Among the things I love and feel grateful for, here are three: My husband c. My friend e. My dogs.
The day after I learned of marcie’s death, I had a strange moment. A little conversation in my head. It only lasted about a minute tops – probably less, but in those seconds, I felt like marcie was with me, right in my head talking to me. I felt her. I heard my voice in my head, as natural as it sounds in conversation. My voice said these words: “Okay, marcie. You’re right. I give you credit.” She and I could’ve easily been eating dinner together, maybe chatting on the phone. But it was just in my head. And then I heard her, sort of laughing and chastising at once. She said this: “See, I’ve been trying to tell you that forever.” And then that feeling of marcie in me, that feeling like we were together really talking fleeted out of me.
I stopped to think, what was that about? And I realized it was this. I know my husband because of marcie. And in those seconds, she was forcing me to recognize and acknowledge this fact.
The first time I ever saw him, ever knew who he was, beyond a name I’d heard (a nickname – chi ali), I was twenty or twenty-one. My boyfriend was living in another state and we were in the throws of constant ridiculous long-distance arguing. marcie had taken me under her wing. One night we went to a party, and there he was at the center of a group of people – they were clearly captured by what he was saying. Everyone was laughing. And I wondered, WHO is THAT guy who is the life of this party? I watched him that night, looking, to a girl who was too often melancholy, like he was the most fun in the world. It turned out that he was one of the party hosts. People said, “Chi Ali? You don’t know him?” And I thought, “No, but I’d like to.” People told me, pointing to the building that was the backdrop of this outdoor party, “He lives here, in that garage apartment.”
Maybe at that party, maybe at another of the many gatherings that took place there, I wandered to the side of his apartment and found what was a kind of dada garden that the owner had clearly been styling – There were chairs surrounded by Kudzu walls, if I recall, a toilet with an ivy growing out of it? A kudzu courtyard. At one of these parties, I needed to use the restroom, and went to the apartment of Chi Ali. In it, waiting for someone to come out, I remember seeing his signature on a painting that I noticed and liked, beside the painting, an idiosyncratic collection of objects lining a shelf constructed with wood and string. That was it. I was infatuated with this person who was here and not out of town like my boyfriend. This gardener and painter and collector and organizer of minutia.
I recall also, thanks to e., that after that very first party, the first time I noticed him, I went back to marcie and e.’s apartment where I drunkenly and loudly proclaimed, “C. is SO cute. I have a CRUSH on him.” And I remember e. laughing and marcie laughing, but also looking caught off guard. She probably reminded me, “You have a boyfriend,” before she let herself laugh.
After remembering this all, I thought, consciously this time, I would never have been at that party if marcie hadn’t dragged me there. I was a pretty shy girl, intimidated by big crowds of people. And in my melancholy, I was consumed only with the long-distance boyfriend. And then I knew what that fleeting moment with marcie in my head had been, recognition that I encountered c. because of her – credit I’d never before given her.
It left me thinking about many things, the fact that I know, love and am close to e. only because of marcie. I had locked myself out of my apartment and couldn’t get a hold of my landlord, and I called car-less marcie. She said, “I’ll get my roommate to bring me over. We’ll come get you.” Then I heard in the background, “E! I need you to take me over to herpreet’s!” Bossy marcie. And I thought, “Who is this e. chick? They arrived. Marcie, bringing with her a friend who stayed in my life, a friend I love, love, love. A friend marcie herself had grown up with, a sister-friend.
And the dogs. The only pet I ever had growing up was a bird (there were some fish that died, but I had no attachments.). Later I never wanted a cat, a dog, let alone a fish. When we were in college, marcie’s little Chihuahua, Willamina took an astounding liking to me - though I ignored her, never wanted her licking me or in my lap. (Mina much preferred Marcie’s male friends, and she turned her nose up to most of marcie's girlfriends. It was well known what a little bitch she was.) I suppose because I didn't give her attention, she wanted it from me so badly. I used to shove her off when she tried to cuddle up with me on the couch.
One day Marcie, in irritation with my continued rejection of her dog, chastised, "Mina hears your car when it turns the corner of the street, and she sits in the window and waits for you to get here!" Of course, I could not continue to resist a creature so devoted. It was the first time I realized how smart dogs are, how loyal, and that I was capable of perhaps loving an animal not human.
Now I have two dogs of my very own. It always pleased Marcie how I had succumbed to love dogs and how Mina had been the cause. She never failed to tease me about it. “I can’t believe YOU have dogs,” she would laugh. It literally seemed to tickle her.
These are the ways marcie impacted my life. She introduced me to three of my life-loves. c., e. and dogs. I’d like to see her so I could give her credit, say, “Look how you made a difference in my life, how you helped form it.” But I suspect she knows. Finally, now I know. I don’t need to write more about marcie. Everytime I think of her, I’m going to make sure I remember to say, “Thank you.” I’ll keep loving on her, and I’ll have faith that she senses my gratitude.