All Things Are Possible

My name is Jack. I am a single father who works as a journalist for the local paper. I have a a bi-weekly column that is read by more than 1 million people and I am the author of three books, with a contract to write more.

On the weekends I coach my son’s soccer team and drive my daughter to dance class. I have two girlfriends who really are just that, girls who are friends. Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between a girl friend and a wife. They both tell you what to do and neither put out.

I suppose that the real distinction is that the girl friend doesn’t receive a piece of my paycheck each month so that they can live in my house with Rudy, the flying Dutchman.

I know, that sounds overly bitter. My therapist told me that I should be happy about this. She said that it would be good for the ex to have a man in her life, that it would make her happier and as a result she would be easier to deal with.

I tried to look at it that way, I really did, but there is 6’2 of stupid preventing me from doing so. The same 6’2 of stupid that is shtupping my wife, sleeping in my bed and enjoying the house that was the fruits of my labor.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re better apart. It was a long time coming and something that I should have done years ago. I didn’t mind her taking the house because it was easier than uprooting the kids. But I won’t lie about being irritated about the cold Germanic figure that lives there now too.

We might not have had the greatest marriage, but we had a great house.

And now instead of having a bad marriage and a great house I have a bad apartment and a lot of freedom. So I suppose that there is something to be said for that. The girl friends keep telling me that if I moved out of the bad apartment I’d find it easier to date.

I keep telling them that I don’t want to date, but they ignore me. So then I tell them that misery loves company which is why they want me to get involved with another woman. I think that it is hysterical and every time I say this I crack up.

For some odd reason they don’t. And for that same odd reason they aren’t interested in hearing about what I think women are good for. That is ok, I don’t really want to tell them.

A while back my daughter found some old love letters that a lost love once sent to me. She had a field day with that. Ever since then she has been pushing me to try and look her up. She tells me that she can tell from the letters that she really loved me and that no woman who wrote those things ever stops loving the man she wrote them about.

I smiled and thanked her. She smiled back and told me that I was too young to give up. I think that the girl friends and her must be talking about me when I am not around, because I am getting tag teamed.

Anyway, I am on deadline for my next column. Since the ladies of my life are so intent on pushing relationships upon me I decided to show them by writing about the end of relationships. Something really bitter and biting, that ought to shut their mouths.

So here you have my first draft of my next column. I think that it has real potential.

Always On My Mind- Willie Nelson

Thanks to technology there are a million new ways to break someone’s heart. A million new methods of letting someone that you once loved or perhaps still do that you just can’t do it anymore.

In the age of instant gratification and social media it won’t be long before we hear/read the tales of dismissal. Husbands who let their wives know they are leaving them by unfriending them on Facebook or girlfriends who let their ex know their new status by tweeting it.

It is kind of funny in an I am not smiling kind of way to think how these time saving tools of communication can take the intimate and personal and turn it into something mechanical, cold and sterile.

What do you call people who do this? Awful, callous and cruel come to mind. Descriptive words that fail to capture the essence of how truly horrible being dumped in this fashion can be.

But let’s face it, being dumped isn’t a pleasant experience. It is not necessarily easier to stand or sit in front of someone and listen to them tell you that they have lost that loving feeling. I suppose that it doesn’t make a difference, even if they haven’t lost it, but are ending things because circumstances make it impossible to continue.

In the end you still ask those questions. You still wonder what you did or what you could have done. Surely there is a word or gesture that would have spared you the angel of death speech. Had you only known then they would have passed over and you’d be ensconced in your cocoon of love and happiness.

The End Of a Marriage

I’ll say this much for divorce, it makes for great blog fodder. There is something wrong about that, isn’t there. Shouldn’t there be some rule that says that being this connected is wrong. Isn’t there some rule or law of silence about this. I am not really supposed to be able to communicate such intimate thoughts.

The pain of a broken heart isn’t really something that you should be privy too, or maybe you should be. Maybe that is the point of all this. I act as the exhibitionist and you act as the voyeur. I pull aside the shades so that you can look inside the window and see just what is that I am doing.

And that is how you get the great image of “6’2 of stupid that is shtupping my wife, sleeping in my bed and enjoying the house that was the fruits of my labor.”

Really, I should be more grown up about this than I am. I should be happy that he has taken the burden off of my hands, but that is not totally true either. The end of the relationship is a mixture of relief and sadness. It is a mixture of success and failure.

I try not to tell the girl friends about this feeling because every time I do they interpret it as a sign that I need a new woman. They read the last column and told me that they thought that it was brilliant and that I was dead on about how awful breaking up by email is. Apparently this sort of thing is far more prevalent than I realized.

Just my luck really. I was trying to portray myself as being bitter, cold and unfeeling and they took it as being sensitive. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe this is all part of the stupid plan that they and the daughter are trying to put into place. You know, the whole lost love deal.

Earlier this week the girl friends slipped it into conversation, how some people never forget walking down Coventry or chasing each other through grapevines. The whole gist of it was their female version of some romantic tale in which I contact that great lost love of mine and we suddenly find our way back to each other.

I must admit that I find a certain attraction to it. I have wondered what she is up to and where she is at. From time to time I have remembered things and wondered if she has too. But that could easily be me. After all I am the one who is in this position. I am sure that she is happy with her life. I am just a good memory relegated to the unimportant and irrelevant pile.

At least that is what I suspect, but I admit that part of me wonders if that is true. I also admit to relearning the finer points of being heartbroken. I hadn’t ever planned on becoming reacquainted with it. I rather imagine that it is similar to a prisoner revisiting his cell.

You know all the corners intimately, but you never really want to step back inside, even if the door is open. Except in my case the door swung shut behind me.

The good news is that all of the crap that I left here is still here. Same books and toys on the shelves just waiting to be played with again. The bad news is that all of the crap that I left here the last time is still here. The questions and hard feelings and the sense of loneliness. The empty ache is back, an old friend that I didn’t want to see again.

But the good news is that I know from experience that this isn’t a life sentence. I’ll bust out of this joint like I did the last time. Only this time around things will be different.

Of course I said that same thing last time, but this time it is true. This time it is going to be different because this time a million people will read about this in my column. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but we’ll find out.

Stay tuned to this bat channel and assuming that the paper doesn’t fire me or go under from a lack of advertising dollars and you’ll find out what happens, or not.

A 21st Century Break Up

“Well now, everything dies, baby, thats a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back

Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”

Atlantic City- Bruce Springsteen

Went to lunch with the Sheri, Pam and the daughter. It wasn’t my choice. I was far more interested in hiding out in my apartment. It might not be much to look at, but it is mine. Simple furniture, my books, music and a decent television. Reminds me a bit of how I described my first place after college to my parents.

But there is a difference this time around. The refrigerator is full and there is more than $25 dollars sitting in my bank account. Not to mention that the furniture isn’t a bunch of hand me downs from friends and relatives.

The best part is that it is mine and mine alone. I am happy being by myself. I don’t worry about who left dishes in the sink or if there are socks on the floor because if there are, I know who is responsible for it.

I had intended to make myself a sandwich, grab a beer and watch football. Later on I was going to take a nap and maybe start reading that book about the history of Scotland. It was a good plan, but the girls had other ideas.

When the telephone rang I didn’t bother to check the caller ID because I already knew who it was going to be. She called every weekend to check on me and every weekend I gave her the same response. Told her that I was fine, but if it would make her feel better I would let her iron my clothes and perform other services as needed.

It was the sort of obnoxious remark that I used as a shield and on most people it would work, but not her. After 30 some years of friendship she ignored it. Didn’t faze her, in fact I am not even sure it even registered.

But I was wrong about the caller. This time around it was my daughter. As soon as I heard her say “Hi daddy” I knew I was screwed. I am a lot of things, but I am not stupid. It didn’t take a genius to recognize that tone of voice. It was the same one she had used her entire life with me, that one that girls use to melt dads heart.

I placed my hand over the telephone and cursed. “Damn!” But there was no point in arguing with her. She is my girl and she is just as determined as I am. Better to just roll along and see if there was an easier way to get out from under their scheme.

Earlier that week she had shared her thoughts with me. She had told me that she was very concerned about me, that she didn’t think I gave myself enough credit or that I did a good job of taking care of myself. I had thanked her for her concern and reiterated that I was quite capable of taking care of me. Been doing it all my life, now wasn’t much different.

She smiled and wrapped her hand around my bicep and asked me to make a muscle. I couldn’t help but smile. Years ago she and her brother liked to try to arm wrestle. It had turned into a goofy game where we would make a muscle and pose like a body builder. It was sheer silliness and almost always disarming.

Damn, damn, damn. I keep forgetting this kid has made a life time project of studying dad. But I didn’t crack. I made a muscle and asked her if she wanted a piggy back ride. She laughed and told me that she was too big for one. I told her that she never would be too big and changed the subject.

Not that it mattered. She just went with it and here we were a few days later, the three of them and me. As we sat at the table I made a crack about feeling just like Hugh Hefner. It was met with a stony glare and sighs all around. Because I am both stubborn and prone to stupidity I told them that they were wasting their time and that we should find a different project. Maybe we could go out and save the environment.

Instead I was treated to a story about how things work in the 21st century. They told me that the Internet had killed the idea of a clean breakup and that now it was really easy to find people and or check up on them. I smiled at the three and reminded them that I probably knew more about computers and the net than they did.

That earned me more stares and sighs. And then I learned that all of them had googled the name of an old boyfriend once or twice. They assured me that it was just curiosity that made them do it. I looked at my daughter and said that curiosity was how I became a father. She glared at me and asked her companions why they put up with me. She had to because of genetics, but they had a choice.

Before anyone could answer I went into a five minute lecture/rant about minding your own business. They were silent. And just when I thought that I had convinced them they let me know that they had already done their own checking up.

She was free. She was single and so was I.

That took the wind right out of my sails. I was mildly surprised by the impact. She was single. I stuttered something in response and muttered something about having been kicked in the mouth one time too many.

And then I was silent.

For a moment I was lost in thought. I remembered the fire and the passion. I remembered how she made me feel like there was no one more important or more special. And then I remembered the pain of losing her.

It was like having an arm or a leg cut off. It took a while for those scars to heal, longer than I wanted to admit. And the truth was that I wasn’t even certain if they ever had. I did my best to hide the shock and thanked them all for their concern.

A short time later we got up and left. Out in the parking lot we hugged and kissed each other goodbye and I drove home lost in thought.

Later that night the telephone rang and again I didn’t bother checking the Caller ID. It had to be my daughter and again I was proven wrong. For the next five minutes I listened to her tell me why I should think really hard about things.

“She loved you as much as you loved her,” she said. I told her that I wasn’t so sure and that it had seemed far too easy for her to walk away. She snorted into the phone and assured me that I wasn’t the only one with a broken heart. She was just more practical about things than you were or so she claimed.

I thanked her again for her concern and told her that I would think about. A short time later I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering what would happen if I tried to contact her. Would she take the call or respond to the email. I was afraid that she would and afraid that she wouldn’t.

Just before I drifted off to sleep I remembered what it felt like to kiss her and how I couldn’t figure out where I ended and she began. And that was when I realized that I hadn’t ever stopped loving her. It was a bittersweet revelation.

Not the sort of epiphany that I had gone searching for, but that is the joy of life. You never know what is going to happen. So now there are butterflies in my stomach and my heart is pounding. I haven’t made the decision yet what to do, but I am going to have to do it soon.

I suppose the question is will a 21st century break up lead to a 21st century romance. I don’t know the answer but I rather expect that I will soon.

In the interim I think that I am going to unplug my phone and turn off my cellphone. I have had about as much excitement as I can handle for now.

“I Don’t Want To Kiss My Husband Ever Again”

I have a graphic memory. I dream and think in technicolor or maybe I should say high definition. My dreams are full featured spectacles. It is great when I dream about happy things, but not so good if they are sad or disturbing.

As a young boy I used to wonder if there was a way to control my dreams. I figured that it was nothing more than concentrating hard enough. So I spent more than a few nights lying in bed focused upon whatever it was that I was chasing. Some nights it was images of me chasing down fly balls in Dodger Stadium and or hitting the game winning home run. Other times it was me as a different sort of hero.

I suppose that it is fair to say that in many ways not much has changed. The boy grew into a man who still dreams of playing pro ball or of being a hero. All he needs is a chance. Although to be fair the man recognizes that some dreams will have to remain locked inside the vault.

It was the morning after and I was still in bed. It had taken hours to fall asleep. The news that she was single had a bigger impact upon me than I would have guessed it would. I didn’t want to think about it. Didn’t want to play memory lane. I didn’t want to have one of those dreams and wake up to discover that reality was different than I might want it to be.

The meal with my daughter and the girls was grueling. They didn’t understand that some scars don’t heal. They didn’t understand that I much preferred the safety of my own life. Being single wasn’t so bad. I didn’t worry about forgetting special dates. Never had to try and decipher whether a look or a comment meant that I was in trouble again for some other transgression.

In concept it made a lot of sense to me to say goodbye to women. I knew what I needed to know. I had served a life sentence known as marriage. I helped propagate the species. When I was instructed to go forth and multiply I did it.I listened to them.

That is big stuff, my listening. Ask those who know me and you’ll be told that I have an amazing ability to suddenly go deaf. More than one person called it irritating, but me, I called it survival.

All would be perfect, or close to it, were it not for my daughter and the girls. Did I mention that they don’t like it when I call them girls. Sometimes I like to aggravate them by talking about how you can’t trust a broad, not a single one of them.

The thing is, they know me too well. They refused to let me bait them into a different topic. They have an agenda and I am at the top of the list. And people wonder why I say I feel like I have a target on my back.

Midway through our meal Sheri asked me if I remembered what her marriage was like. I smiled and told her that she should have married me. That earned me another one of those withering looks and a sharp rebuke from my daughter.

Great, and to think that I thought that I owned the look and the lecture she gave me. But because I am rarely at a loss for words I told her that I have been inoculated against that sort of thing. She of course didn’t care. Damn, if she isn’t like me. Moments like this make me wonder if I should be proud or frightened of her.

But I digress.

Sheri jumped back into her story and asked me if I knew how she realized that her marriage was over. I was tempted to provide another smart ass remark, but something told me that it was smarter to stay quiet.

“When I realized that I never wanted to kiss my husband again, I knew that it was over.”

“Well, we share that in common. I never want to kiss your husband again either. For that matter I don’t want to sleep with him, he snores far too loudly,” I said.

I know, the smart ass remark didn’t help, but how could I let that one go. Again she ignored me and continued on.”

“When you find the kind of love and relationship that you had you don’t let go.”

That wiped the smile off of my face. I looked at her and thanked her for her opinion. Before anyone could go on I explained that it had been made very clear to me that she was done. It didn’t matter what I wanted, or what I thought. She was done.

My daughter came around the table and hugged me. She told me that she had no idea that my feelings for her were so deep and that I owed it to myself to not just ignore the opportunity.

I was surprised by my anger. I did my best not to bark at her, but I am not sure that I was successful. “This is not reality. This is not some stupid movie where I get to ride up to her ranch, grab her and ride off into the sunset”

“She gave up on us and she gave up on me.”

For a moment there was silence. It took me a moment to realize that both my jaws and fists were clenched. I took a deep breath and thanked them for their thinking about me.

Sheri smiled and told me that she was sorry. In a soft voice she said that I needed to remember that some loves never really die and that we had been victims of bad timing. “Call her. There is a reason why you are being given a second chance.”

I smiled back at her. “I’ll think about it.” And then I said a silent prayer of thanks that none of them knew how hard my heart was pounding.

Once Upon A Time

One of the best parts of my job is that I can do it from almost anywhere. All I need is my cellphone, a laptop and an internet connection and I am good to go. It is one of the perks that come with the position, not to mention the joy of dealing with the most cantankerous editor ever.

He and I have a real love hate relationship going on, and that is putting it mildly. It wouldn’t be fair to say that we love to hate each other. But it would be fair to say that I love to aggravate him. I probably shouldn’t. It is a bit unfair to always press his buttons, but I have issues with authority. So does he.

For some reason he finds it necessary to try and tell me what to do and how to do it. This usually inspires me to do the opposite. Somewhere out there my mother is shaking her head about this. She told me many times that it is better to get along with people, that I don’t always have to be such a pain-in-the-ass. I love you mom, but you know that it is not going to happen, so why keep trying.

“Big Ed”, the editor, that is what I call him, likes to have regular meetings with me. He says that they are not serious, just an easy way to communicate. The thing is that I prefer to communicate by email or telephone and he likes face to face.

“Big Ed” doesn’t like being called “Big Ed.” His real name is Harold but if you call him Harry he gets upset. It probably has something to do with having virtually none on his head. You also can’t refer to him as “Harold, the Hairy, the Regent of Rogaine” because he doesn’t like that either.

Truth is that I can’t say that I really like it. It is not particularly funny, but it gets a reaction from him and that I do like. Did I mention that he is very particular about where things go on his desk. I like to move his stapler around. Again, it is not funny and it is quite juvenile. But it tends to help him come to the proper conclusion that Jack and office visits are not a good mix.

With that sort of introduction you might wonder why the “balding behemoth” doesn’t release me from his tender mercies. The answer is that I am that good and so is he. Together we have found a recipe that works and both of us have been around long enough to recognize that you don’t mess with something like this.

It also doesn’t hurt that Harold went through his own divorce and was sensitive to my situation. He made a point of approaching me more than once to offer a friendly ear. I was grateful and appreciative of it. I made a point to thank him and then told him that if brought up a “friendly ear” to me again I would sue for sexual harrassment.

He quickly apologized and changed the subject at which time I threatened to sue him for not making a pass at me. You should have seen how red his face got with that remark. Poor Harold didn’t know what to do. I almost felt bad for him because I knew the feeling.

Getting divorced was sad and exciting. Even though I knew that it was the right thing to do it was hard to accept that something that had seemed so right was over. I need to qualify that. I think that at one time it felt that way. I mean, I wouldn’t have gotten married if it didn’t seem right.

That was something that I just wasn’t sure of. I couldn’t decide if I really had felt that way or if I had convinced myself that at one time I had. None of it really mattered. I had checked out of the marriage long before the divorce, I just hadn’t realized it.

For a long time I had thought that the problems were all related to external influences. When the kids are young they suck the life out of you. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them or have a single regret because they are amazing. They make you better people.

But they also make you crazy people. They take and take and take. And then they takes some more. During the week there is the daily grind of getting them to school, helping them with their homework and all of the extracurricular activities.

Weekends weren’t any less busy. There are birthday parties, soccer games, ballet and when they get older reports for school.

And did I mention the challenges posed by preteen and teenage romance. I almost killed half the boys in my daughter’s middle school. As far as I know she didn’t date any of them, but she and her friends swooned and cried about them more times than I can count.

In fact I intend to kick the crap out of some kid named Jason for the simple reason of just because. Just because translates into you dated my daughter for two years in high school. Two years of pretending to be Eddie Haskell. Two years of trying to bullshit me into believing that you weren’t trying to get into her pants every day.

Stupid prick forgets that I used to be him. I know every line and trick for making a girl think that you think she is special. You are not unique. And yes I know that other boys did it too. And yes I know about karma and all that kind of crap. But you just rubbed me the wrong way and now I want you to give me an excuse.

The thing is that even though they have long since broken up if anything happened I would still be the bad guy. She doesn’t love him anymore, or so she says, but I know my girl. Actually maybe it is because I know my girl that I don’t need to do anything to him.

Scratch that, my fragile male ego can’t accept it. I am ordering one ass kicking off of the menu of life. One righteous ass kicking so that I can wipe that stupid smirk off of his lips. One day….

********

I had planned on working at the beach today, right next to lifeguard station number six. The car was loaded with my gear and I was just about to leave when Harold called to ask what time I was going to come in. I tried to pretend that the connection was bad but he was ready and asked me if I had checked my email.

He had forwarded an email that I had sent him two weeks prior. In the email I had told him that I would be delighted to meet with him to discuss my latest assignment. I hate when I screw up like that. I silently cursed my own stupidity and made a note to remind myself never to commit to anything in writing.

I told him that I would see him soon and hung up the phone. I made a quick trip out to the car to grab my gear and switch it with the business stuff. One of these days I have to win the lottery or invent something because this working stuff is getting old.

A short time later I was in the car and headed towards the office. Talk radio and the sounds of traffic filled the silence and I found myself lost in thought.

Hanging Out With Hairy

Inside the car I remembered that I hate commuting. The fact that it would have taken me just as long to get to the beach as it did to travel to the office was immaterial. Normally I would have spent the ride plotting ways to prick “Big Ed.” The precious minutes of beach time that I was wasting would have been devoted to thinking about how many different ways I could call Harold, “Hairy.”

Did I mention that at times I can be juvenile, selfish and spiteful. Not my finer traits, but hey, at least I am aware of them.

This time was different. Instead of plotting my silly revenge, enjoying music or listening to the ridiculous rantings of the anonymous talk show callers I was lost in a place that I wasn’t so sure I wanted to revisit. I was back in the past. It was a bit like walking into my garage. There were all sorts of treasures inside and a bunch of junk that I probably should get rid of, but never had.

I have always liked thinking of my memory as being a big garage or warehouse full of stuff. It works for me. There is something appealing about it. Whenever I need to remember something I simply walk into the garage and find the box it is located in. The problem is that like my real garage those boxes are not only dusty but they sometimes include items that I didn’t expect to find.

Back when I was married the garage was my refuge. It was my cave, my domain and all who entered it understood that it was dangerous to screw with things without my approval. Not surprisingly the ex thought that different rules applied to her. Although to be fair I learned long ago that once a woman starts sleeping with you she assumes certain liberties, like trying to convince you that Laura Ashley sheets are cool for the master bedroom.

My internal monologue was disrupted by the squealing by a loud thump, thump, thump coming from the car next to me. If you want to piss me off it is always wise to play your stereo at levels loud enough to make the windows shake. I have said more than once that if I am ever involved in a road rage incident it is going to be because of that.

The noise got my attention and I made a point of looking around to see where it was coming from. There was a large SUV in front of me that seemed to be the culprit. Sometimes it is hard to tell. The noise is so loud that it could just as easily be coming from the side or behind.

The license plate frame on the SUV said something about being a proud student of Grapevine Community College. The G.C.C. administration should be proud of this sort of representation. It really says something. Then again, I am a part time writing instructor there so maybe I should be more charitable with how I think of the students.

The writing gig isn’t bad. For the past ten years or so I teach one or two creative writing courses each semester. In the beginning I wasn’t so sure about it. They didn’t have an existing curriculum so I had to develop one on my own. That was supposedly going to lead to my earning more but I am not really sure that ever happened.

That first year I taught by Braille. It was a lot of touch, feel and react. I wouldn’t advise doing it that way. The department chair made a point of instructing me not to do it that way. He gave me a lot of good advice that I ignored. Sometimes my issue with authority causes trouble for me.

But we got through it. Over time I developed a teaching style and I found that I was pretty good at it. Most of my students were truly interested in learning so it made it easier to engage them. And of course it didn’t hurt that quite a few were relatively attractive women.

On a side note let me mention that you don’t want to tell woman that she is relatively good looking. It is the kind of remark that creates a minefield that no man wants to walk through. It is not that different from being asked if a particular item of clothing makes her look fat.

Say that she is relatively good looking and she will set you up for a verbal beating. You can almost guarantee that it will be an interrogation of what and who she is relatively good looking compared to. If you suffer from the same fits of stupidity that afflict me it will lead you to saying that she is far more attractive than a hippo or warthog.

You’ll say it with a big smile that you think she’ll find endearing and then after she has eviscerated you’ll wonder why you didn’t just save time by hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.

In case you are wondering I sometimes use that as part of my lecture. The students enjoy laughing at my expense. It is not unusual for the women to laugh the hardest or tell me that I should know better. I smile and shrug my shoulders. The guys usually like this too. After class a few of them will come and share their own war stories with me.

I like to try and use these kinds of stories because they work well as ice breakers. Get the class to laugh. Get them interested and engaged and it becomes far more interesting to everyone.

Not everyone appreciates these tales. Every class is filled with at least one person who doesn’t appreciate a self deprecating sense of humor. Did I mention that they are usually female. Is this coincidence? I think not. That leads to another useful safety tip for the men.  Don’t try to use that last line or any derivation of it in class. You’ll do great with the women who likes to hang out with the boys.

But invariably you’ll upset one or more who will decide that you are sexist and in need of being reported to whatever authority they think will screw you the hardest.

Ok, I admit it, I am a bit bitter and irked with the fairer sex. But I have a good reason, really, I do. I can tell you her name, her sizes. Yes, I said sizes, shoe, pants, panties, bra, blouse, whatever. I don’t give a damn whether you think that is cool, weird or what.

I can tell you how tall she is, her weight, what color her eyes are and a million other details. It has been years and I haven’t forgotten what she smells like or how it feels to kiss her. Years later and sometimes when I close my eyes I still see her looking back at me.

Years later and I can’t forget. The last time I saw her we kissed each other goodbye and headed off to our cars.

But I am not going to go there. It took a long time to put it aside. It took a long time to accept that the life I thought we were going to share wasn’t going to happen. Took a long time to convince myself that I couldn’t just wait around, that maybe love wasn’t enough.

And until the girls decided to have lunch with me that was ok. I was ok. Until that little bit about her being single I was ok.

I’ll say one thing for being distracted, it made the time in the car go by like it was nothing. Of course the downside to that was that I hadn’t spent any time thinking about an idea for my next assignment. And now I had all of five minutes to try to come up with one.

I Will Never Fall In Love Again

I pulled into a parking space, turned off the motor and cursed out loud. The weather outside the car was perfect. Blue skies and just enough heat to make you feel warm were all the reason I needed not to be here. It is a good thing that my skull isn’t transparent because if it was my dear friend Harold would be able to see storm clouds heading his way. With any luck he’d be struck by lightning.

Ok, that is probably unfair. I was semi responsible for this meeting. The company had a funny policy about paying people only for the work they did and not for work that they might do. I had a long conversation with one of the bookkeepers about that one. We got stuck riding an elevator together and since I haven’t a clue what pasty faced number boys are interested I talked about paychecks.

We both learned something that day. He found out that a two minute ride on an elevator can feel like a week in cleveland and I found out that I can babble at length about anything. I know, you already knew that.

By the time I had walked into the office I had figured out that the topic of my next submission was going to be why marriage was the devil’s greatest invention. In my experience it was the closest thing to hell that one could find. Before you go off half cocked you need to understand that the classic definition of hell is wrong. It is not a place of fire and brimstone.

The Definition of Hell

Hell is seeing the love of your life unhappily living with someone else, but pretending to be happy. Hell is being granted a taste of the most incredible relationship and experience of your life and then having it taken away.

It  is like being seated at a table with the greatest feast you have ever seen. The food looks and smells incredible. You look around the table and see that the other guests are having a culinary experience that borders n the orgasmic. Just as you are about to join the  festivities you realize that your arms are tied behind you and your jaw is wired shut.

Hell is the real world and that is much worse than anything Dante can come up with.

Well, if there was ever any question about my being a bit bitter there isn’t now. Life is sometimes funny in a way that makes you laugh and sometimes in a way that makes you want to cry.

The first time I had my heart broken was hard. The second time was rough and the third time was ridiculously painful. It was bad enough that I swore that I wouldn’t fall in love again. And for a long time that is how it went. Various women came into my life. Some of them tried to break through the walls that I had erected but none really succeeded.

