A piece of pizza almost wrecked my marriage. We were in New York. My husband and I had planned the trip with his business partner Harris and Harris' girlfriend Shiela. I was excited about the trip. Adrian was not. I like to run away when I have problems and New York was pretty far.
This has been a bad year. We have had money and tenant issues and living arrangement issues. And then there's the baby issue. Or lack thereof. Tens of thousands of dollars into IVF and all my husband and I bought was a miscarriage. The loss was a traumatizing experience that left me anxious and depressed.
I had never had anxiety before, but then I had never dealt with issues sober. I had always been able to drink my worries away. My sober date is more than two years ago and I am proud of those two years. But without alcohol, I was a mess. I felt as if the world was crashing in some days. And others days, well I was OK but the happy JEM was gone.
I felt as if New York could change this. In the big city that was known as a large red apple, my sweetness and zest for life would reappear. A kind of rebirth.
Alas, it was not to be. My anxiety seemed worse on vacation with no work to occupy me. Traveling seemed to heighten my neurosis rather than alleviate it and I had no puppies to hug at night to take away the pain.
In short, if I was a mess in California, then in New York I was a broken, sleepless wreck and a hazard to be around. Adrian took it in stride and tried to pat and talk me out of it. It got so bad that I told him I was going to drink. He sighed when I insisted that night at the Replacements concert that I was going to order a Coors Lite. "Two years and all you want is a light beer?" he asked clearly flummoxed. "At least go out in style."
I ended up refraining (maybe all I needed was his permission to relapse) and instead, I chain smoked a couple of cigarettes, had a sugar free lemonade and spent a small fortune on concert memorabilia. Sobriety can be expensive.
After the concert, we took the subway home and I layed down in a bed that wasn't mine, rather it was the bed of the sweet Asian girl who rented her apartment to us, and cried all night eyes wide open. For whatever reason, maybe the music brought it out, I felt my childlessness more than ever that night. It was as if I could taste it and if I had to describe it, it tasted like mouthwash mixed with cigarettes and runny mascara.
But, back to the pizza. There were two pizza incidents which is not surprising considering that New York is famous for its thin crust pizza. The first pizza experience was a good one. It was a tasty, hot piece of cheese pizza in Central Park and Adrian and I bonded over it while we moaned in delight.
The second pizza story is the one you want to hear. It was a nondescript pizza dive next door to the apartment. I think it was called Vinny's or some other Italian first name. Adrian and I were hungry and standing in line around noon. There was a business crowd. It was our third or fourth day in the city. We planned on eating our lunch rooftop in Battery Park to watch the ferries go by on the water. I was standing with Adrian in line and suddenly, it was our turn to order. I turned into a glutton and ordered every piece of pizza in sight, adding them one by one until I had six in all. I don't blame myself. I blame the women behind me who kept saying what they were going to order and I hadn't picked those slices so I had to add them on.
Through all of my pizza debacle Adrian didn't say a word. But, after we went outside on the rooftop across the street to eat, he looked at me and said, "Why did you order so many slices? You know you can't eat them, it's wasteful."
Me being me, I freaked out on him. I cried and told him he wasn't being supportive and if it was the money I would give him the stupid, fucking twenty bucks for lunch. (Pizza is cheap in New York.)
The argument lasted hours and ended with me saying the D word. Or maybe he did. Or maybe we both said it. The word hung in the air and then all of a sudden, the tension dissipated and we started laughing. I had to say it aloud. "Are we really going to divorce over a piece of pizza?"
No. We weren't.
And then later it hit me. The pizza wasn't pizza. It was everything I wanted at that moment in our life together. I wanted it all. And I couldn't have it. But dammit, I could pretend, if only for a moment in a pizza joint in New York, that everything I wanted was attainable.