I know this woman, knew this woman, I know this woman today. See the very confusion of that opening line should indicate how difficult it is within this story for me to find my way. I suppose it all began when I was 15 years old. I met a woman, a classmate whom I was infatuated with and wanted to ask her out. My best friend told me she wouldn’t give me the time of day, but he was wrong. We started dating and she was my first kiss.
I remember it well, it was at a local beach in our hometown, where we were going swimming. She was gorgeous and her body was asking me to love her, all teenager and bursting in her bikini. Being the boy I was, I had to hide my excitement, though, nowadays I know she knew. Here’s where things get dicey.
We started making out, and I held back, because I was scared. Oh I wanted to touch every part of her body, and she might have wanted the same, but I couldn’t. I wanted her to know how much I respected her. Our little courtship went on a few more weeks until she had had enough and started dating a guy from the football team. I’m pretty sure they found their way quickly because she never looked back, and me, I pined over her the rest of my high school years.
Years later, in college I met the woman of my dreams. She was tall and elegant and postured in such a way that anything she wore around her body was sensually driving my mind. She had a pair of rain boots that were the sexiest in the world, and I just thought I needed to walk through puddles with her one day. We dated for over four years, had probably some of the best sex of my life, but it really wasn’t sex, it was to me, love. I’d never felt so close to someone in my life, and yet, I couldn’t consummate our love-making beyond doing everything else but intercourse. I felt like if I did that, I would be obligated to marry her. My upbringing again, stalled so many of my moments. I remember she and I would find each other after weeks, go back to each other’s apartments and spend the next day or two in bed, frustrating ourselves to no end. And yet, in the end, we knew we loved each other.
For years after we parted we wrote one another letters. These were the kind that romanticists have struggled to recreate for years. Back then, we didn’t have email, the internet, snapchat, twitter – anything. If we wrote one another, we’d have to wait a couple of days before we knew they would receive it. We wrote over 100 letters back and forth, and in the meantime, she had started dating an old high school friend of mine. One time she told me how upset he was to see her walking up her long gravel road on a summer’s day, reading yet another letter from me. We wrote more discreetly after that, eventually moved to different cities and began lives with new people.
I married, and ironically, she is someone I’ve never written a letter to. Perhaps some poems around anniversaries and birthdays but even then those never felt nearly as thrilling and exhilarating as the ones I shared with Jane. I’ll call her Jane because it is safe to say, we may never cross paths again, though I do often hope she wonders about me even half the time I do think about her.
So, where dose this all lead. I’ll finish here soon, I promise. there is a point and it is a romantic one. Fast forward ten years, I’ve been married, have two beautiful children and experience a certain unhappiness in my world I cannot shake. I struggle with the obligation of maintaining my vows with the uncertainty of a man feeling lost in the pained expression of societies mores. That sounds all heady and everything but the reality is, as I write this today, I’ve spent the last 30 years in a marriage of convenience. It is a terrible thing for a man to say, but it is my truth. I love my spouse with all my heart, but I do not love her. Some of you get that, some of you don’t care. I can live with that.
Here’s the point.
I met someone in grad school years ago. I didn’t take the class expecting to meet this person. However, she walked into the classroom a sunny, summer day, and it was one of those moments when I could not help to look away for fear she might see me falling in love with her in the moment. We did over the course of the next few weeks become close, and started sharing laughs and time together. When the class ended I walked out of her life with an email address, having spent the night before at a theatre performance with her by my side, the two of us telling one another years later the closeness drove us both crazy wild with passion.
I wrote her a letter initially expressing how much I loved knowing her and sharing time with her. I got a response a couple of days later, and there it began. For years I had been searching for my soul-mate in words, my muse, my woman of mystique who might respond to all of my tellings in my poetic verse. Her words came back to me as if we were writing a Zelda & Scott testimonial of true love and romance. We did eventually find ourselves wanting to be with one another, and in the shadows of our real lives we began a courtship of passion and honesty.
One day, in the throes of realizing who we were without the constraints of our marriages, I took the leap and told her ‘I love you’ and she gave me a look that suggesting I was destroying our moment that was well enough without complication. It would be years later I would discover I misread the moment, and even though for that time our demise fell upon us, we both would realize a decade or more later, we did know what love is.
For now, I will stay here in this moment, and let you imagine the next few years … the story continues. The greatest takeaway I want the reader to know is how after all these years of my protestations that I would not ever give myself completely to a woman again, well, I realized I was wrong … again.
~ finding my way, a personal journey ~