And then one day she did. One day the wall was up and the next day it was a pile of rubble. It scared me. I was frightened and excited by it all. But she took me by the hand and promised to just love me. I think that was part of what caught me, the “I just love you” bit. It was so simple and yet so powerful.

She did and so did I. We just loved each other. It is a cliche, but it felt like a dream. Somewhere along the way we got lost. If I didn’t have my meeting with Harold I might even take the time to tell you how and why. At least I think that I would. Can’t say for certain because I don’t know if I understand it.

So in the time we have before I go off to the meeting let me fill in some details. We fell apart, sort of. Not sure that we ever stopped loving each other, just found ourselves in unfamiliar territory and went separate directions.

She got married and I got married.

I thought that I was in love. I really did. It seemed like it. I guess that it must have felt like it or I wouldn’t have done that whole ring thing.

But here I am today, ringless, wifeless and until the other day very happy. Things were great until they told me about her. I was perfectly fine and now I am not.

Now I find myself on fire for a woman I haven’t seen or spoken to for what seems like forever. Now I find my heart pounding for a woman who probably thinks of me as just another ex. I am sure that she thinks of me fondly, but what are the chances that she feels like I do.

And this sort of talk is part of why I am pissed off with my daughter and the friends. I didn’t want to look at this corner of my closet. I didn’t want to explore the lost ruins to see if any treasure remains.There is a reason why you let sleeping dogs lie.

Sigh. Well, I’ll put this frustration to good use and go needle the hell out of Harold. If he doesn’t go off on one of this interminably long speeches I still might get to the beach.

Silence Is Golden

I walked into the office, looked at Harold and told him to shut up and listen. Dumber men than I are well aware that it is risky to tell your boss to shut up and listen. But having developed an exceptional urge to swallow my size 12 boot ignored common sense and followed up my opening words with, “I said shut up!”

This went over slightly better than the time I asked him in a restaurant whether it was possible to get his name removed from the National Sex Offenders Registry. That stunt led to my paychecks getting lost and my not receiving assignments for an extended period of time.

It probably could have been much uglier had they had a better staff of writers, but they don’t. While I am not dumb enough to believe I am irreplaceable I do know that none of the others are in my league. Don’t mean to be obnoxious about that, but it is true. My content is cleaner and written faster than theirs and that provides me with a substantial advantage over them.

But it didn’t prevent me from being forced to listen to his lecture about respect, his advice on what divorced men should do and something else that I can’t remember. Truth is that I can’t remember most of what he said. Damn girls and their news managed to rattle my cage in a way that just doesn’t happen.

Goodbye

“I remember holdin’ on to you
All them long and lonely nights I put you through
Somewhere in there I’m sure I made you cry
But I can’t remember if we said goodbye”
Goodbye- Emmylou Harris

The girls mean well. They think that they know me better than I know myself and that pushing me here is something that will me to be the happy guy they know I can be. I appreciate that. I really do but I also appreciate not being visited by the ghost of lost love and specter of She Might Still Love You Why Don’t You Call.

Isn’t there some sort of law or rule somewhere that dictates that men my age go sow their oats. Or maybe it is a study. Yeah, I think that I read that it is really important for us to get reacquainted with women by not dating. I think that I read that scientists advise getting involved in strictly physical relationships for an extended period of time.

In between the angst and excitement it occurred to me that this thing that was messing with my head could be the subject of my next column. Lost love rekindled is a story that never grows old. I mapped out a basic outline on a piece of paper and chuckled to myself.

Not only was it great fodder for a story, it would make one hell of a reality television show. That could be a great legacy for the kids. “Children, I want you to know that I paid for your education by creating a reality television show that makes the viewers dumberer.” Wouldn’t that be something to be proud of.

Writing

Yep, that reality television gig could be all sorts of fun now couldn’t it. It wouldn’t take much effort to come up with an idea for a script. All you need to do is think back upon college and pull something out of the memory banks but it wouldn’t be as much fun or as interesting as trying to come up with something that your friends and family would be proud to point at.

Did we ever mention that sometimes old Jack is a big old snob. Not that it matters, but he is and maybe that is why he sometimes talks about himself in the third person. It also happens to be something that drives Harold crazy and anything that drives Harold crazy is something that I have to do with reckless abandon.

Jack the big old snob likes to believe that he lives life with reckless abandon. He likes to think that he is a low maintenance fellow who doesn’t require much to be happy but I suspect that some people might disagree. Of course Jack the big old snob doesn’t spend much time worrying about whether people agree or disagree with him. Maybe he should. The world might appreciate a kinder, gentler and more sensitive Jack. But then again he would miss telling people to go fuck themselves.

And this my friends leads me to a different issue entirely that I like to call the problem with women. They pay way too much attention to me.

Slow down now Tex and take a deep breath. That is not my ego talking. I am not trying to say that women want to tear my clothes off and enjoy a thousands nights of unbridled passion. No, what I am referring to is their predilection for picking up on little details and pieces of personality.  I might have told the girls that I have no interest in her but the more I think about it the more I realize that they didn’t buy it.

The thing is that it doesn’t really matter whether they bought it or not because I know those three. They are convinced that there might be some sort of hope for her and I and they aren’t going to stop pushing until I make contact. But they are fooling themselves if they think that I am going to listen to Ma Bell and reach out and touch someone. If they ask why I can give them a list of a dozen reasons why it doesn’t make any sense.

We can start with this one. Why should I be the one to call her? I don’t get it. The three of them would be the first to tell you that a woman can do anything a man can do yet somehow I am the one whose stuck sticking my neck out here. What is that about? It reminds me of a discussion I had with that crazy woman a thousand years ago where she told me that should would never be the first to say “I love you.”

I remember scrunching up my face and rolling my eyes at that. Why do men have to take all the risk. Want to make a bet that those three will tell me that I am being ridiculous about this. Just wait until the shoe is on the other foot… Call me juvenile, but the next guy my daughter introduces me to just might get a verbal ass kicking because of this. No doubt that daughter will give me hell about that and blame it upon this very thing.

Damn if that doesn’t make me incredibly proud and frustrated. She is almost too smart for her own good. That girl has had too many years to observe me as well as the benefit of being a direct recipient of my DNA. The end result is someone who has more insight into my thought process and feelings than I sometimes like.

Talking In Circles

Whenever someone tells me that I am talking in circles I know that it is time for me to hunker down in my cave and think. This sort of thing only happens when I am confused about something or unwilling to share my real thoughts with someone.

It occurred to me that the sort of confusion I was feeling was tied into feelings that I thought I had left behind in junior high or high school. Or at least I thought that I had done so but the pacing around the room and struggle to focus made it clear that I hadn’t.

Someone needs to remind me to thank the girls for helping me take this trip down memory lane. Maybe next time they can help me find my high school metabolism and energy.

What I really should do is go for a run or head off to the gym. I am restless and it would do me good to use this energy for something other than mental masturbation- but that is not going to happen now.

No, now I am going to dig through old letters I and stories that I wrote about us. Now I am going to open some doors that have been closed and find out whether the ghosts of the pasts still rattle their chains or if they have found a way to rest.

I think that what I am trying to figure out is whether I am chasing after memories of what was or running towards what could be. If it was me giving the advice I would recommend moving forward because Doc Brown and his Flex Capacitor equipped DeLorean aren’t going to show up and take us back in time. The focus has to be back to the future and the present because that is when life happens.

Sometimes I Hate Editors

Most of my former students will tell you that a central theme of my course is that a good writer understands that writing is rewriting. And if I were a smarter man I would listen to Professor Jack and spend more time editing and reworking my columns than I do now. Professor Jack would tell you that Writer Jack rarely allocates more than three minutes per column to editing and that if he took things more seriously he could make a significant improvement upon the quality of his work.

The thing is that Writer Jack has a problem with authority and given a chance would kick Professor Jack’s ass.  I imagine that it would be the kind of fight that some would call a battle for the ages. The fine folks who handle the pay-per-view boxing matches would be well served to get in on that. Just imagine how much money a fight like that would gross. It would be epic.

This raises two important points. The first is that epic is overused and consequently the word has lost all impact. Everything is described as being epic and if everything is epic than nothing is important, significant or meaningful. That makes the use of that word an “epic fail.” Secondly, since Writer Jack and Professor Jack are the same person the only way that fight can take place is in imagination or some sort of science fiction novel.

I would take that idea and file it away but it bears a striking resemblance to Fight Club and the first rule of Fight Club is there is no talking about Fight Club.

That is a very different approach to the first rule of writing which is that writing is rewriting. It sounds far too obvious and as sensible as saying that water is wet but it is true. Good old Harold, the bald is beautiful boy wonder of writing, he who hates these inane descriptions of himself would be pleased to see me spend more time editing my copy. We have an ongoing fight in which he tells me that I am not serving my soul by providing these clean but sterile columns.

He knows damn well that my columns are anything but sterile. I don’t do safe, plain or vanilla. I let it all hang out there and that is part of why people love/hate me. It is one of the benefits of being ridiculously intense. Someone once described me as being inconsistent in my inconsistencies and as subtle as a freight train. I don’t know what the hell the first part of that description means but I can confirm the second.

You know when I am happy, sad or angry. The boys think that this is why I don’t play poker with them very often. They tell me that they know all of my “tells” and suggest that if I played they would go home with fatter wallets.  I haven’t bothered to point out that the last three times I played with them I was the big winner. Every now and then I think about using the fellas and the poker game in one of my books.

There are a million different angles that I could use with it. It might be kind of fun to write about a bunch of Jewish kids who have limited athletic ability but are freaking geniuses at making money. Come to think about it that is the sort of story that I should use in one of my columns and not a book.  Harold and the newspaper are far more worried about liability than my publisher.

You might think that is precisely why I should use it in the book but that is exactly why I won’t. That juvenile part of me can’t pass up an opportunity to tweak Harold. The look on his face would almost be worth the lecture that would come with it.

My Best Interests

She told me that her decision was in my best interests and than she wished me good luck. Her name was Katherine Rosebottom and she is the only teacher who told me that I shouldn’t become a writer. Good old Rosebottom, who used to eat raw sticks of butter refused to recommend me for a spot in the Advanced Placement English class because she felt it wasn’t in my best interests to be there.

I probably should have extended the same courtesy to her and yanked her fat fist out of her mouth so that she wouldn’t die of a massive heart attack at 50. That would have been the proper and gentlemanly thing to do but she didn’t like me and I didn’t like her either.  I can’t tell you what she had against me but I can give you a long list of reasons why I don’t like her.

Did I ever mention that sometimes I hold a grudge. It is not one of my finer traits but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t exist. Besides it is as good an explanation for why I still don’t like a woman who died years ago. In fairness some of that stems from her being unfair and unreasonable. The teacher-student relationship isn’t a level playing field and she worked hard to make sure that I understood that.

If you don’t believe me give Sheri a call and she’ll tell you that I am not making any of this up. She’ll also tell you that the reason Rosebottom was so hard on me was because I never let her have the last word. Did I mention that Sheri loves to say “I told you so.” Maybe that is the reason she is divorced. Do me a favor and don’t mention that I said that to her because I’ll never hear the end of it.

She’d probably say the same thing about me but what does she know. We have been friends for almost thirty years now which means that I remember when she didn’t need to wear a girdle and dye her hair. Actually she doesn’t have to wear a girdle. Good old Sheri scored big in genetics. You can’t tell that she gave birth three times.  She sometimes bitches to me about her hips being wider but I can’t tell if they are or not.

And as she’ll tell you, I would know. We spent countless hours together growing up and yes, I did try to convince her to sleep with me. I blame it on When Harry Met Sally. You know, that whole and women can’t be friends because the men always want to sleep with the women thing.  Allow me to clarify a few things for you.

  1. I have female friends that I have no sexual interest in. Never have and never will. It is just not there.
  2. I spent several years lusting after Sheri. She had this amazing body, a great personality and we hung out constantly

Did I mention that we there was a jacuzzi at her parent’s house. We used it all the time. Do you have any idea what it was like as a teenage boy to go through that. For reasons that were far too obvious getting out of that pool was no easy task and don’t think that she didn’t know why, but I digress.

Anyway, there was a point at time when I decided to confess my undying love for Sheri and suggested that maybe we should try slipping off the bonds of friendship. She told me that she was flattered and said that it wasn’t a good idea.

As you have probably ascertained I told her that I respected her wishes and made preparations to join a monastery. That thought lasted for about five minutes after which I told her she was being stupid and went home.

That led to a fight that almost didn’t get resolved. We never stopped speaking but for several months there was a lot of tension between us. Tension that I interpreted as being sexual in nature and like a good man I did my best to ignore it.

You see I thought that by ignoring it I would turn the tables on Sheri and that one day she would beg me to take her and end her misery. Years later I can see that I was an idiot but back then I didn’t have a clue.

Eventually I couldn’t contain myself and I said something and she exploded.  She screamed at me and told me how I was an insensitive asshole and then said something that blew my mind.

“Fine. Do it.”

I suspect that had my response been videotaped I might have made Porky Pig look like the world’s finest orator.After I finished stammering I asked her if she was serious and she nodded her head.

For a moment I stood there in stunned silence and then listened to her lay out the ground rules.

“You can have me. You can have me for two minutes, five minutes or five days. You can enjoy yourself for however long you can last and then you can go fuck yourself. Never call me again. I don’t want to hear your voice, see your face or know a thing about you.”

I don’t remember exactly what happened next. I know that she walked up to me and said that I had thirty seconds to make up my mind or get out. I remember feeling like my feet were stuck in cement and slowly walking out the door.

We didn’t talk for a while after that but I can’t tell you how long it was. What I do know is that during the time that we didn’t speak she met the guy who later became her husband.

About a month after I told her that I was getting divorced she told me that I probably should have slept with her that day. I asked her if that meant she and I would have gotten married and she rolled her eyes at me.

I still don’t know what that means or if it was supposed to mean anything at all. Women are odd creatures, too bad I am not gay. I understand men.

I’m Not Gay

Some years back I told Sheri that life would be much easier if I really were gay. She laughed and told me that I was as about as far away from being gay as a man could be.  “Should I thank you for saying that I am homophobic?”

She laughed again and told me to stop being so damn sensitive. “Jack, it is not an insult. You love women far too much to ever be gay.” I shook my head and told her that I still didn’t understand and she just rolled her eyes at me. “Is it the damn estrogen that makes you guys act like idiots or just plain stupidity.”

In a different setting that comment probably would have gotten me blasted but I was too busy recovering from the beating my heart took over a different woman. I really haven’t had my heart broken too many times but when it has happened Sheri has always been there for me and for that I am eternally grateful.

That conversation sticks out in my memory more for other things than for the tangent we took regarding which team I preferred to bat for. More specifically that was the night that I discovered that writing was cathartic for me. It is another thing that Sheri deserves partial credit for. She was the one who recommended that instead of getting drunk I try writing in a journal.

Initially it wasn’t something that I had any interest in doing. At that time I was focused on trying to become a sports writer and like many other men I considered the idea of keeping a journal of my feelings to be anathema.

“Have you ever considered writing about your feelings?”

“I was going to do it in between the drum circle and singing Kumbaya with the other losers.”

She ignored the heavy sarcasm and continued, “It is a really good way to understand how you are feeling and why.” “You really should take it more seriously.”

In response I flung a bottle across the room and told her if she really wanted to help she could ask one of her friends to sleep with me. As an alternative I suggested she call Bob and get his blessing to provide me with desperately needed medical care. I suppose that this is another example of how good a friend Sheri has been to me. She ignored the bottle and the thinly veiled request for servicing and pushed me again to write.

“Jack, you are a really good writer and there is no reason why you shouldn’t benefit personally from it. Promise me that you will try writing a few paragraphs about your thoughts.”

I nodded my head and fell on the couch. I remember her covering me with a blanket, kissing my forehead and leaving. Had I been sober I might have actually tried writing that night. Instead I made my first few entries the next day. I’ll let you decide whether the raging hangover made them more bitter than they would have been had I been sober.

Sometimes I Hate Editors

Most of my former students will tell you that a central theme of my course is that a good writer understands that writing is rewriting. And if I were a smarter man I would listen to Professor Jack and spend more time editing and reworking my columns than I do now. Professor Jack would tell you that Writer Jack rarely allocates more than three minutes per column to editing and that if he took things more seriously he could make a significant improvement upon the quality of his work.

The thing is that Writer Jack has a problem with authority and given a chance would kick Professor Jack’s ass.  I imagine that it would be the kind of fight that some would call a battle for the ages. The fine folks who handle the pay-per-view boxing matches would be well served to get in on that. Just imagine how much money a fight like that would gross. It would be epic.

This raises two important points. The first is that epic is overused and consequently the word has lost all impact. Everything is described as being epic and if everything is epic than nothing is important, significant or meaningful. That makes the use of that word an “epic fail.” Secondly, since Writer Jack and Professor Jack are the same person the only way that fight can take place is in imagination or some sort of science fiction novel.

I would take that idea and file it away but it bears a striking resemblance to Fight Club and the first rule of Fight Club is there is no talking about Fight Club.

That is a very different approach to the first rule of writing which is that writing is rewriting. It sounds far too obvious and as sensible as saying that water is wet but it is true. Good old Harold, the bald is beautiful boy wonder of writing, he who hates these inane descriptions of himself would be pleased to see me spend more time editing my copy. We have an ongoing fight in which he tells me that I am not serving my soul by providing these clean but sterile columns.

He knows damn well that my columns are anything but sterile. I don’t do safe, plain or vanilla. I let it all hang out there and that is part of why people love/hate me. It is one of the benefits of being ridiculously intense. Someone once described me as being inconsistent in my inconsistencies and as subtle as a freight train. I don’t know what the hell the first part of that description means but I can confirm the second.

You know when I am happy, sad or angry. The boys think that this is why I don’t play poker with them very often. They tell me that they know all of my “tells” and suggest that if I played they would go home with fatter wallets.  I haven’t bothered to point out that the last three times I played with them I was the big winner. Every now and then I think about using the fellas and the poker game in one of my books.

There are a million different angles that I could use with it. It might be kind of fun to write about a bunch of Jewish kids who have limited athletic ability but are freaking geniuses at making money. Come to think about it that is the sort of story that I should use in one of my columns and not a book.  Harold and the newspaper are far more worried about liability than my publisher.

You might think that is precisely why I should use it in the book but that is exactly why I won’t. That juvenile part of me can’t pass up an opportunity to tweak Harold. The look on his face would almost be worth the lecture that would come with it.

I Don’t Love My Husband Anymore

The telephone call came from out of the blue. I can’t tell you how long it had been since we had last spoken, could have been months or it might have been years. People get busy and live their lives. It is not personal, it is just life. Hell, most days I have trouble remembering my own name.

Our conversation began in the usual manner with small talk about our jobs and other little things about life. Slowly it progressed into some more serious matters sprinkled in with a couple of jokes here and there and then she hit me with the bombshell.

“I don’t love my husband anymore.”

For a moment I was silent, unsure of how to respond I let the words linger in the air. I said that I was sorry and asked her what she was going to do. She told me that she wasn’t sure. She thought that she’d try to hang on for a few years, until her boys were older.

I said that sounded like a good idea. This time the silence was her doing. I felt an obligation to try to help so I asked her a few questions about how she got to be where she was. She told me that he wasn’t a bad guy, that she had made a mistake in marrying him. I told her that I didn’t want to be rude but I didn’t understand why she had children with him.

So she explained that she thought that they were going through growing pains and that she always figured that they would work through them, but they never did. So here she was ten years later wondering how it was that she had come to be trapped in a life she no longer wanted to live.

When I suggested that she consider getting out sooner than later she grew agitated and told me how it was different for mothers. Mothers have different standards than men. I wasn’t sure if I was being insulted but chose to remain silent.

So I asked her a few more questions and suggested that maybe it wasn’t so bad. He sounded like a decent guy. She snorted and told me that I was being a man. I asked her what that meant.

“You don’t understand what it is like to be intimate with him. I feel like I am being violated. I hate kissing him, it makes my skin crawl.”

I was more than a little surprised by her candor and told her that I didn’t understand how she could equate intimacy and kissing. She snorted again and told me that I was a man and that I probably wouldn’t understand. I agreed with her, I didn’t quite understand how it was easier to have sex than to kiss him.

In an exasperated voice she told me that men could just stick it in anywhere and that most of us saw kissing as a means to an end which was why I didn’t understand.

She probably wouldn’t have liked the way I rolled my eyes, but she couldn’t see that. I told her that they would take my man card away for suggesting that she not be intimate with him and she laughed again. It wasn’t a happy laugh.

He wouldn’t put up with that.He didn’t demand it constantly, but he was a man and if she didn’t work to meet his needs he might try divorcing her. I told her that was the most backwards thing I had heard in a long time and received another long sigh.

“Mothers are held to a different standard than fathers. And I would feel such guilt if my children were hurt by me doing this. They love their father.”

There was more silence and then the conversation resumed, but it was different.The moment of sharing was gone and I knew better than to bring it back up again. We said our goodbyes and hung up the phone. As I sat there cooking my dinner I thought about what she had said, echoes of “I don’t love my husband anymore” playing through my mind.

Can’t tell you what made me think of that particular call but thinking about it made me wonder when my ex-wife began feeling that way.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many times she lay there hoping it would end sooner or how many nights she made a point to fall asleep before I climbed into bed. Relationships are such a funny thing.

We weren’t always bad. There was a time when she would have gladly woken up to my advances. Not to mention that I can think of a few times where she woke me up.   I know that I am not the only one to have gone through this sort of thing. Friends tell me that all relationships go through ups and downs and with the exception of she who I am trying not to think about that had been the case.

Or maybe it was the case. Maybe I had forgotten what it was really like to be with her. It was a million years since Ann Stacey and I had been something other than a memory. The days before marriage had been very different than what came after. It was hard not to wonder if time had colored my memories of what life had been like then.

Alone In The Stacks

It was 1980 something or maybe it was the early 90s- I can’t really remember and I don’t care. What I do remember is walking through the library…with Ann Stacey. We were in the Stacks looking for some tome that we needed for a group project we were walking on together. The space between the shelves was quite narrow preventing two people to walk side by side. In an effort to be a gentleman I let go first and I followed right behind her.

She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and had long black hair that was caught up in one of those scrunchy things the girls wore back then. I’ll readily admit that I chose to walk behind her so that I could stare at her without fear of being caught. But it was also done for self preservation, she made my heart pound and I was afraid that I might trip over my big feet and knock myself unconscious.

While I was confident in my abilities to woo a woman I couldn’t think of a clever way to knock myself out and get the girl. It seemed like a great move for some John Hughes movie, except in that one I would be some nerd who would end up with the girl I thought was just a friend. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but this was real life and I was enamored with her that the thought of ending up with someone else just seemed wrong.

The woman walked with purpose and moved quickly down the rows of books and magazines. Periodically she would speak and I would wonder if she had a part time job as a an auctioneer- she spoke so very quickly.  Who knew that she would also stop moving as quickly as she started. I suppose that if I hadn’t been enjoying the sweet scent of her perfume or admiring the swish of her hips I might have been aware that I was about to crash into her.

If nothing else I wouldn’t have smashed her face first into some dusty book causing some other books to fall off of the top shelf and plummet towards earth. Ok, they would have hit earth but instead they smacked her on the top of her head. Looking back on it I realize that this had turned into a John Hughes movie, except instead of me being the one who hit the dirt it was her.

For a moment we stood in silence and disbelief. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. Her face was inscrutable and I suddenly found myself fighting back gales of laughter. I really liked her and I didn’t want to wreck a future by laughing at the wrong time. The worst part of it was the feeling that I shouldn’t laugh. The idea that I shouldn’t made the urge so much stronger. So very strong that I was certain that if I didn’t do something I would laugh so hard I would fall down.

So in an effort not to laugh I just reacted. I tucked an arm around her waist and pulled her towards me. When she was close enough I wiped some dust off of her forehead and kissed her on the mouth. She didn’t kiss me back nor did she push me away. For just a moment we stood there with my lips pressed against hers. When I didn’t feel her return the kiss I began to panic and I got really nervous and began to mutter some kind of apology.

I remember thinking that this kind of crap never happens to Humphrey Bogart. Don’t bother me with silly details about him being dead or that all I saw him in were movies. I know that they were following a script- I already told you to stop bothering my with technicalities and details.

In retrospect I bet that less than a minute had passed but to me it felt like it had been hours. I took my mouth off of hers and looked at her face. She looked back into my eyes and asked me why I had stopped. Fortunately she wasn’t scared off by the Cheshire Cat grin that graced my lips or worried that kissing me would lead to being brained by a 50 year old dictionary.

Alone in the stacks we gained a different sort of education than the one that he had set out to find, and far more enjoyable.

Lost In The Parking Lot

She told me that Jesus loves me and offered me a smile that would make the Cheshire Cat look like he was frowning. I smiled back at her, said that I play for other team but didn’t walk away.

“No, you don’t. We all play for the same manager. You just haven’t realized it yet.”

I laughed. “I don’t think so. My manager hates me.”

Her smile evaporated and a look of genuine concern appeared, “are you ok?

“No, not really. Been a long time since I was ok.” My friends will tell you that I don’t hide my feelings but I am not usually so forthcoming.

“I am sorry about that. I really should get going.”

She put a hand on my forearm and said that it was ok. “God never gives you more than you can handle.”

“No but he doesn’t give me what I ask for either.”

She smiled softly and said that sometimes we thank god for unanswered prayers.

I nodded my head and said that I didn’t think that was true but appreciated her time. She didn’t argue, just flashed that beauty queen smile again and told me to watch out for traffic.

What she should have said was watch out for the shopping cart because that was what I almost tripped over. It was the very same shopping cart that a few moments earlier I had been walking towards.

Had she not called out to me I would have grabbed it and already been inside picking up some groceries.

Instead I was outside in the parking lot rubbing the side that had clipped the cart and wondering where she had come from. I made a mental note not to tell my daughter about it or she would have a field day making me eat my words.

I can’t count the number of times I have told her that she must always be aware of her surroundings.

“Drivers aren’t paying attention. It doesn’t matter if the pedestrian has the right of way because the pedestrian always loses that fight.”

I am guessing that if you asked her to share my favorite lines she would give you that one and the one about girls having to pay extra attention to their surroundings, especially at night.

That second admonition really sets her off. I can’t tell you how many times she has told me that it isn’t fair and that her brothers have more freedom than she does.

The only thing that makes her angrier is what she calls my ridiculous behavior around boys.

I told her that one day when she becomes a mother she’ll understand and then I said that I am far too young to become a grandpa but I am not worried because she is not allowed to date until she is 87.

When she was really little she would scrunch up her face and tell me that 87 is too old. “Daddy, what about 36. Can I date at 36 or 41?

I would smile and say yes and then she would throw out a couple more ages. Sometimes they would be higher and sometimes they would be lower. When you are 8 years-old there is not much difference between 17 and 27. They are both far older than you.

Needless to say as she got older and gained a better grasp of age I began to hear a range that went from 14-16. You can probably guess how those discussions went.

Daughters can be challenging. The first inkling I got of this was from Tom, a fraternity brother of mine. When we were twenty he knocked up his girlfriend and by the time we were twenty-one he was changing diapers on a baby girl they named Rachel.

We weren’t real tight so I would only see him at the yearly reunions. But I won’t ever forget what happened at one when we were around 35 or so.

