Marilyn had seen me out with N., on New Year’s Eve downtown, she admitted when we talked on the phone a few days later about some organizational things.
When I admitted N. and I really weren’t “going out” (to my frustration), it was just platonic (at least for N.). Marilyn mewled sadly. Which I thought was an odd reaction from a woman who might vaguely – vaguely, in some alternate world I was not used to – be a rival.
Marilyn was such a romantic, for her one less couple in the world than she had thought was saddening.
She became my confidante about N. Once, she pointed out some past-thinking I was doing. “Friends are about the future,” she told me.
And a few weeks later I mailed her a Valentine’s card, a friendship card. What I could think to write was, “You told me friends are about the future – what a wonderful thought!”
She called me, thanking me for it, and a bit taken aback. “No one ever gave me a valentine before!”
Which was hard to believe – she was beautiful, and she knew it (although filled with crippling self doubt I would find out about later) – back when she was in college and in her 20s she has been a professional nude model, including working for legendary local sculptor Larry Griffis. And she had had sex with lots of men – at least that was the impression she unabashedly gave me.
She had never gotten a valentine before? “Well, Howard did.” She had been with him years before, for six years, and I would find out more in bits and pieces later on. “But he doesn’t count.”
Howard had hurt her, constantly through those years: charming at first, then slowly changing, closing her world, suffocating her, then yelling at her, and then hitting her. One night he killed her cat. But she escaped. Back then the laws and a woman’s rights weren’t what they are now and she pretty much had to start over again.
A few days after the card, she asked me to join her for a mutual friends’ housewarming…
Later, after Marilyn and I broke up, MS would start to take her. But we really think she had the heart attack to escape, again. Her family – her mother and older sister – were from the midwest; I ended up making sure she had a memorial service. I composed and printed out the remembrance cards for her, with a photo of her smiling holding up her less than thrilled cat Rudy. I had found a nice new mother for Rudy.
And on the cards, the only quote I could think to put was, of course, “Friends are about the future.”