Mr. S and Ms. R were still together, but things were not looking good. Mr. S was still down in the dumps. He was not taking care of himself or taking care of his relationship. Their finances were another source of stress. Before I knew her, Ms. R had a good-paying job as a social worker, but she had burned out and left that job, and she was struggling to adjust to her reduced income. Often they would not budget properly, or they would splurge on a purchase, and then they would have trouble making rent at the end of the month. Even if Mr. S had been willing to help out financially, he still did not have a work permit. Although I do not believe there was physical violence, Mr. S and Ms. R were bickering regularly.
I felt their relationship was in trouble. Silly me. Little did I know that straight people have a magic ritual that fixes all relationship problems and binds people in eternal love. That ritual is called marriage. Mr. S and Ms. R decided to make things right by getting married.
I attended the wedding. It was the second wedding I attended in my life, and I hope the last. It was a relatively informal affair: a potluck affair in a room booked with the organization where Mr. S and I volunteered. It was attended by a few family members and several dozen people from the community.
There was a ceremony. From what I remember it was not very religious, although it did mention God. In particular, Mr. S and Ms. R made a covenants to each other, and the wedding guests collectively (and verbally) made covenants to uphold their relationship and support their marriage as a community. Silly me. As a wedding newbie I did not know that these covenants were just for show, and that I was not to take them seriously, because I did take them seriously.
I felt absolution for some of the naughty fantasies I had surrounding Mr. S and Ms. R, and the struggles I felt to be friends with them without overstepping boundaries. I knew my role was to do what I could to help them succeed as a married couple, and I felt relief at that.
That did not mean I was spared naughty thoughts. It did not help that both Mr. S and Ms. R were touchy-feely people. Ms. R demanded a hug every time we said goodbye. Mr. S had a bad habit of massaging people’s shoulders unexpectedly, which I did not take well when I was the target of these shoulder-rubs. Both engaged in sexual innuendo from time to time. Mr. S had a bad habit of taking off his shirt in my presence. None of these actions were intended as any kind of sexual proposition, but that is not how my body reacted — particularly when touch was involved, because touch is strong magic and I am weak.
But I had a role. And if I could channel my feelings and affections for Mr. S and Ms. R into the health of their marriage then maybe the messier feelings would go away. At the very least I was prohibited from being a homewrecker; at the very best I might do some good.
But I screwed up somehow. The straight-person magic ritual of marriage did not work as well as expected. Marriage was supposed to repair all relationship problems and bind people eternally in love, and it didn’t quite work. Things did improve a little. Mr. S’s mood lifted a little and he started participating in community activities more. Mr. S and Ms. R seemed to be getting along a bit better. But their financial situation had not improved, and they still bickered.
More worryingly, they had not made progress on Mr. S’s immigration status, and more importantly his work permit. They needed to fill out some paperwork to get the process started, and for some reason they were dragging their feet.
Nonetheless, I was associating with them and trying to support them. I loaned them money a couple of times. They invited me to their house, which was good (company, cats) and bad (bickering, cigarette smoke). They moved house and I helped. Ms. R became a grandmother via a child from an earlier marriage. It would be an exaggeration to say that things were going well, but they were going.
Then came the music, and everything fell apart.