It is a blustery afternoon at the park and the place is packed with current members and alumni. We are all there for the Thanksgiving day football game we call Turkeybowl.

Tom and I are part of a group of four or five people. We are making the usual small talk about life and what ours is like when Tom barks, “Rachel!”

We all turn to see who he is talking to and spot a very attractive girl talking to a couple of the actives.

‘Is that Rachel?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Dude, she is hot,” says Mark.

It was the wrong thing to say. I am pretty sure that Mark didn’t mean to be offensive. He was just busting Tom’s chops but it didn’t go over well.

Tom glared at Mark, muttered something and pushed by him. When Rachel saw her father walking towards her she gave him a look that could have melted steel, flipped her hair and turned back.

It didn’t take a genius to know that the look the boy was getting was far different from the one her father received.

I don’t know if Tom and that particular active knew each other or what they said to each other. What I can tell you is that Tom provided that 19 year old boy with the kind of education his parents hadn’t paid for.

Fifteen minutes later Tom and Rachel were standing off to the side screaming at each other while the rest of us tried to figure out what had just happened.

I found out later on that earlier that week Tom had walked in on Rachel and some boy in bed. That is the sort of thing that no parent wants to discover, especially a father.

******

I took my bruised hip and started pushing the shopping cart towards the store. It goes without saying that I found the one with the busted wheel.

Inside the store I wandered up and down the aisles and tried to figure out why I had responded the way I had to the woman in the parking lot.

The words had just spilled out of me and I realized that it wouldn’t have taken much more prompting for me to have said a lot more. That moment marked when I realized just how miserable I was and how desperately I needed to make a change.

It probably also is when I decided that it was time to start thinking about that dread ‘D’ word we call divorce. Up until that point it had been something that other people did, but not anymore.

Divorce

I never thought that I would be the guy to say this, but the failure of my marriage made me feel like a failure. That doesn’t mean that I wanted to stay married or that I didn’t want to get divorced because that is simply not true. We went as far as we could go and had we tried to make it last any longer it is probable that we would have had hit that ugly place that so many other couples hit.

That was simply unacceptable to me. My children didn’t need to have parents who hated each other and ending it when we did made it easier to ensure that they didn’t witness some very unpleasant and ugly exchanges. I don’t talk to them at the specifics and particulars of why we decided to end it. That hasn’t prevented them from asking for more information than I am comfortable discussing with them but I simply refuse to answer.

I told them that it is private because it is.

It is not a situation where we can point fingers and say that one of us is/was so horrible it became impossible to live with them. No one was abusive or being abused but neither were we loving or in love.

Look, I understand that relationships are filled with ups and downs. The “experts” and assorted friends have told me that you don’t stay “in love” with your partner throughout the entire relationship. They tell me that during the ebb and flow there are moments where you love them but that is it.

That is something that just never made a lot of sense to me. I don’t know what to make out of the ‘I love you, but am not in love with you” line that so many people have shared. What I know is that I reached a place where I didn’t have anything to say to her anymore. If it didn’t involve the children or some sort of household matter I didn’t speak to her.

It wasn’t because I was trying to be mean either. I truly had nothing to say. I don’t really know why that is. I have tried to figure it out but haven’t come up with anything that makes sense to me. Maybe I need more time to pass so that I can gain more perspective. Maybe I should give it a few years and I’ll be able to gain more clarity and provide a more substantive answer or maybe not.

The thing is that I just don’t care. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel a need to understand it well enough to express it.

But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t upset or that I didn’t feel sad about it. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t mourn the end of the relationship. It feels a bit goofy to say that but it is true.

I didn’t wait to start dating until the divorce was finalized but I didn’t go racing off to find a new partner either. It surprised me a little bit.  Back in the good old days when I was a happily married man I used to kid around that if I was ever single I would be like a kid in a candy shop. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it but it seemed natural to say.

As a man with a very healthy libido and a strong appreciation for women it seemed quite likely that I would go off and sow my oats for a while but then it happened and I didn’t. In part it was because I didn’t feel like I had the energy to go and learn about someone else. There wasn’t any motivation on my part to listen to someone tell me their life story and to share mine.

It probably would have stayed that way for a while except I started feeling a bit squirrely. You know, that whole “be fruitful and multiply” thing is going on and I suddenly gained enough patience to listen to a few stories.

I made a point not to say anything to any of my thoughts. I love my friends but I wasn’t in the mood to hear the boys tell me about dating. No cracks about what it is like to get back in the saddle or smart remarks about the need to bring along a little blue pill. I don’t need the damn pill and I don’t need to to get to revisit our high school locker room days.

That might be a little unfair to some of the guys but I am ok with that. I did all this because it was time and because I am taking care of myself. And along those lines I definitely didn’t say anything to the girls because I didn’t want them to start the “can I set you up” game. Correction, that started almost immediately what I didn’t want to do was give them any more ammunition or reason to talk about it.

And I especially didn’t want to hear Sheri lecture me about how I should dress, what I should say or how I must find a woman who is at least 35. Good old Sher says that she doesn’t want me wasting time sleeping with some twenty something year old girl. Why does she say this?

Well my dear friend says that she is looking out for the girl’s best interest. She fears that I will find some young, nubile thing and have outrageous amounts of meaningless sex that will lead the girl to become very attached to me and that she’ll end up getting hurt when I dump her. I told Sheri that she was very far too presumptuous and that she was hurting my non existent sex life with the hot twenty something year-old babe who can’t stop drooling when she sees me.

“Jack, it is a complete waste of time. You will have nothing to talk about and the sex will get old.”

“That is ok. I don’t want to talk to her. I am interested in lots of meaningless sex with a girl who won’t require three ibuprofen after a night of being bent every which way.”

I probably shouldn’t tell you how hard Sheri laughed and how she said that I would be the one who would require the medical assistance afterwards. ”I don’t think that you appreciate the position I am in here. Why not just support me.”

“That is not really a question. Besides I can assure you that a woman in her forties is more than capable of blowing your mind sexually. Chances are that she will be better than that girl you want to waste your time with. That whole talk about women becoming more comfortable with our bodies isn’t a myth.”

I thanked her for advice and reminded her that we weren’t on Oprah or Dr. Phil. There wasn’t going to be any cheering from the studio audience.  She stuck out her tongue at me and I told her that unless she put her tongue to better use it was time for her to go.

“It is not surprising that your divorced. Your mouth always gets you in trouble.”

“I only wish that I was as skilled at using my tongue as you are so that I could get out of it”

She turned to face me and said that she hoped that one day I would let myself be open to the possibility of falling in love again.

“Where the hell did that come from?”

“Jack, you like to pretend that you are a much bigger jerk than you are. You deserve some real happiness and you do a half ass job of taking care of yourself.”  I nodded and watched as she walked out the door and down the hall.

I don’t know if hindsight really is 20-20 but looking back on that conversation now I realize that she had already made up her mind about trying to get me to call the ex-girlfriend. If I were a bitter and angry man I would say that this was a prime example of the conniving woman who tries to manipulate the man. Thing is, I could say it just like that and she would nod her head and laugh.

Well, she really does care for me and is the kind of friend who you can call at any time so I suppose that I’ll let it go. Not like I had a choice, apparently she is two steps ahead of me.

She also gets partial credit for helping me to come up with new material for an upcoming book. Don’t ask me to tell you what book the section below will be used in because I haven’t the foggiest idea. Sometimes I get an idea and I just run with it and see where it goes. That is part of the joy of being a writer. You create worlds and you never know what they are going to look like.

You may have a rough idea about them but you never really know what they will look like or what the characters will be like until that final draft is done.

Not Quite Sleepless in Seattle

Harold keeps hounding me about my next column. He says that he is concerned about me and wonders if maybe I should take some time off. I told him that he has no sense of anything and his poor perspective is the reason that the barber shaved his head.  Unfortunately he has either gone stone deaf or has learned how to ignore my insults. Fortunately I like a challenge and am ready to develop a new set of sayings that will scorch his soul and scour his…soul.

Damn, I am losing my touch and going soft. That last line was beyond pathetic. I don’t know what comes after pathetic but that last line was clearly hanging out in that territory. I feel like the superstar athlete who had a lost step and is relying upon his reputation and a toolkit of wily veteran moves to get him over the hump.

So let’s cut to the chase. The girls upset my apple cart. They turned my world inside out and I am going a little bit crazy trying to figure out what to do. They keep pushing me to call her. They keep telling me that I have nothing to lose and that I should take a chance. Take a chance and see what happens.

I keep telling them that this is real life. It is not quite Sleepless in Seattle. I am not going to meet this very cool and mysterious woman at the top of the Empire State Building. I am not going to take her by the hand and ride off into the sunset completely fulfilled and madly happy. But the girls don’t play fair. They know me too well and they work on manipulating me.

Daughter sits next to me, holds my hand and tells me that she can see that I am nervous. She says that it is cute and tells me that she thinks I am very handsome. I smile and tell her that she is biased. I remind her that when she was four she told everyone that she was going to marry me. She looks me in the eye and tells me that she wants to know why I didn’t marry her.

I smile and tell her that it is a long story. She doesn’t care. She looks up at me with those dark brown eyes and I am lost. I love this little girl of mine, even if she isn’t so little anymore. I am supposed to be the one protecting her. I am supposed to be the one giving her advice.

I look down and stare at her hand and tell her that I remember the day she was born. She wrapped all of her fingers around my index finger that day. I told her that I was her daddy and that I would love her forever. Daughter has heard this story so many times she can tell it herself. I take her hand and pull it to my face. “Does my chin still feel rough.”

She giggles and tells me that it does but that I am not allowed to rub my face on hers. Too late, I wrap her up in a bear hug and rub cheek against hers. She squeals with laughter and for a moment I see the girl she used to be, but only for a moment. That passes and I see the woman she is becoming staring at me. The smile on her face has been replaced with a very serious look that I know far too well.

“Dad, you can talk to me. I am a girl. Maybe I can help you figure out what to say to her.”

I am not ready to tell her much more than she already knows. I know she is frustrated with me but she is going to have to guess what happened because I am not not going to let those ghosts out of their cage. Not today and maybe not ever. So I smile and tell her that I love her more than she can possibly imagine.

“I am not ready to talk about this. I am processing.”

I don’t know if that is entirely true or not because I really am not sure.

Five Years Ago

My father used to tell me that it was important to plan for the future but to remember that it was really hard to predict where you would be and what you would be doing in chunks of more than a few years. I don’t remember what prompted that conversation but I remember that it happened on the telephone and that it was in the old house. I told him that I thought that he was right but that I thought that I might be able to predict things in five year intervals.

Don’t remember what he said or if the conversation ended but I do know that I came to believe that I was wrong. Five years was too long an interval and too many things could happen within that to make the sort of prediction I wanted.

Five years ago I was still married and living in my old house. Notice that I didn’t say happily married because I wasn’t. I don’t know if  I was miserable but I wasn’t happy. I felt trapped, unfulfilled and bored and I suspect so did my ex. We didn’t do very much as a family and even less as a couple. In many ways our marriage more closely resembled two friends living together.

Except we had rings on our fingers and offspring.

I sometimes wonder when our marriage died and whether I was conscious of its death. Back when I was married one of my friends got divorced and told me that you never know when you are going to have sex with your wife for the final time.

I asked them if that bothered him and he said no. The passion had long since left them and she only took care of him because of marital obligations. For a long time I didn’t understand that but than I did. It would have been better had I not recognized it for what it was but I did.

Ladies, you may think that we don’t notice when you are in it but you might be surprised at how many times we do. We all go through moments when one partner isn’t into it but takes care of the other because they love them and want them to be happy. It is not the norm but every once in a while such a thing might happen.

Well, when you are two steps away from splitting up it is very clear to us that you have a timer in your head and you are hoping to use a couple of tricks to make us finish sooner than later.

Sheri tells me that at the end sex with her husband felt like she was being violated.

Well, I may understand that differently than Sheri, but I still understand it. When there is nothing left but memories and ghosts the sex doesn’t do much for us either.

A Whirling Dervish

One of my former students once described me as being a cross between a whirling dervish and the Tasmanian Devil.  Since it was part of a student evaluation of my skills as a teacher I wasn’t privy to all of the details but I got the sense that it wasn’t supposed to be a compliment. The department chair said that I should be aware that my proclivity formovement could be distracting to some people.

I asked if he was trying to say that I was hyperactive and he laughed. “Jack, it is clear to me that you can quite capable of focusing your attention but sometimes energy radiates from you.

That made me laugh but I had to nod my head because it is a fair assessment. There are moments when I feel like little bolts of lightning are shooting from my fingertips. They are usually the same moments when I feel like I have ten thousand ideas that I want to express, each one of them fighting to get out at the same time.

I mention this only because the lovely Ann Stacey once remarked upon it. She watched me pace around a room and wondered aloud if there was anything that could make me stand still. I am not the type to kiss and tell but she did find a way make it happen and to this day I am not sure if she made her comment because she was flirting with me or what.

Or what.

Those two words summed a lot of things up for me. I used to think that I knew a lot about her. I used to think that I could come up with a reasonable prediction of what she would do in a given situation and or how she would respond. I think that she really appreciated that. Television and film like to portray women as being these lovely and inscrutable creatures that men can’t possibly understand but I haven’t ever believed that to be true.

Well, maybe just a little.

But I think that when it came to us my understanding of her is part of what made her fall for me. There were things that I just knew about her. I can’t tell you exactly how or why I knew these things but it was enough to catch her eye. I used to like to tease her about a million different things.

I remember her telling me that in every relationship one person tended to take control but that didn’t necessarily mean that things weren’t equal. So I told her that with me she wouldn’t have to worry about pretending to let me think that I was in control when she really was. She giggled a bit and I told her that I had busted her on that point.

Don’t remember if she actually acknowledged it out loud but we both understood and I think that we loved that understanding. It was stronger and deeper than anything we had ever experienced and now I was beginning to wonder if the raw power of that connection was something that withstood time. Were the promises we made years before things said in the throes of passion or were they more than that.

As a journalist we are trained to ask lots of questions and to dig for answers and information that lies beneath the surface. Even though this is a personal matter I couldn’t help but start thinking about this from a professional perspective.  What is love? What is the difference between being in love and loving something or someone? Does love die?

I know that I have seen a million different stories that suggest that the Internet has helped to break up and or cause major divisions in relationships but it doesn’t talk about the flip side. What has the Internet done to help reunite and or restore lost loves. Surely there are examples of this. There have to be stories about the lost loves who found each other. But what happened when they did.

I wonder.

Whose Reality Is It Anyway

I hate my cellphone. I love my cellphone. I hate how it provides unlimited access to me. I love how it provides virtually unlimited freedom.  That is my unspoken mantra. It is what I recite while I sit on the beach and watch the waves come rolling in.

If I wasn’t on deadline I wouldn’t have turned it on but I am on deadline and I have already ignored two telephone calls, a text message and three emails from Harold.  The last voicemail was particularly touching. “Jack, it is 3 PM and you haven’t returned any of my calls or replied to my emails. This is unacceptable. If I don’t hear from you in the next hour I am going to kill your column. Put some goddamn sunscreen on so you don’t get cancer and call me back immediately.”

Telephone in hand I started to dial and then I got distracted by a woman. No, it wasn’t a woman on the beach although there were plenty worth looking at. This time it was Sheri calling to check in on me.

“Have you called her yet?”

“No, I haven’t called her and I don’t think I will. She probably won’t take the call.”

“You are an idiot and she will take the call. Trust me, she will speak with you.”

“What makes you think that I even want to talk to her. Life is good now. What do I need her for?”

“Jack, you know that I love you, but you are an idiot. What do you have to lose?

“You called me an idiot twice. I heard you the first time. Why should I call her? Why doesn’t she call me?”

“Jack, you know that she is not going to call you. It doesn’t work that way. She is not going to risk it.”

“So, I should take the risk? What the fuck is that about? Why does she get to protect herself?”

“I thought that you didn’t feel anything for her.”

I could almost feel the smirk and the “I told you so” smile coming from her. “I can’t talk any longer, I am on deadline. I’ll call you later.”

I made a point to hang up before she could respond and gathered my things.  Between Harold and Sheri the beach just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. It was time to go home and start working.

Fifteen or so minutes later I dusted the sand off of my feet, grabbed a beer from the fridge and began typing on my computer:

“Technically I am not supposed to start a column by reminiscing about what it felt to have a pair of long legs wrapped around me. The public doesn’t want to hear or read my recollection of sexual conquests, not even if they were of the loving kind.

I am not supposed to tell you that I have been thinking about long dark hair that falls just past her shoulder or sensual dark eyes that you could get lost in. Nor am I supposed to tell you about the full lips and the perfect hips that came along with the legs, hair and eyes.

But you see I have been lost in the land of make believe and wishes so I am allowed to go there. Allowed to tell you that there once was a woman who I loved more deeply than all others and whose presence in my life has been marked for years by her absence.

The question that I find myself asking is whose reality is it anyway and why do I have to pay attention to rules that hurt my heart. Why can’t I indulge this fantasy and try to determine if I am chasing after fools gold or trying to catch a shooting star. I am inclined to say that I don’t have to worry about what society thinks because society is fickle. Society doesn’t give a damn what happens as long as it doesn’t happen to them.

But you see that when you live in the public eye you sometimes have to be more aware of what you do and who you do it with. I told you all before that I am not really comfortable being seen as a public figure. I didn’t get into this business for fame or fortune. I did it because I love to write. I did it because I can make words sing and that song is always on my mind.”

I wouldn’t define it as my best work but it wasn’t bad either. Most importantly I had enough of  a framework in hand to send over to Harold.  He might be a pain in my ass but he has a good nose for this business and I was confident that whatever advice he would offer there would be useful and practical.

Later that night I planned on calling Sheri back to ask for advice. I wanted a female perspective about an idea. I wanted to know what she thought of my using my column as a way to reach out to Ann Stacey.

Who She Was

Who she was is the title of a book that I never published. It is a series of essays, poems and thoughts about love, relationships and life. It is a collection of hope, happiness and despair.

I am not the first person to have his heart broken and I won’t be the last.  Fact is that she wasn’t the first woman to break my heart. That honor belongs to another but she does hold the title for doing the best job of it. She probably wouldn’t want to hear that I thought of her as the best and the worst thing to happen to me. Or maybe she would like hearing it, it is hard to say.

Hard to say because the woman who once was my girl hasn’t been mine for eternity. There was a time when we were best friends. There was a moment where we didn’t know where our individual hearts ended or began. That was when we said that we shared a heart and felt our souls succor each other It was back in the days when we would read about our astrological signs and marvel over how cool they were together.

Both earth signs share the ability to communicate and understand one another intuitively. Their conversations get better over time and so does the relationship. They will understand each others goals and hopes for the future. There is an unspoken bond here that once established, hardly ever gets broken. They will provide each other with what the other person instinctively needs and desires sexually. You can’t go wrong with this astrological combination, period. A strong attraction and loyalty will keep these two together. Relatives can sometimes be a problem for these two.  Virgos understand that listening to their Taurus can provide them the sort of answers that they cannot figure out on their own. The smart Virgo recognizes that Taurus mate knows how to reach them in ways that no other can. Focus on healing yourselves and each other and you will have a mate for life.

I am clearly biased but I think that excerpt is simply amazing. I suppose in large part it is because I knew these things about her and I long before I read this. But that was then and this is now. Back then I knew exactly who she was.

She had one of the biggest hearts and sweetest personalities of anyone I had ever met. Sweet, caring, nurturing and giving. But she was also tough. That woman knew her mind, knew what she wanted and would go after it.

One of the things that I remember is how we used to fight. We didn’t fight very often but we went at it hard. I never fought with anyone else like that because if I had we would have ended things. It was different with us because the level of trust made it different. That mutual understanding provided a depth and a strength unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Back then she told me that no one could ever take better care of me. I told her that she was right but I am not sure that she believed me. I told her that she was the most beautiful woman I knew but I don’t think that she let herself believe that either.

Sheri thinks that all of my praise might have made her uncomfortable and that she might have felt like she couldn’t live up to the picture I painted. I don’t know. Suppose it could be true.

The damn woman used to tell me that she was logical, rational and organized. I told her that one out of three wasn’t bad and that she had plenty of time to work on the other two.

Even though it has been years I am willing to bet that she is one of the mothers that makes other women jealous. She had the sort of build that would allow her to quickly drop the baby weight and an enormous amount of energy.

*****

It is funny to me to think about how our perspective changes as we age.  I can’t think of a time where we didn’t have exceptional chemistry. We never ran out of things to talk about and the physical side wasn’t any different. Except back in the day when I wasn’t ready to become a father I used to get a little crazy trying to balance the need to be with her against not bringing a third party into the equation.

And now, well now I am disappointed that we don’t have that third party. Now I wonder what our children would look like. It feels a bit ridiculous to admit that but it is true.

I suppose that it is even stranger to say it about someone who hasn’t been a part of my life in forever. We all change. I certainly am not who I was but am I really that different? Have I changed so dramatically that people from my past wouldn’t recognize me?

Or in this case I suppose it is better ask if the feelings I am rediscovering are for who she was and not for who she is.

Preserve your memories

The year was 1980 something and the lovely Anne Stacey had chosen to grace me with her presence. I had spent countless hours unsuccessfully wooing the womanCards, chocolate, flowers, and a barbershop quartet had all failed to do the trick but I couldn’t tell you why. All I knew was that the girl who had gone to prom with me had chosen to withdraw her favors and spend time with a man I dubbed the scoundrel. I once tried to tell her this and she suggested that my ill feelings towards him had to do with jealously. Now I won’t say that this is true but I admit to suggesting that if she hoped for more than simple companionship she might consider spending time at the produce market.

Apparently this is not advisable nor is suggesting that he would probably die in robbing a drug store for used condoms. Don’t ask me to explain why I said these things or what they mean because I won’t answer nor will I admit to wanting to defenestrate him. Women make men crazy and love just exacerbates the craziness we feel.

Weeks of rejection turned into months but I refused to give up. I can’t explain why other than to say that every time I saw her I heard music and it made me believe that one day she would dance with me again.

One day I sent her a card with some of the lyrics to Get Down Tonight by K.C. & The Sunshine Band.

“Baby, babe, let’s get together.
Honey, hon, me and you.
And do the things, ah, do the things
That we like to do.

Do a little dance, make a little love,
Get down tonight.
Do a little dance,
make a little love,
Get down tonight.”

P.S. Come over and find out if I really am a better cook than you are. I’ll make it worth your while.

I had been rejected so many times that I was beginning to wonder if maybe I was swimming down the river of denial but was pleasantly surprised to receive a telephone call from her asking why she should come. Needless to say I was nervous because I knew that the wrong words would result in another no. Yet something told me that it was time to be bold so I told her that I was going to pick her up at 10 am so that we could go to the farm to pick fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner. Two days later she walked out of her apartment and into my car.

For a few moments we drove in silence and listened to a mix tape that I had made for the occasion. Good old cassette tape technology, a soft hissing noise in the background accompanied us on our ride. The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker and Springsteen serenaded us.

A short time later we arrived at the farm and began picking out the items we wanted for our meal. She made a crack about me making her work for her food and I said that remained to be seen. Every time she bent over to pick something up my eyes were drawn to her. I was completely entranced by her- not just because I thought that she was beautiful but because she was so very smart. I attribute my love for carrots to that day. Somewhere I have a picture of her holding one close to her mouth, pretending to be Bugs Bunny.

And had anyone heard the music that played inside my head at the moment they would have heard Bookends.

“Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you”

I can’t tell you when I fell for her or when she fell for me. Don’t know what did it, how, when or why and I am not sure that it matters. Scratch that, it will matter to her. Call me a full blown chauvinist but she is female and she’ll care about that for the same reason that women care about how big a baby was. It is one of those mysteries of the sexes. Men want to know if the baby was healthy and what their name is but that is not enough for women.

Oh no, they want to know all sorts of other details and if you don’t provide them you might get a look or hear an exasperated “men” slip from between their lips. I suppose that if I had actually given birth I might have some more interest in the extraneous details but since that is not going to happen we won’t know. But for the sake of argument you can be assured that if men were capable of giving birth we’d get through it with half the screaming and far less mess.

Hee hee. That is the sort of throwaway line that we troublemakers like to let slip. I have yet to find a mother who let’s that go without a retort. Suggest that labor is easy or overblow and you can rest assured that a nice kerfuffle will develop. Push hard enough and some woman will tell you that your words are the reason that you aren’t getting laid.

As a PSA to men I usually suggest that you always smile and laugh at that remark. Do this two or three times and then when she is really steamed tell her that your wife/girlfriend/paramour/escort refuses to spit because they consider your boys to be a rare delicacy. Incidentally I bear no responsibility for the consequences of speaking those words out loud.

And now back to our trip back to the time when I had a full head of hair and a body that was tan, hard and cut.

“Jack, you are a much better cook than I expected.”

“That’s good because you are a much better eater than I expected.”

As the words spilled out of my mouth I suddenly realized that they might be open to misinterpretation and my brain kicked into overdrive. Looking back now it is easy for me to see that I was already crazy about her. I don’t say that because of what I said but because of the moment of fear I had when I realized that she might not take it well.

“Ya know, calling a woman fat isn’t the best way to get what you want.”

She was smiling when she said it but for a moment I wondered if there was something else behind it. Smarter men than I would have played it safe but I gambled.

“Stand up and let me get another look at you and I’ll you know.” She laughed, “you are pretty confident, aren’t you.”

“Come over here and I’ll show you how confident I am.”

She stood up and walked over and suddenly my heart started beating harder than it had been. I pulled her into my arms and kissed her. Technically it wasn’t our first kiss, that had come in the stacks but that had been quite some time before.  That moment in the stacks had been good. Hell it had been better than good but it didn’t go very far. Time and circumstances had seen to that.

Several people showed up midway through our moment and any hope I had of taking things farther there was spoiled by their intrusion. The chemistry between us was electric and I know that she felt it too because she made a point to remind to me to call her. I can still picture the way she held onto my arm and told me that she would be disappointed if I disappeared like most guys did.

I told her that I had no intention and she smiled. “There is a lot that I want to show you.” I asked her what that meant and then she laughed and told me she was late for class. This time I didn’t hide the fact that I was staring at her but it didn’t matter because those long legs carried her out of there in seconds.

And I did call her- several times. She took all of my calls and we talked…a lot. But the timing was bad. I had to go to my cousin’s wedding. Had it not been family and already paid for I might have skipped it. Instead I spent two weeks on a family vacation and she didn’t wait for me. I can’t blame her or say that she was wrong.

We weren’t anything close to being boyfriend/girlfriend but I think that I knew then that I had found someone special.

The problem was that while I was gone she found someone too…but he wasn’t me.

Not Me

Not me is a good description for most if not all of the men she dated and to the best of my knowledge…married. They weren’t anything like me. They didn’t look like me at all. If I told you they were mostly tall Aryan nation wannabes I’d be called bitter and jealous or at least that is what she said.  She told me that it wasn’t very becoming to describe them as stupid rednecks or junkies who were one fix short of getting toe tagged.

I told her that it was the ‘coming’ that bothered me most and that I would have been happier had that not been involved at all.  Blame that on the joys of being a writer.

One of the reasons that I am good at this is because I have an imagination that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If Stephen Spielberg could make the movies I see in my mind he would sweep the Oscars and his movies would make millions. Ok, let’s adjust that and say that they would be impossible to forget and make billions.

