I think the title says it all. Or does it? In truth, the title really says nothing other than what it says. This could be an appreciation of anything from “The Walking Dead” to Pez… from the futility of being a Philadelphia Eagles fan to being a Conservative Liberal or a Liberal Conservative (and I’m not going to tell you which I am because really? I might be both… or neither). And while I am entering the composition of this little piece of Mental Flatulence with the foreknowledge of what it is going to be an appreciation of… well, I guess I thought that the title I chose was a better one than “Anniversaries: An Appreciation.” The former keeps you guessing and makes you want to read on to solve the mystery while the latter can be easily dismissed as me, once again talking about myself. Now that I’ve admitted to my ploy you have my permission to look away or you can continue to read. Either way I got credit for a blog hit which is good. I’ve always said that if I ever make it to 100 hits on a single blog entry I’ll go public. If you want me to go public then that’s a good thing. If you don’t I highly suggest that you stop clicking on the links when I post them. ‘Cause I’m doing it at 100 whether the world wants me to or not.
You have been warned.
Incidentally, my last entry–“Penn State Proud – A Psuedo-Madman’s Take”–remains my high water mark for hits: 70. Most everything else that I’ve written has remained between 30 and 50 hits total. I have no reason to think that this particular entry will in any way, shape or form rival my last or my second most viewed entry ever–“What Thanksgiving Means to me by way of Probability and Statistics” (66)–but I’m hopeful. I’m always hopeful that there’s more out there for these musings than word of mouth via Facebook or Twitter because despite my sometimes inane ramblings that are, seemingly, meaningful to only one or two people (myself included), I maintain that there are a few quality ideas in them. A few. Um…
Inci-incidentally, if you are interested in reading either of those two blog entries you can link the Penn State one HERE or the Thanksgiving one HERE. All of my other entries are accessible via the main page of Random Musings HERE. Notice also the addition of a “SHARE ME” box directly directly beneath my profile and a “G+” icon at the top. Please, feel free to pass any of these entries on to your friends. Help me get to 100 and fulfill my dream of publishing something (I’m not discriminating). And with that bit of shameless promotion out of the way, I will now return you to my current blog entry, already in progress.
All together now: Oh thank God.
Today is a momentous day. For me, at least, and hopefully for my wife. Today is my seventh wedding anniversary. There was a time, a little over a decade ago where I never would have dreamed such a thing possible. Pre-November, 2001 I was… well, I guess you could say that I was romantically a rudderless ship. I’d spent the better part of six plus years obsessing over relationships that either should have been or were but ended too quickly. Many of those relationships took on an almost cult status in my own mind over time. I even referred to the women that I had those relationships with by surnames like “The Feminine Bane of My Early Existence” or “Miss Issues Incarnate.” My earliest pieces of Mental Flatulence, composed on my old 286 HP with the monochrome screen were primarily devoted to tales of my escapades with them or related to them. I have never forgotten those tales. They are compiled forevermore both on my home computer and in a white binder that I keep with the rest of hard cover collection in my home “office” entitled “Mental Flatulence Volume One: Musings from Beyond the Wormhole.” But it was a different time for me, then… a different mentality. “Chaos [was] a friend of mine” as Bob Dylan once said. I was a prophet of anti-inspiration: I drew from negativity. And I was prolific though only a few, select people read those pieces… sh*t, read anything I wrote back then.
Inci-inci-incidentally, if you’re interested in reading them please email me using the link at the bottom of this page under “Creative Commons Agreement” and I will be happy to forward you a copy. Um…
Yeah. Sorry. Shameless self promotion penalty flag number two on this blog entry has been thrown. One more and I’m disqualified.
Yet in 2001 something entirely unexpected happened. Many of you reading this know the story. For those of you that don’t I’ll rehash it for you. In June of that year I–still a Store Manager for CVStress–was transferred out of my cushy little mall store in Plymouth Meeting, PA to a higher volume strip store in Havertown, PA. Needless to say, the assignment was a daunting one. Not only was my crew larger and testier but for my first time as an actual Manager I had a pharmacy. Said pharmacy at the time that I took over employed a young intern who attended Temple University named Nicole Gentile.
In all honesty, friends? I barely registered her presence at first. Don’t crucify me for that: She never has. I was too busy trying to fix the front store’s problems. I was coming out of my longest ever relationship–a whopping seven months–and was adherent to the unwritten credo of the CVStress Front Store/Pharmacy relationship: One does not associate with the other unless one is forced to. Yet over a short period of time, specifically early July through early November of 2001 that changed. I found myself taking more notice of her than I had before: Her deep, brown eyes, her curly, brown hair, her smile which was just downright radiant and her personality which was infectious. I won’t even tell you what I thought of her body as those memories are mine and mine alone. Who the f*ck was this girl that had caught my attention, seemingly out of nowhere? Sometime in early November post-almost killing myself trying to get a box of pharmacy bags for her out from behind a stack of promo trays and post-the back rub she gave me after a long weekend of setting up Christmas I was faced with a choice. I had been informed by my then-Shift Supervisor Donna that someone in the store, specifically in the pharmacy was interested in me though I did not know who. Simultaneously, my then-Photo Lab Supervisor Sister Mary of the Photo Lab (yes, she was a nun on sabbatical) informed me that the then-District Photo Lab Supervisor, Jess, was interested in me, as well.
