Marcy’s Love Story… what to look for in a partner
This pup is far from the first to say that we all are the authors of our own life stories. That while we’re always affected by the world around us in infinite ways, we still make the decisions that define our journeys. How we react to events, to people, to things, and what we pursue – all these make us the writer (as well as director and lead actor) of our personal, or canine, epics.
I bring this up because I want to tell you a story, of a dear friend of mine. A woman, very bright, and almost as cute as me, who had everything in life but love. And how she managed to turn that around.
Marcy grew up in an intellectual home – her father was a noted psychologist, and her mother equally sophisticated, surrounded by wonderful minds. But what she loved most was great writing, especially in the theater. As she grew up, she became an expert on hundreds of plays, enough to work for playhouses to help them pick out what works they’d choose to perform. And after a while, her own writing took off as well, to the point where she had stories and articles published, and was hired as a writer on big TV shows.
But with all this going on, her love life was… not so great. She’d have relationships with interesting guys, but nothing lasted (You’ve maybe noticed, interesting good-looking guys are often difficult to keep in relationships! Even my beloved Handsome can, at times, be no picnic. In fact, picnics are one of those times – he never lets me have the chicken bones, and then throws them out! Sure I know they’re bad for me, possibly fatal, but come on… they smell SO GOOD!). She even got married, but that proved wrong very quickly.
You see, as a writer, Marcy lived in her own head a lot. She was friendly (and a big dog-lover, a great sign of character!), but at times her mind might be somewhere else than totally present.
Can you relate?
For example, she would come home, throw her things down when she walked in the door, leave her shoes wherever she took them off, and rush to write down what was on her mind. Then her boyfriend, or husband, would walk in, and get annoyed – how inconsiderate of her to make a mess of their place!
And “inconsiderate” is the right word. She wasn’t being purposely sloppy, she was just not… considering… about him at that moment!
So after her divorce, which was inevitable (Aren’t you impressed with my big words? Just writing about a writer makes me so literary!), she did what lots of people did then – she tried personal ads.
(For those who don’t know that term, before internet dating sites and meetup apps, newspapers and magazines would publish short personal classified advertisements, where a person would describe themselves and what they were looking for in a few lines. No photos or Instagram accounts, just words! Imagine!)
She wrote something clever and flirtatious, knowing that she’d get a lot of responses that wouldn’t work for her, but hoping maybe one or two guys would catch on and respond in a fun way too. And one did.
This guy was maybe more of an oddball than she was. He’d worked as an actor, as a writer, as a limousine driver… and I’m forgetting a lot of things. He’d lived many lifetimes in his years. But what mattered more was that his letters were funny, and open, and sweet, and showed real interest in her.
They wrote each other for so long that it almost didn’t matter what the other looked like – when he finally showed up at her door, they’d been in love for weeks. Then the fact that each found the other attractive too… oh this was just too good! At last, she wasn’t just a terrific writer of articles and TV shows – she’d written her life to right where she wanted.
Sure enough, they married soon. And while of course they had their squabbles, both had reached a point where their appreciation and gratitude shone over every moment they shared. They raised, and loved, and grieved over the losses of, pet dogs; they moved across the country; they began new careers… all together and with mutual support.
I met her when she was working in an office with Handsome. Both of them would bring their dogs in for their therapy clients, and she was so nice I only got a little jealous of how friendly Handsome would be to her aging pups. And her husband, Jon, was as nice as she was. And a great teacher to kids, and a good enough tennis player to whip Handsome’s butt any time they played (pssst… don’t tell Handsome I said this, but that didn’t mean Jon was all that great – LOTS of people can whip his… oops here he comes, gotta get back to the story).
In fact, everything was kind of perfect about Jon. Except that one cruelty that shows up too often in people, and in dogs and even cats: One day his doctor told him he had a bad cancer.
They did their best, with every treatment they had, but it wasn’t enough. With Marcy having stayed by his side every moment, he eventually slipped away. Far too young, far too soon.
A mutual friend called Handsome that morning and told him the news. He phoned Marcy right away and left a message about how sorry he was. And then, surprisingly, he didn’t hear back from her for a few weeks. Till one day, he got a call from her – angry and hurt, wondering why he’d never called! He explained that he had, and she quieted down – the reason was clear. She had been in such shock over the loss of her great love, she hadn’t been able to remember the message.
The three of us went to an outdoor restaurant that day, where I was able to lay my head in her sad lap until the food showed up. She was weak and pale still, but able to talk calmly, until a subject came up – that thing about her being sloppy at home.
“You see,” she explained, “All my life, anyone I lived with complained about my leaving my clothes and stuff around. But one day, Jon walked into our bedroom and said, ‘You know, when I’m on my way home, I never know if you’ll be here. And then I walk in, and I see your shoes on the floor, and your papers and your coat spread out, and they make me so happy. Because then I know you’re here, and I’m going to get to see you.’”
And with that, she started sobbing so hard she couldn’t finish her food. (Though while it was a heartbreakingly beautiful story, I won’t pretend it kept me from helping her out with the job!)
Marcy and Handsome and I have been even better friends ever since. Maybe at another age, they would have become a couple (living with all my shedding certainly would make him tolerant of a shoe or two!). But it wouldn’t have lasted; although they shared a lot of interests, they wanted different things in their lives. (And besides, one of her two newer dogs HATES him! Frankly, I think he’s still so in love with Jon he can’t stand any other man to be near her!)
But they’d hang out, go to (and criticize) movies and plays, and be there to help each other when they could. Like, as she worked to write a funny and heartbreaking book about her and Jon, which Handsome wants the whole world to read someday.
And as, horrifyingly, Marcy came down with a cancer too. And went through the same treatments Jon had, and came through them fine – only to come down with another one, a worse one, that couldn’t be treated in the same way. That she battled for years.
Till a couple of weeks ago, when what we’d all known would happen finally did. When Jon came down to take Marcy away from us. And while she’d battled fiercely to stay alive, I have no doubt she was so happy to see him, she easily flew into his waiting arms.
So Handsome and I have spent a few quiet nights at home. He’s told me funny stories about her, and said a lot of bad words about cancer, and given me some really big hugs. But then he suggested I write this story to all of you.
For a couple of reasons.
First, because, out of all the relationship advice I’ve given, I don’t think any has been better than this: that you should look for someone whose flaws make you happy, or who is thrilled by your flaws. What could ever make a better relationship?!
And second, to suggest that, sometime, you look up into the sky, and see if, in the clouds or the stars, you can make out some sloppy scattered shoes or papers. Because, just past them, just out of our sight… one of the most perfect loves ever is glowing in eternal joy.