Linette and I just celebrated our 17th anniversary

Seventeen years ago this week, after seven years of living with one another in sin, I married my friend and collaborator Linette Lao. Sadly, as it took place in an age before smartphones, little evidence of this wondrous and magical event exists today. We are fortunate, however, in that we do have this one image, which I believe was taken by my old high school friend Matt, who must have been following us in another car as we pulled in to get gas on our way from the ceremony, which had taken place in a small historic chapel in Northville, to a bar in Plymouth. That’s Linette pumping gas.

mmllmarried

If memory serves, I’d started pumping the gas, when one of our friends, who had been following us, suggested that I step aside and let Linette do it. So Linette got out and and handed the nozzle over to her. As for the truck, it’s no longer with us. According to my father, who helped me acquire it, it was assembled from the parts of several totaled vehicles by members of a high school auto shop class in rural Kentucky. And, if you were ever earshot of it, you got that sense. It was like it was at war with itself. There was always a chorus of grinding and clanking… Riding in it, I always thought, was like being inside the body of a patient rejecting multiple transplants simultaneously… But Linette, being the awesome and charitable human being she is, married me anyway.

There was no diamond ring. I’d just recently been laid off from my job at a startup company in California. And all I really had to my name was this truck built from scraps, a degree in American Studies, a pretty good work ethic, and a sense of humor that seemed to resonate reasonably well with zine readers… Things eventually fell into place for us though, as evidenced by the following two photos.

The first was taken by our friend Leisa Thompson about four years ago, when Arlo was just a baby. And the second was taken this past spring, when our friend Doug Coombe, who had been hired to take my picture outside the local all-nude strip club for an article somewhere, decided to keep shooting as Linette and the kids just happened to come walking by.

AnonymousFamilyPhoto2013

For what it’s worth, I’m not covering their eyes here because I’m ashamed of what my kids look like. Their eyes aren’t incredibly ugly or anything. And I wouldn’t really care if they were. I just decided several years ago that, barring some kind of blogging emergency, I would’t post photos of them here. Too many bloggers, I think, cash in on the cuteness of their kids, and I didn’t want to be like that. I didn’t want to have either Clementine or Arlo look back in years to come and accuse me of exploiting them, like some kind of Mama June like character. And, more importantly, given how pervasive surveillance culture is in the world today, I thought they deserved to have at least a few years of something approaching privacy, before the floodgates opened for them. With all of that said, though, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that, if you were to see either of these photos without the grey bars obscuring the identities of Arlo and Clementine, you’d say, “Damn, that’s a really handsome family.”

maynardlaofamily2016coombe2

A lot of people that I meet, who claim to be familiar with this site, seem to think that I share a lot of personal information here. The truth in, however, I don’t. Sure, I may post the occasional photo of myself, or mention that I’d just gone somewhere or done something with my family, but, really, if you think about it, I don’t get into too much detail when it comes to things that really matter. I don’t, as a rule, talk about my relationship with Linette, my professional life, or, for the most part, the kids. Sure, I may pass along a funny quote from Arlo or Clementine here or there, along with an out-of-focus photograph, but that’s about it… Well, I’m going to make a little bit of an exception right now, seeing as how Linette and I just celebrated our 16th anniversary, and share a few thoughts.

I’m pretty damn lucky to have these three people, who you can kind of see in the photos above, in my life. I knew, when I married Linette, that we’d continue to do interesting things, and make a decent life together, but I had no idea just what was in store for us as I stood there at the front of that chapel in Northville sixteen years ago, watching her and her father walk down the aisle toward me. I guess I’d considered the possibility, in the abstract, that we might one day have kids, and what that might entail, but it’s not the kind of thing that you can really prepare for. Thankfully, it turned out that we were well suited for each other, and adequately equipped to work through whatever issues had arisen so far. It hasn’t always been easy, especially when the screaming kids were thrown into the mix, but, when it comes to the important stuff, we’ve always found a way to keep everything together and moving in the right direction.

Who would have thought that a relationship that started at Cross Street Station, the since condemned Ypsilanti dive bar, might still be going strong all these years later? The odds would have to be infinitesimal, right? Well, somehow we’ve not only made it work for almost 25 years now, if you count the years before we became “husband and wife” before the eyes of god, but we’ve done it in such a way that we’ve been able to accomplish more than either one of us ever could have alone. We’ve not only started raising two bright, funny, inquisitive kids, but we’ve also been able launch several ventures in the process, and still find the time to remain engaged in our community, which is what we’d hoped for when, living in California, we first started talking about the possibility of moving back and putting down roots in this community where we’d first met.

And, really, what else could you want from life? We’re happy, we’ve got healthy, smart kids, and we feel as though we’re where we’re supposed to be. Yeah, maybe it would have been nice if I’d gotten that Hollywood writing job when we were living in LA, but I doubt the outcome would have been any better in the long run. When it comes to the stuff that really matters, I don’t think either of us could have asked for a better outcome. We’ve managed to create a supportive, collaborative relationship that’s allowed us to bring a few pretty decent kids into the world, and create stuff in a community that we truly care about. Everyone should be so lucky.

update: Apparently my memory wasn’t as good as I thought that it was. My friend Matt wasn’t following in another car when he took the photo of Linette pumping gas. He was actually inside the car with us. Here, with his permission, is his recounting of what happened.

