Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Into the Mystic--For Martin

What's not to like about this face?

Right before Christmas, 2007, vaguely a couple of weeks before I met and hooked up with Chris, I met a charming man on the Chicago Reader personals site named Martin Wolke. I haven't, to date, blogged about him or said much about him, other than the fact that I was sort-of dating him in the early days of dating Chris, and I chose Chris, for I am not one to be typically capable of dating around and I concentrate on one man at a time. I'm just too shy (yes, I am capable of severe shyness) and can't juggle multiple relationships very well (the summer of 2009/2010 notwithstanding).

As I referenced in an earlier blog about dating Chris, actually, Martin liked to email me. A lot. We'd had dinner a handful of times, and he was charming and pleasant, though unemployed, having recently transplanted back to Chicago after a few years living in Rhode Island. Once we met, at an Indian restaurant, he began emailing me every day, and I'd sporadically write back when I was sober enough to write, Martin not knowing I was an alcoholic. He was busy a) sending out resumes, b) managing his insulin-dependent diabetes and c) emailing me.

I didn't let him kiss me the night of our first date, though he admitted he wanted to kiss me really badly. I was unsure of what to do, that having been my first "normal" date since the catastrophic breakup the summer before with Art. In the interim between Art and Martin, I'd filled the void with insane amounts of alcohol and my requisite share of ho'ing around post-separation in situations no sane person would repeat soberly. I'm not remotely proud of the way I behaved, but I sort of chalk it all up to what I had to go through to get to where I am today.

Martin had an apartment in Edgewater and no car, not that he couldn't afford a car. (At this point, I'd been with a plethora of men who didn't have cars, one of the features that made Chris stand out, actually. He had a car he actually had a license to drive.) Martin was too urban and was too eco-friendly to drive in the city. He had pretty brown eyes (I'm a sucker for them.. but then again, I'm also a sucker for blue eyes) and a warm smile, was like 6 1/2 feet tall and thin as a rail, was 47 and the oldest guy I'd ever dated, and the guy was just fuck nuts about me. Fuck nuts to the point where he included me in the holiday letter he sent out to friends and relatives that season, citing "I've met someone!" where I was like, "Slow down, there, fella.." He wanted me to meet his sisters and friends and loved ones immediately. I hadn't the heart to tell him I was really siding more towards my attraction to Chris instead.

He was a NICE guy. A DECENT man. I didn't give him enough credit for how hard he tried to win my affections, and in hindsight, I'm truly flattered. I still feel guilty that I didn't make the time he needed of me when he got sick and subsequently died in his sleep in January of 2008 from the diabetes, but by then I was all-Chris, all-the-time, and that's a shame. Martin had emailed me that he was "sick, really sick" and I suggested he see a doctor, but he couldn't, or just didn't, and I was busy with Luke's 8th birthday party preparations (like messing up his cupcakes for the class treat because I was drunk when I made them and forgot the eggs) and couldn't be bothered with Martin. At the very least, I should've done a well-being check on him at his apartment or something when he stopped responding to my emails. I found out a short while later, through his sister, that he didn't answer me because he had suddenly died.

I was invited to the memorial gathering at a friend's house but didn't go. I didn't feel I belonged, though I was already recognized as "the girlfriend," though I honestly wasn't grieving very much at the time. I felt bad, but again, I was wrapped up with Chris.

In Martin's online dating profile, there was a question about what song defined you. Or what your theme song would be, I don't remember what the question said exactly. I remember my answer snidely being the "Theme from 'Shaft.'" Martin answered Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," which at the time, I wasn't really (surprisingly) familiar with. To me, anyway, that song is about accepting your own fate, clinging tightly to your own destiny and creating your own dreams. It's about loving someone in the moment, with all your soul, regardless of the outcome. He sure gave it all he had. I wish to this day I'd had appreciated him more for his uniqueness, his charm, his sensitivity. I looked up his obituary online and it's still posted:

Martin Wolke, 47, of the city of Chicago, died unexpectedly in his sleep on Saturday, Jan. 26.

He recently returned to his favorite city after four years in Rhode Island.

Raised in New Jersey, he moved to Chicago in 1983 and was a resident throughout the 1980's and 90's. A high school graduate, he returned to school in his 30's and obtained an associate's degree in accounting from Truman College. He also attended Boston University in 1978-79.

However, he preferred the title "student life". A man of many interests, he was most passionate about human rights and justice.

A political activist all of his adult life, Martin worked tirelessly.

Some of the organizations he helped are: Tenants Assoc.

of Evanston, CISPES, Neighbor To Neighbor, O.N.E., Nicaraguan Solidarity Committee, Adrain Capeheart's Alderman Campaign, Harold Washington's Mayoral Campaign and the Vietnam Vets Against War in Iraq.

Martin's ideals were his life, his heart and soul, but in his leisure he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.

His hobbies included baseball, golf, bicycling and competitive games of all types.

His poker face is renowned.

He was an avid reader and great lover of music.

Martin is survived by his father, Herbert (Marion), his mother, Veronica Potter (Frank); and sister Marienne Gallagher (Rick), all of New Jersey, brother Michael (Shandy) of Adelaide, Australia, sister Laura of North Carolina, brother Thomas with daughters Sonja and Anna of New Hampshire; nephew Chris of New York City, niece Lisa Balog (Joshua) of Maryland; aunts, uncles and cousins; and a multitude of friends.

All will miss him.

And that's what Martin did. He sailed into the mystic. If I learned one thing from our brief relationship, it was to love whomever you love with reckless abandon. To follow your heart and not your head. To take chances. To give it all you've got, regardless of where those roads lead you.

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