February 9, 2009


I always assumed I knew what a car crash sounded like from watching James Bond movies: the whirl of a revved engine, the screech of tires, a thrust of brakes, then a loud explosion for some reason. All I heard from my apartment was a dull "thunk," like throwing an empty aluminum can in the recycling bin and it ricochets off another can. It took me a second to realize that it was a car crash that I had just heard.

But as soon as I realized it I knew. It was Initials.

It was 7:05, and he was supposed to pick me up at 7 to head over to his place. By 7:10 I was antsy; he's not the most punctual of people, but I was sure he was in the accident. Call it intuition, or say that it has something to do with the closeness of our relationship, but I knew it. (Instead of feeling it in my bones, I felt it in my boner...or something.)

At 7:15 I got the phone call. I was right. It was him. It was his fault.

"Are you OK?"
"Is everyone else OK?"
"Is the car OK?"
The cops pulled up...I've got to go make a statement or something.

"Do you want me to do anything? Do you want me out there?"
No, you don't have to... I guess I'll just see you when I see you. I'm sorry babe.

Over the course of this winter, Madison's had over 60 inches of snow, and while we've been experiencing a heatwave in the low 40s for the last three days (break out the shorts), large piles of snow still barricade the sidewalks from the streets and congest in the gutters. Sight lines are not fun, especially in the downtown area.

He had tried making a left-hand turn, thinking he was in the clear. But he wasn't.

The twirl of red and blue lights echoed around my apartment, but I couldn't see anything from my window. I slipped on a pair of crocs and went up to the lobby to try and get a better look. I wasn't able to see much, just a tow truck pulling off to the side of the road, and the silhouette of Initials in his car, slumped over.

He got out of the car and walked out of my line of sight. I didn't want to go out and interrupt things. He's a big boy, and it's not like I could have done anything to help other than just stand around outside. But I could tell by the tone of his voice that he needed a hug, and I did not like hearing him like that.

Initials' car is in the shop for the next week, out on Monday at the earliest. His insurance doesn't cover a rental car, and the repair shop only offers one for forty-eight hours. His deductible has got him eating ramen three times a day until the 15th. Not really, but that's the metaphor he's used.

We've had to juggle around a few things, like canceling our Valentine's reservations; no one wants to ride the bus, walk for two blocks, then eat at a fancy restaurant, and then make sure to be finished in time for a ride back. We're still thinking of something fun and cheap and close enough to my place.

Because he's more or less moved into my tiny apartment for the next week. I live a block away from a bus stop that will take him directly to work with no transfers, while from his apartment he'd have to take one bus, wait at the depot for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a different bus in order to get to work, and he'd have to leave his apartment almost two hours earlier. We've been talking about moving in together in August, when both of our leases expire, but this isn't exactly what either of us had in mind. We'll have to see how well this week pans out.

I got an email the other day about "Freedom to Marry" week. I assume many of you received similar emails, glancing at the titles from my RSS feed. (Can I just take a moment and say that out of all the stupid words that the internet has spawned, "blogswarm" is one of my least favorite?) I originally planned to write about the accident within this context, declaring that an ordinary couple working through an emergency is what marriage is all about. Except I don't really know if I believe that. I don't know how I'd define marriage.

Let me clarify. I know the Websters definition, but that's marriage with a lower-case m. I don't know how to describe Marriage, capital M and in italics, shorthand for the civil rights that are needed in stable relationships that most straight people take for granted, like medical decisions, hospital visits, adoption, tax benefits, and insurance.

The accident could have been a lot worse. It's more or less been my mantra for the past few days. It could have been worse, someone could have gotten hurt. It could have been worse, your car will be ready in a week, and it's supposed to be warm. It could have been worse.

If it had been worse, this would have been a much different post, a sob story, and I would probably have a much stronger urge to define marriage, and a heartier call for the freedom to marry.

For better or worse, it's not.
Here lies a most ridiculous raw youth, indulging himself in the literary graces that he once vowed to eschew. Now he just rocks out.