Hell, the problem is that when you tell me something I see it in my head. And even if you don’t tell me I still see things in my head, sometimes even when I don’t want to. So if I know that Joe Blow used to date you I can’t help but picture Joe getting his blow and….well I don’t really need to go further. But since I never leave well enough alone let me go the rest of the way.

If I know that you were sleeping with some guy it is hard for me not to picture it so sometimes I compensate by making fun of him. I said sometimes, not all the time. If I really care about you there is a good chance that I might say that he is a buffoon in need of a more complete circumcision.

I never pretended to be a saint nor did I ever claim to always take the high ground. I am trying though.

The Pammer

Her full name was Pamela Susan Scott but to me she is The Pammer. Once upon a time she was Wham Bam, Thank you Pam but when we broke up I lost the right to say that. Ok, I never did have the right to say it but when we were dating she was barely tolerant of it.  The Pammer isn’t especially fond of my nickname for her but she doesn’t like it when I call her Pamela Sue either so she got stuck  with The Pammer.

I adore her the way a brother loves a sister.

We met not long after things fell apart between Anne Stacey and I. It was 19 ninety-something and I was out with the boys. Tommy said that a friend of his was having a party and we all agreed to make an appearance. It was better than staying home alone and cheaper than hitting the bars on the strip. Not that it mattered, by the time we hit the car I had already finished a six pack of beer and was working on a flask of something that tasted cheap and nasty.

Can’t tell you if it took an hour or five minutes to get to the party. For all I know I magically levitated myself from the curb all the way to the third floor apartment where the party was. The good news was that I was a very happy drunk. The bad news was that it wasn’t going to last. It wouldn’t take very long for me to find a quiet corner where I could sit and drink.

That was where The Pammer found me, drunk and grumpy.

“This is a party. You are not supposed to be the drunk guy in the corner.”
“I am not the drunk guy in the corner. I am the drunk, angry guy who hates women that just happens to be sitting in the corner.”

Apparently this was quite funny as she started laughing at me.

“I am not kidding. I hate women. Women suck and life would be a lot better if they all disappeared.”
“Who would iron your shirts and cook your food, oh mighty man.”

If you ask Pam how we met she’ll tell you that right after she said that my jaw fell open and I spent the next few minutes shocked and dumbfounded. I don’t know if I was shocked or dumbfounded but speechless is accurate. I didn’t know how to respond. She didn’t say it with a smile or a hint of sarcasm. There wasn’t any anger or bitterness on her part and that totally disarmed me.

We spent most of the rest of the party just talking about life. Pam would periodically disappear and I’d sit there in the corner watching people laugh, wondering why it was so easy for them to smile. I didn’t find out until almost 3 AM was that it was Pam’s apartment and her party that we were at.

“Here is a blanket. That couch turns into a bed. I can help you open it if you would like.”
“No, that is ok. Tommy will take me home. I just have to find him.”

“No he won’t. Tommy left a long time ago.”

This is where I always tell Pam that she has no judgment and only an idiot would let a strange drunk man sleep in her apartment.  That is when she laughs and tells me that the strange drunk man spent two hours passed out and snoring in the corner.

‘Tommy and I grew up together. If he said that you were ok  than I knew that I was fine. Besides I had a lock on my door.”

The combination of drunk and stupid did me the kindness of not showing up at that moment. Instead I collapsed on the couch and quietly went to sleep. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Pam disputes that. She claims that I passed out and started snoring so loudly she considered smothering me with one of the cushions.

I woke up the next morning with the kind of hangover that made me sorry that she hadn’t used the pillow on me. I remember wondering if it would hurt less if I used an icepick to stab my left eyeball.

“I have an icepack, water and Tylenol for you.” I couldn’t tell you when Pam arrived at the foot of the couch but I can assure you that when I proclaimed my undying love for her I meant it will all my heart. If a Jewish kid could bestow sainthood upon someone it would have been done that day. Not only did she let me spend the night she let me lie on that couch until almost 5 PM the following day.

“You owe me dinner and are going to be my rent-a-boyfriend for this.” I asked her what a “rent-a-boyfriend” was and learned that she was moving to a new place. It was a different apartment about two miles East of the current one. That party had been the last shindig at the old place. As the “rent-a-boyfriend” I was responsible for grabbing another friend so that we could move all the heavy stuff.

Two weeks after the move I called her on a Thursday and asked if she wanted to rent a movie. She said sure and that lead to another night on her couch, except the morning after was far more pleasant. We really didn’t date for very long. I can’t tell you how long it was for, but Pam can. Part of the reason she broke up with me was because she said that I was never really that into it.

She was right, I wasn’t. It wasn’t anything more than a rebound for me and not much of one at that. I don’t think that I would have predicted that we would become friends afterwards but you can’t get everything right.

Anyway, The Pammer and Sheri are both good friends of mine and most of the time I am grateful to have them in my life. They often disagree about things but I tend to think that they balance each other out.

What Pam Said

Pam didn’t say much at lunch. She told me later that she went because Sheri had pushed her to come along but that she wasn’t sure that telling me about Ann was the right thing to do. I asked her why and she said it we because she believed that I had never stopped loving her.  She said that she thought that my heart was still broken and that I had been in denial about it all for years.

I told her that I was confused about what she was saying. If she thought that I was still in love with Ann then why shouldn’t I try to contact her. She told me that she wanted to be certain that I wasn’t chasing ghosts. “You need to be moving forwards, not back.”

“You live much of your life in public. Do you really think that she hasn’t ever read your column or one of your books. I am telling you that she knows far more about you than you do about her. You have to assume that she reads your work on a regular basis.”

“Ok, so you are saying that because she reads my column she is not interested in me? Why is that a problem and what are you suggesting I do?”

“Jack, as a woman I am telling you that she has probably already decided if she is interested in sleeping with you again. Women think things out. We plan. We take time to think about what we are going to do. I don’t know how long she has been single but you need to assume that she is going to want to have time to go have fun.”

“Does that mean that you think that she has decided that she is not going to sleep with me and that I am no fun.  Or am I fun but not enough to sleep with. What hell are you saying? I am confused.”

“You two have a long history and sometimes that complicates things. I don’t know her, I just know about her, and you. I am saying that she may not see you as someone she can just date. She can go out with other men and not care what happens, she can’t do that with you.”

There was a long pause in the conversation and then I sighed.

“Jack, that sigh says so much more than you realize. You were a mess when we met. Maybe you don’t remember or maybe you weren’t aware of it, but you were a mess. I didn’t date you. I dated you and the memories of her that you carried around with you.”

“I remember asking Tommy about Ann. He told me about how hard you tried to get her back and about how she pushed you away. She wasn’t a bitch to you because she is a bitch but because her heart was broken too.”

I sighed again and said, “I know.”

“I still don’t know what you are telling me to do.”

“Jack, it doesn’t really matter what  I say you are going to do what you want because that is who you are. But what I am saying is that you need to open your eyes and be careful here.”

“Ok, I’ll be careful.”

“And if you still have feelings for her then I am saying that maybe you should consider doing something about it. We only have so many chances. If she really believed that you were the love of her life, well maybe she still does.”

“Pam, should I thank you now or late for contradicting yourself.”

“What can I say, I am a girl and we love romance.”

******

There were/are many things that I am not certain of but I never doubted that Ann was hurt or that it wasn’t hard for her too. The woman thought of herself as being logical and quite rational in her decisions. If you told me that she had made a list of pros and cons about our relationship I would nod my head and smile. I don’t know that she did, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Pam’s words echoed in my head. Did Ann really believe that I was the love of her life and if so, did it mean anything to her now. The more I thought about it the more that I decided that I was truly interested in doing something. I did have feelings for Ann but I couldn’t say exactly what they were. Maybe it was because I felt like we never really got the opportunity we wanted and as a result had unfinished business.

I wondered what she was like as a mother and what her children were like. I remembered talking with her about what we would name our children. There had been a time when we had talked about having six kids. It was right after we thought she was pregnant.

One broken condom had led to hours of conversation about children and an unspoken decision that we would have the baby. I remember feeling surprised by how relaxed I was at the thought of becoming a father.  I had gone through one other pregnancy scare with a different woman and my feelings had been very different then. It wasn’t just because I was young but it was also because I couldn’t see myself with that woman.

I never had a problem visualizing a future with Ann. It was something that we came to expect. She told me once until we met she hadn’t believed in soul mates, but now she did.

I touched it upon it in one of my books, wrote about what it was like for two people who shared something like that to be separated from each other.

Two Souls

She is out there, my other half. Can’t say what she is doing or who she is doing it with but I know that she is out there.

Her physical absence is palpable and impossible not to notice. Sometimes I turn and expect to see her standing there with that look I know so well. Sometimes I turn and wonder why those dark eyes aren’t looking back at me.

I pick up the telephone and expect it to ring like it always did before. I dial the numbers and laugh because I know that she is going to say that she was about to call me. I hear the smile in her voice, except I don’t do it. I don’t dial.

Instead I hold the phone and close my eyes. I hold the phone, close my eyes and feel the hole and the emptiness. I  hold the phone, close my eyes and wonder if that chasm is one sided and then I feel this twinge.I feel this twinge and a silent bell rings inside my head and I know that she is thinking about me and us. I hear the bell and I know that somewhere she feels what I feel and that this is how and what it is for now.

Necessary. Lonely. Hard. Long. Rough. Required.

I close my eyes and try to center myself. I close my eyes and try to turn off the noise and focus on what is. And then just when I feel like I am truly alone I feel something touching me in a place that fingers can’t reach and arms can’t hold.

I close my eyes and I try to run from it. It is more intimate this touch and the feeling scares me a little. It is the place that only one has been and then I realize that the visitor is the same one who was there before.

Slowly I relax and realize that two souls have shed their bonds and found each other again. They always find each other. And for a brief moment I am completely relaxed and lost in a place that I cannot describe. Reality will intrude and I’ll convince myself that I have seen/felt what I wanted to.

But later in the silence of the night I’ll accept that two souls have done what the bodies and minds can’t. And for a moment I’ll let myself wonder if can’t refers to now or forever.

She is out there and so am I.

Today

I am not the first person to have his heart broken and I won’t be the last. Fact is that she wasn’t the first woman to break my heart. That honor belongs to another but she does hold the title for doing the best job of it. She probably wouldn’t want to hear that I thought of her as the best and the worst thing to happen to me. Or maybe she would like hearing it, it is hard to say.

Hard to say because the woman who once was my girl hasn’t been mine for eternity. There was a time when we were best friends. There was a moment where we didn’t know where our individual hearts ended or began. That was when we said that we shared a heart and felt our souls succor each other It was back in the days when we would read about our astrological signs and marvel over how cool they were together.

Both earth signs share the ability to communicate and understand one another intuitively. Their conversations get better over time and so does the relationship. They will understand each others goals and hopes for the future. There is an unspoken bond here that once established, hardly ever gets broken. They will provide each other with what the other person instinctively needs and desires sexually. You can’t go wrong with this astrological combination, period. A strong attraction and loyalty will keep these two together. Relatives can sometimes be a problem for these two. Virgos understand that listening to their Taurus can provide them the sort of answers that they cannot figure out on their own. The smart Virgo recognizes that Taurus mate knows how to reach them in ways that no other can. Focus on healing yourselves and each other and you will have a mate for life.

I am clearly biased but I think that excerpt is simply amazing. I suppose in large part it is because I knew these things about her and I long before I read this. But that was then and this is now. Back then I knew exactly who she was.

She had one of the biggest hearts and sweetest personalities of anyone I had ever met. Sweet, caring, nurturing and giving. But she was also tough. That woman knew her mind, knew what she wanted and would go after it.

One of the things that I remember is how we used to fight. We didn’t fight very often but we went at it hard. I never fought with anyone else like that because if I had we would have ended things. It was different with us because the level of trust made it different. That mutual understanding provided a depth and a strength unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Back then she told me that no one could ever take better care of me. I told her that she was right but I am not sure that she believed me. I told her that she was the most beautiful woman I knew but I don’t think that she let herself believe that either.

Sheri thinks that all of my praise might have made her uncomfortable and that she might have felt like she couldn’t live up to the picture I painted. I don’t know. Suppose it could be true.

The damn woman used to tell me that she was logical, rational and organized. I told her that one out of three wasn’t bad and that she had plenty of time to work on the other two.

Even though it has been years I am willing to bet that she is one of the mothers that makes other women jealous. She had the sort of build that would allow her to quickly drop the baby weight and an enormous amount of energy.

A Writer Writes

A writer writes because we can’t contain the words and thoughts inside our heads and hearts.  A writer writes to share the stories that they see and feel. A writer writes because when they are happy, hurt confused or somewhere in between they look for the words to sing their song and soothe their souls.

Hurt, happy and confused is as good a description as any for the feelings that are flowing through me now. You don’t forget what we had. You can’t ignore or deny the truth of it and the way that it can transform your heart. That is not an exaggeration or melodrama it is an incomplete description of a story that isn’t told with words or with images. There is much more depth than that.

But since I can’t figure out what I am trying to do or say I have to do what writers do and that is write.

I don’t know what it is about you that closes and opens, only something in me understands the voice in your eyes is deeper than all roses- E.E. Cummings.

“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be” Alfred Tennyson

“There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Some nights I find myself wandering beneath a moonlit sky watching and waiting for a sign that I don’t really expect to come but wish for with the greatest of desires. I often stop and stare into the night sky and remember what it was like to stare into your eyes.

I didn’t tell you what I saw in them, about how they twinkled and glowed. I didn’t say the things that I thought because I could see you already knew them. You, the song of my heart already knew these things because you were my air as I was yours.

It seemed gratuitous to try and put into words the secret language our hearts spoke. Better to sit in silence holding your hand and sharing a moment. I treasured those moments of silence in which we would listen to each other breathe and bask in our presence together.

A story of two souls who laid themselves bare for each other. Two who became as one and in the darkness created light. I sit here writing this with the knowledge that some will call it hyperbole and romantic drivel. They have never experienced the sort of intimacy and oneness that we have and consequently haven’t the faculty to follow. It is beyond their ken.

This is ok. I don’t write for them and care not one whit whether they follow. I write for you and for I. You are my lost soul mate and your absence is always evident. Sometimes when I think of you I think of Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca and wonder if one day you’ll reappear as she did.
But if you did reappear I can’t say that I’d send you off like Rick did. I don’t really know what I’d do.  I have often wondered if Rick really meant those things he said. You know what I am talking about,

Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.

It is a movie, not reality so it is hard to say. Still, I wonder. Did he really mean all those things. I sometimes think that he was just protecting a heart that was still broken. You don’t say something like this and just forget about it. Or maybe he found that special something that allowed him to move on. That is part of the beauty of a movie, it is open to interpretation.

As for me, well I am in a different sort of place. Not really sure how to describe other than to say that all my options are open. I feel as if I have taken the first step on a journey to somewhere else. Can’t say for certain if these are the first steps to the time and place in which the reunion of lost soul mates will take place or if it is something else.

What I do know is that part of the joy of life is the journey and the mysteries that lie therein. So perhaps one day we will find ourselves staring into those eyes again. And if we do I am sure that it will be familiar and mysterious. There will always be that electricity when we brush up against each other here or elsewhere.

I’ll leave it at that knowing that you’re smiling as am I. The future beckons and I must answer.

I stared at the words, unsure and uncertain about how I felt and decided that it was time to ignore the self editor that lives inside and continue to write so I put pen to paper and wrote more words.

Blame it on too much television or a love that is overpowering, but I always wanted to be your hero. And for a while, I was certainly him. I was your knight protector, the man who wore the white hat. Always willing and able to protect your honor and to fight on your behalf. It was a role that I took on unexpectedly but with no hesitation.

No hesitation because I loved it, or maybe because I loved you. It was natural and effortless. I remember walking with you. I lumber and you float but we did so together. Our strides and pace perfectly matched. It opened our eyes to new possibilities and we saw what had once been old as new. Long conversations about life, love and dreams turned into passion foretold by poets.

“Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!”
Wild Nights-Emily Dickinson

There are tales that could be told and songs that should be written. It matters not that there are but two people who would understand or appreciate them. Such is the way of love and lovers. We walk upon clouds that sometimes evaporate beneath our feet. Sometimes fortune smiles upon us and our falls are broken by wings that sprout from nothing.

And sometimes fickle fortune fails to answer the calls that we send forth and we find ourselves plummeting back towards earth at a frightful rate. Perhaps it was that fall that caused us to forget who we were and to ignore who we are. I did my best to catch you so that I could break your fall. I tried to ensure that I hit the ground first so that I might try to save you.

But sometimes the hero fails. Sometimes the capes we wear bestow no power other than to serve as a silly looking fashion accessory.

“She put him out like the burnin’ end of a midnight cigarette
She broke his heart he spent his whole life tryin’ to forget
We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time
But he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind”
Whiskey Lullaby- Brad Paisley with Allison Krauss

So I stood there and surveyed the wall that had suddenly been erected between us. I took its measure and considered going over, under, through or around. For some time it felt like the hero was bound to fail again.Super strength wasn’t enough to remove the obstacle nor was super speed. It was a conundrum of the first order and something that accentuated the ache and the hole in his heart.

And then one day the hero remembered that sometimes the best way to tear down the wall is not through demolition but conversion. Build a door or build a window and what was once a wall evolves into an entryway that can be used as a path into a future of bright and sunny opportunities.

New Year’s Eve

It is funny how little moments in time stick with us. Don’t know if it was five, six, seven or nine years ago when I realized that my marriage had an expiration sticker on it but I do know that it was New Year’s Eve.

I am not a big holiday guy but New Year’s Eve holds a big more significance for me than some of the other days of the year.

Kind of funny to look around my apartment and think about how different life is now from what I once thought it would be. There were other apartments in those days that didn’t have pictures of my kids floating around because there weren’t any…kids then.

The beauty of hindsight is that you can use it to look back at those little moments in time and mark them with a mental note that says “I was an idiot.” That is the sort of thing I always advise my children not to do, but I sometimes do anyway.

File it under “Do as I say, not as I do” or however that stupid saying goes.

Both Pam and Sheri called this week to extend invitations to the parties that they are going to but I declined. Not really interested in being social this year. The kids are out doing their thing and I’d much prefer to be home alone where it is quiet.

Of course right after I thanked Pam for the invitation I stumbled across a box of old letters and notepads and found the first draft of a letter I wrote Ann. It was sort of a bittersweet find. To tell you the truth, if I were more superstitious I might think that the universe was trying to send me a message.

Coincidence is really what I chalk it up to. Ever since that lunch with the girls I have stumbled across things that make me think of her or remind me of things that we used to do. Since she has been on my mind it makes sense that this has happened, right.

I have to admit that I wonder about what Pam said. Has she been reading my column? Has she read my books? Does she see herself in any of the characters or recognize any of the references?

Twice. I have read the draft below twice now. I wonder if she still remembers that night and all that came afterwards.

Dear Ann,

It is almost New Year’s Eve and I can’t wait to see you in that long black dress you showed me last week. Every time I think about you in it I feel like my heart is going to burst. I know that sounds like some kind of stupid line but it is true.

I think that you are simply stunning so you will have to forgive me when I pull you into the bathroom at the party because I can’t possibly wait until we get home. Every time I look at you I wonder how I got so lucky. You are the sexiest woman I know and so very smart. Hmm…maybe I should reverse that and call you smart and sexy. Wouldn’t want you to think that the only reason I say these things is to get inside your pants.

Because that is not true. There is so much more to you and I than that. I am not real good at sharing my feelings. I mask them with stupid jokes and comments. You are wrong, I am not afraid of commitment and especially not with you. But sometimes I am slow to move because I am cautious.

Remember how you told me that you would never be the first person to say I love you? Well, this has sort of been similar for me. I do want to marry you. I do want to share a life with you because I can’t imagine life without you in it. It is not because I can’t live a life without you because I can, just as you can without me.

But why would we do that. Why would two people who have what we have ever walk away from it. When I told you to take my hand and said that together we could do whatever we wanted I meant it. We can.

Remember how scared we were that you were pregnant and how we weren’t ready to be parents. We were both so relieved when we found out that you weren’t but I was also a little bit sad. At the same time I sort of shrugged my shoulders because we are young and I figured that there would be other chances.  It is easy for me to picture us when we are old people in our forties or fifties with a houseful of children.

And no, this isn’t a proposal. I am not asking for your hand in marriage. If I did do that I would do it in person. More importantly I don’t want you to know when it is coming. You are a planner and I am not. It is part of how we balance each other. I don’t want you to know because I want you to really be surprised.

I am sorry about what happened. I am sorry about our fight. I wasn’t kidding. I am the guy who will kiss the tears away. I am the guy who can be your best friend and your lover. Together we are more than we are when we are apart. If something ever happened to us I would never forget and I don’t believe that you would either. Decades could pass and I would still love you.

One day I want to make the grandchildren groan because grandpa chases grandma around the house. But first I want to kiss my girl at midnight. First I want to hold my girl and dance with her because she is the song of my heart and always will be.

Will you give me another chance?

Love,

Jack

Timing is Everything

It is fair to say that I am the fellow that prefers to learn by doing than by being told. I understand that the stove is hot and that the pot can burn me but sometimes I can’t help myself and I need to touch the pot.  A smarter man wouldn’t have gone digging around in that box to read more notes and letters.

That draft should have been enough for me. I should have read it and remembered that we didn’t break up. Should have read it and remembered that my girl cried when she read my note and told me that we are inextricably linked forever. I don’t doubt that she meant it but there was that other moment and well…

Stumbled across another letter I wrote after we split. I started out sort of writing to her but it ended up being more of a letter to me.

“Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines
Together we could break this trap
Well run till we drop, baby well never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
`cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real”
Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen

“Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream” she said
“The one that makes me laugh” she said
And threw her arms around my neck
“Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you”
Just Like Heaven- The Cure

If you close your eyes and listen carefully you can hear the soft clink-clank of metal against metal. You’re so focused upon your task it is hard to say how long the rhythmic banging has been going on. You’re name is Johnny and you’re lifting weights in your garage. It is well after midnight and you can’t sleep.

You don’t feel much like talking to anyone and even if you did you’re friends are all asleep. It is a work night so you don’t really want to have a drink.Or maybe that is because you suspect that it won’t just be one drink and you’d rather not finish that six pack. Besides you don’t really want to drink alone.

So you decide that you are going to take your nervous energy and make use of it. You strap on your iPod and head outside to exercise because you know that you always feel better afterwards. And besides it will help clear your head.

Alone in the garage you start your workout and try not to focus on June. Been forever since she was a part of your life. But some days you can’t help but wonder what could have been. Sometimes timing is a bitch and that has you shaking your head. It seems more than a little unfair that circumstances could be the reason that a relationship doesn’t work.

As you focus on your form you can’t help but smile wistfully as you think about how unexpected it was to find June. Neither one of you could have ever predicted it. You grew up in different places and in different worlds. She used to tell you that she would never forgive you for not finding her earlier. You’d laugh and tell her that you could say the same thing.

Time would pass and you’d confess that you had never been more in love with anyone or more scared. This was the kind of thing that only happened in books and movies and that made you drag your feet. She’d tell you the same thing. And in no time you would forge a bond that was deeper and more powerful than any either one of you had known or experienced.

But life is not a book or a movie and things would happen. The world outside the one you shared would come to exert its influence upon you. The timing was off and no matter what you did you couldn’t fight it. You tried. You did what you could and when it wasn’t good enough you beat yourself up and wondered how it fell apart.

So sometimes late at night you’d wander outside and stare at the moon. Looking up at that giant white orb you’d sometimes smile and wonder if June was doing it too. Other times you’d stare at it and feel like howling in frustration and you’d wonder again if she felt like that too.

There would be good days and bad days. Moments when you were determined to walk away. You’d tell yourself that it didn’t matter why it ended or who was at fault or what. All that mattered was moving on with your life. But in the silent recesses of your heart you’d never completely let go.

The bond that you had forged was too strong and too deep. And once you acknowledged this truth of your heart you began to feel better. Once you accepted that you would always love June you were able to start living again. It wasn’t exactly what you wanted, but it was a start.

Because the truth was that your heart told you that June was still out there and that the end to this story had yet to be written. The promises you made were still valid. The love you shared still lived. And maybe, just maybe there might be chance to pick things up somewhere down the road.

And then you took off your watch and stuffed it in a drawer because the last thing you wanted to be reminded of was timing.

What Came Next

I suppose that it is fair to say that I think she was right about us being inextricably linked. That is not based solely on my own wants or desires but her actions too.  She didn’t end things with me because she didn’t love me or because she didn’t want me. She told me that both of those things were still true but that we couldn’t be together.

When I try to think back on that time I do my best to be as objective as I can be. I try to be critical. I try to look at it and see what happened and understand how it unraveled. It is hard because when you are involved you are never completely objective about it. Ask her and she’ll tell you that people like to rewrite history or so she once told me or maybe accused me. Hard to say which happened other than I would say that we are all subject to doing it.

It reminds me of a class I took in college about communication and how our experiences serve as filters that help us define and interpret things. You and I might watch the same movie or read the same book but have different feelings about how good it was solely because of what happened to us in our past. That might not sound particularly profound but it is real and it does have a profound impact upon our lives.

What I know for certain is that she did all that she could to push me away and I let her. At first I let her because I didn’t believe it would last. We had been the couple that could be stranded on a desert island and never get tired of each other. We were best friends and lovers who in my mind had gotten into a jam primarily because of external influences.

The thing was that I didn’t recognize that she had reached a place where she didn’t think we could work it out together or maybe she didn’t believe that I would or could work out my end. So she left.

I got angry and forced myself to walk the other direction. For a long time I managed to do so without looking back. Each day I would tell myself that all I needed to do was get through the day without contact and that if I did so it would get easier.

And it did get easier…sort of.

I say sort of because in time I forgot about strength of the bond and found ways to convince myself that there were other women out there who could do what she did. Fact was that she and I had talked about it. We had talked about whether we believed in soul mates and whether we were. We agreed that we were soul mates but thought that there had to be more than one per person.

Logic dictated that there had to be. In a world of billions of people there had to be more than one. When things were good between us I figured that there was no need to search for the others. And even when they were bad I didn’t go looking. Actually that is because I stopped believing in them, but that is a different story.

From time to time I thought about her. Even though I made a conscious effort not to think about her it was impossible not to. It was like that song, there was always something to remind me but pride kept me from trying to do something about it.

Eventually that changed but so had other things.

Irony

Irony is what happens when you look in the mirror and realize that your attempt to protect yourself is the primary cause of your greatest fear coming to life.

It is like carrying a gun to protect your family only to have it used to kill them. And the best part of it is that the pain caused by your guilt never does go away.

That is because the worst prison that man has ever devised is the one that we carry inside our heads. Our imaginations can be the greatest tool that we ever have access to and the most painful. Thoughts, feelings and ideas that you would never share with your closest friend have free run of the place.

So you do what you can to get through the day and make excuses for the day dreaming and far off look in your eyes. You can’t quite explain what you are feeling or why.

And the truth is that sometimes it doesn’t matter how or why you feel a certain way because it wouldn’t change a thing. There aren’t any pills that you can take to dull the pain or take the edge off. It is just a long hike that you have to endure because the only way to get beyond it all is to simply get through it.

If you are lucky you know from past experience that the place you are in isn’t going to turn int your permanent residence. It is just a long term rental that you are forced to occupy. So you grit your teeth and go through the motions knowing that each day you get a little bit closer to seeing daylight.

