Ashokan Reservoir (Photo by Daniel Case  [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons).

Ashokan Reservoir (Photo by Daniel Case).

Our marriage had been dealt a mortal wound. However we still had that lovable tiny baby Annie to provide a home for. And I wasn’t even hopelessly angry at Judy for dumping this new demand on me, only resentful of the timing. I had agreed that Judy had a right to her sexual freedom if she needed it. I just hadn’t really expected that the problem would get so urgent so fast.

So for a while there we went on as a family, Judy and me and our two kids. Judy quit her job, but I was doing pretty well. Money wasn’t a big problem. True, I recognized that it certainly could turn into a really big one really fast if I quit my job too.

Which I then did.

Why did I do that? I don’t know. I guess to some extent I was following Judy’s example.

It wasn’t entirely a suicidal step. We had more or less absentmindedly socked away a few profits from the big-money days, so we wouldn’t starve. Not right away, anyway. We didn’t owe any money. If we had to, we could sell the car. And the four of us, us and our two kids, didn’t need big bucks to live on. We could always find some way to get enough to live on, couldn’t we?

One such way was suggested to us by a lawyer Judy knew. I have no idea who the lawyer was. All I know is he came to see us one evening because he and Judy needed to talk about something, I don’t know what, and while he was in our apartment he got really interested in our needs and plans, and after some thought he came up with the perfect solution to our needs. We should get a joint job with some rich people as house servants. As a cook and butler combination, in fact; Judy making the meals and me doing all the odd jobs around the house.

I actually think he was perfectly serious about it, too. I was torn between laughter and throwing the jerk out of the house. I really don’t know how seriously Judy took his idea. I never thought it worth discussing with her.

 
I’m a little uncertain about timing here. I’ll tell you everything significant that I remember, but I may get which happened before what mixed up I can’t really see why that would matter, anyway.

We kept on living as though we remained prosperous for a while. We kept the car. That summer we rented a big old house, up over the Ashokan Reservoir in beautiful bucolic surroundings a hundred miles north of New York, where Judy and the kids lived for that summer while I came up for weekends. One of the best things about the Ashokan place was that it gave us plenty of space to have friends stay with us. (The one of those guests I remember best was Cyril Kornbluth. That was because I made the mistake of drinking with Cyril one night. The two drunkest times I have been in my whole life were with Cyril, and this was one of them. Did Judy object? Of course not. She thought that the drunker I got, the funnier I got, even when, the next morning, she had to collect my passed-out body from a neighbor’s house.)

Then, I believe that winter, we rented a different house in a quite different part of the area. That one was in Rockaway Beach, and we took it because Judy was really afraid to have our two well-loved children staying in New York during a polio scare. (If you’re too young to know what those were, Google it.) That’s one of the times where I’m a little mixed up. All that winter, out in freezing Rockaway Beach, I was commuting five days a week to an office in New York. I just don’t remember which office. Sorry.

Anyway, what I do remember is that I was commuting to New York in my giant old Cadillac, and my giant old Cadillac was teaching me a lesson for moving there by refusing, every morning, to start until I called the AAA for a jump. (And even that lasted just so long, because before long the AAA gave up and expelled me. I had to start hiking to and from the Long Island Rail Road station.)

By the way, I don’t want you to think that, apart from annoyances like commuting, I was miserable in Rockaway Beach. I wasn’t. When the weather turned fairly decent, at least for a while, I liked walking the beach and sitting on a bench in the sun to see those endless freezing-gray waves, the hundreds and millions of them, as they came endlessly rolling in and to realize that if I had a telescope that could see right across the ocean, the next human construction. I saw would be in Portugal.

Well, enough. We managed to lump along, one way and another, for several years that way. I did not ever think I could go on living forever in Judy’s kind of marriage. But I wasn’t living in forever. I was living in one interesting thing, and then another interesting thing. And they weren’t really all that bad.

I did finally quit my job in order to become a full-time literary agent and that was very interesting for me to run. And Judy, at least temporarily, was about as happy as Judy could ever be, because she had written a successful novel.

To be continued.

 
Related posts:
Judith Merril, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9