This one I took rather hard. I remember the first day I dropped her off from a double date – not sure why we were doubling, I think it was because neither of us drove a car. Anyway, she had these jeans, there is something about a woman and well fitting jeans, and I remember walking her to her door, sort of following behind and imagining we could do something together, she turned to me, and I gave a quick kiss and said good night. She smiled, I was in love. I went back to my friend’s car and the two of them were giggling. They knew.
Our lives together transformed me. We traveled to Europe and though the trip was fascinating we were feeling the end of things, though we were still good friends, perhaps no longer in love, well she wasn’t. However that’s the end of the story, let’s go back.
We became that couple that finished each other’s sentences, we played memory games with lines from movies, we had an intimacy that was beyond anything I knew. I loved every aspect of her, and I told her that often. We decided to move in together, I remember her saying, ‘seems the right thing to do.’ In my own naivete I believed at that point we would likely marry. However, something occurred that would later set a precedent in the remainder of our time together.
I met her parents – we drove out to South Dakota, her dad was a professor of philosophy, this rather tiny charming man, in a leather coat and jeans met us outside his office and we went to dinner. Her mom struck as reserved, but a polite enough woman. It was our return from that travel that struck me. She told me she couldn’t stand her parents, and that because of the way she and her sister were raised, she would never have children. Of course, I wanted kids, so this became one of those not talked about elephants the remainder of our time together.
There was still this happiness though, this incredible passion with one another. We both went back to school to pursue teaching degrees, and we are both still with our respective profession decades later. One day while sitting near a lake’s edge, we got on the subject of loneliness. I said to her for the first time in my life, I feel completely happy, and there is nowhere in my heart where I feel any pangs to bring me anywhere else. I was consumed by my love for her. But then she quietly spoke and words tore a small slice in my heart. She said, ‘there will be a part of me I will never share with anyone, you just have to accept that.’ I laughed and disagreed, but she gave me a look that told me it was true.
We talked for hours then, the whole time she had this twig in her hand from which she gradually removed all the bark. Before we left that afternoon, she gave me the now naked twig. I held onto it for many years, in fact I believe it is still in a box somewhere in my memories of our travels, our time together. That naked twig inspired one of my first published poems. My heart and soul wrote the words.
Sadly, after traveling Europe we returned and something was different. In the coming months we split and my heart was broken. I swore to myself I would never ever give myself so completely to anyone ever again in my life. I held true to that feeling, that testament, even in my marriage, which has no irony, only truth.
With this love, I had discovered the true meaning in all of its highs and lows. I could never imagine again being so much in love with a person that I would give anything in my life to have her back in my arms again. I was committed to keeping my guard.
Turns out years later, many years, I would be mistaken.