Eventually you learn to laugh and smile again- sunshine on your shoulders makes you happy. There will be a few hard moments where it seems like you have slipped back into the dark places you were once in. But even those moments feel like an eternity retrospect makes it clear that they weren’t.

The final and most important step of it all is to forgive yourself. If you can do that and accept the apology you gave to others as being good enough for you, well than you are home free.

But until you do you have to accept the irony of your situation. You are in hell because sometimes good intentions don’t turn out the way that you wish they would.

Deadlines

Did I mention that I have learned to love the vibrate mode on my phone. It is a lot less intrusive and irritating than the beeps and whistles that many of them have.  I don’t know if Harold knows that I intentionally don’t respond to the first few texts from him or if he is just really aggressive in trying to reach me but I blame him for my distaste for the noise that comes along with his text.

Sometimes I miss the days when I didn’t have an electronic leash called a cellphone. There is a loss of freedom that comes with the ability to take your calls, conversations and email wherever you go. And were I in a different frame of mind I would probably write something about it.  The good news for me is that electronic devices aren’t going away and there will always be an opportunity to write about the gains and or losses that technology brings us.

But now isn’t that time for me. I like write about the things that allow me to pour passion, personality and a point into my words. Friends and long time readers might beg to differ about whether there is a point or not and I might even agree with them but that is just because brevity and I are often at odds.  I am a writer and I love my words, sometimes too much.

That is why editors are necessary and why I love Harold. He does a really nice job of cutting out of the extra and unneeded material in my columns. I appreciate his ability to do it without destroying the piece. He lets the reader hear my voice and that is a skill that not every editor has.

“Jack, I like the idea of doing a series of posts on lost love from the male perspective.”

For a moment I stared at the phone and tried to come up with a sarcastic response but I had nothing so I wrote back, “me too.” A moment later he asked me to send over a draft of the first column.  This is part of why I really like Harold. We have been working together long enough that he knows that my pitches often come after I have already got a draft in hand.

It is a habit that I got into early in my career but only because I was forced to do it. At the time I hated doing it and saw it as a waste. It used to drive me nuts to submit something and then have it taken apart and restructured in a way that didn’t resemble the original. That happened not just because of bad editing but poor communication on my part too.

I would send something over that was very broad with the idea because I thought it would make life easier for me. It didn’t and neither did the editors who chose to tell me what to do because I was a young writer and their idea of teaching was “do this and don’t ask questions.”

Anyway, those days are gone now but I do find some things in common with the way things were. I am back in an apartment and keeping hours that would make a vampire happy.

Here is the draft I am sending over to Harold. I haven’t decided where I think this should fit in the series that we are working on but I think that it allows for positioning in multiple places.

I Once Had A Girl

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.” Norwegian Wood- The Beatles

Though I know better I can no longer remember a time when you weren’t a part of me. Those days are gone forever. Now I know what it is like to have been loved by an angel and to have loved her in return. I know what it means to love someone with a depth and fierceness to it that exceeds description and defies expectations.

You weren’t the first woman that I had loved. There were others. I had drunk from that particular cup and swallowed deeply from the draughts I was given. And I knew what heartbreak was. I knew what it meant to have loved and lost. So I thought that I was protected by life experience. I thought if I ever lost you that my knowledge and experience would be enough to get me through.

And then I learned that I really knew nothing about any of it. I learned that though I had been in love it had never been so pure, so raw and so honest. I learned that nothing I knew mattered because you shattered my expectations on every level. You were like the perfect storm that blew in and surrounded my ship.

For a long while I sailed nestled in your bosom in the eye of the storm, safe from the madness. Though I could sometimes hear the howling of the wind and the roar of the waves I was protected from all of it. I lay there in your embrace and marveled over your imperfect perfection. In my eyes you were simply magnificent.

But in arrogance and stupidity I somehow lost you and was tossed right into the heart of the storm. A storm that I am still sailing through. Every day is a battle to keep the ship from being thrown into the rocks. And there have been more than a few moments in which I wondered why I couldn’t just let go.

It seemed so simple. Let go of the wheel and let the sea take me. Let the elements have me and if that meant being dashed against the rocks, well so be it. But that isn’t who I am. That is not what I am about. I endure and I sustain. And I suspect that you have always known that about me.

Known that you could throw me in the fire and I would dance in the flames. Known that no matter what challenges were presented I would go after them with a passion. Can’t help that. In part it is who I am and in part it is because even now you still inspire me. Even now I want to be your hero. And that drives me to reach down deep and find the places where strength that I didn’t know I had exists.

I do it because of who I am and who I hope we can be. Because yes, I see you standing there in the distance. I hear you say goodbye but you don’t mean it. I read between the lines and see the truth of your heart and I recognize the S.O.S. it sends to mine.

There is no disguising that. No way to ignore or pretend that it doesn’t exist. The connection is too deep and too strong to be broken this way. And really, would you expect me to pretend that it was just a dream. Would you really feel better if I shrugged my shoulders and accepted that all we got was a few minutes in Eden.

This I cannot accept nor can I do. I may be a fool, but whether you know it or not I am your fool. And I will storm the gates time and again. I will fling myself into the breach until I die from exhaustion or am convinced that there truly is no hope.

For I promised you all of this and more. I swore a vow that I cannot ignore and sealed it with a kiss that I cannot forget. So I call on the demons and the devil himself to remove themselves from my path. I give notice to all who would challenge me. At the end of the day I will be the sole being standing on this road.

Call that hyperbole or melodrama if you wish but this is how it shall be. I shall do my penance and serve my time.

There are a number of issues with it such as the fact that it very clearly is my voice speaking about a situation that only a few people know about. That is something that could confuse the reader which typically is not considered to be a smart thing for a writer to do.

Dancing Didn’t Make Him Charming

While I waited for Harold to confirm receipt of my draft I started pulling more things out of the box and came across a column I wrote in college. It is a true story about the night I took two women out dancing.

The dance floor is packed

You won’t ever mistake me for Baryshnikov. Grace and I are distant cousins who get along on a basic level, but can’t seem to get beyond that. I didn’t want to go to the bar because I don’t dance. That is not entirely true- I am comfortable “slow dancing.”

Got enough grace and rhythm not to step on her feet but speed it up and I worry about looking like I am having a seizure. Given the choice I wouldn’t have gone tonight, but the girls have pushed me.

The two of them swear that I won’t be uncomfortable and that I’ll have a good time. When I try to back out they tell me that I have a better chance of meeting someone. They claim that women will be attracted to a man who is with two women.

I tell them that the three of us should stay in and see what happens. Lisa hits me in the head with a pillow and Julie slugs me in the arm. I shrug my shoulders and say that I guess I am going.

They have already picked out my “outfit- a pair of black Justin “cowboy” boots, 501s and a green t-shirt are what I am supposed to wear. I roll my eyes at them and say that this is what I would have chosen anyway.

It is not an exaggeration. I really would have picked those things, but they insist on having final say and I just don’t care so I let them.

Just before we leave they give me specific instructions on what to do when men approach. Lisa tells me that I am not paying attention and I tell her she is right. I don’t need a playbook. I have a million sisters and know exactly what to do.

Apparently that is what makes them nervous. Lisa says that I am not to get too aggressive and Julie nods her head. I tell them that I don’t know what the hell that means and get yelled at. They tell me that the last time we did this I picked a fight with two of the guys buying them drinks. This time I am supposed to look for a sign.

I tell Lisa that if she holds up two fingers I’ll steal home and if Julie holds up one I’ll swing away. Neither of them smiles and I know that I am one ‘cute boy’ away from irritating them. But I have given my word to go so we head out.

Two or three beers after our arrival the girls decide that I cannot people watch any longer. They tell me that I’m required to dance. It is the height of the line dancing craze & I tell them that I am unwilling to do it.

They say no problem and tell me that I am going to learn how to “two-step.” They give me a quick demo and then take positions in front of and behind me. Between shoulder and hand squeezes I figure out what to do and when.

I feel a bit like a kid who just learned how to ride a bike and I dance with them and a dozen other women. It is a blast.

Later on I’ll ask them to help me meet someone and find out that sometimes hitting a bar with two women isn’t always a great way to meet other women.

It seems that this “configuration” has given them the impression that I am gay. And here I thought that being able to “two step” made me charming…..

If you could see inside my head you’d be given the gift of watching Ann tease me about this.  White shirt, shorts, and some sort of blue scrunchy thing in her hair. I am taking all sorts of abuse and she can’t stop giggling.

“Men are so stupid sometimes. Please tell me that you didn’t make the mistake of hitting on one of your friends that night too.” There is a long pause because I can’t think of anything to say. If I were smarter I would roll my eyes and ask her what the hell she is thinking. Of course I didn’t hit on them. Instead I grab the remote and turn on the television.

“Jack, you know that I love you, but what were you thinking.” I pull her onto my lap and she says, “Ah, now I know exactly what you were thinking. You have to be smarter than that. We like spending time with our guy friends but that doesn’t mean that we want to sleep with you. I don’t get it.”

“Why are you giving me advice about women. Do you think that I’ll need it?”

“Only if you are an idiot. There isn’t anyone in the world who can take better care of you than I can. Get that through your thick head.”

The telephone rings and Harold starts rattling off a list of things he wants to see and changes he wants made. It takes a moment for me to leave the memories and catch up to the present.

“Jack, I like where you are going but we need a lot more here. I want to know how many people are using technology to locate former boyfriends and girlfriends. Try to find out the marital status of those who are doing it. Are they single, married, divorced or widowed. I want to know if any of these old flames turn back the clock and resume dating. Facebook has been around a good five or six years now, someone must have numbers.”

I am hearing what he says but not paying close attention. My mind is stuck somewhere else. It is somewhere in the past and I have just heard that she is getting married. Anger, jealousy and frustration have come to visit me. I remember telling Sheri that it might be hard to kiss the bride when your lips have been torn off. Sheri tells me that she is sorry that I am upset but that I need to relax.

“I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but she is getting married and you need to let go. Let her go Jack. She moved on and you should too.”

The memory isn’t close to being recent but I remember those feelings with more clarity than I would like. If there was any question of my carrying a torch for her it has just been answered. Even so, I am still wrestling with whether I should reach out to her. Would calling her be moving backwards or would it fall under getting a second chance. I am not sure so I opt to sit down at the keyboard to write.

Might as well take advantage of the aggravation and try to make use of the energy. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and start telling a story about what happens when we meet again. Just before I begin to type I realize that I have already answered my question. I want to see her again.

I Know Things

We’re standing on the balcony staring out at the sunset. You’re barefoot wearing nothing but that sun dress I like. I am in my usual shorts and a t-shirt. Our drinks rest on the table next to us while dolphins play in the sea below us. Great splotches of orange, red, blue and magenta are painted against the sky. Your hand fits perfectly inside of mine and I wonder if I have ever been so content with holding hands. A silent smirk creeps across my face and I catch you staring at me. I know you. I know that look. You want to know what I am thinking but I remain silent.

You look at me again and I raise my eyebrows and smile. In return you give me that look that says that you are somewhere in between content and exasperation. I try not to smirk. I tamed you when no one else could. You know it and I know it. I am trying not to laugh and so are you. Finally you look at me and tell me to “just say it already.” You try to give me a stern look but the light in your eyes and the smile in your voice tell me all that I need to know. I shake my head silently and pull you into my arms. For a moment we stare at each other and then our lips brush against each other.

This….this moment has been a long time coming. This thing that we share has been the most difficult, infuriating and best thing that we have ever known. Against the backdrop of the sinking sun we hold each other in silence and smile. We aren’t teenagers. Those days are long ago and far away. A lifetime has been lived by each of us both together and alone and then together.  I look at you and look back towards the room while you give me a knowing smile. Our fingers still intertwined we walk back inside. You sit on the bed and I turn on a mix I made for you long ago.

Bob Dylan is singing Lay, Lady Lay

“Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Whatever colors you have in your mind
I’ll show them to you and you’ll see them shine”

My voice is a soft rumble, “what should we do for dinner?” You tell me that you have a few ideas and I smile. I have the Peaceful Easy Feeling that The Eagles sing about. I stare at you and smile again.

Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
Until the break of day, let me see you make him smile
His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean
And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen

For a moment you look away, the look in my eyes too intense. I walk over to the bed and gently lift your head so that our eyes can connect again. I tell you that I never stopped singing that song. Some people come into your life for but a moment, others for a lifetime and some for longer still. You laugh and tell me that I don’t need to use cheap lines to get you. I shake my head and whisper “no.”

Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile
Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he’s standing in front of you

I tell you that I am sorry. I don’t know how or why some things play out the way that they do. I have enough trouble remembering my own name. But I know things and this much is certain, whatever has happened is done. Now we have the future we once talked about except now it is real. Now we have countless hours to do and to be. It is good that we aren’t teenagers anymore because now we know what is real and what isn’t.

Moonlight fills the room and the lights dance in your eyes. We started a story whose end doesn’t have to wait any longer because our future is now. Take a leap of faith and believe.

Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed
Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead
I long to see you in the morning light
I long to reach for you in the night
Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead

Some things can’t be stopped, they can only be delayed.

That last line is sort of the Joker in deck.

Once after we had a silly argument about something she had asked me if I ever worried about something happening to us. I told her no and said that I was confident that we would be alright. I told her that some things can’t be stopped, that they could only be delayed.  I told her that if we held onto each other there was nothing we couldn’t overcome. Take my hand and believe in the future that we will share.

She never smiled more broadly than when we would talk of the future.  Six children and a big house where our extended family would join us for holiday meals, birthday parties and just because.

The man I used to be believed every word in that line. Fact is that he didn’t see it as a line. When he said Some things can’t be stopped, they can only be delayed it was with a full heart. I can’t decide if that man is dead and buried or just lost but I suppose that I have the opportunity to find out. I suppose that if I want to I can learn whether we are a Greek tragedy or a modern day love story.

But you have to understand that I am reticent for a reason. You have to understand that a man who has been down the road I walked wonders if he is chasing ghosts of the past. If I am not who I was then neither is she. Maybe she has changed. Maybe she is nothing like the woman I loved. Or maybe she is everything I used to dream of, just a more mature version.

Or maybe she is something entirely different. Hell, she might look at me and wonder what the hell happened to me. A lot of time has passed and while I am in good shape I don’t look like I used to. What the hell do I know and why am I bothering with all this. It is mental masturbation. I am putting the cart before the horse. Haven’t got her number or even an email address.

All I have is a thumbnail of her Facebook profile photo and a lot of memories. The last time I tried chasing after her didn’t work out so well. I put my pride aside and tried to get her back and all hell broke loose.

What Happens When You Get What You Want (Not Sure If I Will Use This)

Dear Ann,

I asked myself a question today. What happens when you get what you always dreamed of. What do you do when you slay the dragon and rescue the princess. Can you really be happy when that happens or will your need for a challenge push you to find something that doesn’t exist. Will you sabotage it all. Will you throw it all away because you don’t know how to live without the chase or will you be content with what you have.

I don’t know if I have the answers to those question. I am not sure because I don’t think that I have ever had it all. I don’t think that I have been to the mountaintop but I know that I have come close to the summit. I know that in a few years I have tasted perfection. I drank deeply from that cup and did my best to savor it.

But unfortunately I succumbed to the all too human trait of not recognizing what I had until it was too late.

You are the great love of my life.

The problem with that last sentence is that I wrote are but we aren’t together now. I haven’t been gifted with your presence in so very long that it almost feels like a dream I once had. Except now I dream of watching you glide across the room and into my arms. Now I dream of kissing you again and standing with you on our balcony watching the sunset.

Some people say that women don’t want weak men and I think that it is true for you too. But I am not weak in any sense of the word. I am as tough as nails, physically and mentally.  That is not exaggeration. I can prove it. If you truly felt what I think you did than you know that our split was like tearing the world in two. You said that I was your air and I said that you were mine.

When you walked away I learned how to live without breathing and walked alone in a world devoid of sunshine. It became cold, dark and inhospitable. My smile fled and I buried my wounded heart and said “fuck it, I am done.”

Time passed and I reached a point and place where I began to smile again. Laughter flew from my lips and people told me that I was different. Some of them asked how I had become so hard and some asked if I would ever release my pain.

That was when I realized just how much hurt I was carrying inside. That was when I realized that the first thing I needed to do was forgive myself because much of my anger was focused inwardly. Intellectually I knew that it wasn’t solely my fault, but I protected you. I didn’t want you to feel the brunt of my anger and then I remembered that wasn’t who we were or what we had been.

Because when we let our hearts live together we were something more than when we were apart. In those days we didn’t fight often but when we did we let loose. We let loose because we knew that it was safe to do so. We never had a conversation where we didn’t say “I love you.” I don’t just miss that, I want that.

I want another shot. I want another chance. We aren’t who we once were but I am ok with that. It just means that there are a million new things to learn. Remember that line from Thunder Road I used to quote,  “I want to know if love is wild, I want to know if love is real. Oh, can you show me.”  Well, I used to know and now I want to find out if I was right.

I am just a boy asking a girl he has always loved to let him love her in person again. I am just a man telling a woman that he can love her better than the rest and that I still know how to make you scream. I can make your toes curl. I can fill the empty spaces. When you are tired you can lean on me and I will carry us home. Open your heart woman and you’ll see that I never left.

Open your eyes and you’ll see me standing there. My hand is here, please take it.

Music Speaks To Me

Author’s notes- I am not sure about this section but there will be time to include/exclude it later

Sat down at the computer and opened up my email to see what Harold had to say about my draft and turned on iTunes. Clicked on the shuffle and listened to the opening riffs of Sanctuary by the Cult.  Haven’t heard this in years but can’t help being caught up in the lyrics:

“The fire in your eyes
Keeps me alive
And the fire in your eyes
Keeps me alive
I’m sure in her you’ll find
The sanctuary
I’m sure in her you’ll find
The sanctuary”

A wry smile passes across my face because it reminds me yet again of Ann. It wasn’t one of our songs. She doesn’t like most music from the 80s but those lyrics fit us. They remind me of the intensity and the warmth. It reminds me of the days when we would lie in be and listen to each other breathe and feel an indescribable calm. But that was then and this is now so I shrug and go back to my reading.

I am midway down the page when my reading is interrupted again by John Denver singing Perhaps Love.  I can’t say that I was a big fan of his but Ann was and she is the reason this song exists in my library.  The opening catches my attention

“Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home”

A superstitious man might wonder if the universe was speaking to him. These words tell a story that is familiar to me in so many ways. I am doing my best not to interpret  it or give any credence to it but I admit that my attention is wandering from the page to the music. I wonder what is coming on next. If I hear All I Ask of You from Phantom of The Opera come on I might jump out of my chair because that was one of those songs that we listened to.

“Then say you’ll share with
me one
love, one lifetime . . .
Iet me lead you
from your solitude . . .

Say you need me
with you
here, beside you . . .
anywhere you go,
let me go too -
Christine,
that’s all I ask
of you . .”

My eyes are closed and I am lost in thought. There is a parade of memories inside my mind and I am doing my best to push them down and stuff them back into their cage. I tell myself that this is nothing more than coincidence and explain it away as coming to light because I have been thinking about it. Really, there is no other logical explanation and that is that.

Seconds later my ears are filled with Mottel the tailor singing Miracle of Miracles and I almost fall out of my chair.

“But of all God’s miracles large and small,
The most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be:
God has given you to me.”

We sang that song to each other and repeated the words at least twice. It was a joke that wasn’t really a joke because she was my miracle and I was hers.

“Ok universe, if this is how you want to play- I am game. Give me three more songs and let’s see what you have got.”

I flip tabs and hit the shuffle button again. “Legs” by ZZ Top comes on and I smile. Boy did she ever have great legs, but that is not enough for me. “C’mon universe, that is a gimme. That is far too easy and too general. Give me another.”

I’ll be damned if the next song that comes over the speakers isn’t Bob Marley singing “No woman, no Cry.”

“Ok universe, that is funny and I agree with you, but I need more. Show me something. Give me a sign.”

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is playing and now I am perturbed. It is sort of an odd thing to be perturbed by this song because normally I listen to it because it relaxes me. When I am faced with tough decisions or am feeling stressed I put it on and use it as a way to quiet the noise inside my head.

“Yo, universe what happened to giving me straight answers. I am direct. Can’t you give me a sign that makes sense.”

I click shuffle three more times and hear the theme to “Cheers,” “Cherry, Cherry” by Neil Diamond and “Penny Lane” by The Beatles. My head is swimming and hell if I know whether there are more messages here. I am tempted to Google the lyrics and see what I find but the lack of straight answers makes me cranky.

This is all silly. In Yiddish we would call it Narishkeit, or nonsense and I don’t want nonsense. I have had plenty of complications and I want something simple. So I shrug my shoulders and speak again, “listen universe please give me something that makes more sense. I am going to click shuffle one last time.” One more click and I hear Miguel Bose and Laura Pausini sing Te Amare and smack myself in the head.

We never listened to that together. It is not something that I would have associated with her but those lyrics fit here in so many different ways. They lose something in the translation, but still I find myself repeating two different sections

“In secret and in silence, I will love you
risking the forbidden, I will love you
In falseness and in truthfullness, with an open heart
because you are not perfect, I will love you”

and

“at the fall of each night I shall wait
that you be the full moon and I shall love you
And even though there are few traces left
as a sign of what once was
you shall still be near, and from the depths I shall love you

I shall love you, I shall love you by force of memories
I shall love you, I shall love you until the last moment
Despite everything, forever I shall love you”

“Ok universe, color me thoroughly frustrated and confused. I don’t know what this means or if it means anything. For all I know I am just talking to empty space”

Shrugging my shoulders again I let out a deep sigh. The reality is that I don’t have to make any decisions or take any action right now. I don’t have to do anything but focus on work and the truth is that these questions I am asking right now fit the story. These thoughts and feelings are…

Relationships Are Complicated

I grew up in a family that didn’t do divorce. It is not that it was something that people bad mouthed because it wasn’t. I can’t remember either of my parents saying a bad word about it. Maybe that is because both sets of their parents followed the “until death do us part” model of marriage.

There were friends and family members who split up but it wasn’t something that touched me at all. I didn’t think about it because it just didn’t affect me. When I think about that time of life girls were just people who annoyed me. They were sisters or cousins who would scream at my friends and I because they didn’t understand what we were doing or why.

Kind of funny to think that years later not a whole lot changed. Sure, the girls evolved into people who I was interested in learning more about but that didn’t stop the screaming or looks of exasperation. Just ask any man who has a relationship with a woman and he’ll tell you that he still gets that look that women give us, you know the one that says she can’t figure out what the hell you are doing or why.

In good relationships it is endearing. Sometimes you make each other crazy but most of the time it is a good sort of crazy. Bad relationships are a different matter altogether because that sort of crazy eats away at you. That kind of crazy makes you want to hit yourself in the head with a baseball bat.

One of the things that Harold wants me to do for my series is interview a few experts on relationships. He wants me to ask them to provide the who, what, when and where of why and how relationships work.

The thing is that every time I think about that it makes me want to hit myself in the head with that baseball bat I mentioned. Pam says that it is because I have PTSD. I told her that I think the best way for me to try and find a new woman is to introduce myself like this:

“Hi, I am Jack the single dad with PTSD.”

Pam loved the idea. “Great way to meet a woman. Make her think that you are a vet when you aren’t. We love when men lie to us.”

“It is not as bad as the guy who lies on his online profile. My picture is recent and I put down my real age.”

Remember that look I mentioned earlier, well that last comment earned a double dose of it.

“I thought that women like the bad boy. I am being bad.”

“No, you are being an ass and you don’t want to be with a woman who thinks that your stupid line is cool.”

Something about that conversation reminded me of an old talk radio show host who referred to himself as being a professor of dating. He said that he had been married five or six times and that this had provided him with the experience to become an expert on men and women.

I wasn’t a daily listener but sometimes when I was stuck in traffic I would tune in to hear the show. It was kind of funny at times. Men would call in and talk about how their girlfriend had dumped them and ask for advice. Generally he would tell them that they were pussies and suggest that they man up and find some one else. According to him it was a matter of bringing out your inner asshole. He said that women responded to it.

He told women that if they wanted to keep a man the way to do it was to put out regularly and to make sure that their guy was well fed.

I remember being surprised by how many women called in to say that they agreed with him. I used to sometimes wonder if those calls were staged or real. I won’t lie and say that it didn’t sound reasonable to me.

“Your biggest problem isn’t finding a woman. Your biggest problem isn’t finding the woman. Your biggest problem is opening yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt again. Unless you do that you won’t ever have the relationship that you want.”

“I hear what you are saying.”

“No Jack, you don’t. You are too busy trying to be cute with me. Stop it. It is not necessary and it is offensive. You need to take a risk. Take a leap of faith.”

I don’t know if I ever told Pam that I had taken that leap of faith. That is how I saw my relationship with Ann. It was a giant leap of faith that worked out and then it didn’t.

And then there was the whole marriage thing that had been another giant leap of faith that worked and then it didn’t.

What Are You Willing To Do

Age is relative. When I think now about the 18 year-old version of myself I smile and think about how naive that kid was. If someone had called the 18 year-old version of me a kid he/I would have been offended. It is cliche to say to say this, but I really did know better than most people. Damn, I must have been insufferable, but maybe all 18 year-olds are.

That kid I used to be loved movies and music which just goes to show you that there are some things that don’t change with age. One of my favorite pictures was The Untouchables starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery. It was a very cool rendition of the US Government’s attempt to arrest and prosecute Al Capone. There are a number of great scenes in it but one of my all time favorites is a bit of dialogue that is exchanged between Costner’s Elliot Ness and Connery’s wily veteran cop, Malone.

Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Ness: Anything within the law.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.
Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.
Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward.
Malone: Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Ness: Yes.
Malone: Good, ’cause you just took one.

That exchange is responsible for a piece of my philosophy about life. When people hear me say “what are you willing to do” it all comes back to that movie. After Ann broke up with me it was a big part of the reason that I fought so hard to try and change her mind.

I kept hearing Connery asking me “what are you willing to do” and every time I heard it I decided to make another attempt to convince her not to give up on us.

“Jack, you are my best friend and you will always will be. But we are not working I need a break. Take care of yourself.”

“Ann, if you ask me to wait for you I will. Just tell me you want me to wait and I’ll go find something to do for a while.”

“I can’t do that. I won’t ask you to hold up your life.”

“You can. I give you permission. I am not in some sort of rush. Go find your smile.”

“No, I can’t. Take care of yourself.”

The Kitchen

It was close to 2 AM when he pulled into his driveway. Though the lights were off the interior of the house was illuminated with memories of what once was. Alone in the dark he walked the halls and listened for the voice that he knew wasn’t there any longer.

He walked over to the kitchen and dropped his keys on the island. In the past the counter would have been spotless, wiped down and devoid of dishes, food or bottles, but not now.

This time the sink was filled with empty bottles. A half finished bottle of Scotch lay next to the sink.  The silent sentinel bore witness to the grief of a man who couldn’t figure out how to extract the pieces of shrapnel that had exploded around his heart.

Treading softly around the island and its blue pearl granite counters he took the bottle in one hand and with the other touched the dimmer switch and shed a minimal amount of light upon the room.

Moments later he sat down at an Oak table and stared at the three empty chairs where others had once sat. A bowl full of mail lay in the middle of the table. The pile of bills and junk mail was growing steadily day by day.

