Paddling Tandem

Thirty-four years ago Fred Ellis and I got married. It was the happiest day of my life, with many more happy days to come, and I wake up everyday and feel that I love him a little bit more. Of course we have had good days and problem days, but the problem days are much easier when you have a best friend to share them with. On about our fourth date, I decided that Fred was definitely the guy for me. I am 6 years older than Fred, and he was not quite as ready to settle down, so I had to play it cool. But, I was determined, and two and a half years later he said yes, and we tied the knot in the ballroom of the Hermitage Hotel, the perfect spot for a wedding in Nashville. When we met, I was a teacher and he was a lawyer. We went from that to running a jewelry business together. Most people thought we were totally crazy when we quit our day jobs. And now, we are planning to have a whole new life together in Mexico, and we don’t care if people think we’re crazy.

I moved into Fred’s house a year before we got married. And, being me, I started decorating. Over the years we have transformed a duplex into our single family home, living in it all the while that walls were being knocked down and following after the workers with paint brushes in our hands. This house has been the only real home I have ever had, and it has served us well. However, I realized after our long stay in Mexico this past fall and winter that home is wherever Fred is. We lived in four different places while we traveled and each one of them felt like home to me.

Fred has never let me down. He has never disappointed me. We agree on almost everything and rarely have we had angry moments with each other. We are alike in the important ways, but have very different personalities. Sort of a yin and yang thang. I am very outgoing and impulsive, Fred is more reserved and deliberate. Sometimes when I am being extremely exuberant I catch a glimpse of him watching me. I love it that he’s smiling. When we first started dating, I mistakenly thought Fred was sort of conservative. That was because he always wore a suit and tie. (I had never, ever, dated a guy who dressed like that.) I tried to “behave” myself when we were together. Then I started to notice that the more I was just myself, the more he seemed to like me. And let’s get real…there is no way I could be with someone that I couldn’t just be myself with.

I know that there are some people who probably function better single. And, that’s fine. But, for me, having a wonderful partner to share life with has really been the ticket. I wish that everyone (who is looking for a partner) could find someone as great for them as Fred is for me. Personally, I believe that a long and happy marriage is one of the greatest marks of a successful life.

We are having a “happy” anniversary. Today the carpet got laid in our two upstairs dressing rooms, and now the plumber is here to fix a problem. Several room are either finished, or almost finished. Packing is happening. We’ll go to Margot Cafe tonight to celebrate. We just had avocado toast for lunch and are seriously thinking about taking a little siesta. We are eagerly anticipating the next chapter of our lives together. I feel like I could do anything, as long as I did it with Fred.

Three-way; Doggie Style


Three-Way; Doggie Style

Well, now that I have your attention, let’s talk about some serious lovin’. I don’t care how much you try to deny it, I know that if you’re a couple with a dog you’ve got some serious three-way action going in the bedroom. (If you have more than one dog, we’re talking orgies). And if your situation is like ours, the pooch is always in the middle, being coy and cute. Some evenings you just gather round the sweet creature in the middle and have a big cuddle fest, right? And it’s so cool. No jealousy, no weird ego problems, just unconditional puppy love. Now, you may be one of those households where you feel the need at this point to assert that in your home the animal is not allowed on the furniture. Fido always sleeps in the crate….We would never….So sad for you, Margaret. You obviously needed to have children….Well, that’s all well and good, but I fear our friendship can only develop so far, because in my book your heart is shut way too tightly. I believe in lovin’ on that puppy every day, all day if possible. I think that couples who let their pups up in the bed just expand their love for each other. One of my favorite writers, David Sedaris, has an essay that deals with couples and their relationship with their pets and each other, “Talking Through the Hamster.” The theory here is that some couples communicate with each other by pretending the pet is speaking. I would just expand this into “Loving Through the Pup.” When I see Fred loving Pinky I feel like I just got a big kiss myself. It might get a little weird for me to hang around for hours and talk baby talk while I sniffed Fred’s feet, but Pinky thinks that is just what the doctor ordered. So come on, people. I know you’re out there. Don’t deny it, just own it.

Gettin’ Hitched


Gettin’ Hitched.

I am always a little bit thrilled to walk into a wedding. To just randomly share one of life’s great moments with total strangers and have a chance to capture it with a photo is a real pleasure. This picture was taken the other day on the square in front of The Parroquia, the wedding-cake-like church in San Miguel. To first see this church is like the first time you see Notre Dame in Paris – breathtaking.

The large puppets lead the wedding procession (it’s a Mexican thing, I wouldn’t understand). All the young women exit the church dressed to the hilt, including the most inappropriate possible shoes for walking on the cobblestone streets. And then the bride and groom, with dozens of friends taking photos. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and snap a few myself.

There is something so hopeful about a wedding. I love the romance of it all. I usually cry at weddings. If Fred would do it (he says once is enough, thanks) I would renew our vows every year. This would be a great opportunity to throw a celebration and wear a fabulous dress. I have been quite happy to see the USA move into the direction of recognizing marriage regardless of gender. I have many gay and lesbian friends who have been couples for decades and I want them to have all the rights that Fred and I have.

While being married to Fred for the past 32 years has been wonderful for me, I also know that it may not be for everyone and can be hell on earth if it is with the wrong person. I know this because I was married once before. So, while I love weddings, sometimes a divorce makes sense, too. The whole point of it all is sharing one’s life, making life easier, and being happy.

Life isn’t always easy, and there are ups and downs, married or single. The most important thing to me about being married is having that one truest friend who is there to share the good times and help ease the pain of the bad times. Finding Fred was the best thing that ever happened to me. And what I would wish for the handsome couple in this picture, and for any couple, is that they, too, will feel that way about their spouse as the decades pass. Friends have sometimes asked me what I think is the secret to a happy marriage. After the important part about finding the right person there are three phrases that sum it up. Make these things easy to say and you will find most problems will solve themselves: “I love you.” “I’m sorry.” “I forgive you.” And let the last thing that happens every day be a good night kiss.