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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
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synopsis 2002-2006

I left my husband in 2 oh oh 2 for poetry. A month later, I was laid off and a firefighter poet moved in with me. I never got back into an engineering job. I resorted to web development for a couple years at less than half my former salary. In March ’05, I became suicidal from the pointlessness of what I was doing at the office and the futility of my lukewarm relationship. I decided to try bulimia, hoping that if I got thin enough that someone would find me attractive and rescue me or that I’d die bent over a toilet, heart attack from electrolyte imbalance. The firefighter got sick of my sickness, dumped me in June ’05.

I met Smith at the start of my activities in the poetry community. He had a croaking whisper of a voice. He often came to readings smelling like grass. I was jealous of his irreverent poetry, the compelling stories from his past, his outlaw art and his 20 year ArtCrimes publication. I read and re-read the last issue of ArtCrimes, thought it the epitomy of cool. Though jealous of his edge, it didn’t keep me from thinking highly of him, wondering about his life.

I commuted with him to a poetry reading in September 2005. After the reading, we talked past midnight. I asked, “Don’t you want to hold me?” Smith reluctantly agreed, knowing this would complicate things.

We did a full body press. It felt good, right, for both of us. We started hugging, kissing, touching. It’d been at least fifteen years since Smith’d touched a woman. He said, “You can sleep over if you are too stoned to go home.”

I said, “Only if we don’t have sex. I’m involved with several other men.”

So we went to bed in our clothes. I said, “It’s too hot.” I took off my pants, my top and my brassiere.

Smith said, “Oh, no, Lady. Panties go too.”

And that was that. I dumped the other men. Two weeks later, Smith gave me the keys. He said, “It’s not fair for you to wait for me to answer the door.”

And two weeks after that, I moved in.

Smith’s skills as a mainframe programmer were becoming obsolete, and he hated the work. He retired in December 2005. He planned to “fake it” until March 2007, living off his savings until he was eligible for early social security. He convinced me to drop out of the office world, “retire” with him, become his artistic collaborator.

A week after I moved in, we decided to move to Europe. Smith proposed October 16.

Right before retirement, he casually mentioned that he had nodules on his larynx. I freaked out, had him get a biopsy. He was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. No health insurance.

There were two months of radiation treatments in January and February. At the same time, I was cleaning Smith’s condo and painting and repairing the walls and floor, which were damaged from twenty years of his rough art practices. We’d decided to sell the condo in order to travel, but now we had to sell it because now most of his savings were gone from medical expenses. (I’ve since read that people without insurance pay on average 3 times more than what the treatment costs insurers. This makes me severely angry.)

We were going to get married in January, but couldn’t because I couldn’t dispose of my previous husband. So we married March 18.

During this period we had three art shows, the release of the final issue of ArtCrimes, and bunches of readings… and we created art and wrote about a quarter of his memoir.

I’d never been so happy and sad at the same time. Sad because of the painfulness of dealing with Smith’s illness, and happy because I’d finally found the partner I dreamed of, someone who was a companion, someone with whom I could do art and writing and conversation.

We closed the sale of the condo in June 2006. We had to wait ’til July to see if the radiation treatments worked, getting another biopsy. Regardless, Smith decided we were going to go to Europe whether or not he was cured. As soon as we had the money, we bought our flight tickets to London. In the back of our minds, we weren’t sure they were going to let us leave, that it wasn’t permitted for us to live our dreams. We felt we were escaping.

The July biopsy showed him in remission. August, breathless, we left the country.

We’ve lived together 24/7 since December 2005. Smith’s voice has healed. He sounds like a wise cowboy.

I’ve never been so happy and so sad. I’m happy because I have my road-tested companion, love of my life, and a manuscript… and pictures I can hold in my palms. My thumbs can travel to all the countries we’ve seen.

But I’m so, so sad as well. Now that I have someone to care about, my heart has a home in the world. I’m compelled to care about the world to make it a safer place for me and my love. All global terror is personal terror for me, inescapable from my quotidian existence: the political terrorism of our imperialist institutions, the WTO, the IMF, the non-sustainable practice of globalization, our genocide of 1 million Iraqis, our de facto genocide of 100,000 Indian farmers, my recent disillusionment with the Democrats, realizing their complicity in perpetrating mass corporate and political crime. What is happening to our home, the world? We’re shitting in our own fish tank.

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