He took a long swig of the Scotch and looked down at the handwritten note in front of him.

So I kissed you one last time. One final kiss so that we’d never forget. One kiss so that if we ever lost our way we could use it to find our way back.”

It was painful to read those words and remember what once was.

Echoes of laughter and love wandered through like the ghost of Christmas past. The sounds of children playing with their mother made an appearance. Except in this case he always saw her as the girl she once was and the woman she became. He didn’t have to close his eyes to see the smile that she reserved for him or to remember how many other ways the kitchen could be used.

A soft hum emanated from the stainless steel refrigerator and reminded him to grab the remote for the stereo. Two clicks later music wafted through the night air. Softly he sang along with Johnny:

“I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

I Went Down, Down, Down

And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns

The Ring Of Fire

The Ring Of Fire”

He closed his eyes again and remembered telling June a story and wondering if she was paying attention to him. So he had walked across the room to the walk-in pantry and discovered her still dressed in work attire but bent over in a way that was anything but business like.

She jumped when he grabbed her hips and in the process sent everything on the third shelf flying. He silently turned on the light, closed the door and began picking things up off of the floor. When he turned around he found her face inches from his accompanied by a look that suggested he was going to enjoy the moment or potentially live to regret it.

Smiling he looked at her and remarked that he couldn’t imagine living with an ordinary kitchen that didn’t come with a walk in pantry and cook. He supposed that her lips upon his was her way of telling him to be quiet.

The problem with the kitchen was that there wasn’t anything about it that didn’t shout her name. Her absence was palpable and the silence deafening.

A giant wave of pain hit him and he closed his eyes again wondering why heartbreak made his legs hurt so badly. He brought the bottle back to his lips and took a big mouthful of Scotch.

To his right there was a built in wine cooler that sat just below a cabinet filled with hard liquor. Just then another wave of pain hit him and he thought that he could hear someone calling his name. It didn’t make sense to him nor did the rumbling noise that was progressively growing louder.

Suddenly a bright light made him squint and a man’s voice told him to relax. The rumbling noise continued and he remembered there had been an earthquake. He wasn’t sure how long he had been trapped in the rubble or why his legs felt like they were on fire.

So he closed his eyes and remembered their kitchen.

Reality

That scene above never happened. It was just something that I wrote afterwards, just something that I used to try to make sense of everything.  Initially I didn’t believe her. I didn’t accept her proclamation that sometimes love wasn’t enough. If we still loved each other it seemed like we could find a way to make it work. We were two of the smartest people I knew and it seemed inconceivable that two people who said that they were best friends and lovers couldn’t figure it out.

I kept hearing What Are You Willing to Do and I kept trying. I wrote her a thousand love letters and proclaimed my love in every way I knew how. I put together a wanted ad and ran it in the newspaper.

Wanted the girl who loved the boy who wrote the words below. Take my hand and remember what was still is and can be again…

I had a dream. I dreamt of a place that I had never been to but always wanted to live in. You were there and your arms welcomed me to a place that until then had always lived inside me. You unlocked the passion and the fire that burns inside me.

You helped me to remember that love is meant to sting, that to be apart is to feel an ache that no drug can touch and to be together is to know the meaning of union.

You are my drug of choice, an addiction that I cannot give up. My air and my blood, the wind that fills my sails and were I to lose you I would be forced to revisit that dark place that I used to live in. I would be hollow inside, an empty shell and who knows what might choose to occupy that place.

I knew the day that we kissed that life was going to be different. Few people understand because so few have had the experience and even then few walk that path. When you walk through fire you risk being burned but you also open yourself up to untold rewards.

When just holding hands brings incredible pleasure, when whispers and caresses offer the height of joy and passion there is something special.

When I kissed you I felt your legs go weak and I held you tightly but I was not concerned because my arms were made for holding you tight and feeling your heart beat against mine gives me all the strength that I require.

I had a dream that became reality.

Rumor had it that she cried when she read that. Rumor said that I had an opportunity there that I missed out upon. It is possible that all of that is true. It is possible that I had a dozen different chances to reach beyond the wall that she built…but I didn’t.

Not sure that the reasons why matter now or maybe they do…

Still I can’t help but write about the thoughts that swirl inside my head, it is what I have always done. It is how I sort out what I really feel and think. It is why I wrote the piece below. Kind of funny to think that about how even though I wrote it a thousand years ago it is still applicable today.

Eyes close, lips brush…time stops. Eyes open…empty room…Empty heart. Hope that echoes of the past become reality of the future. #loveburns

You are out there in the dark. Somewhere in a different place than I you stand in your kitchen cooking dinner or maybe you are sitting at your desk working. It doesn’t really matter because it is not my dinner that you are cooking and not our home that you are returning to. The life we once planned on sharing together is not the life that we have today.

I know how that sounds and I know how much you hate to hear it. We are so very similar and so very different in how we handle and and respond to some things. When the heat comes down you do all that you can to stay busy. It is easier to keep running than to focus on things that you feel like you cannot fix. But that is not me, that is not who I am.

Blame it on being male or being a dreamer. Blame it upon a desire to be your hero because you know that is part of what I have always wanted to be for you. Best friend, partner, lover and hero.Those are things to be especially proud of and I would wear that badge without regret for eternity.

We complement each other in so many ways and always have. There is a balance that is established between us, an equilibrium that works to our advantage. It is part of what makes us so formidable and not just a tragic love story that never was and never could be. I know what The Circumstances of Astrology are and I know why you said what you said.

There has never been a time or moment that you weren’t there. Only moments of ignorance and lack of awareness. You weren’t on my radar or a gleam in my eyes. Perhaps you were a dream that I never wanted to believe in. A dream because I didn’t believe that someone like you was out there.

It is funny in an odd sort of way. I can hear you telling me that you’ll never forgive me for not finding you sooner. I can hear you calling my name, asking why I am silent. I tell you that I don’t share my thoughts easily. I live in a world of silence because I choose to be silent. I tell you that I am shy and you laugh.

You don’t believe me. You don’t understand how very different you are. You don’t know how many complained about my unwillingness to share. You don’t know how very silent I can be. You don’t know because I gave you that key. You don’t know because you have always seen what others couldn’t. You don’t know because I celebrated being able to be so free and so open with someone.

But it is a two way street. When my door opened wide so did yours. I don’t share your grace. I don’t walk, I lumber. And so I lumbered on in and made myself at home. Home, that is what we were for each other. A refuge and a sanctuary that provided incredible amounts of strength. An indefatigable team who was naturally able to heal each other and who could do it still…

“So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break”
And So it Goes- Billy Joel

Say What You Mean

“Jack, do you remember that dream you had?”

“Yes Sheri, I do. You were amazing, but I am not supposed to tell you that anymore now am I.

“You are an idiot and I don’t mean that in a pleasant or endearing way. I am referring to the one you had about Ann. You know the one that happened when you were still married.”

Of course I remembered the dream, but that was because it wasn’t really a dream. It had happened. I had called out Ann’s name. I suspect that most women would be less than pleased to be called by the wrong name. It would be bad if it happened during daylight hours but I wasn’t that lucky.

Nope, not me. I have to pick the moment when my ex had my full attention. If a man was going to call out a woman’s name like I did he should use the name of the woman he is with. I paid dearly for that mistake. The ex knew who Ann was and while she didn’t know all of the details of our relationship it didn’t matter. Even though we were both adults she wasn’t interested in being reminded that I had been intimate with others.

“What about it?”

“I was thinking about things. I don’t think you ever got over Ann. I think that was a sign.”

“Sheri, it wasn’t a sign. It was a moment where I am glad that we weren’t in the kitchen. God only knows what she would have done with a knife.”

“What do you mean you are happy you weren’t in the kitchen? Did this really happen?”

“Yes Sheri, it really happened.”

“What the hell is wrong with you. Don’t you understand that what you did is one of the worst things a man can do to a woman. You might as well have pushed her head away and said you were bored!”

“Ok, I am confused about why you are upset. The only reason I told you back then was because I needed to try and fix things. I wanted a woman’s perspective on how to do it and was too embarrassed to tell you what had really happened.”

This is a perfect example of why women sometimes infuriate me. I am divorced and getting bitched at by a woman about something that happened between me and another woman many years before.

“Was this the only time it happened or did you call out her name during other lovemaking sessions?

“Should I slow down so you can take notes? I’d hate for you to miss out on anything important. Would you like to know what position we were in? Would it make you feel better to know that I was on the couch and she was on her knees or is that too graphic for you Ms. Busybody.”

“You can be a real asshole sometimes. It is no wonder you are divorced.”

“Thank you Sheri, I’ll take that as a compliment. Can we get back to whatever point you were trying to make.”

Color me irritated and confused. She flips out about something ridiculous and immaterial and I am the bad guy.

“Jack, the point here is that you got married to the wrong woman. You were never over Ann and I think it is important that you understand that. Unless you are completely honest with yourself You can’t start another relationship with her.

“Now, I am irritated, angry and confused. Unless you are clairvoyant or have some sort of other way of telling the future you don’t know what is going to happen. Hell, I haven’t even tried to contact her and if I did we don’t know how she would respond.”

Sheri looked away from me and then back, her eyes watering.

“Jack, she called me. I spoke to Ann.”

“I think that my heart just stopped. When did you talk to her and what did she say? I want to know now and I want to know everything!”

Sheri took a deep breath and launched into a long story. She told me that she hadn’t spoken to Ann recently but told me that they had spoken a number of times. The first time had been many years earlier. It happened a few months after we had broken up. Sheri had run into Ann at a party that was hosted by a mutual friend of theirs named Kathy.

When Ann asked about me Sheri told her that I had a new girlfriend and that I was really happy. It wasn’t true, but Ann didn’t know that.

“I was trying to protect you. You were so upset and I didn’t want her to hurt you. I was afraid that she would yank your chain. So I told her that you had a new girlfriend and she walked away. But she didn’t walk away fast enough for me not to notice the tears. She was crying…”

“Ok, she was crying. That might have been good to know 20 years ago. Didn’t stop her from getting married.”

“Jack, I still talk to Kathy and so does Ann.”

“Ann told Kathy that she reads your column and that she has read all of your books. As a woman I am telling you that she isn’t reading you solely because you are good writer. She wants to feel connected to you. Your column has helped her maintain that connection. If she was truly over you she wouldn’t read it.”

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to any of that. It was both plausible and ridiculous. I was the kind of thing that I could see getting me into all sorts of trouble. It didn’t make me real happy to realize that this “lost love” series I am working on will probably be read by her. It shouldn’t matter. I should just write it. It is not Sher’s news changed much, for all I knew Ann could have been reading my stuff anyway.

Yet, it was different for me. I felt different. I felt naked and exposed.

“Jack, are you ok?

“Sure, I am great. Now I can write the sort of column that will be immortalized forever. Dear readers, I just found out that the love of my life has been reading this column for years. Now you can watch as I use this column try and woo her.”

“I am not sure that you want to do that. That would put a lot of pressure on her.”

“Oh, hell I wouldn’t put any pressure on her. I’d simply ask her in front of millions of readers to sleep with me again.”

“You are still an idiot which is why I am going to tell you not to do that. Don’t try to be cute or clever. If you are really interested in having a second chance you need to talk to her. You need to connect. Trust me, if she is interested in anything more she will make it clear. She isn’t some silly teenager. Treat her nicely and don’t pretend that you know everything about her.”

“I know.”

“Don’t say that unless you mean it. This could be really good for you. The two of you have a million new things to talk about and a lot to catch up on. Make her feel special. Let her see that you see her as a woman and not as a mother.”

I nodded my head and smiled. Sheri had given me a lot to think about and I was beginning to think of a plan.

A Plan

A plan. Just saying those two words out loud made me laugh and smile. Back in the days of yore when Ann was mine she had told me that she wanted to know what my plan was.

“Are you asking about my intentions? Well, first I am going to pin you against the wall and tickle you until you can’t take it. Then I am going to do things that shouldn’t be mentioned. In fact they are so dirty I suspect that your mother is blushing now.”

“Eww! Don’t talk about those things and mention my mother. That is gross.”

“Ok, how about I say that you are smart, beautiful and sexy.”

“That is a good start.”

“I might like you better if we slept together.”

She giggled and well, a gentlemen doesn’t need to say what came next or who fell asleep first. But what I can say is that I woke up later and found her staring at me. I smiled, rolled over on top of her and was asked to hold on for a moment.”

“Can’t we talk later?”

“No, you’ll just go to sleep and come up with an excuse not to talk about this again.”

“Honey, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I can’t imagine anyone who fulfills me more than you do and if you ever left I’d be consigned to living through hell on earth.”

“Jack, you are among the sweetest talkers I have ever met and if I didn’t believe you meant that I would kick you in the balls and leave.”

“You don’t want to do that, you would only be punishing yourself.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to be more humble.”

“No, but kicking me in the balls would and then you would feel guilty forever.”

“Sweetheart, I am serious. I want to make a plan. I need to know how things are going to work and what we are going to do. This is important to me because it is about us and that is too important to mess around with.”

Privacy

Sheri’s little bombshell about Ann reading my columns threw me for a loop. It might sound silly, but it sort of felt like an invasion of my privacy. I felt naked and exposed in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It is sort of odd and funny to think of things that way. She and I had been more intimate in more ways than anyone else in my entire life. I suppose that means that calling her reading my words an invasion of privacy is an oxymoron.

After all my column is published and promoted for consumption by millions of readers. Really, it is kind of silly for me to feel anything resembling exposed but I do. It is not really a bad feeling. It is more like butterflies in my stomach. Way back when I always wrote with her in mind. They were my words but there was always a message inserted in them. It was my secret note to her.

I used to take great joy in trying to find a clever way to say I love you or that you mean something to me in those columns. I think she liked it too. She told me that she didn’t want to miss anything so she would read everything twice.

Sometimes she would reciprocate by sending me notes. I remember once we had a conversation about our favorite songs from Fiddler on The Roof. I told her that I was really fond of Sabbath Prayer. Later that night I found a card from her with a small quote on it:

But of all God’s miracles large and small,
The most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be:
God has given you to me.

Wonder of Wonders- Fiddler on The Roof

She never did refer to me as Mottel the Tailor and I never called her Tzeitel, but I once thought about writing her a private letter that illustrated the similarities between their relationship and ours. They chose a different path. They forsake the matchmaker. Our path was different too.

An Uncertain Certainty

You were there. You stood next to me, our fingers intertwined staring at the masses. It was Friday night and the plaza was packed. My eyes were closed and I was slowly rocking back and forth, unconsciously giving thanks for having been given the song of my heart.

We were 15, we were twenty, we were 50 and then we were 80. I saw it all. I saw us alone.I saw us together. I saw our children and I saw our grandchildren. We stood together and shared those moments in time. Single, married, children, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, grandchildren and then we were gone.

It was just myself and the wall. Just myself at the Kotel, head resting against the stone, alone in the night and lost in the thoughts that we think.

****

I have been dreaming of the children of Jerusalem and broken promises.  I have been lost in moments that once were or could have been, wondering what it means, if it means anything at all.

Because you were there. You, the song of heart who no longer sings her song to me were there. You who once promised to walk with me wherever it was we chose to walk are there no longer.

You have gone away and left me alone…and apart.

You who helped me to remember that love burns and that two are more than one….is gone.

*****

But though you have left me you are not really gone. You have never quite left. I still see you. I still feel you….and I know.

I know that the ache is not mine alone. I know that the absence of your presence is a pain that we share for you know the loss of mine as well. Your stubborn nature won’t permit you to admit it or to ask for shelter in my arms. You won’t let yourself admit that you feel what you feel.

But I know things. I know things about you. I know things about me. I know things about us.

*****

It is an uncertain certainty…this feeling of mine. I don’t have to see you, the song of my heart, to hear you singing our song again. I don’t know if you are conscious of it or aware that it is happening…but it is.

I know these things because I feel them in the places that have been both full and empty. I know these things because I feel my heart harmonizing with yours and I tremble. Fear and anger rise up more frequently than faith.

It is a battle between heart and head. This uncertain certainty that you wish to renew and rebuild.

So now I wait and wonder if this feeling is fake and if my heart has been found false. It is uncomfortable, awkward and uncertain. A contradiction it is, this uncertain certainty.

*****

We were 15, we were twenty, we were 50 and then we were 80. I saw it all. I saw us alone. I saw us together.

The Children Of Divorce

The children of divorce don’t always understand why mom or dad would write something like this about someone who isn’t their parent:

And if you would let yourself be freed from the shackles that you have affixed around your head and heart you would open your eyes and see mine staring back at yours. If you would take my hand and trust your heart we would do what we have always known we could.

The children of divorce don’t care about why you don’t love or want to be with their mom or dad anymore. They just want you to figure it out, fix it and keep on keeping on.

At least that is what I was once told and part of why I tried not to get divorced. I spent countless hours agonizing about what would happen to my kids if we split up. It made me feel trapped and it made me angry.

I didn’t go into marriage with the idea that it wouldn’t work and that one day I might be faced with making exceptionally hard decisions. I didn’t think about having to subjugate my happiness so that the little people would be happy.

That isn’t to say that it never occurred to me that I would have to make sacrifices for my children because I always planned on that. But back in the days before the kids came I never considered what would happen if things didn’t work out. I spent my time worrying about whether my boys could swim and wondering how I would support them if I lost my job.

I know from conversations with the boys that I am not alone in this. None of us thought about divorce and yet it happened. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing either.

If you go into marriage thinking that you can always throw your fish back into the sea and catch another there is something wrong with you. It is ok to be nervous before you get married, but if really aren’t sure about it than you shouldn’t do it.

Anyway I went into my marriage with good intentions and expected the best. Maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I jinxed myself. The road to hell is paved with the skidmarks of those who had good intentions but managed to crash their cars anyway

Eventually I reached a place where it became clear to me that the marriage wasn’t going to be salvageable and that it would be better for everyone if we ended things. It was an uncomfortable decision but I can’t say that it was a revelation either.

It was a necessary change that I needed to make. I had to get out because I was being stifled and dying a slow death.

I wasn’t the husband I wanted to be. I wasn’t a good partner anymore and out of respect to my ex-wife I told her so. I told her that she deserved better and I wanted better for her.

The way I saw things it made sense for the children to have two happy parents and not two who were constantly stressed out.

Thunder & Lightning

The distant boom of thunder and a flash of lightning made it clear that Springtime had arrived. Her desk was on the 22nd floor providing her with a clear view of the cloud filled sky. Though it was only mid morning the black clouds and falling rain made it appear to be far later than it was.

For a moment she stared out the window and lost herself in thought. Later that day she’d join a thousand other commuters on the road and engage in the joy of rush hour. She was hopeful that it would be an uneventful drive, but this time of year you never did know when a hailstorm might start.

A good hailstorm could wreak havoc upon your car. Out here the hail had a proclivity for being larger, golf ball and even softball size hail were not uncommon. It was fun to watch from within the comfort of your home, provided it wasn’t wrecking your car or battering a hole in your roof.

Two more blasts of thunder made her windows shake. That didn’t bode well for bedtime. The kids hated the noise and would seek comfort sleeping with mom. That was good for them, they’d get a full nights rest, but not so good for her. They had a tendency to roll around and kick their legs. More than likely she’d wake up bruised and exhausted.

As she sat there lost in thought she wondered if he ever thought about her or whether he had just moved on. She didn’t really think that he had, but they had never gone this long without speaking. She wasn’t used to the silence and hadn’t really believed that he would maintain it for as long as he had.

It was confusing. The silence made her feel unimportant and irrelevant. She would have been thrilled to have received a call or an email, some sort of sign that he missed her. The door to her office suddenly burst open and she lost her train of thought.

There was only one person who did that, her boss. Apparently she thought that common courtesy applied to everyone but her. She was short and chunky with a hairstyle that forever looked like she had just woken up. Not only did she lack courtesy she also lacked fashion sense or maybe she just had bad eyes. It was hard to say.

Regardless of the reason she had a bad habit of wearing jeans that were three sizes too small and a tight top. It was a good look for a stuffed sausage, but not so good for her. In addition to her lack of fashion sense and courtesy she suffered from a lack of boundaries.

About once a week she’d waddle in the office and start telling stories about miserable she was and how many drugs she took to ease her mind and help her sleep. And of course these bonding moments only took place after the work day had ended.

Inevitably she’d find herself having to stay late so that she could pretend to be interested in listening to her tales of woe. It was beginning to wear upon her and she was afraid that sooner or later she’d get caught rolling her eyes or give some other sign that made it clear she thought that the boss was an idiot.

Still, she was thankful to have a job so she did her best to put up with it. Looking up from her computer she offered a big smile and waited for her instructions. Still she couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere out there that boy she wasn’t supposed to be thinking about was thinking about her too.

Repetition

I keep hearing Sheri’s voice in my head. She tells me that Ann has been reading my column and she pushes me to reach and contact her. She keeps pushing and I push back. I keep finding letters that I wrote after it was all done. I keep finding memories of moments in time both good and bad. I sit down and I stare at my words and wonder if I am a fool.

There is a part of me that wants to show them and share them with her. There is a part of me that wants Ann to see what I did and what I have done. It is not because I am angry or hurt although both words probably have some application to my general state of mind. Rather it is because I want to talk it through with her.

I want to show her that the same themes repeat themselves and that in the midst of all of this I never completely gave up. I haven’t figured out yet why that is important to me, but  I am working on it.

“There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
My pictures of you”
Pictures of You- The Cure

“I just called to say I want you to come back home
I just called to say, I love you come back home”
Picture- Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow

“With the calm of the mountains, I will love you
with insanity and balance, I will love you
with the fury of my years
the way you taught me to be
with a powerful raw scream, I will love you
In secrecy and in silence, I will love you
risking (bordering) in what’s forbidden, I will love you
in what’s false and in what’s true with my heart wide open
because you’re something that’s not perfect, I will love you
I will love you, I will love you in a way that’s not allowed
I will love you, I will love you in a way that’s never been known of
Because that’s what I have decided, I will love you”

Te Amare- Miguel Bose & Laura Pausini

I don’t look at your pictures as often as I used to. It got to be too hard. Every time I’d look at them I’d see the great love of my life and wonder what happened. Sometimes I’d find myself caressing the screen and whispering words that I only share with you. I’d stare in silence and wonder why you didn’t answer.

It wasn’t a big secret, pictures don’t speak to us in that sort of manner. They tell stories about a past life and hint at echoes of a future that we might share. Echoes of a future is a phrase that would have caught your eye. It is a contradiction. We expect to hear echoes of the past, but that is not what I think of with us.

Those days in which we talked about our future aren’t that long ago, though sometimes it feels like a different life. Those moments where we lay naked and said that there had never been a time when we weren’t a part of each other. I know that you remember. Outsiders will read naked and think it is a physical reference, something sexual, but you know that it is different.

Naked refers to our hearts and souls, although I am not sure that it is accurate to describe them as being separate. Once they were two different sets. That was before we realized how very empty they were and how we filled the gaps.

Neither of us were prepared for what came afterwards. No one could have predicted it or told us how to act or what to do. When things were right there was no one happier than you or I. The night sky was filled with stars and the forest floor was lit by a huge smiling moon. We held hands and walked for hours through a wonderland.

The days were similar. Endless blue skies called out to us. We played like children and ran through the waves, each taking a turn to chase the other. It was magic.

And then it wasn’t.

Things changed. Those fingers that had been intertwined lost their grip and our hands slipped out of each others grasp. Fear, anger and frustration sowed doubt where there had been none. Little nicks, scrapes and bruises that had never bothered us suddenly took on new meaning.

And then we lost each other. Somewhere on the road we got separated. Those moments of doubt made me wonder if perhaps it had been intentional. Anger came and it seemed pointless to chase something that was a pipe dream.

But somewhere along the way it changed again and I began to hear little whispers. Quiet moments in which I could hear you calling out for me. I wondered if it was just my mind playing tricks on me or if perhaps you really did need me.

I told you that I would be your hero and that if you called for help I would do whatever it took to rescue you. But the truth is that I need you to rescue me as badly as you need me to rescue you. We have always known this.

So I kissed you one last time. One final kiss so that we’d never forget. One kiss so that if we ever lost our way we could use it to find our way back.

For now that kiss is a silent memory that is locked inside my heart. It is a reminder of what once was and a promise of what still might be. One kiss and nothing was ever the same. Who knew that a single kiss could hold so much power.

What Is Important

The more I think about it the more I realize that it is important to me to just get some of these thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto paper. It is cathartic and revealing. I hadn’t considered how much emotion and desire I had buried.

So I have to do the one thing that I didn’t want to do and that is continue to mine the dark corners of my mind and figure out what ghosts are hiding in the darkness. It sounds stupid but I am not entirely sure what I will find so the only thing I can do is light a candle and take a walk to see what is lurking beneath the surface.

They say that still waters run deep and if my experience is any gauge of the truth then the waters I sail through are filled with all sorts of sea creatures and magical beasties.

This Was Our Song

I have that crazy feeling inside my head now. It is an itch I can’t scratch and an ache that won’t go away. It is you. You are to blame. You are thinking about me or thinking about us.

Don’t know exactly what you are thinking. Can’t say whether it is positive or negative. Can’t tell if you are dreaming about what could be or lamenting what was. I just know that I am on your mind just as you know that I am on yours.

Sometimes this feeling makes me want to howl with frustration. I want to go outside and run with the moon and unleash my rage against the sky. I want to run until I am exhausted and just collapse wherever I fall but I can’t and I won’t.

I can’t because I am unwilling to share that side with anyone else. I am unwilling to expose it because it won’t be understood. It will be dissected, discussed and misinterpreted and I can’t deal with that. Not because I am not capable of it but because it is just too much. It is just more than I am willing to give and that is reason enough not to do it.

So I listen to Mick singing Visions of Paradise and I think about when this was one of our songs.

“Don’t tell me when
Something is beautiful
And don’t tell me how to
Talk to my friends
Just tell me the names of
The stars in the sky
What’s your favorite song
Tell me the names of the
Lovers you had
Before I came along

Don’t put your arms around me
And don’t hold me tight
‘Cause I could get used to
Your vision of paradise

And don’t ask me where
All of the pain goes
‘Cause you make me feel
That I don’t know myself
You say that you want me forever
And I say that love is no crime
So tell me the names of the children
We’ll have at the end of the line”

I wonder sometimes if maybe I am crazy and confused. I wonder sometimes if wishes and wants have got me so damn mixed up that I can’t tell what is from what was. And then Mick sings that line using your heart and not your head and I wonder if he is talking to us.

The sensible, grounded man that lives inside me says that it is just a song that was constructed to appeal to people. It was written so that we would relate and that is what I am doing, relating to it.

But goddamn it woman, I feel it. I sense it. I know it. Just as I could tell when you were about to pick up the telephone to call me I know now what it is I sense but I don’t know what to do about it.

Don’t know whether to walk, no run the other direction as fast I can so that I can try to forget. But here is the deal, life is nothing but a series of moments in time set against the backdrop of the people who share them.

We did more than share a moment. We built an entire universe and lived a thousand lives inside our secret world. We loved and we lived. Man loves woman and girl loves boy.

I don’t have to ask your permission to love you and I don’t have to live in the past. I can pretend that once was is just a memory and I can move on past the moment. That is the beauty of choice and free will. But I can also admit, accept and acknowledge that something more is going on and I can follow the signs through the mist and blaze a trail through the fog.

