Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Husband and I Didn't Have a "Meet-Cute" Moment. So of course, I wrote about it.

Personal nonfiction writers often ponder the delicate issue of writing about loved ones, in particular spouses, a subject I once spent months researching. What I found, and have observed, is that most contemporary memoir and personal essay writers fall into (or straddle) three categories:

- show work to a spouse while it's still in very early draft form, giving him/her full veto power to delete anything
- share it only in late stages of editing, with either (a) a willingness to discuss cuts, but no guarantees; or (b) just as a heads-up
- stay mum until publication

I'm mostly in the second category - b - *Honey, FYI, this piece is coming out next week, and you're in it.* But sometimes I slip into the third. Why? Because I can. Because my husband, bless him, has a sense of humor about himself and us; because after 27 years of marriage he knows to pick his battles; and (maybe best of all) because he is almost completely isolated from social media (his choice).

Seven years ago, I began a narrative essay about how we met, fell apart and come back together multiple times over 12 years. In its various incarnations, the piece grew, deepened, languished, shrank, came back to life in varying forms. 

Once, I showed a draft to a writing friend for input and -- because we had dinner planned with this friend and her fiance -- I let Frank read it, mostly so that if the topic of what my friend and I were each writing came up, he wouldn't be in the dark. He shrugged. That was four years ago. I brought the drafts out to play with a few times since, then buried it again.

Finally, last fall, something shifted. I started with a blank screen, and after only a few hours (and 7 years) of rewriting, out it went on the submission trail.

Happily, Blue Lyra Review liked it and "Not Quite Meet-Cute" is part of their newest issue, now live. Which is why, last week, I told Frank, in a by-the-way moment, "A piece I wrote about how we met and dated is going to be published." He shrugged. 

I titled this one after a line in the film The Holiday, when the lovely actor Eli Wallach (who plays a now-elderly but once famously productive screenwriter from the golden age of Hollywood), explains that the magical, sweet, sometimes comical moment when fated lovers in a film first encounter one another, is called the "meet-cute."

My husband and I didn't have one of those. 

Here's how my story begins: 
People often ask how my husband and I met, confusing meeting with meaning.I tell them the meet-cute version: it happened at a New York Giants football game, two teenagers who forgot umbrellas and shared an improvised over-sized black trash-bag poncho. It is true, this story, and you can get by with this story, entertain and please people who want to know it is still possible to be sleeping beside the love of your life some thirty-eight years after he first made you swoon. 
But it’s not that simple. 
I first saw and heard my future husband when I was twelve and he sixteen, filling multiple roles in a high school production of My Fair Lady: dreamy looks, a swath of dark curly hair, and that last name – Frank Romeo. When we finally met at that football game three years later, I was with my best friend Anne, and he with his best friend Jeff. About five weeks of double dates followed, but I failed to notice Frank’s distracted twitch. I had forgotten that I first encountered him as an actor...
I hope you will read the rest here. And, if you're inclined, give it a boost with the Facebook Like button at the bottom of the essay on the BLR site


Amy Morgan said...

Lisa - What a lovely history of how you got together. My husband and I don't have that "moment" either - instead having a years long story of coming together. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Truly beautifully written.

Amy Morgan said...

Lisa - What a lovely history of how you got together. My husband and I don't have that "moment" either - instead having a years long story of coming together. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Truly beautifully written.

cdarling said...

Loved reading this. Taught me a lot about structure and metaphor. But most of all a sweet honest story. And it has Jane Eyre undertones that I love:)

Unknown said...

Not every love story needs to have that-special-moment does it? Even mine does not and I am totally cool with it. Looking forward to reading your story :)

Andrea said...

What a great story, and so well crafted. It's hard to cover a long period of time without falling into "and then, and then, and then" type of story-telling, but you did it masterfully, and I hung on to the last word!

Lisa Romeo said...

Thank you all for reading and for your kind words. It's the imperfect stories, I find, that make the best writing material (and later, reading, I hope).