published Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Shavin: Near-marriage to Johnny Depp sheds light on what's important

By Dana Shavin

Last week I dreamed I was marrying Johnny Depp.

I was traveling with my husband when suddenly I was standing on a balcony above a crowded room, waiting for Johnny to publicly propose.

"Wow," I thought. "How exciting!"

Time passed. People started to leave. I wanted to tell them to wait, that Johnny was just collecting his thoughts for The Big Ask. But The Big Ask never happened. Devastated and confused, I turned to my husband. He hugged me and told me he was sorry. But I knew he was secretly glad.

I found out later that Johnny had decided we didn't know each other well enough to get married. I had to admit he was probably right. We hadn't had a single date. If we married, who knew what we'd be letting ourselves in for?

I woke with two immediate thoughts: Can I get the old dogs out before they relieve themselves in the house? And: What do I need to do on my manuscript today? Then I remembered: My manuscript was with an editor for a few days. I couldn't do anything until it came back. Which is when the joy of the universe filtered down to me from the heavens. I danced the dogs out of their beds and into the yard.

I had been without my manuscript for four days when I had the Johnny Depp dream. I had been expecting the down time to cause me great anguish. Here's what happened instead: I finally went to the eye doctor and got the lump on my eyelid checked out. Had I gone when I first saw it, it would be cured by now. But I was too busy writing. Now that it's infected, I'm on a course of antibiotics and hot compresses which probably won't work, which means it will have to be lanced.

After the eye doctor, I took the dog to the dentist. He, too, had an infection, and he, too, is on antibiotics.

Here's what else happened: I went to the chiropractor and didn't chew through my own tongue until I could get back home to write. Ditto the grocery store. I went to the bank and did not emit steam through my ears while in line. I met a friend for coffee and did not secretly hate him for eating into my writing time. I finally shipped work to an art consultant that had been requested weeks earlier. I made granola. I watched "The Big Bang Theory."

And then I felt bereft.

"I miss my manuscript," I told my husband when he called home from a show in Sun Valley, Idaho. He'd been gone almost a week.

"I miss you," he said.

And then I went to sleep and dreamed I was about to pledge my life to someone with whom my future was questionable at best while the man I adored and who adored me stood faithfully by my side. Which is when it hit me. Everything I do and don't do is in service to a book, which may or may not go anywhere, while everything that is truly important -- my health, the health of my dogs, my business, and my marriage -- takes a back seat. I was appalled.

I decided it was high time I wrote my husband a letter of appreciation.

"Dear Husband," it would begin. "For the past 10 years you've lovingly cared for me, and all the while I've been devoted to my manuscript. I want you to know that you and our future together have always been, and will always be, more important to me than any manuscript. P.S., Please forgive the impersonal salutation, but I've been so busy writing I've forgotten your name."

But then my manuscript came back, and I threw the letter idea aside along with the hot compresses and the antibiotics and the granola and the ridiculous notion of competing responsibilities and got back to work. And frankly, I've never been happier.

I don't even miss Johnny.

Contact Dana Shavin at Danalise@juno.com.

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