Part two of a three part micro-series. Part one is here.
Nausea hit me mid-morning. In the middle of a team meeting at work, giving the rundown on the day’s priorities, I place a hand on the wall and prepare to vomit in the presence of co-workers. Out of nowhere, like ambulance sirens, beads of sweat bubble across my bald head and I’m thinking, “Maybe I’m getting the flu.”Â With nausea and sweat comes a fit of dizziness—not a complete spin of the world, but the sight of the factory, the cubicles, the machines and assemblers tilt on a forty-five degree angle. I make it through the meeting and dart to the side exit of the building, the smoking section, and step outside to the new cold air, a country breeze effusing nicotine, trying to retrieve my bearings, looking for them as if they’re my keys. I sit on a trash can and light a cigarette, freezing as the wind dries my scalp. I chair the meeting every morning, and have done so for at least three months, so “stage fright,”Â as a malady, is the wrong answer.
I can’t get sick. Not before the wedding, not before our romp through London. My immune system is a cat’s cradle of tripwires: a stomach flu before a Thanksgiving flight to Georgia, Chicken Pox on my seventh birthday (a sleepover, of course), appendicitis three weeks before I started fourth grade (the senior year of elementary school), and bronchitis two weeks before my wedding—my first wedding”—ive years ago. The whole ordeal, my first marriage, was a catastrophe, like a first draft submitted to publication. That I got sick before the celebration wasn’t an omen of things to come—it failed as a predictor to future illness, the one that temporarily halted my sanity, the one that exposed the terminal malignancy in our marriage. But that’s that—this is flu-like symptoms on a October morning three weeks before Marriage: Redux.
I admit on this trash can, square in hand, that the conflation of work, writing, wedding and international travel, in the face of State Department “advisories,”Â equate to stress. Day-job is the day-job and I’ve already said my peace on it. Writing: a desperate search for the new sound, the new way to say, “I’m so lonely”Â in the new era where deeper horrors are communicated through the wire via snarky microcosms. The wedding remains a mystery: my fiancee’s dress and the first-night undergarments underneath (yeah). And what of London? I need it to save me, but what if? What if we get there, cameras in hand and guidebooks in our bags, and detach our tourist armor, let it all fall in an American pile by our feet, and find our skins capable of blending in with the masses? What if I return to the States unrecognizable? Will I pull a Madonna and discover a latent British accent?
I take a shortcut and get right to the point, or as close to it as I can. I’m still a man, to quote a favorite Tony Toni Tone song of mine. I’m nervous because I’m gripped by more humanistic fears. A story I want to tell my children one day (or nieces and nephews if childbirth ain’t in the cards) is the moment I knew I was going to marry her. The moment contrasted previous meditations on marriage, old thoughts that considered the act as a necessity to the longevity of a relationship, that I had to do it in order to keep the peace, to play my part in the future commiseration of two. Instead, I laid eyes on a woman I hadn’t seen in seven years in a Charlotte hotel lobby. Nobody saw it, the phantasmic explosion before my eyes, the dispersion of amethyst and azure, a mushroom plume of something unexpected, that took place between our bodies, in a space measured in yards. I saw perfection and heard God in my ear. “Don’t fuck this up, writer-man.”Â
So far, so good. She still seems inclined to take my last name. And for that, I think about sitting on a dormant plane London-bound, cabin lights slightly dim, and I kiss her on the cheek, lower to the neck, living it up like newlyweds designed to make seasoned couples nauseous at the sight of our carrying-on. Carry on, writer-man—carry that weight, boy-turned-man. Is the love I take equal to the love I make? My ex-wife would say no, that happiness is, without question, a warm gun”â€to the head, no less. I would agree—probably. But that’s that and this is three weeks before touch-down and take-off into Space, the perfect allegory for love and creativity. Co-pilots in a rocket-ship, Moleskine notebooks in tow. I know nothing of tomorrow and, for now, that’s enough to end the rumbles. My stomach settles. I snuff out my cigarette. I stand and head back in, get back to work, resume time’s march toward—