I can see if that helps that which once was morph into that which is and that is what I intend to do. Life is short and our grip is tenuous. So I will do what I do best and dance in the fire and dare the flames to burn me. I will climb the hills and walk through the valleys because that was the promise I made to you and I will hold myself to it.

And I will do what is required so that I can determine whether the ghosts I see are the spirits of the future or the shades of the past. And in the midst of it all I will continue to hold out my hand so that you can take it. Because I never stopped being your hero and I never gave up.

The Fragile Male Ego

“You know I’d really like to kick his ass and the other two, three or 16 that you used to be with.”

“Sweetheart, I don’t understand what made you so angry. He is a newcaster. I said that I thought he is cute, but you are handsome, sexy and the only man I want to be with.”

I couldn’t tell you what set me off but when she came up behind me and wrapped her arms around me I stayed tense and angry. It was an innocuous comment that had been made off the cuff. I didn’t have any reason to be upset or angry, but I was.

“I don’t like thinking about you with other men. I know that I am not the only one and most of the time I am ok with that but every now and then it just sets me off to think that some other guy has seen that smile.  The funny thing about this is that I am glad that you have had some experience. I don’t want you to compare me to the other guys but I want you to know enough to see that we are different.

I hate being like this. I hate sounding crazy and controlling because I am not.”

She took my hand and led me over the couch. We sat down, she took my hand and smiled.

“Jack, I think it is very sweet that you are jealous. You aren’t controlling, crazy but not controlling.” A small giggle followed and I couldn’t help but smile. She knew that I couldn’t stay angry with her.

“I guess it is because of that time back in school, before we got together. You don’t know how long I used to dream about you and wonder what it would be like to just hold your hand. I used to see you walking down the hall with Chester and wonder why the hell you were with him.”

“Why do you call him Chester? I never understood that.”

“I did it because that big oaf didn’t like it. One day he came up to me at school and told me that if he caught me looking at you again he was going to kick my ass. I said that I wasn’t afraid of ‘Chester the molester’ and suggested that if he wanted to continue to have functional arms and legs he should back to the baseball fields.”

She nodded her head and told me that he hated me.

“He really wanted to fight you but I wouldn’t let him. We got into a big argument about it. When we broke up he threw me across the hood of his car and screamed at me.”

“Baby, I am so sorry. I wish that he was here now because I want to slap his face.”

“Why would you slap his face? Why wouldn’t you hit him? I don’t want you to fight him, but I don’t understand why you would slap him.”

I smiled at her and told her that it was because men don’t slap other men. That slap was the kind of insult that he couldn’t ignore.  She just shook her head and said something about men being foolish and I shrugged my shoulders. “Love me for being stupid. Love me for being smart. Just love me and I’ll be happy.

Lightning Strikes Twice

“No more talk of darkness
Forget these wide eyed fears
I’m here, nothing can harm you
My words will warm and calm you

Let me be your freedom
Let daylight dry your tears
I’m here, with you, beside you
To guard you and to guide you”
All I Ask of You- Phantom of the Opera

“You sheltered me from harm, kept me warm, kept me warm
You gave my life to me, set me free, set me free
The finest years I ever knew, were all the years I had with you
Chorus:
I would give anything I own, give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own, just to have you back again
You taught me how to laugh, what it solved, what it solved
You never said too much, but still you showed the way
And I knew from watching you
Nobody else could ever know, the part of me that can’t let go”
Everything I Own- Bread

The stormy weather matches my mood. It fluctuates between pensive and irritated. Flashes of light streak across the sky followed by deep booming noises. It reminds me of places past and present. Twenty-five years ago I walked down the streets of Jerusalem and watched a soldier react to the sound of dynamite exploding.

He threw my friend upon the ground and brought his weapon to his shoulder, eyes scanning the highway for signs of danger.

Seventeen years ago violent shaking woke me from a restless slumber. Women and children screamed, car alarms shrieked, glass broke and the earth issued this incredible rumble. For a moment I feared that I would be thrown from my bed and then the moment had passed.

You are out there somewhere. You were always out there. When I walked those streets of Jerusalem and made plans to leave America you were living your life elsewhere. And again you were there when the earth shook and I wondered if this was the moment when the ground would open up and swallow my home.

There has never been a time or moment that you weren’t there. Only moments of ignorance and lack of awareness. You weren’t on my radar or a gleam in my eyes. Perhaps you were a dream that I never wanted to believe in. A dream because I didn’t believe that someone like you was out there.

It is funny in an odd sort of way. I can hear you telling me that you’ll never forgive me for not finding you sooner. I can hear you calling my name, asking why I am silent. I tell you that I don’t share my thoughts easily. I live in a world of silence because I choose to be silent. I tell you that I am shy and you laugh.

You don’t believe me. You don’t understand how very different you are. You don’t know how many complained about my unwillingness to share. You don’t know how very silent I can be. You don’t know because I gave you that key. You don’t know because you have always seen what others couldn’t. You don’t know because I celebrated being able to be so free and so open with someone.

But it is a two way street. When my door opened wide so did yours. I don’t share your grace. I don’t walk, I lumber. And so I lumbered on in and made myself at home. Home, that is what we were for each other. A refuge and a sanctuary that provided incredible amounts of strength. An indefatigable team who was naturally able to heal each other.

Those echoes of the future still rumble through my head. That feeling is there, the one that tells me that you are out there. Sometimes I feel you fight it and hear you cry out for logic and reason. I see the lists that you make and I know why you do what you do.

There are moments in time when I shrug my shoulders and work on accepting what is and what cannot be. It is not as hard as you might think. That guy still lives inside me. The hard ass who preferred to keep people at arm’s length. He stays just beneath the surface and snickers at me. He snickers because he is convinced that in short order he’ll be given free reign again.

Yet…I am not so sure that he is right. When I close my eyes I see you staring back at me. Lightning crashes and I am convinced that it can strike twice. I have that knowing smile, that crazy curvy lip you remember. The promises of the past and the echoes of the future tell me that some things aren’t quite done. The whispers in the wind tell of a time coming that will give the truth of the matter.

Dancing

It is Saturday night and the dance floor is packed full of people. Everywhere you look there are bodies moving, some with rhythm and some without but still moving.

Ann and a few of her friends are dancing together. It is one of those things that women sometimes do in packs. I don’t claim to know much about women, let alone understand them but I know that the pack means that some if no all of them are single.

I am standing in the corner, beer in hand, head bobbing in time with the music. I am watching and waiting for the liquid courage to kick in. I am not a dancer. I don’t have the graceful movements that make women swoon over my moves. I know this and am very self conscious about it.

Sometimes I wish that I could move like Fred Astaire because I could grab a partner and make her into my Ginger Rogers. We’d glide across the dance floor and somewhere during the dance there would be a moment. She’d look in my eyes and I’d smile at her. A connection would be made and I’d know that if I tried to kiss her she wouldn’t turn her head to the side or use her hand to stop me.

Jack, the ever so suave dancer wouldn’t try that, at least not immediately. He’d make her wait and let the anticipation build. Let her wonder what it would be like. Let her imagination run wild and then at the perfect moment I’d help her find out if truth matched imagination.

At least that is the fantasy and the dream. In reality I know that I am not going to impress her with my dance moves. I am a second look guy. Got to get her attention and find a relatively quiet place to talk. If I can do that I might have a good shot. I have a good sense of humor and I am good at making women laugh. I know how to build a rapport and create a connection.

That is the theory that I want to put in practice, but I am sort of stumped. I have watched several of the guys wander over to the pack and watched the girls reject them. I don’t know what was said but I can tell that they just aren’t interested. This is more of a girl’s night out than a chance to meet guys or so it appears to me.

But I have had a crush on Ann for a long time now and have never seen a good opportunity to do something about it.  Either she had a boyfriend or there was some other obstacle that I couldn’t quite figure out. It frustrates me. I am a very confident person but she is so damn hot I fumble over my words and stutter.

Even though it is dark I can see her smiling and can almost hear her laughing at something someone says. I down the rest of the beer and start thinking about what I am going to say. Ten feet separates us and now she has her back to me. I watch her hips move and wonder what it would be like to run my hands through her hair.

She gets such a strong response from me that I find myself wondering if there is some sort of pheromone in play. I take a deep breath and say, “fuck it!  No guts, no glory.” Just as I am about to say hello I feel someone hug me from behind.

I don’t have to look at the hands on my stomach to know that whomever is hugging me is female. I can feel her entire body pressed up against me but instead of being happy I am irritated.

This is not what I want. I finally have worked up the courage to try and talk to Ann and some other chick has chosen to grab me. You don’t have to put a mirror in front of my face for me to know that I am glaring. And because lady luck is a fickle bitch this happens to be the same moment that Ann chooses to turn around and make eye contact with me.

Instead of being able to flash a warm and inviting smile she sees lightning bolts flashing in my eyes and quickly turns away.

“FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”

Now I am angry. I turn to confront whomever hugged me. “Hi Jack, you and your Polo Cologne are so predictable.

Her name is Nancy.  The year before we had a sort of friends with benefits type of relationship. It was fun while it lasted but then she got a boyfriend and I got the boot. I didn’t really mind much. The sex was good but once it was over I had nothing to say to her. Frankly once it was over I wanted to get the hell out of there but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I hung out for a while.

“Hi Nancy.”

“I haven’t seen you in forever, come dance with me.” I don’t know if she didn’t hear me say no or if she just ignored, but when she took my hand I pulled it back and shook my head.

“C’mon Jack, I want to dance without being groped by some sweaty guy.”

“Is someone bothering you?  Just tell him you aren’t interested.”

“No, no one is bothering me. I just want to dance with you.”

“I’d really rather not.”

I looked up and discovered that Ann wasn’t on the dance floor anymore. “Fuck!”

Nancy smiles and tells me that if I am nice I might get my wish. “Dammit Nancy, I am just not interested.” Tears begin to fill her eyes and I realize that I just rejected her in a big way. I try to apologize but she just glares at me and walks away.

Damn, moments before I missed my shot at trying to talk to Ann and then I ruined my chances for extracurricular activities with someone else. Decades later I’ll look back at this moment and smile at the thought of how inconsequential my problems used to be.

Goodbye Daddy

Ann’s father died during that in between period of time when we weren’t speaking. He had the kind of awful terminal illness that robs a person of their dignity and destroys their quality of life.

I can’t say that I really knew him all that well, if at all. It wasn’t that he was some sort of unapproachable, scary man because he wasn’t.  When we were younger I wasn’t interested in spending time with Ann’s parents. It really had nothing to do with them and everything to do with hormones and being crazy about her.  Our time was so limited I tried hard to find places where we would have some privacy.

By the time we really got serious we off at school so we weren’t in a position to spend much time with them.  Now I look back at that time and wonder if why I didn’t make more of an effort to see them. I suppose that I should qualify that last sentence and say it was the father in me speaking.

I want to know who my children are spending their time with and I especially want to know what boys my daughter is spending her time with. Come to think of it that is probably why I didn’t want to be around them so much. Fathers have an innate ability to look at the boy their daughters are with and know that he isn’t always thinking of her in terms that would make daddy happy.

Ask my daughter and she’ll tell you that I have one hell of a thousand yard stare that I give to the boys. Can’t help it, I am male and while I don’t think that we are all bad I know what thoughts go through our minds. But we’ll save that conversation because that is not what this is about.

*****

Ann was close with her dad. I might not have spent much time in person with them but I heard lots of stories and believe it or not I paid attention. Although I probably wasn’t very good at showing her that I heard what she was saying. I won’t make any excuses about why other than to say that the connection and chemistry between us sometimes made it hard to think.

That is an awkward way of saying that I wanted to see her naked, but I digress.

I can remember more than a few telephone calls where I listened to her ask him for help with her math or physics homework. I knew how to do all that stuff too, but I couldn’t explain it very well. If you wanted help with an essay or to talk about history, politics I was your guy. That was something that I understood well enough to teach.

*****

Anyway, I can’t remember how I heard about her dad but when I did I felt awful. I was sort of surprised by how badly it made me feel. Maybe it is because I knew how close they were and how much she looked up to him. Maybe it is because I knew that it was going to leave one hell of a hole in her heart.

The thing is that when I say we weren’t talking then is that suggests that there was contact between us and there really wasn’t.  I didn’t know then that she was reading my column or that she had read my books.

I wasn’t even conscious of how many references I had made to us in those articles and those stories. I was lost in my world and walking around in a bubble that I had built to get through the day. Ah, the joys of bad relationships are plentiful. You get into your routine and do your best to pretend that things are better than they are. You do it because you don’t want to upset the apple cart and make the children cry.

You do it because you think that if you can just get through another day some sort of magic relationship fairy will come down and wave their wand over your heads. You do it because you have convinced yourself that magic fucking fairy dust will fix the things that are broken and then one day you realize that magic fucking fairy dust isn’t real.

*****

I wanted to reach out to her and tell her how sorry I was for her loss but I wasn’t sure how. All that passion and fire that we shared had blown up in our faces. When things fell apart between us it had gotten ugly. I didn’t want to add to the ugliness so I had done my best to hold my tongue and tried to walk away as fast as I could.

But somewhere between that time and her father’s death the anger I felt lost some of its edge. By the time the news had sunk in I wasn’t angry at all- I was just sad. I was sad because once upon a time I had told her that there wasn’t anyone in the world that I wanted to take care of more than her. It wasn’t a promise I made in bed. I made it during the daylight hours while we were fully dressed.

It was something that I took very seriously, but life happened and we went our separate ways so I tried to forget about it and her.  So when I got the news I didn’t do much about it. I sent a card with my condolences and never heard back.

I don’t know if she ever got it. It didn’t say much other than I was very sorry for her loss. It wasn’t even signed, just had my initials in it. But what was I supposed to say or write?

Back then I didn’t know what her marital status was and even though mine was “dead man walking” I wasn’t about to share that. It would have been completely inappropriate and I was in complete denial about having any interest in her.

The funny thing is that I thought about flying out to the funeral. I had this image of me at the cemetery in a black suit, sunglasses and a black Borsalino.  I don’t know what I would have said or done. If I was a character in one of my books I know exactly how I would have played it. He would have been suave, polite and comforting.

Somehow the two of them would have ended up in bed and had this tearful, tasteful and touching moment. That kind of thing can happen in a book. I am not saying that it can’t happen in real life but it is a hell of a lot harder to pull off.

So I didn’t go to the funeral. I stayed home and got lost in thoughts about what she was doing and how she was feeling. If wants were wishes then I would have worn out the genie in giving her a thousand hugs and a shoulder to cry on.

*****

Damn woman. I ought to charge her rent for the time she has spent in my head. If Sheri heard me say any or all of this she would just shake her head and say “I told you so.” She’d probably tell you that women are a step ahead of men, most of the time I would disagree but in this case I have a sneaking suspicion that she might be right, but I’ll never admit that.

I suppose that at some point I’ll need to tell her that I really do miss Ann. I keep thinking that still waters run deep and that some fires never burn out, they just fade.  Guess some things haven’t changed, I still want to take care of her.

Valentine’s Day

It won’t be long before another Valentine’s Day rolls around but I have no intention of doing a damn thing about it. If you knew Ann I’d tell you to ask her about the last Valentine’s Day gift she got from me.

Unless she has gotten hit in the head and lost that famous memory of hers she will tell you that she never received a thing for the day. I don’t like it and I don’t believe in it. I refuse to let someone tell me when I should be romantic and loving. It irks me to see how the greeting card companies have co-opted this day and created issues that shouldn’t exist.

Some people refer to it as International Steak and Blow Job day. Truth be told that is something that I can get behind.  I suspect that most men are fond of having a great meal that is followed by some good bedroom activities. But I can tell you from experience that the difference between a good blow job and a bad one often lies in whether she really wants to do it.

When she doesn’t want to do it you risk having a very poor experience and well, let’s be honest this is not a good area to be disappointed in. In fact if you asked me to list the top five things that I don’t want to be disappointed about I would list food and sex as numbers one and two. Depending on the moment I might reverse the order there, but you get the point.

Anyhoo, I never felt guilt about not doing anything for Valentine’s Day for Ann because I don’t think a day went by in which I didn’t say I love you or she to me. We said constantly and often. That might sound like a contradiction to you but she’d get it.

I suppose that one of the things that I have realized over the years is that I never took her for granted. She made me feel loved, warm and wonderful and I did the same for her. We were special.

And now with the day approaching I concede that I wonder if she is going to do anything for it and if so, with who. Remind me to call Sheri and thank her for making me feel like an idiot. I went from a place where I wasn’t bothered by the idea of her being with someone else to wanting to cut off his little buddy. Ok, I don’t really want to cut it off but I don’t there to be any shot of it ending up anywhere other than inside his pants.

Just writing that makes me feel like a kid in high school except I am not. I am a grown man who is acting like an idiot about a woman who might not have any interest whatsoever in him.

Yes, I know that she has been reading my column and has read my books. Yes I know that the girls swear that this means there is something more to this than curiosity. Yes, I know that I can’t find out without contacting her but there is a part of me that is holding back because sometimes you need to let sleeping dogs lie.

What if she has no interest. What if I am nothing more than a fond memory of what was. All I will have done is torn off a scab and poured Tabasco sauce on it. Wouldn’t it be easier to just hit myself in the head with a baseball bat.

And let’s not forget that we are talking about a modern woman. She could reach out to me. She could call or write. Why do I have to be first. Does it matter that she once told me that she will never say I love you first.

Don’t bother answering that because the answer is yet it matters. I am sure that she has changed and that the woman I knew isn’t quite the same but something tells me that hasn’t changed. Something tells me that she’ll expect me to take a traditional role here.

Got to be honest there is a part of me that wants to call her and suggest that we agree to sleep together for Valentine’s Day. Wouldn’t it take all the pressure off of us. We wouldn’t have to do the whole song and dance where neither one of us knows for certain if it is going to happen. We could just skip that silly little mating ritual.

It would probably surprise her. Women like surprises. That might help me. Or she might just tell me to go to hell in which case I have worked myself up for nothing. It is moments like this that I wish I were gay. I understand men. We are logical, rational and reasonable.

Women are just nuts.

The Relationship Expert

Ann called me from downstairs to let me know that she was parking her car. I looked outof the window and watched her walk across the parking lot towards the entrance.  The room was too high up for me to see her face but there was no mistaking those long legs and her jet black hair.

I ran to the bathroom and brushed my teeth for the second time. It would be an understatement to say that I was excited. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to be cool but I had this tingly sensation running through me. So I dropped to the floor and started doing push ups.

A moment or two later there was a knock on the door. “Just a moment,” I said. My heart was pounding. I took two quick steps into the bathroom, made a muscle, rolled my eyes at my self and then took a deep breath.

I opened the door and she jumped into my arms or maybe I pulled her into them, I am not really sure. What I am certain of is that I barely was able to say hello before her lips met mine. She wrapped her legs around me and I walked us over to the bed.

The telephone rang and interrupted my memory. It was Harold.

“How’s it coming Jack”

“The same way it always does Harold. Grab some lotion, close your eyes.”

Harold’s response proved that he is either going deaf or experience has taught him to ignore me. Personally I am voting for his going deaf. It might be irritating to have to repeat myself, but I would hate to miss out on the joy I get from watching his reaction.

“I have good news. Kim Boston is going to be in town and has agreed to let you interview her.”

“Great. I’ll start by asking her if her parents ever considered using a more interesting first name like Dakota or Brooklyn.  If she ever decides to stop parading all over town as the self anointed Relationship Expert she can change her name and become a dancer. Personally I like the sound of Brooklyn Boston better. What do you think.”

“I told her that you would meet her at her hotel at 7 PM tonight. Don’t be late.”

I thanked Harold for his help and hung up the phone. Kim Boston was one of a million “therapists” who had found their way onto television and used it as a platform to make a name for themselves.

According to the biography on her website Ms. Boston had helped hundreds of couples learn to love more deeply and have better and more meaningful sex. The twenty year-old version of me would have made some smart ass remark about loving more deeply and having more meaningful sex but I am far too mature for that kind of thing now.

Oh, who am I kidding. If you talk having sex and use the word deeply it is going to create a certain image in my mind.

On a semi related note, if there is an upside to getting divorced it is the crazy sex that comes along with it.  There was/is a lot of it and every which way that you can think of. In some ways it is not that different from college, except that this time around you are dealing with mature women who are comfortable with their bodies and know precisely how they want it.

The first time I was with someone besides my wife was a surreal experience. My wife wasn’t my first lover, not by a long shot.  I had been around the block a time or two, but I had forgotten about some people are in sync with you and some aren’t. I suppose that you might even say that I was a bit nervous and a tad insecure.

When things began to get interesting I lay back, closed my eyes and was just about to relax and then bam! A gentleman isn’t supposed to tell these sorts of tales but let’s just say that I was surprised I wasn’t bleeding. We made eye contact and she murmured some sort of apology but from that moment on I was hyper aware of everything that was happening.

These sorts of things aren’t supposed to happen to real people. They are supposed to take place in movies and bad sitcoms. Or maybe they do happen in real life because it did happen and I was the one who experienced it.

Needless to say we didn’t make a love connection and we both moved on. Now the woman after her was a different story. She had beautiful green eyes and long blonde hair which made her the polar opposite of almost every other woman I had ever dated in my life. I don’t have anything against blondes, but we rarely connected.

But this time was different.  We had real chemistry and one heck of a sex life. I don’t know if it was because she had just gotten out of a sexless marriage or if it was pheromones but the woman was on fire. It was as much as I wanted, as often as I wanted and any way I wanted.

I remember looking at her and asking her where she was when I was 18 because that was the type of girl that I fantasized about finding.  Those first few months were just a lot of fun.

My cellphone buzzed again. It was a text from Harold letting me know that my interview with Kim Boston had been moved to a different hotel. It was the same hotel that Ann and I had been in that one time. Should I take that as coincidence or another message from the universe.

I grabbed a beer opened the sliding door and sat outside on the patio. Blue skies all around me, I took a sip and remembered more about that day with Ann.

It was among the most intense and erotic of my life. We didn’t know where we began or where we ended. I remember the smile on her face when she unbuttoned my pants and how time stopped. I remember her saying I love you and my saying it back and how I told her that I didn’t care if she got pregnant that day because I wanted to be with her forever.

She wrapped her legs around me, kissed me and I felt her hips start moving and I knew from the look on her face that we had found perfection.

What I didn’t know was that years later I’d be on my way to see Kim Boston the relationship expert wondering how things could have ended up going so wrong.  Well I suppose it is all part of what makes life so damn interesting. Perhaps Ms. Boston will be able to enlighten me, we’ll have to see. This could get interesting. It might be the first interview I do where I have to have a drink while doing it.

A Letter To A Girl Who Was

I was made to love her,
Worship and adore her,
Hey, hey, hey.

All through thick and thin
Our love just won’t end,
‘Cause I love my baby, love my baby. Ah!

My baby loves me,
My baby needs me,
And I know I ain’t going nowhere.

I was knee high to a chicken
When that love bug bit me,
I had the fever with each passing year.

Oh, even if the mountain tumbles,
If this whole world crumbles,
By her side I’ll still be standing there.

‘Cause I was made to love her,
I was made to live for her, yeah!

Ah, I was made to love her,
Built my world all around her,
Hey, hey, hey.”
I Was Made To Love Her- Stevie Wonder

Hey woman, it is me again. Yeah, I know you can’t figure out what I see or why I keep this up. You’re tactile and concrete in your world view. The queen of low expectations who likes to think that she is logical and rational, but I know better. You are one crazy broad and I don’t care.

I don’t care because you are the one who fills me up and makes me happy. You drive me crazy with some of your completely ridiculous habits and your nonsensical proclamations. No one does a better job of infuriating me. No one makes me angrier and no one makes me feel sadder. I once told you that you were the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to me.

How is that for a start to a love letter. But the reasons I love you can’t be written down and checked off like some cockamamie grocery list. You can’t apply logic to love and you can’t ignore your heart. You can try and ignore it, you can come up with reasons to stay angry and use those to keep me at a distance. You can come up with a million reasons why it shouldn’t happen and so can I.

As a matter of fact I have. I know why and how. I get it and I dismiss it because as your partner I am the one who understands dreams and recognizes that sometimes we can be more than we are. I know these things because they occupy a place inside me that cannot be ignored or dismissed. I can’t forget or ignore who I am without you and who I am with you.

Can’t pretend that it didn’t happen. Can’t ignore the past, but I can see the future. Can see the possibilities and I can’t stop chasing them. Can’t pretend that a life without you is the kind that I want to live. Don’t go off half cocked and worry that I am going to kill myself because that is not going to happen. I am too freaking strong for that, too stupid and too stubborn.Too crazy by half to wreck the chance of holding you again.

If it never happens that will be tragic and the angels will weep and the heavens will open up with a torrential downpour and a lightning storm such as the world has never seen. But it would be nothing compared to the storm that rages within me at the idea of just giving up. Nothing compared to the pain I feel at the thought of not trying.

So as I tell you now and have said before- I will jump headfirst into the flames. I will burn and ache because you are worth it to me. I will do it because you brought me back to life. You rescued me when I had no idea that I was almost dead. You took my heart and taught it to beat and soothed my soul. You reminded me that the world is filled with magic and helped me recognize that there is something more out there.

Is it hard to read this. Is it hard to write. Is it all difficult and crazy. Yes to all of the above. There is a class out there that we can teach and many that we should take together. There is a world that is waiting for us and a chance to be the people that we want to be. We don’t have to wear these shackles or to be prisoners of circumstances.

Take my hand…please…I don’t beg anyone or lay my throat bare for anyone. You know this, you have always known it. So to the one person who sees me for who I am I ask, take my hand. If you do I promise one hell of a ride. Stop blushing, I didn’t mean it that way, but ok, go ahead and blush ‘cuz…well you know.

Give me your hand and I will make like Samson and tear down the walls of this prison. Give me your hand and I will be Popeye on spinach and Bluto will have no hope. Take my hand and fly for a while. Live your dreams, don’t dream your life.

Be My Valentine

A smart reporter does their best to never go into an interview blind. It doesn’t matter if  they have agreed to speak with you for five minutes, an hour or all day. Their comfort level with you or lack thereof has a significant impact on what you come away with.

Your job is to dig beneath the surface and find the gold nuggets that they haven’t talked about or shared with anyone else. You do that by building a rapport with them and part of the way to make that happen is by taking the time in advance to learn more about them. Even the biggest cynic will appreciate your having taken the time to learn about them.

One of the big advantages of living during the Internet age is that it has become much easier to do this sort of research, especially when you are dealing with a personality like Kim Boston. Not only did Ms. Boston have a million clips online but her personal website provided links to many of the interviews she had done and some of her YouTube videos.

I used a chunk of the afternoon learning more about her and her philosophy for a healthy relationship. It involved the usual mumbo jumbo about communication, honesty and something about women learning how to “own their orgasm.” Because I have a juvenile sense of humor I wanted to suggest that she write a book call “Communication and Copulation.”

I also made a mental note to ask her how women were supposed to “own their orgasm” and if perhaps there might be a place that sold them. It seems to me that could be very useful for men, not to mention that it would make a great Valentine’s Day gift. “Honey, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that I didn’t get you chocolate or flowers this year. The good news is that I got you an orgasm.”

