Eleven years ago, on this day, Cinderella and I got up at dawn. We were visiting Jonna and Steve in La Jolla. It was a classic June Gloom kind of Southern California morning--overcast and still. Everyone in the house was asleep.

We crept downstairs and went out the glass door to the small patio of Jonna's little gem of a garden. Dew was on the grass, and the small wooden bridge over the river-rock streambed could have been fording rushing mountain water.

We sat in the cold chairs and held hands near the potted lemon tree. And we watched the hummingbirds. They came from everywhere. They worked the blossoms over our heads, and they made their whirring sounds, and their small irritated and joyous kissing-sounds. Hummingbirds and bees. Not another sound in the world.

Then, a few hourse later, across the little faux-bridge, we stood on that postage-stamp vibrating green lawn, and we got married.

Evertyhing about us was against the odds. I, for example, might have been dead if left to my own devices. She found me at absolute rock bottom. No money, no hope, no family, no friends. Nothing. No one. Nowhere, man--I was "living" in a 400 sq. foot adobe hovel near the stadium in Tucson. One huge beetle-infested cactus in front, dirt all around, and demons and black midnight angels swarming around my head. It was doom. The only person who even knew I was dying was Brian Laird, the mystery writer. I had been destroyed by Teresita and the insanity of trying to live the life of the desert mystic. I had been destroyed by being abandoned by someone I loved with all my heart. And my career, what there was of it, had fled, burning as it sketched an arc of smoke to the desert hardpan.

I was so broke, so wiped out, that I only had enogh money in the bank to pay one more month's rent. I couldn't touch that $800. I had some pocket money from doing freelance writing when I could lift my head. I had a big bvox of Minute Rice, a bottle of tabasco, and two or three 49 cent cans of red beans. That's it. Tap water. At the worst time of it, I ate one bowl of rice--or rice and beans, yeah!--a day.

When Burger Kinf had a 99 Whopper deal, I prayed my thanks and splurged on a single burger a day.

Laird used to buy me coffee at The Cup, the writers' hang-out at the Hotel Congress.

The Great Mexican Fiance had told me I had failed to amount to anything--Across The Wire, The Fever of Being, In Search of Snow, and By the Lake of Sleeping Children weren't enough. Her sister, who had come from Mexico City to enjoy my hospitality and borrow money from me, chirped, "You know how it is--when poverty comes in the door, love jumps out the window!" And their whole family jumped.

So there I was. And Cinderella, intrepid Lois Lane female reporter for The Daily Planet (ok, the Tucson Citizen) had the writer-beat. Which is how we'd met in the first place. And she quickly realized that I was not able to get out of bed anymore. I know I wept through the entire month of June that year, sick and possessed. And she started waking me up on her way to the newspaper with a cup of coffee and a couple of fancy bagels. I was a little miffed--dying men want to sleep until the die. Why did I want to get up at 7:00? But the food helped, the coffee helped, but neither of those things fed me. It was Lois Lane.

I wanted to talk to her.

It was our friendship that made me return to the earth every day.

And we've been talking ever since.

So it's our eleventh anniversary today. And tomorrow is her birthday. We are far beyond presents and elaborate gifts--every day, even when I bitch and moan, is a gift. We don't miss that. So it will be a quiet celebration. Though, if I could find hummingbirds, I would bring them here.

And I'll probably have to watch a chick-flick.

Love, L

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