I had decided I needed to be married by 30. But if that was the plan, I wasn’t terribly good on the follow-through. I ran from anyone remotely appropriate and tore my guts out for anyone who wasn’t. It was a lot of exhausting drama that I can sum up thusly: I wanna, you don’t wanna, oh, so now you wanna, because now I don’t wanna. Lather, rinse, repeat. I had no learning curve whatsoever. So, gee, what a surprise, I hit 30 with no chuppah in sight, and I said the hell with it.
What a relief that was! I stopped looking for my life to begin and started to actually live it. I quit my job to write and spent the summer on Fire Island. But then mutual friends introduced me to Bill, of the big chocolate eyes. He was a writer too. He was funny, kind, smart and… recently separated from his wife.
AHA! I said. I can learn from the past! I will not get involved with this guy—it’s got disaster written all over it. Sure, he wannas now, but it won’t last. I’ll be Rebound Girl and when he gets his sea legs back, he won’t wanna. I’ll be back in drama soup all over again. No! I won’t do it!
So I didn’t encourage him… much. But…but… not only was he funny, he got my humor. I was used to guys staring at me uncomfortably while my jokes lay dying on the floor. They didn’t get it, they didn’t get me, and I was usually left with egg on my face. But Bill laughed. No, he wasn’t Jewish, but he seemed it. He was so haimish, like home; comfy. As my father later rationalized, “He has a Jewish soul.” Or something. He just got it. Whatever it was, he got it. And I got him.
We flirted at a party. It’s just flirting, I thought. Flirting can’t hurt anyone. Then he asked me to lunch. It’s just lunch, I said. Lunch is such a nothing. Then he asked me to dinner and kissed me in the cab on the way home, and I said, who am I kidding?
We skidded sideways into a relationship but I was so unused to the calm, I thought it signaled something was wrong; a lack of passion? Until the day I realized, DUH, this is what real love looks like. This is what it feels like when one of you doesn’t have one foot out the door. In fact, there are four feet in the house because you are both home.
He once asked me, “Does it bother you that I spend so much time inside my head?” And hand to G-d, my answer was, “I’m sorry, what did you say? I wasn’t listening.” Now if that isn’t beshert…
He wanna-ed, and I wanna-ed, and we’ve been wanna-ing together now for more than 30 years. Sometimes we listen to each other; sometimes we’re lost in our heads. Does it matter? I don’t know. What was the question?
Beth Levine is an award-winning health and humor writer who can boast about being a one-time finalist in The New Yorker cartoon caption contest. Her no-drama husband, Bill Squier, writes for and about the theater. Oh, the irony.