Her Family Ties

BY Ross von Metzke

March 10 2011 4:20 PM ET

MEREDITH BAXTER 2 X390 (GETTY IMAGES) | ADVOCATE.COMI love the part in the book where you describe meeting your partner, Nancy, for the first time. I think it’s really interesting that your first interactions with her were related to your sobriety. Do you think meeting her in that way and on those terms helped to set the stage for what would become your relationship?
You know, it just occurred to me as you were asking this, for me personally and how tentative I am in going into relationships, that it unfolded in the perfect way because we weren’t having social chats. She was talking about her issues and I was only talking if I had some advice to give or to talk about my own experiences. I wasn’t talking about myself. So I got to learn lots of things about her ...

Which is probably unusual for you, considering most of the time, I’m assuming, you start a relationship with the other person knowing a lot about you based on who you are.
Yeah, I loved this. And it also speaks to something else ... I’m very happy working with people in the program, spending time on the phone with people. They say, “Hi, Meredith, how are you doing today?” And I’m able to say, “I’m fine, let’s talk about you.” I want to cut to the chase. I want to be about what’s going on with them, because that’s what I can bring to the table. I like that it’s not socially chatty stuff, because I get to feel I’m of service. That’s what I was able to do with Nancy, and at the same time, get to learn some stuff about her. I wasn’t really putting it in my wall safe anywhere, because I didn’t know if we were ever going to talk again, and I certainly didn’t think we were actually going to meet until we started talking a little bit differently. And I already had a good sense of her, of her laughter and her energy. And then when you meet her ... have you seen her in any pictures?

Yes, I have. We actually included you in our “Couples to Admire” feature.
Yes!

I have to say, for me, she has the most beautiful smile. I love it.
Yes! Me too. We were at the gym this morning. I was watching her across the gym talk to some guy she knows there, and I just felt this well of excitement because not only do I think she’s so beautiful, but she has this intelligent and interesting aspect to her that makes you want to go, “Who is that woman? I’ve got to know more about her.” There’s something really compelling about the way she handles herself and the way she walks around.

When you finally did meet and you tried to slip in the whole “Oh, and by the way, I like women.”
Well, I didn’t know how to do it then either.

Like a lot of people in your life, she seemed genuinely surprised. Did you have anyone who was not at all surprised?
No. Not really. My oldest boy said, “I knew.” But I kind of write him off as a smartass in that way. I’ve read when people say they knew. I don’t know how they knew. You know, here’s the truth, and you might have caught this in the book. There was a time when I was going the divorce with David when it was really hairy. I had a terrible time with all of the depositions I had to go through. I don’t know how I arrived at this, I truly don’t, but I think I’d done a job where I cut my hair, and I cut it even shorter, and I had my hairdresser buzz me up the back. And I wore trousers and wing tips and jackets. To this day, I don’t know how that happened. God, it makes me want to cry, but men were not my friends. I had felt targeted and ill-used and I didn’t know how to maneuver myself in that world very well, so I think the only defense I felt I had against them was, “I know, I’ll dress like one.” I really don’t know what I thought, but that was my armor.















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