Behind every non-single blogger, there’s another person—probably a better person—behind him or her who somehow is able to put up with hours and hours of alone time while the blogger stares at the computer screen, tapping out words meant to save the world from itself. If you’re married or in a relationship, and you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m talking about.
In my case, that person is Alexandra, who married me last week.
This is us at a friend’s wedding earlier this year:
I met Alex only nine months after returning from Iraq. We were in a grad school class together, at the University of Texas at Dallas. At the time, neither of us were in great places. I was still having trouble with crowds, nightmares, and sleep, and she was in the process of ending a previous marriage--while working on a Ph.D. at the same time.
Alex and I had completely opposite backgrounds: She was from the Transylvanian hills of Romania and already had a law degree from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. But she had also grown up under Ceausescu during the death throes of Communism, living through food shortages, repression, and the revolution of 1989. When she finally moved to the U.S. in 1999, she spoke a number of languages at the time, but English wasn’t one of them.
I, on the other hand, grew up in Louisiana, watched too many movies, played cops and robbers, and joined the Army. I only vaguely remembered seeing the bloodied face of Ceausescu on the evening news in December 1989—when I was in sixth grade—after he and his wife were executed for their crimes against the Romanian people following their capture and a short "trial."
Here’s us when we were kids—me in my driveway in Shreveport, and Alex behind the Iron Curtain in Romania:
When I met Alex, we found that we had one thing in common: Utter contempt for George W. Bush. For that reason, she invited a few of us from class over to her apartment to watch the first debate between Bush and Kerry over some drinks. I found her irresistible, but, knowing her current situation, I felt I should keep some distance. Plus, I had no reason to believe the feeling was mutual.
Either way, when she offered to host another get-together during the second Bush-Kerry debate several weeks later, I was the only one who showed up. Lucky for me.
We moved in together a few months after that. She was beside me when the war in Iraq hit me extra hard at my parents’ house on Christmas 2004. She nursed me back to health after I had shoulder surgery in early 2005 and she freaked out and rushed to the hospital when I told her I was going to have an emergency appendectomy in 2006. She took me to Transylvania to meet my future in-laws a couple of years ago, and she’s the only person in my life who’s proven capable of carrying me through the transition from war, through school, to becoming a relatively functional civilian.
But part of that process for me has been to write out a lot of what’s on my mind. And that’s clearly taken a toll on our relationship. In fact, until recently, I hadn’t gone to sleep before midnight in years. Since summer 2004, I’ve stayed up at night. I write and I write and I write—typically between midnight and 4 AM. That’s how I wrote my book. It’s therapy.
For some reason, Alex has remained patiently supportive. She didn’t complain when we lived in an apartment in which our desktop was in the same room as our bed. . .and I stayed up all night trying to meet publisher-set deadlines. And even after we moved into a larger apartment, she still went to sleep alone at night, more often than not, to the sound of tapping keys in the other room.
Even when the book was done, and I was blogging on and off, my full-time work with VoteVets picked up and I began working odd hours: Taking phone calls at midnight, traveling to and from D.C. and New York, and still writing. It has frayed our relationship at times, but she’s never explicitly held it against me.
I don’t know why she does it. (Unless she just really hates George W. Bush that much.) Even more surprising, when I dropped a surprise proposal on her last December, she said yes.
This is us, seconds after it happened:
We sealed the deal in Key West last Tuesday, just the two of us.
So anyway, I guess this post is sort of a public thank you to my beautiful wife for being there for me throughout the last four tumultuous years. She is my rock. She is smarter than me, she is more sensitive than me, and she is a better person than me.
And I couldn’t be happier now that we’re married.