“As usual our memories differ. Dan and I were riding in the back seat, there was no car following you. And it was after the bar on the way to the reception (according to the chronology of my film roll). My memory is that Linette wanted to pump the gas, not that anyone suggested she do so, but maybe I missed you or Dan suggesting it. Anyway, I took the photo because she was pumping the gas, I didn’t request her to pump gas for the sake of a photo. Too bad it wasn’t video, so we could hear all the people waiting at the intersection honking their horns at the bride at the gas pump.”

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21 Comments

  1. grandma
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Damn, that’s a really handsome family! LOVE

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    It does make me curious how many relationships were started at Cross Street and how many still exist happily today.

    Happy anniversary.

  3. EOS
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary!

  4. Meta
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on making it to the “Silver Holloware” anniversary. Did you get each other candlesticks or flasks?

    https://anniversariesbyyear.com/16thanniversary.php

  5. Lisa Dengiz
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Mark , happy Anniversary to you and Linett. e You have made the world a better place by finding one another and for being awesome parents! PS LOVE the gas pumping pic!

  6. Lindsay Klee
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    sweetest post ever

  7. Dan Gillotte
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    You guys are good eggs and a great team!

  8. Posted October 6, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Just need to point out that Linette essentially looks the same today as 16 years ago :)

    Happy anniversary! Glad you are around and sharing your unique humor with us!

  9. Bekah Wallace
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    thanks for sharing this Mark. Congratulations to you and Linette Lao. I hope Ryan Wallace and I can continue to share the same sentiments at that point in our marriage. The last paragraph really touched my heart.

  10. facebook stalker
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Val Tomich posted a link to this in the “We Met at Cross Street Station” Facebook group, along with the following. “In the comments (following the post), someone wondered how many relationships that started at Cross Street have lasted the years,” she said. “If you are one such couple, chime in and tell us how long you have been together.” As of right now, 5 couples have weighed in, 4 of whom are still married.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/38263123642/permalink/10154798978008643/

  11. Glenn Bertrand
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Mark, Didn’t you first meet Linette at The Lab (basement venue) in Ann Arbor circa 91-92? I swear we went to some show or another there and she met her future husband that night. Maybe I’m mistaken or thinking of someone else.

  12. site admin
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    No, Glenn, Mark and Linette first met at Cross Street Station. They didn’t begin dating until some time after that, though. And, you’re right, there was an incident at the Lab. Linette would show up at places where Mark’s band was scheduled to play and freak him out. And that happened one night at the Lab. Eventually he stopped being such a scaredy cat jerk, though, and they went out on a date to the Tap Room. The rest is history.

  13. Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Yup, Linette was a stalker. She was a good one, though, and her persistence paid off. As readers of this site know, I have OCD, which makes things difficult. And this was compounded by the fact that I’d just broken up with someone before meeting Linette. But things worked out in a good way. She’d come to shows and freak me out. And eventually we’d start talking on the phone. Then, on my birthday, she came and picked me up in Ann Arbor and took me to the Tap Room. It was a weird, strange night, which ended in me asking for her to drive me home. But the calls continued, and we started hanging out more regularly. And, by the time we graduated from college in May of ’93, we’d decided to move to Atlanta together. The idea is that we’d get a place together, but then eventually find our own places and keep dating. We ended up just staying together. I feel bad for people that try so hard to find the right person. I got super lucky. I didn’t have to look too hard.

  14. Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    And thank you all for the kind words. It’s nice.

    Oh, and I’m happy to hear that lots of people who got together at the Tap Room are still together. We should all get together sometime and make a documentary.

  15. Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    And not only was I wrong when I said that Matt was probably following us in another car. I was also wrong about the number of years we’ve been married. Apparently this was our 17th anniversary, and not our 16th, so no silver hollowware. According to the site I just looked at, the traditional 17th wedding anniversary gift is patio furniture.

  16. Yen
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    If it was possible to sum up marriage/kids/work in one succinct paragraph, you pretty much did it. Thank you for sharing such lovely sentiments about your handsome family. Happy Anniversary, Mark and Linette! You make this world a much better place.

  17. Leisa Thompson
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    The photo of Linette pumping gas is priceless. I got a little weepy reading this one. Grateful for you all and the difference you make in the world. Yes, even your snarky self can make a difference. And I don’t think you would’ve killed that mouse even if the kids weren’t around. Hugs!

  18. Mr. X
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    In the bottom photo, is Linette wearing a variant of the sweater that John Lydon wore during the infamous Bill Grundy interview?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtHPhVhJ7Rs

  19. Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Once in a while people get the lives they deserve, which gives me some faith in the universe. I don’t know your wife, but if she’s anything like you, she is a fundamentally good and decent person. And fundamentally good and decent people deserve to be happy, and so I’m very glad to hear that you are. Congratulations on your anniversary, and I hope you have many, many more.

  20. iRobert
    Posted October 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Having blown the very few chances I’d had in my life to connect with someone and find a partner might be able to tolerate me indefinitely, I just found reading all this to be very painful.

    Congratulations, Mark.

  21. Charlie G,
    Posted October 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Congrats.’Thank gods the kids take after their mother. (: Also much respect with you bricks and mortar project. That’s some skin in the game for a blogger. PS sorry I never did write a grant for one of your projects.

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