I talked with Bill on his 40th birthday for quite a few hours. I challenged his outlook. I pushed him…where are you going? Are you truly happy? He did the same for me. We always exchanged with each other once we cut through the thick tangles intertwining our everydayness and everypersoness --- my made up words were his favorite and he even managed to incorporate them into the literary world. He thanked me numerous times for these conversations. It seems we didn't and couldn’t have them often enough while we were together. We each protected whatever imaginary turf the other person seemed to be trampling on. I have pondered his words over the past few years and they shout at me now. He questioned more than he ever had before. He was much more compassionate. He was lost and searching, a trait he refused to show before. He hadn’t hit his full potential and I wanted that for him so desperately.
When we first collided into each other over fifteen years ago, we had much the same conversation...except our viewpoints have met more towards the middle these past few years. You see, Bill was Spock. And yes, he looked dashing in blue. I was the “AIE”, as he pegged me (aristocrat in exile). Bill had never heard of enneagrams and on our first date we profiled each other while hanging out at the Stud. He was a “justice seeker”. This trait flowed through him like blood and breath.
Bill was my atomic romantic, writing searing prose that soothed.
Bill lived in a state of subdued chaos although outsiders saw rigidity; I needed the rigidity and he needed my softness.
Bill was the host of every party we attended. Mr. Lampshade.
Bill was generous not to a fault.
Bill was a lousy driver.
Bill saved my life (literally) twice. And he acknowledged he needed saving last January.
Bill loved his family – the tribe – he protected his sisters, honored his mother, and revered his father.
Bill was too hard on himself. He said he couldn’t be any different on July 22, 2006. He knew if he could have been more loving to himself, he could have all those things he thought he didn’t deserve, including me.
Bill will always be the chiming bells of Cagli.
Bill did laundry like a yogi.
Bill never got arrested while jumping on those police cars in North Beach!
Bill looked great on television.
Bill loved so many and most never saw the signs.
Bill changed me or the better…it wasn’t simple being married to him, but I am not simple either.
Bill was the most intellectual intellect. When he worked at The SF Weekly doing film review (not critique as he would say) most would approach me asking what the hell did he mean, etc…even for the review of Stakeout 2 with the infamous cat’s ass cam…others would ask did he like it and what the hell did he mean. I think I asked Andrew if we could include a Joey Translation, stating either yes or no at the end, but those two were thick as thieves when it came to brain humping--not many could play Bill’s game--so, it was left as is. And I am thankful.
The day he died, prior to me knowing of his death, I went to dinner in my new neighborhood, Queens, NY. I had just moved a week earlier and hadn’t been to a restaurant yet. As I sat down, “The Girl from Ipanema” started to play in the restaurant. I hadn’t heard our song in months. I walked down the aisle to that song on our wedding day…I will never see anything but Bill’s shining eyes and quirky smile under the most beautiful oak tree whenever I hear that song. I explained to my boyfriend why I was wistful…you see, Bill and I were going to move to New York, we were supposed to do exactly what I was doing. Now, I see he was saying goodbye.
I can hear Bill’s laughter now like a sweet echo. I thought he was hilarious and he thought I was funny, so much so, that he would stealthily say my jokes over me and get more chuckles from those around us. It was a game to us. I spent the first ten hours with him holding my cheeks from sheer pain. Laughter…why didn’t I record just one of his hilarious rants?
He told me he would never get married again. He told me he would never have children. He asked me to get on a plane and come to be with him. I thought he was being the dramatic one…this was just a few days before he died.
I see a striking pattern when I read what you have to say. Yes, he was so alive that he should have been the spokesperson for JOLT cola when it came out – inside joke. He was so passionate about right and wrong —not his version but the version that mattered. He was so present with everyone around him, including Barbara, the Fried, Dyed and Laid to One Side homeless woman in North Beach.
In the ten years we were married (five in North Beach and five trying to figure out how to split), we loved, fought, played, struggled, laughed, cried, tried, prayed, grew and the end hasn’t happened yet.
I read all that you write, I hear your words, I hug your sorrow, and yet I still feel the same. I am envious of his bosses (yes, the magazines were his mistresses and sometimes his fulltime family), I relate to his peers for I know their admiration and sheer frustration. And I can’t count the young up n comins asking me questions about Bill. I am sure the women he loved know of the effervescent joy he gave. As for his family and lifelong friends, you are lucky like me.
My heart still shakes as I type and his words “I am so proud of you” are my lullaby at night. He was and will always be my husband.
Not a week before he died he told me what I meant to him and he stressed the forever part. Bill had a knack for timing and always seemed to make that deadline.
First Lady of Your ♥,
He loved you a lot, dear Joey.
I understood it when I so him, during a night, near the window watching you laughing on the street. A light of joy and happiness was all around him and smiling he said: “she is my wife”.
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