Getting from here to there, thereby hangs a tale. And since it’s past time to tell it…
Well, it’s like this. Sometimes the divine spark, call it what you will — God, or the Great Hand that Writes, or the Fickle Finger of Fate — makes itself known in a damned heavy-handed manner that leaves you reeling and wondering why me? and what’s going on? and thinking I’d better ride this wave for all it’s worth, because something bigger than just my little old life is going on here. And sometimes, like nature, the Great Hand likes to hide (thanks for the tip, Heraclitus).
Sometimes it hides for a very long time, indeed.
As the summer of 2000 turned to fall, and fall cooled further to winter, my life in Slovenia had become, if not exactly tiresome, then predictable; I couldn’t see much of a future ahead. Work had slowed, and I had by then long intuited that certain avenues would be forever closed to me if I remained there, and I would never be truly accepted by most of the locals. I loved Slovenia — still do — but the reverse didn’t hold: Slovenia didn’t love me back. The sense of wonder and discovery (and occasional moments of horror) that marks Year One of the experience of any expat worth the plane fare had, in that time-honored expat way, long since given way to same old same old. Not a bad existence, but still. It was static and holding.
I couldn’t escape a certain restlessness. I felt an inescapable sense of things coming to an end, as if my life in Ljubljana, rewarding, quirky and different as it was, had reached a point of no return. The wheels were still turning, but I was staying in place. I felt myself at loose ends, and didn’t quite know what to do about it except go into the old town, have another coffee, and stare into the distance.
The house in which I was living, my third and, as it turned out, final residence in LJ, was, for all its flaws, by far the best place I’d lived, and certainly the roomiest. I occupied the ground floor of Number 41 F. ulica, a modest two-story home in Bezigrad; the old couple who had previously lived there had died within weeks of each other, as old couples sometimes do, and their married daughter, a no-nonsense but fair enough woman who worked for a security company, rented out the flat; the second story was vacant except for a couple of weeks a year when the woman’s aunt, who lived in Switzerland, returned for a homecoming vacation.
Kirsty MacColl (singer/songwriter) — Dead. Boat hit her while she was swimming. Died December 18, 2000.
Kirsty MacColl??? My God.
I’m of the opinion that it’s dangerous to have heroes, since, politician or musician, they’re bound to let you down in the end, but everything I’ve read about Kirsty so far suggests that she was admirable and courageous (to the last moments) and — well, I can say that she was, if not my heroine, someone whose legacy appeals to what I’d like to think of as the better parts of myself. For me the infuriating thing is that it’s taken her death to make me realize this. It seems so obvious now. I think the major difference between Kirsty and most of the practitioners of what passes for the product of the pop scene today is only this: She was a completely realized adult human being; she knew who she was and did what she wanted to do, and damn the chart-topping fads and followers of fashion. And it’s only now I realize what I’m going to miss. Right now the fact that people with one-tenth her talent have enjoyed a hundred times the success she did, and the stupid, infuriating way she died (about which I could spit nails) seem like exhibits A and B in Resolved: Why the World is an Awful Place.On the other hand, I can’t stand cheap sentiment and bathos, and one of the reasons I care for Kirsty is that she didn’t either, she saw reality and talked about it, and the last thing she’d want is a weepy overblown flowery tribute. Put away the rose-colored glasses; keep it real and it’ll be fine.
Kirsty was three months younger than me, and when you’re a teenager and discovering and exploring a new thing called punk rock, something of the spirit of it remains a touchstone for you, however much growing up you do over the decades. At the least, euphemisms and greeting-card sentiments won’t do.So I don’t really know what else to say right now. Except that it’s still so hard to take; to echo what others have said, it’s as if I’ve lost a personal friend or a part of myself, maybe one of the truest, best parts. I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve thought about attending the memorial service but aren’t sure. In any case, “Walking Down Madison,” “My Affair,” and “They Don’t Know” keep playing in my head, in heavy rotation.The Kirsty concert I saw happened one Sunday night at a small club in Boston, filled with her proverbial small but loyal band of local New England followers. She teased us from the stage as “you Sunday night rockers, you,” and did all of those varied gems that belonged to her, and everyone loved it and was glad they’d come. Before the last encore, she hinted that the appropriate way to close such a show would be with something soft, gentle, filled with reverie. Then she and the band slammed into “I Wanna Be Sedated.” I went home with a big grin on my face.
I realize that many couples have “met cute” stories, but I don’t think a lot of them can , in all honesty, come up to ours.
To recap, here’s an excerpt from our wedding Web page, circa 2003, on The Knot:
<<It’s a long and twisted story, but here goes. We met on the Internet – but not on any of the usual sites. In April, 2000, Donna e-mailed a question to an online astrologer named Symboline, who in real life is Wes’s longtime friend Sally. Sally/Symboline recognized that Donna shared a birthdate with Wes…and told Donna to check out Wes’s website, which Donna duly did. Hm, she thought, a bit peeved: this sounds like a person I’d really get along with, too bad he’s an ocean and half a continent away. Flash forward to January, 2001. British singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl (a favorite of both Donna and Wes) had been killed the previous month in a freak accident in Mexico. Donna logged onto an online bulletin board of MacColl fans, and the first thing she read was a posting by…Wes. Not realizing he was THAT Wes, she e-mailed him to tell him she liked what he’d written; he courteously replied. Soon afterwards, she put two and two together and realized: Hey! A whirlwind exchange of e-mail followed as winter turned into summer; in August, 2001 the two met face-to-face…in Manhattan. The rest is history. Make of it what you will… Wes and Donna would like to thank Symboline and Kirsty for making it all possible…and the fates for finally bringing them together after having been born one river and eight minutes apart on a hot day in July.
[to be continued]