In 1957, Nevil Shute penned a novel called On the Beach about a post-apocalyptic world that became a film starring Gregory Peck. In 1974, Neil Young released his fifth studio album, also entitled On the Beach, this time covering the insanity following his break with Carrie Snodgress, the death of Crazy Horse mate Danny Whitten, and the angst of a country finally extricating itself from the insane Vietnam conflict.
Later today, probably around the third inning of the Saturday games starting at 1:00 pm, Pacific Time, my best friend Diane Walsh and I are going to be married on the sands of Stinson Beach, a lovely teeny little town just outside of San Francisco.
If you have followed my adventures here at Mastersball (nee CREATiVESPORTS) over the past 20 years, you have certainly seen the strange path of my life, then as my partner Cathy Hedgecock went from vital to suffering from the breast cancer that took her from us in 2005 at the age of 44. Six months later, my son Joey passed away at the age of 22, and though both my family members were ill for many years, I have to admit, after the pair left this planet, I went through arguably the darkest time of my life.
Through all this, I made my main living working as a Project Manager for ATT, and in 2002, when in Chicago for company business, Diane and I met and began a working relationship, she as a vendor liasion, me as the manager of the interface the vendors accessed to process DSL orders.
Diane had dogs, and was a bright and fun person to manage teleconferences with, and though we started as colleagues, we became good friends and she was among the kindest and most supportive within my circle when Cathy, and then Joey passed away, even though we had met face-to-face just once, and I did not even remember her from the first meeting.
Just after Cathy left us, in July 2005, Diane found herself in New Orleans, as a member of the Illinois Doberman Rescue, pulling pets out of flooded and destroyed homes in an effort that changed both of our lives. For Diane, who had been a Director at ATT, and worked at the company for 27 years, the rescue lit a flame under her to seek some other occupation through the remainder of her working days.
For me, though I liked Diane as a friend, it showed me a depth of character that ran way beyond what I had previously experienced in our discussions.
Diane, who has certainly travelled the world some having visited the Carribean, the Amazon, Alaska, and a chunk of the eastern seaboard, had never really been to California, and as our friendship deepened, a couple of years following the passing of Cathy, I innocently invited Diane to California.
"I have a guest room" I reassured her, adding that "I had just bought a house by Lake Tahoe. We could go there, we could go to the wine country, to San Francisco, and all over the beautiful haunts I knew in Northern California."
We discussed this over and over, and finally, as I was in New York for Tout Wars in 2007, Diane made a plane reservation to the Bay Area, and as we anticipated her arrival in late May, we suddenly realized that maybe we "liked" one another.
Diane's visit kicked off four years of long distance relationship for the two of us whereby she got to know the Bay Area, and I got to know northwestern Chicago, and though I kept working at ATT, Diane retired with all of her benefits, and began working on an AA at Harper College. Two years later, Di finished her tenure at Harper, applied to UC Davis, and amazingly got into the school as a 53-year-old Junior.
Since my home in El Cerrito was just 50 miles from Davis, and Amtrak had a station at the University, we decided it was time to put our relationship to the test, and Diane sold her home in Algonquin, packed up her four cats (her German Shepherd, Mahi, actually rode across country with us the previous summer, and he just stayed in the Bay Area in anticipation of Diane relocating the following year) and moved in with me for good.
We settled in, and I retired from ATT, allowing me to focus on writing here at Mastersball, while writing some ficiton and playing a lot of golf, and Diane did indeed graduate from Davis with a degree in Animal Biology and began a business--Endless Pawsibilities--and things moved along swimmingly.
We became registered Domestic Partners in California, allowing us to access one another's health care and such personal information, and though marriage came up a couple of times, we had both been there before, and simply felt no compelling need to officially formalize much of anything.
But, since Diane had graduated, friends suggested I throw a graduation party for Diane, and since her best friends, Cherie Dudek (from Chicago) and Dee Dee Huebner (living in Fairbanks, getting a PhD there) were coming out in August for a girls week in the mountains and at the beach, I figured I would arrange the soiree for when Diane's pals were out here.
In the interim, Diane and I went to New York for the FSTA Summer Conference, and I thought Di would like a nice fancy dinner one night, so I made reservations at Tavern on the Green, and then decided that she might like a carriage ride through Central Park after dinner. I am not sure why, but I then thought as long as we were doing something romantic, I might as well see if Diane wanted to get married, targeting the August 20 date when we would be partying anyway, and with her best friends in our neighborhood.
So, at 2 pm, today, Diane and I are getting married on the beach at Stinson, with a cluster of our closest friends surrounding us at one of the most beautiful spots in the area.
It is hardly Nevil Shute, nor even Neil Young, but I think we are both sort of happy with how things have worked out: moving from colleagues to friends, to partners, to best friends, to ideally married best friends.
Weddings and all the trappings is a stressful process, and though we have tried to keep the process low-key, we both reasoned that this is a bigger deal than we wish to admit, so we are both simply trying to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
Neither of us expects much to change, for we have known one another for 15 years now, and been a couple for nine, but I think we are indeed both happy with the path life has tossed our way.
For every moment of every day is the best of adventures for us. This act just enhances the storyline.