My choice: Do I pursue the known commodity–Jess and I had been associates for a while and were both Front Store employees–or do I embrace the mystery? The *GASP* pharmacy. I was initially torn. I weighted one against the other and eventually made my choice. I asked Donna to pull back the curtain and abracadabra: I discovered that the person with an interest in me was Nicole. To say that I was enthused would be an understatement. I was ecstatic. I went out that night with my friend Pete to a bar in Northeast Philly to discuss my course of action and sometime around 9:30 PM, I made the call. I did so from a payphone outside of a now-defunct bar, the name of which I can not remember (across from Whisky Tango on the Boulevard: Someone help me out, please?). I called her parent’s house because it was the only contact info Donna had in the HR system for her. Little did I know she lived in South Philly at the time and not in Havertown. But eventually she got the message and returned it and the rest? History, friends. Almost 11 years worth.
Oh thank God.
Our first date was on November 11, 2001 but this blog entry is not about our first date. It’s about anniversaries and an appreciation of them. Fast forward to 2005 and a sun-bleached day in mid-October. I found myself standing upon the altar of Sacred Heart Church in Havertown, PA about 75 yards from CVStress Havertown with my wedding party behind me. I was sick as sh*t… I had awoken Saturday morning with the same cold that Nicole had been fighting all week. But thanks to a couple of attentive groomsmen and about half a package of Tylenol Cold and Flu, not to mention a handful of Fuzzy Navals (Vitamin C, man: Can’t beat it, or so I told myself) I was upright and able to breathe. And when I saw her walking up the aisle toward me, flanked on either side by her mother and her father? Niagara Falls. I had always feared that I would cry at my own wedding and embarrass myself. Whether the tears were substance induced–cold medicine and vodka–or not at that moment? I really didn’t care what anyone else thought of me… could have cared less whether I was a blubbering idiot or completely composed. That moment was the happiest moment of my life. “The Feminine Bane of My Early Existence” and “Miss Issues Incarnate?” My sordid relationship history? The fear that one of my two Best Men was going to Wet Willy me as they had claimed they would? Nothing mattered at that moment but her. Every married man claims that his wife was, at the moment that he saw her walking down the aisle, the most beautiful woman in the universe. Every married woman counter-argues that “[we] have to say that.” I can’t speak for anyone else and wouldn’t dream to. But when I say it? I mean it.
And that’s what this day is all about: The anniversary of not only my wedding day but the anniversary of the happiest moment in my life… the culmination of years of playing Skirmish with mine and Bob Dylan’s friend Chaos and embracing anti-inspiration. I really never did think it would happen for me, guys. Had you told me that I would be where I am right now pre-November of 2001 I would have looked at you askance, much in the same fashion that I would look at you presently if you told me that “The Walking Dead” stinks, that Pez is disgusting, that the Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl this year with Andy Reid as their coach and Michael Vick as their quarterback and that despite my double talk, I’m either a Liberal Democrat or a Conservative Republican. Back then I was a product of my situation, much like I am currently albeit for different reasons. Pre-November, 2001 I would never have allowed myself to believe that I could be happy because I was so accustomed to disappointment. And it took me until mid-October of 2005 to convince myself that it was possible… took me until that moment when I looked down at my left hand and saw the ring that has rested consistently on my finger now for seven years shining back at me. I remember feeling an all-to-brief wave of contentment rush over me at that moment and a little voice that I have rarely heard speak in my mind did so. And do you know what it said?
You did it, Frank. You did it.
I remember briefly closing my eyes, taking a deep breath and smiling. Seconds later we were pronounced man and wife and the insanity commenced. I smiled for pictures for the next approximately six to eight hours. I forgot about my cold and drank copious amounts of alcohol on top of what I had already ingested. I ate delicious food and I continued to embarrass myself by dancing my a** off to everything from Springsteen to Bon Jovi (no Chicken Dance, though… we had a strict No Chicken Dance Policy). I listened to people wishing me and Nicole well. I accepted gifts. I greeted relatives and friends, many of whom I have, sadly, not seen since. The remainder of that day is still a blur in my mind and my memories of it are few and far between. But I will never forget standing there upon that altar less than a football field’s length away from where I first met Nicole Gentile, once Pharmacy Intern turned Nicole Gentile Marsh, PharmD. I will never forget that brief moment of serendipity (of which I have not had many since).
There have been days since that day that have ranked among the happiest moments of my life. The day that we made settlement on our little three bedroom, one and a half bath Colonial in Broomall with the finished basement that habitually floods and the backyard that I can’t maintain no matter how hard I try. The day that I found out that Nicole was pregnant and the day that our first born, Cara Angelina Marsh graced us with her presence in 2009. The day that I found out that Nicole was pregnant again and the arrival of our second born, Natalie Theresa Marsh earlier this year. The day that I finished re-writing “Endworld.” The day that I finally leveled my Hunter to 60 in the original, non-expansion World of Warcraft and the day that I finally beat my friend Austen in Words With Friends. Those days? They are memorable but save for the birthdays of my daughters I will never celebrate them. They are supplemental. Because?
Because anniversaries celebrate moments. Moments in time like that moment seven years ago on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existance when I looked in to the angelic face of my wife, veiled in white as the priest told me I could “kiss the bride” and I thought, a second before my lips locked upon hers…
You guessed, friends: Oh thank God.
Happy Anniversary, Nicole. All my love, now and forever.
(NOTE: Shameless self promotion flag number three for excessive shameless self promotion thrown simultaneously with my initialing of this blog entry. I am hereby disqualified from writing anything else. So, if you want to read more, you can link the rest of “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman…”)