“You can forgive the person but you don’t forgive what they did to you. I guess I’m in that boat.”
I don’t know if, you know, everybody has one great love of their life. Definitely Megan would constitute that for me. She may not agree but …yes, definitely.
We met in college in New Mexico, in 1986. She used to save my ass all the time. She was very, very sweet in the mathematics tutorial. I would be flubbing it and Megan would come to my rescue. She was very talented as far as mathematics went. She acted on kindness, and I responded to it. And though we’re dissimilar intellectually, I think the dissimilarity was a big part of our romantic attraction towards each other. I tend to be more intuitive and much more of a visual thinker and she’s very, very analytic and logical.
That was the foundation of our relationship. That’s how we became friends and then it developed from that. We started spending more time together and then I just sort of fell in love with her.
She has a great Irish sense of humor. There’s a little bit of morbidity in it, just great, sarcastic, and that was a big thing in New Mexico because a lot of the students there came from California so there was no sarcasm whatsoever. Set to float in a sea of sporty earnestness.
So we were the only two people that–we’d like sort of roll our eyes at each other. Being native New Englanders, we shared a lot of common regional traits. Megan didn’t know how to ski and so I started teaching her, and then I got her to go rock climbing and like that so our friendship became more extra curricular.
And then it became really extracurricular. I invited Megan to come over for Christmas Eve at my mother’s house in Santa Fe and so she came. By the end of the night, fueled by tons of champagne, we ended up running off together to this apartment that she was house-sitting. It was just lust at that point – and then the next morning, we kind of woke up and, yes, I was definitely smitten.
So we had this love affair that turned into a pretty long, lasting love.
I think that things that we didn’t have in our childhood, we were really good at bringing and giving to each other. I come from an old Yankee family and she comes from an Irish Catholic, New England mill town family. I guess we always lived with that “which side of the track did we grow up on” consciousness. Megan’s family was very dour, and there wasn’t a lot of adventure. In fact adventure should be avoided because it’s dangerous. And I had the classic preppy upbringing–you learned how to ski and play tennis, you learned how to drive fast cars and drink gallons of liquor and still be charming and serviceable.
She was attracted to that. It was something that she admired and wanted, and she grew up without money, so money is a good thing, whereas I grew up with a lot of money and never thought money was any good for anything because it just creates dysfunctionality.
My family could move about the world wherever they wanted to and none of them worked. But it’s an old family and after, I don’t know how many, six generations, the trust began to give out [laughs]. You know, I could probably get a membership at the New York Yacht Club if I needed to [laughs], but I doubt I would have the money for the initiation.
So I kind of grew up disgusted, because it was outrageous in a lot of respects, and it was definitely a dynasty in decline. Drunkards, drug addicts, the whole gamut. I didn’t really want any part of that. My mother’s preoccupation was class and all the entitlements that brings you. You know, for her generation, WASPS dominated the world. I wanted to escape that, and I guess I saw in Megan, well, this is the way out. She used to chide me every once in a while, “You should have married the blonde English relatives with the pearls and the sweaters.” And I said, “I didn’t want that kind of person.”
I admired her work ethic and her practicality. Nobody in my immediate family is tremendously practical, because they grew up with great privilege and a sense of entitlement. And so I think both of us wanted aspects of each of the classes that we grew up in.
Megan ended up going into banking. And that created a whole new set of problems about money and aspirations and so forth. It was a kick for her because she started getting recognition for her innate talent and ability, and that was a good thing. I was glad to see it happening but at the same time I think that’s when the snake started crawling into the garden.
I think especially for Megan, starting to see the gobs of money that were being made on Wall Street created a certain tension. People in their 20s with multi-million dollar properties. Keeping up with the Joneses became a real stress because nothing is normal on Wall Street, you know. There’s never enough cash in New York.
The thrill of living in New York is that you get that buzz when everything is going well. And I think people get addicted to the rush and you don’t really focus on essentials. You know, it probably happens in Paris and London. You have these big megalopolises– everybody has high aspirations and you don’t really have to face up to each other, so that changes the rules in a lot of ways.
Our marriage couldn’t survive against New York.
She was heading in a very corporate sort of direction and I’ve always been sort of a bohemian, creative personality, and slowly over the years, that evolved into a sort of estrangement.
It got to a point where friends would wonder about her absence, and I’d say “Well, she works really long hours. We don’t really have any time together any longer and when she is at home, she’s kind of not there.” And they would say, “It just seems like she’s having an affair, CJ, you know? Why are you being so obtuse about it?” And I guess it was denial and so I was like, “Oh no, no, no that’s not possible – she doesn’t have time for that.”
For the rest of R.J.’s story, read US: Americans Talk About Love