Marriage Advice, a la Patti Smith

T-storm and I have both been on a reading (books) kick lately.  Travel propels us to read, as we did a whole lot during our honeymoon and the associated flights.  He’s much more of a reader than I am, and granted we both read online article and wikipedia pages to the point of saturation, but I think we both have that childhood reader in us.  Before I had a smart phone to distract me while walking through a parking lot, I had Babysitters’ Club books by the bundle.

I bought T a Nook for Christmas this year, and it did not get much use at all.  I suggested he use it for his grad classes, but to no avail.  (Sidenote: obviously husband has little energy for fun stuff, even fun books, when he’s working full time and taking grad classes at night.  Obviously.)  But then his mother insisted he read The Hunger Games, which he did almost entirely on the drive down to Key West (and then immediately compared it to the work of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King, the latter whom he idolizes).

Now he says, “I have to check out the next two books on my Nook!”  And then he found an NPR list of top science fiction books, most of which he’s already read, but he still went forth.

He insists that I have to read “The Call of Cthulu”, to get at least a rudimentary knowledge of the most oft-referenced Lovecraft monster, and I will.  I’ve read some Lovecraft, at his urging.  And at some point I’ll dally with The Hunger Games, I guess.

But my fancies turn me to a book I actually bought and hadn’t even begun on yet.  And I’ve been devouring.

I plan on later finishing A Visit from the Goon Squad, which was gifted to me by a friend and I have only gotten about one chapter into.  It seems, however, that Goon Squad is a good post-companion to Kids, seeing that Smith’s work is an honest but highly romantic depiction of New York in the late 60s and early 70s, and Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winner is about the decades-later aftermath of such.  Anyway.

Pertaining to an earlier post about marriage being about a team, there was another bit that Smith wrote about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.  Granted, they were indeed only kids when they met and were involved, and would move on to much bigger things in their own relationships and careers, but I love this description still.  One of Smith & Mapplethorpe’s first meetings/connections was over a simple Persian necklace they had both eyed at a store in which Smith worked:

The necklace was passed back and forth throughout the years.  Ownership was based on who needed it the most.  Our mutual sense of code manifested in many little games.  The most unshakeable was called One Day–Two Day.  The premise was simply that one of us always had to be vigilant, the designated protector.  If Robert took a drug, I needed to be present and conscious.  If I was down, he needed to stay up.  If one was sick, the other healthy.  It was important that we were never self-indulgent on the same day.

In the beginning I faltered, and he was always there with an embrace or words of encouragement, coercing me to get out of myself and into my work.  Yet he also knew that I would not fail if he needed me to be the strong one.

Mapplethorpe went on to seriously fuck with the government due to some homoerotic images (which maybe in retrospect, many don’t seem so jarring?) and in many ways, lay the precedent for artists like Keith Haring.  You know – the guy who made the designs for all those AIDS awareness shirts in the early 90s?  So cute and cartoonish?  And then surprisingly homoerotic when you delve a little deeper?  People can hate away, but I think the spirit of Mapplethorpe was smiling pretty big the day that Obama made his announcement saying that it’s cool if gays marry.

Anyway.  Point being that Smith and Mapplethorpe never married, but Smith went on to have a wonderful rock and roll marriage to Fred Sonic Smith (who came a long way from the MC5 commune, as described in Please Kill Me, another book I haven’t finished) before his untimely death, two kids, and be the high priestess of being an American artistic badass.

But Smith & Mapplethorpe’s relationship was obviously training ground.  Another bit of advice for relationships that I wouldn’t call failed, but let’s just say, relationships that didn’t end in marriage: it’s good to train before you hit the major leagues.  Learn how to share early on, and then even if the love of your young life ends up being the poster child for gay culture, you know what it means to be in a relationship with someone, to care for someone else, and you can still care for that first love all the days of your life.

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1 Comment

Filed under advice, books, marriage, relationships

One response to “Marriage Advice, a la Patti Smith

  1. Pingback: made it 12 months. so we’ve got 12 tips! | The Real Housewife of Wilton Manors

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