Mi Casa es Mi Casa

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If I am within blocks of my childhood home in Beverly Hills, like a homing pigeon, I make my way to 340 South Roxbury Drive. One night, more than 18 years ago, I asked my then boyfriend to turn left from Olympic as we approached the street I once called home. Home. The word. The symbol so loaded for me. Nearly two years before, I had purchased a condo. I didn’t think of it as home. It was all that I could afford. Small. Two bedrooms.   Dark and depressing. Both my parents had died, the small amount of money they left enabled me to finally buy real estate.   I hated that condo. I tried to decorate myself into loving it. I even hired the best craftsman to lay wall to wall Saltillo tile with colorful Spanish tiles as an accent. I was hoping that would give me the thing I was looking for.

What was I looking for? I know what it was. Security. I wanted the man I had been dating for seven years to marry me. To finally really take care of me. I got a lot of resistance.

“Stop. Pull over.” I stared into the barely lit home. It was late and dark outside.   I flashed on coming home at night as a teenager. Alone. Pulling up in the driveway and getting out quickly because the courtyard was dark and appeared menacing with the overgrown pepper tree casting ominous shadows.   My mother loved her tree. She admired every single detail in her home. From the beamed ceilings to the black wrought iron banister to the stained glass window.   My mother, now dead, wasn’t able to live her days out in her beloved Spanish home. When she could no longer afford it, she moved to the desert. Not in a home that she valued for it’s exquisite taste. Once she moved to Palm Springs, a place we vacationed and enjoyed when I was growing up, she became a recluse. I so did not want to live my mother’s life. I needed my own Spanish home. And a fresh start. And a ring on it.

Me and my husband.  After he put a ring on it.

Me and my husband. After he put a ring on it.

Sitting in the car on Roxbury, I started crying. For her. For me. For all the loss. But especially because I wanted that. That house. To raise my kids in. Or at least one like it in Pacific Palisades where I lived.   So I wailed like a baby, “I want my own Spanish house, Michael.” As I wept, my husband held me and showed a tender side that he rarely displayed then. “Let’s get you one. Let’s go find you your own Spanish house.” And he didn’t say this in his joking tone. Sometimes he humors me to get me off of a touchy subject.

Shortly after this drive-and-cry-by, my boyfriend proposed. Something must have shifted in him. And all of this happened rather quickly. In a screenplay, you might not believe that everything wrapped up so neatly.   Yes, I got the Spanish house, and yes I got married. Oh, and one more important thing. We didn’t move in to this house together. I convinced my ambivalent-to-commit husband that I really didn’t need a conventional marriage.   My parents were unconventional, and I, too, am fine with anything.

We found the perfect Spanish house. But, there were multiple offers. So, I wrote a love letter about the house to the owners. In it I begged them to sell it to me. We sold the condo to an unsuspecting blind brother & sister. I moved in with my kids. Just me and my kids. My husband lived across town in his own house.

We had a rough patch. My house didn’t just ooze charm, but also toxic mold. While the house was cut down to the studs and rebuilt, I had to live temporarily with my husband. It was bad. He was angry over the stress of the construction that seemed to never end.

But we survived.

Now, 18 years after we parked on Roxbury Drive, I interviewed my husband. I just wanted to clarify a few things and make sure he was happy with his decision to marry me.   He’s not a man who radiates “happiness” or shares his feelings readily. I’ll let you be the judge.

Was there a shift around that time that we pulled over at my house?

MB: I thought you were a real case and this was my last chance to get out.

What was that shift?

MB: I saw the depth of your attachment to that house and your childhood.

Why did you seem so ready to take care of my need for a Spanish home?

MB: Cause I’m a soft touch and a sucker for a woman in tears.

Do you think you had already asked me to marry you?

MB: I don’t think so. I think the house came first.

Why did you finally ask?

MB: Cause you were haranguing me for 7 years. I couldn’t take it anymore.

What made you ask?

MB: You know if it meant that much to you, I was willing to do it. Because I loved you. For me? I could have gone without marrying again.

Why were you resistant for so many years?

