Andy & England

(Before the beginning provides some backstory to Half Agony, Half Hope. see links at the end of this post for more background. )

I am 51 and single. Divorced actually, but I’ve been on my own for so long now I think of myself as single. I’m Texan born and bred, and though parts of me are Texan to the core, I have always thought of myself as an atypical Texan.

I am an artist in every way.

In my adult life – that is, in the past 33 years – I have been in deep, serious love three times. My first love was Andy.

me & Andy London 1980 small

My freshman year in college was spent at an American international college in London. Whilst I was there I met Andy, a beautiful young Englishman (*in a pub!). From almost the first day, we were inseparable. My and Andy’s story is a wonderful one, full of young love, adventure, drama (I was deported!), long-distance romance (across 5000 miles, before the internet!), humor and love overcoming some pretty high hurdles. I won’t go into deep details here because they aren’t a part of this story and because they deserve their own telling.

After a two and a half year romance, sometimes conducted by handwritten letters and carefully plotted and timed long-distance phone calls (international calls 30 years ago were expensive) and each of us living (and working illegally) for a period of time in the other’s country, Andy and I were married in Ham, a small town near London. I was 21; Andy’s 19th birthday was 3 weeks before our wedding.

me-and-Andy-wedding-day

None of our parents were very happy about us getting married, but none objected. My mom was particularly unhappy about it – as much as she loved Andy – because we chose to begin our married life living in England.

I think there were quite a few people who privately didn’t give our marriage much of a chance, but we surprised them. When I look back on our time together, what I think about most is how much Andy and I laughed with each other. He had (still does have) a sly, British sense of humor and mine is pretty sharp too. Laughter was our glue.

We lived in England for two years before emigrating back to Texas. Even though separated by an ocean, our families were very close. We all had outsized senses of humor. When our marriage began to dissolve, it was devastating not only to us, but also to both of our families and our friends.

Again, I won’t go into details about why our marriage came to an end because they aren’t relevant here, except to say it wasn’t because of any abuse or deception. Andy and I started our adulthoods together and as we grew into them we didn’t learn how to communicate with each other about change in a way that would help us sustain it together.

The path to our divorce was intensely painful and sad for both of us. Even now when I think about it my heart aches. We were married for ten years and have now been divorced for 20. But in our case, divorce changed our relationship; it did not end it. In fact, it took us a few years after the fact before we truly separated. Our families remain close; his sister is one of my closest friends. I go to London often to visit her and her children and my ex-mother-in-law, although I don’t think of them as ex-in-laws. They are my family in England. Andy is remarried and lives on the East Coast. We talk several times a year and our conversations are always full of laughter.

Although very intelligent, Andy never cared to express deep thoughts, preferring silly comments instead (maybe a British aversion to sentimentality; who knows?) One day a few months after our divorce, we shared lunch and a bottle of wine. It took us quite a while to learn how to not be with each other. We were sitting on my couch holding hands when Andy said, “You know, we’ll always be connected to each other.” A simple statement, yet profound and true. We didn’t have children that would demand we stay connected; we could have gone our separate ways and never spoken again, as some divorced couples do. But I do not love lightly and Andy and I shared some of the best times of our lives. Most importantly, we still cared for and loved each other deeply; we just had to find a new way to do both.

I continue to love Andy. We changed, time changed, our lives changed, but that never will.

More backstory: before the beginning: parts two and threethe beginning: parts one, two and three. 

*Andy and I met at the juke box at the Lass of Richmond Hill, the pub across the street from my college. We were both huge fans of Queen and we both kept putting in 10p coins to play this song . So, for the playlist, A Crazy Little Thing Called Love featuring the forever fabulous Freddie.

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