding stuff.

  7. I'm beaming, but also have sweaty eyeballs. I heart this post mucho, and its predecessor post, too! Such a great story, MJ. Many congratulations to you both. You are an inspiration of love that sticks, eh? :D

    Hugs from Colorado,

    1. Thanks, Karin. I always love to see your face on here.

      I hope our love sticks. I guess we'll find out. Stay tuned!

      (Here's where I say, for the umpteenth time in the comments section, I'm coming to CO in August. You around for a visit I hope!!!)

  8. This was so great, MJ! Thanks and happy, happy anniversary to you and Alex!

    Laura, an East coast (other Washington, the D.C. one) reader who discovered your Paris blog and spent an entire weekend once praying for rain and ignoring her family to read the archives and then stayed on for the Seattle adventures.

    1. Thank you, Laura, for both the anniversary wishes and for sticking with me after Paris. I'm not sure how many of those I have anymore.... !

      Best to you in the other Washington.

  9. I think this is the most lovely of all posts...honest funny and loving-loosh is adorable at any age-I had colic as a baby my mom said it was hats off to you for ALL YOU AND AL HAVE ACCOMPLISHED in 12 short years and best wishes for 12x12x12x12x12 mor years

    1. Thanks, g. Thanks so much.

      Lucien's lucky he's cute. So many times I was about to hand him off to a stranger, any stranger -- but then he'd look at me with those twinkly eyes and that mischievous grin and I'd say OH ALL RIGHT ONE MORE DAY.

      He's challenged me and made me a better person. (It's not clear if I'm speaking about Alex or Lucien there. Let's go with both.)