MB: I was married before. It wasn’t so hot. It didn’t work out that well. And, I didn’t think I was essentially a better person. Just older.

Once you signed on to be my husband, I felt that you took the job very seriously. It showed by your actions. Did you feel this?

MB: I don’t really recall.   I guess I tried to be better at it than the first time around.

How did you really feel about us living in separate homes?

MB: I had no problem with it. I only regret giving it up.

No, really? Come on.

MB: I’m kidding. But I like my space. I’m basically a loner and I think you like your space too.

I know. We often go into different rooms and do our thing. I don’t hold it against you. How do you feel about it?

MB: I don’t hold it against you. I just wish you’d stay in there longer.

Were you ever embarrassed by other people knowing ?

MB: Ahhhh a little bit. I felt my neighbors on that block in Westwood thought I was strange.   They thought something must be wrong with this guy, his wife won’t live with him. I once got a dozen free Krispy Krème donuts from a film festival and wanted to give it to some neighborhood kids. But one father was suspicious and kept asking me all these questions, like, “Where did you get these donuts?”

Were you ever secretly proud and rocked it that we lived in separate homes? I did and was.

MB: Well, yeah, a lot of people kept telling me they envied our arrangement. I didn’t think it was something to brag about it.   I had some doubts as to whether it was the best way to kick off a marriage. But, it helped that you were okay with it.

I had told you that my parents didn’t live a conventional life when we first talked about marriage. I was fine with it.

MB: Well, my first marriage ended in divorce. My second marriage began with a divorce and then found it’s way to marriage.

Why did you finally move into the Spanish home with me?

My kids moved out, I got lonely, and it seemed like a good idea.

So how’s that working out for you?

MB: It’s workin’ out fine. (beat) But, I’ve met somebody. Is this a bad time to bring it up

 

October 23, 1998 (our wedding day)

Fredde,

Because you are compassionate, unselfish and honest…

Because you are a good friend,

Because you know how to laugh and how to cry,

(Even if you do cry at deli’s and parades…)

Because you listen…

Because you’re on my side..

Because you have to absolutely say what’s on your mind,

Right now, no matter what—

Because you always stop to introduce yourself to small

Animals you haven’t met…

Because you love the most expensive restaurant, but

Order the least expensive dishes…

Because you just have to fix up every person who’s single

No matter what the human cost..

Because you’re an orphan now and need someone to look after

You—

And because you have enough room in your heart for five

Beautiful kids..

For these reasons & countless others,

I love you and am honored to be your husband.

Mike

 

Michael, one last question that I forgot to ask. In the last weeks of my father’s life, he called you into his hospital room as he lay on his deathbed. He told you he was worried about me. He wanted to make sure that I would be okay.   Do you think he was pushing you to marry me?   And did it have anything to do with your decision to ask?

MB: It didn’t occur to me at the time. In retrospect, probably. I was very fond of your father and, uh, I was moved to spend those few moments with him. But in all honesty, I don’t think it influenced me either way.

 Wanna know the truth Michael? I married you for your humor. I love that you make me laugh every single day. You know – when I’m not crying because I want that beach house. Can you see my tears? Cause I really do want that beach house.

 

House on Roxbury where I grew up.

House on Roxbury where I grew up.

 

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10 Responses to “Mi Casa es Mi Casa”

  1. Augie Duke says:

    Crying with joy in my heart you 2 found each other

  2. Linda says:

    “Sometimes I wish you’d stay in there longer.” … priceless. Happy Valentine’s Day, you lovebirds XO

  3. robin says:

    omg. i know this story. you’ve told me.
    but i love it in writing.
    and i love michael’s vows.
    captures why i am in love with you too….xxx

  4. Alan says:

    Very funny and touching.

  5. Kris Duke says:

    Great Valentine’s Day story!! PERFECT………

  6. Robin R says:

    Lovely story.

  7. Robin R says:

    Lovely story, Fredde –

  8. Madeline says:

    What a great, well-written story, Fredde! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  9. arthur pina says:

    If you come to the south of France “Antibes” bring a “crispy cream ” luv Artie

  10. PK Fields says:

    Great story, wonderful life…thank you for sharing.

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