Don’t try to tell me that wouldn’t be an amazing gift that she would cherish. How much fun would it be to write ad copy for a product. We could call it “She Came First.”  It would make one hell of an infomercial. Who wants to watch some hairpiece wearing celebrity talk about how he found a way to regrow hair when you could be watching some hot babes hawking “She Came First.” Order now, operators are standing by.

Some of you may mock me for my my million dollar idea but I am telling you that it could work. Sadly I can’t focus on that now because I am too busy getting ready to talk to Ms. “Own Your Orgasm” Boston. Do you think she’d mind if I called her “The Big O.”

Something tells me that I better save that comment for the end of our interview. It probably wouldn’t be wise to take a chance on antagonizing her at the start. Not that it has ever stopped me before. When it comes to aggravating women I am a professional.

*****

The car ride to the hotel was filled with the sweet sounds of rush hour traffic and pleasant examples of road rage, most of which was not caused by me. Ok, I concede that I might have tapped my brakes several extra times but that was only because the driver of the Mercedes behind me seemed to be quite interested in sitting in my back seat. Who am I to deny him.

I walked into the hotel lobby and looked around the room for Ms. Boston my soon to be business partner and discovered she was running late or maybe I was just unnaturally early.

My cellphone buzzed and I looked down and discovered that Ms. Boston was indeed running about 30 minutes behind so I decided to make good use of my time. I wandered over to the hotel bar and grabbed a seat facing the television. I ordered a drink and watched the Lakers dominate the Mavericks.

Even though it had been years it was hard not to remember my time with Ann here.  I tried to figure out if the hotel had made any significant changes but I couldn’t really tell. The last time we had been here we had spent the bulk of our time in our room.

There were only two memories outside of the room that really stuck out in my mind. Instead of ordering room service we had come down to eat lunch in the hotel restaurant. I turned to my right and spotted the room. If I wasn’t mistaken I was staring at the table we sat at. Four empty chairs stood vigil over the condiments and white tablecloth.

“Waiter, can you please take the ketchup away we really don’t like it.” We didn’t have a problem with it. I like ketchup and use it on my eggs and hamburgers but Ann isn’t a fan. Her sending it away was one of those silly things that couples sometimes do. She did it solely to get a reaction out of me. I knew what she was doing so I kept a blank expression.

Later on when we went back up to the room I told her that since she loved the taste of it so  much I was going to make a point to drink and bathe in it. At the time we thought it was funny and cute but now it just sounds ridiculous. I might have to ask Ms. Boston if women who hate ketchup can “own their orgasm.” Yep, when it comes to finding wars to endear myself to others I am a master.

*****

My phone buzzed again.  It was a text from Harold that said Ms. Boston was running late. It included an admonishment not to start drinking before she got there. I sent a text in return that said “Thanks Mom” and looked around the room to see if Ms. Boston had arrived. She hadn’t. I looked back at the television and saw that the game had gone into halftime. There wasn’t any sound and I didn’t want to read lips so I took out my note pad and a pen and started doodling.

For a moment there was complete quiet in the lobby and I hear Simon and Garfunkel singing ‘Bookends.” They sang about preserving our memories and then “Something” by The Beatles came on and a wave of memories washed over me.

*****

Somewhere out there the song of my heart is dancing to the song that only we hear. Somewhere out there she lives her life and in the quiet of the night remembers moments when she would hold onto my arms, smile and say “Harder Kimio.”

Somewhere out there the song of my heart remembers that vacation we took together and how we stopped time. This is one of the stories that she won’t tell you because she refuses to admit to herself that together we touched the face of god. She won’t talk about the moment on the beach or stolen kisses in an elevator.

She won’t tell you about the moment on the balcony as the sun set over the sea or how we collapsed upon the couch our limbs tangled and our hair tousled.

And perhaps I shouldn’t either. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that we couldn’t tell where one of us ended and the other began. She didn’t have to tell me to take her nor did I have to ask.

We connected and understood. She gave and I received or maybe I gave and she received. Doesn’t matter who did what with what or to whom because what we did, we did together.

The song of my heart is dancing to the song that only we hear. Somewhere out there she dances and her body remembers my touch. Somewhere out there she remembers my hands upon her hips and the rumble of my voice in her ear.

In the secret garden of promises made and promises kept she remembers how we dropped the camera into a sink filled with water. She remembers how we laughed until our sides ached and how we walked her fingers intertwined in mine into that crazy camera shop.

We were short on cash but somehow we scraped enough together to buy a new Canon camera. An hour later as we got ready to go to dinner I snapped a picture of her standing in front of the sink in bra and panties.

When she asked me why I did it I told her that I had been possessed by the spirit of Kimio. She laughed, threw her arms around my neck and kissed me.

Sometimes during the quiet of the night when I am embraced by the darkness I return to the garden of promises made and promises kept and look for the song of my heart. Under the moonlit sky I wonder if she still glides when she walks and secretly hope that one day I will feel her hold my arms and whisper “Harder Kimio” again.

*****

I’d be the first to tell you that I am sentimental but I don’t live my life in the past. I am good about being rooted to the future and about participating in the present. But recent events and the fact that I am sitting in this particular hotel lobby have hit me hard.

Instead of focusing on the coming interview I am busy thinking about Ann. Busy wondering what she is doing and who she is doing it with. Busy asking myself questions about what I want and wondering why I am giving her this much free rent inside my head.

We haven’t spoken. I have no logical reason to believe that she is interested in me. The girls say otherwise. They tell me that I am a fool and an idiot. They swear that she isn’t hanging out because she is curious and that some flames still burn bright. They tell me to follow my heart.

Well my heart says that we are that rare couple who could take the sort of hiatus we have had and find a way to make it work. Find a way because it never really felt like work. When everything fell apart it felt like hell but it wasn’t work.

So I sit here in the lobby staring at the ceiling as if it will provide me with the answers that I want. My imagination paints a picture of the two of us gliding across a dance floor and I see her in my mind. There is no doubt that she’ll still be beautiful to me. She’ll be nervous about that. She’ll wonder if time has robbed her of her looks and be concerned that she doesn’t have the hard body I remember her with.

I don’t claim to know much about women but that much I am certain of. Just as I am certain that one kiss would bring it all back. You don’t lose the sort of chemistry that we had. That is part of why she refused to see me after we broke up. It would have been too hard in person to say no. It would have been impossible not to submit.

I kind of want to send her a card and flowers asking her to Be My Valentine. Haven’t had one since we broke up. I’d slip a note inside it and quote the Beatles.

“But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you”

Maybe I’d include a picture but I’ll have save that for later. Ms. Boston just walked in and the real world beckons.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is the song that I wanted to write for you. It is the song that I should write for you and maybe one day I shall. It is not an exaggeration to say that you are the song of my heart and that when you left it went silent.

I promised to be your knight and your protector. I promised to be your best friend and your lover. I told you that when you were sad I would kiss your tears away and rock you to sleep.

And I was and I did.

Some might suggest that it makes me less of a man to ask you to give me your hand again. Some might say that I give you too much power by doing so but I don’t think that is so. Maybe it is because I once tamed your heart and touched your soul. Maybe it is because I know that you remember how we learned together how to love and live more deeply than ever before.

Or maybe it is for none of those reasons. Maybe it is for all of those reasons. I really don’t spend much time thinking about how and why because this is not a math problem or some sort of scientific formula that must be followed or needs to be answered.

If I had to answer the question I would tell you to shut up and kiss me. Stop thinking and do. And when you did you would remember and you would know.

You would know that love is wild and that love is real. You would know that sometimes it is like standing in the eye of the storm. Everywhere you look there is wind, rain and lightning, except for that one place that we are standing together holding hands.

And sometimes you find yourself standing inside the storm and find yourself searching for shelter but if you can hold on long enough you always find it in the same place it was before.

Red dress, blue dress- it doesn’t matter because I don’t just love you. I fucking love you.

So here we are in the places we stand today farther apart than ever before and still as close as we once were. For it wouldn’t take but a moment for us to remember who we are apart and who we are together. It wouldn’t take but one kiss for our souls to soar and our hearts to surrender.

Sooner or later we shall put intellect aside and surrender to the point, purpose and passion that never left us. It may have gone dormant but not dead. Give it some water and sunshine and its petals will open wide and bloom as brightly as they ever have.

Come let me love you again and let’s resume our journey together. There is still much time and more than a few adventures to be had.

Kim Boston

Kim Boston is one of the few people that I have interviewed that looked better in person than in pictures. If memory served she was about ten years older than me but if I hadn’t read her biography I might have guessed that she was younger.

Genetics had been good to her. You wouldn’t have known that she had given birth to  four children. It probably didn’t hurt that she was 5’10 in heels and had some of the longest legs I have ever seen.

I should probably mention that checking out the woman you are supposed to interview is generally frowned upon but this time it was hard to avoid. Not because I don’t follow the rules but because she had to walk across the lobby so I had ample time watch her walk towards me.

“Hello Ms. Boston, I am Jack.”

“Hi Jack, call me Kim. It is very nice to meet you. Give me a firm grip, I won’t break”

Genetics may have been good to her but her handshake made it clear that she had spent plenty of time in the gym. It wouldn’t do to be the fat therapist on television. The sarcasm is probably uncalled for but I am a little out of sorts.”

“Tell me about your story and what you need from me.”

It took great effort not to tell her the story that kept replaying in my mind. “Well Kim, I am so glad that you asked. Some years ago my old lover and I tried to figure out if there was an earthquake or if we were really that good together. Fact is that I asked her that very question and she had trouble answering because her mouth was full.”

The next time someone tells me to grow up I want to point out that I didn’t actually say any of those last couple of sentences out loud.  A court of law might not accept that as proof of maturity but it works for me.

“I am working on a series of articles that are talking about love and relationships. There is a focus here on love in general but we want to address lost love. Some people marry the person they consider to be the great love of their lives and others don’t.  In the age of the Internet it has become much easier to track down and reconnect with those of our past. We want to help our readers understand whether that boy or girl might still carry a torch for them or not.

That is sort of the general overview. We’ll get into more specifics as we go. Does that make sense to you?”

She nodded her head and started reciting statistics about relationships. I must have done winked, snickered or snorted because right afte she hit the part about 50 percent of  marriages ending in divorce she looked at me and said, “how long?’

“Excuse me? How long for what?”

“A while.”

“It doesn’t matter whether it was amicable or adversarial divorce is always hard. I am sorry for your loss. Not every marriage is meant to last and not every relationship is forever.”

“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion -
I have shudder’d at it.
I shudder no more.
I could be martyr’d for my religion
Love is my religion
And I could die for that.
I could die for you.”
John Keats

Ann looked up at me and smiled. “Jackie, you are the love of my life. I have never loved a man the way I love you.” I brushed the hair from her cheek and kissed her.

“Honey, I am serious. I can’t imagine growing old with anyone but you.”

“My dearest Ann, do you remember that John Keats quote I gave you. I meant it. I would die for you. That isn’t me being melodramatic, it is honest. But don’t worry, I don’t have any intention of dying any time soon. My love for you just is and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t love you. Sometimes I love you so much it hurts.”

Looking backwards in time I can’t decide whether to smile at the memory or gag on the syrupy sweetness. I hadn’t earned all of the scars I carry now so I suppose that it is only fair to view it as having been something sweet and meaningful.

I remember another conversation when things had slipped a little bit between us. “Ann, I need you to promise something. If something happens to us and we stop speaking I want you to promise you will kiss me again.”

“That is ridiculous. Why not ask me to promise to sleep with you again.”

“Because if you kiss me you will sleep with me again, but that is not the point. I am serious. Promise me that if for some stupid reason we stop talking you will kiss me again.”

“If we stop talking it won’t be for a stupid reason. When I am done, I am done.”

“I don’t beg or grovel. You know that I don’t, but this is important. Will you promise me?”

“Probably, I guess I will.”

I rolled onto my back, she lay her head on my chest and I listened to her breathe. For the moment pure bliss had again descended upon us. I was just about to fall asleep when I felt her slide down my body and then I forgot whatever it was I had been thinking about.

*****

“Lost love in the Internet age is an interesting topic. We don’t yet have a lot of hard numbers to work with. Part of that is because in spite of what our children think social media has not been around forever. But most of it is because people don’t volunteer having contacted ex boyfriends or ex girlfriends.”

“Is that because they are doing so while still married or because no one is asking the question?”

Kim laughed. “Believe me, the question is being asked all the time. Most of the television and talk radio shows ask that question or something very similar on a regular basis. The thing is that I don’t trust the data. The few studies I have seen show responses that suggest that it rarely happens but I don’t believe it.

Just look at the divorce rates and you know that we have a lot of unhappy marriages. With all those unhappy marriages I find it hard to believe that people aren’t reaching out more frequently.”

Kim Boston Continued

You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Interviews are a funny thing because you never know how they are going to go until you actually do it.  I know some journalists who say otherwise and will feed you all sorts of bullshit about how the difference between a rookie and a skilled professional. Those people kill me. They like to engage in this mental masturbation in which they feed their ego and quash their insecurities by pretending to be more than they are.

The reality is that interviews are about building a connection between you and whomever you are talking to.  And don’t let people fool you into thinking that interviewing someone about something they love is any easier than interviewing a serial killer.

Many serial killers earn their stripes because  they are charming and adept at making you feel comfortable. The software engineer may love computers but may not be able to speak eloquently about it. Do me a favor and don’t tell Kim that I compared her to a serial killer, but she is every bit as engaging in person as she is on television.

She is also exceptionally curious and there were more than a few moments in which I wasn’t sure who was trying to interview who. There were a couple of moments where I thought that she might have been interested in taking me upstairs but that could just be my own ego speaking. Or maybe it is just my curiosity.

After all the therapist who advises women to “own their own orgasm” is the kind of woman that intrigues me. That is the kind of thing that might get me in trouble with my female readers which is why I would never publish it in my column or in any of the articles that I am writing for this series.

Although it could make for an interesting side story to all of this. If I did reach out to Ann I could tell her that I had become quite progressive and that I wanted her to “own her orgasm” because it would make for a stronger relationship between the two of us. Again this is the sort of thing that you probably need to hold off on discussing until such time as it became real.

On the other hand I was tempted to ask Sheri to ask Kathy to ask Ann about her orgasms, specifically in reference to those she received as a result of being with me. Yes, that does have a sort of middle school feel to it except I am not telling three people to tell a girl that I like her. No, in this case I am asking two women to talk to a third woman about sexual experiences we had together once upon a time.

Now this raises a number of questions and comments that may or may not be related to any of this. It is generally believed that women talk ab0ut everything or so we men are lead to believe. So in theory asking Sheri to ask Kathy to talk to Ann about my prowess or lack thereof in bed might not be such a big deal because they might have already had that talk.

Hell, Ann was among the most detail oriented people I know. They might have an entire bible about me or maybe not. Actually I had a pretty detailed memory about Ann and what she liked so I probably shouldn’t go around tossing rocks.

Anyway, a more likely explanation for Kim Boston’s interest in me was my reaction to the house music. I heard I Just Need You Now by Lady Antebellum playing and I got lost.

Picture perfect memories scattered all around the floor
Reachin’ for the phone ’cause I can’t fight it anymore
And I wonder if I ever cross your mind
For me it happens all the time

I suppose that you can attribute some of my reaction to all of this energy that I have put into Ann. Between the conversation with the girls and the few minutes that I have spent thinking about her something has gotten stirred up inside. I don’t know how to describe other than to say that I am unsettled.

I want to ask her if she reads my words because she just likes my writing or if because there is something more. I want to ask her what would happen if she saw me. I want to ask her if she really believes that all that we had is gone. I want to ask her if she believes that all we were is dead.

You could say that there is one way to find out. You could say that all I have to do is ask her but it doesn’t feel that simple to me. There was a time when I asked and she swore it was all gone. I didn’t believe her then and truthfully knowing that she has kept on reading for all these years makes me believe that I was right and that she lied to me.

I don’t think she lied because she didn’t love me or want me. I think she did because she couldn’t figure out how to make it happen and it was easier to try and push me away. Easier to try to fight with me because when you are angry it is always easier to say goodbye.

If Kim Boston theories are to be believed I am probably right too. She has this whole thing about energy exchanges, timing and life purpose. Of course she has this whole other theory that contradicts the first few theories but I haven’t ever met a woman who didn’t have her own set of double standards. Call me a chauvinist, but that is how I see it.

On the other hand I am a firm believer in a woman owning her orgasm so maybe I am a progressive chauvinist. I’ll make a note to ask Sheri and Pam about that one.

Einstein & His Theory of Relationshiptivity

Einstein Proves that Ann loves Jack

Einstein & His Theory of Relationshiptivity. I made this card a hundred years ago. It was part of a gift that I gave Ann for no particular reason other than because I loved her.

It was a nod towards her love of math and science as well as an inside joke between the two of us. I loved to remind her that love wasn’t based upon math or science. The heart wants what the heart wants and it doesn’t give a damn whether logic is involved.

Or maybe it does. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Brother Albert and the formula on his chalkboard proved that love was based upon science. It was/is worth thinking about.

I like science, not a huge fan of math but I like science. I enjoy knowing how things work and why they do. But I didn’t need medicine to tell me why just thinking about Ann could make parts of my anatomy respond. I already knew. I understood it on every level that I needed to understand it on.

It all worked until it didn’t and that was when I began to wonder if maybe it would be useful to learn more about what drives relationships. Yes, I confess that after we broke up I read a few books and listened to a few talks. It was all part of the grand plan to try and win her back.

But life happened. Things happened. And we didn’t so I forgot about Albert’s formula and the accompanying note in which I proved why we should be together. Forgot in part because you can’t make a relationship work when you are the only one who tries.

I didn’t have to interview Kim Boston or pay for a session with her to know that much. You can accuse me of being slow but I am not stupid.

Speaking of the unsinkable Ms. Boston I have to concede that she knows her stuff.  She did a fine job of illustrating all of the major reasons why marriage failed and a number of the things we could have done to stop the damage. But we did run into this silly little difference between men and women that created its own set of issues.

Women want to connect and then be intimate whereas men view the intimacy as connecting. This is probably not true of every man or woman but I am still a firm believer in the proven success of the blow job relationship model.

For those of you who are not familiar with this the rule is simple, Give more head and you’ll spend less time lying awake in bed worrying about why you don’t talk anymore.

I probably should have shared this with Ms. Boston. In fact I think suggesting that women own their orgasm and ours is a great idea. Maybe I ought to quit my job and go back to school to become a therapist.

Nah, I barely have the patience to listen to my problems let alone yours.

Jerusalem

It is the middle of nineties or somewhere close to it, but I am not really sure. I back in Israel holding up the wall in a bar in Jerusalem. Or maybe the wall is holding me, I am not really all that sure.

Hell you could tell me it is 1980 something or other and I would believe you. I have been here for hours and I am not quite sure whether I am thinking in English or Hebrew. My best guess is that I am speaking English, after all it is my first language and when you are drunk you tend to use what you first learned.

I have been back in the holy land for more than a short while but not quite long enough to make it my official home. Except the thing is that it will always be home. Jerusalem stole a piece of my heart long ago and has never let go of it.

Been here long enough to have been told that my buddy’s couch isn’t my permanent home. That is ok with me, I never wanted it to be that. I just want to figure out what the hell I am going to do with myself. All of the plans that I had have been thrown up in the air and I can’t figure out which way to turn.

It is not because I am drunk nor is it because I am lost. It is just the situation I am in. Don’t care if that makes sense or not. That is the beauty of being twenty-something. No wife, no kids, no mortgage, no motorboat, not a single luxury, just like Robinson Crusoe, as primitive as can be. Thank you Sherwood Schwartz for creating Gilligan’s Island.

Ok, maybe I am drunker than I thought I was. Why else would I sit here talking to myself, singing silly theme songs from shows that are shown 10,000 miles away.

When I left the states I was dating a green eyed blonde. She had these long legs she would wrap around me and she would do this thing…. But the timing was bad between us. She wasn’t sure what to do about us and I was footloose and fancy free.

Don’t know if I really knew what I wanted anyway. We had a real connection and a great sex life but Ann was/is in the back of my mind.

Course it was Ann who decided to cut me loose. Didn’t matter that she said I was the love of her life or that I was her best friend. She made the decision to let me go and off I went.

It wasn’t an accident that led me back to Jerusalem. Like I said it has always felt like home and that piece of my heart it kept is still here. Some of my friends are worried about me making aliyah and joining the army. They told me that they worry I’ll get killed in a war. I told them that I could get shot at an ATM or hit by a bus.

There are some things in life that we have to do and this might be one of them. I thank  them for their concern and tell them to come visit me. It is funny a short time ago the bar was packed and I was sitting with a group of six or seven people. I am the only American among the bunch. The girl from Joburg wants to know why I am wearing my baseball cap backwards. Her friends nod their heads and ask me to answer.

I look at them and say that I love their accents. One is from Scotland and the other from London. There is a guy from Buenos Aires sitting with us too. I haven’t figured out yet if he speaks English but I suspect he does. Up until now he only uses Spanish and Hebrew but I have a feeling he is playing possum.

One of the girls reaches over and turns my hat around but I spin it back. “I like it better when it is backwards. I don’t know why, I just do.” She giggles and says that American men are funny, reminds me that I am the one with the accent.

I suppose that it is sort of true, at this table I am the one who speaks English differently than most. I could argue that the woman from Joburg doesn’t speak it properly or suggest she say something in Afrikaans but instead I mumble something about having relatives in Cape Town. I scrunch up my face because I realize that my head isn’t working properly.

I mutter something about needing the head, the loo and the water closet. It is supposed to be clever but I realize that it is not. So I get up and say goodbye because I am not yet so drunk that I don’t realize I am making  a fool of myself.

******

The ride from Ben Gurion airport into Jerusalem has been relatively uneventful. Given the way people drive around here that is saying something. Spent the first 30 minutes lost in thought about that trip from so many years before.

I am here now for my cousin’s wedding. The timing was bad so I left the kids back in the states and flew out by myself. It feels surreal. The last time I was here I was married and now I am not.

For the first time in decades I am back in Israel as an eligible bachelor. I am not really looking for anyone but in theory wouldn’t be against having some company. I am not really looking for it but I haven’t been single for all that long. It is long enough that I am not a complete rookie on the dating scene but not so long that I don’t feel a bit like a kid in the candy store.

It is part of why I turned down the offer from family and friends to stay with them. I want to have more autonomy and I don’t need the comments from well meaning people whose morality might be offended.

When I told Harold about the trip he feigned irritation and reminded me several times about my deadline. I laughed and told him that the internet exists in Israel and that as long as I fed the camel I would have enough power to email him. Just before I got on the plane I received the following text message.

“Do me a favor and don’t get blown up.”

I quickly texted back, “I’ll send you back your very own suicide bomber. Just remember not to squeeze his nuts too hard.”

Sometimes Harold can be really slow. “Jack, that really isn’t funny. You need to think about what you say.”

I almost texted him back but decided that it would be more fun to let him stew. He knows from experience that I rarely let him get the last word in so I am willing to bet that he has spent the past 18 hours wondering what I have planned.

As for that the answer is nothing. I am going to check into my hotel and take a walk into the Old City to see if my favorite falafel stand is still around. I certainly am not going to check my phone or my email.

******

The bartender tells me that he has to close and wants to know if I need help getting home. I say no but I accept his help standing up. I am a little wobbly but I make it out the door and head down the road towards the apartment.

I look up at the full moon and smile. I used to tell Ann to remember a few things. “When you think of me I am thinking of you. And remember that the moon will always connect us. If you miss me go outside and stare at it and know that somewhere out there I am doing the same thing.

More than Heaven Will Allow

It is almost 2 AM in Jerusalem and I am on the phone with the states.  I still haven’t gotten used to how small the world has become and how easy it is to talk to people anywhere and at any time. It has been decades since my first trip over and I remember how expensive and difficult it was to make a telephone call.

Back then it was close to $5 bucks a minute and you never know what the quality of the connection would be. Sometimes it sounded like the  person on the other side of the call was on the moon. Now the sound quality was so good you wouldn’t surprised to find out that the other party was standing outside your door.

Since Harold was the other party for this particular call I was happy to know that he really wasn’t just outside my door. In fact I knew that the chances of him suddenly appearing and surprising me were about 1 million to 1. That pleased me greatly.

Most of you probably don’t work for or with a boss who occasionally decides to show up at your  home, but I do and I am not always pleased about it. Harold doesn’t do it very often but whenever he drops by for a five minute visit it always turns into something much longer. I like the guy but I don’t like him that much.

Frankly I am more than pleased to have the break. I didn’t realize how desperately I needed a vacation until I got here but this trip is probably going to keep me from losing the last few shreds of sanity.

I tell Harold that I can barely keep my eyes open and he apologizes for keeping me up so late. “Email me another copy of your draft and I’ll clean it up for you.” I promise to do so and start walking towards the Old City.

The Tower of David, Midgal David rises in the distance and I can’t help but smile. The walls of the Old City are next to me and I get lost in the same sense of wonder that I always feel. I am walking in my homeland in my favorite city in the world. Were it a bit earlier the light show would be happening at the Citadel but the evening festivities are over.

Soon I’ll be wandering through the Jewish Quarter and heading close to the Western Wall. The wall is always among my first stops and this trip is no different. You can debate whether there is a higher power and or what it is among yourselves.

What I know is that the wall helps me feel centered. I’ll go and have my talk with G-d and then I’ll get back to going about my business. This time around a swirl of memories sweeps over me. I hear Ann talking to me about this Barry Manilow song called Weekend in New England.

“Time in New England
Took me away
To long rocky beaches
–and you, by the bay
We started a story
Whose end must now wait

And, tell me
When will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again?”
Weekend in New England- Barry Manilow

It is not exactly what I normally listen to but the words hit me. We did start a story that apparently hasn’t quite ended.

The problem with opening that box of memories is that once I do I am compelled to relive it. I stand on the riverbanks and stare at a sky full of images. It is a tapestry of hope and fear and loss and love. The pictures go scrolling by and I do my best to absorb every detail. I look for answers to questions I dare not ask aloud and I wonder.

Thus is the life of a dreamer whose feet are still rooted upon the ground. My flights of fancy are not simple in nature. Oh sure, I have them. Simple desires that help to make me smile are mixed in among the lot. One does not preclude the other. The dreams I have are often no different than that of mythology.

Do you remember when I told you that I would be your Orpheus? Remember, the story, the woman he loved died from the bite of a snake and was taken to the underworld.Orpheus was heartbroken by her loss and refused to accept it.

It is an incredible story. He made his way into the underworld and convinced Hades to set her free. A love so strong that not even death could keep them apart. Since it is a Greek tragedy there is another piece to it. Orpheus overcomes death to bring his girl back and then loses her again.

But, we won’t talk about that. If you are going to dream big you don’t settle for a moment in time. You don’t fight your way into death’s domain and then lose her. Not me, no way. If I faced death to bring you home I would find a way to make sure it stuck.

I’d use force of will, my wits and a size 12 boot. I’d bring you home, I would.

Maybe the tragic ending is why I also told you about the Tolkien story of Luthien Tinuviel and Beren. Luthien was the most beautiful elf to ever live. She fell in love with Beren, a human. I promised to read the story with you. A chance to read about another great love that wasn’t supposed to be, but succeeded against all odds.

I love those stories. I always have. Don’t know if I ever believed that they had any basis in reality. Not sure if I ever imagined myself being a part of them. I may be a dreamer, but that is not really the sort of dream that I used to have. The thing is that I can’t remember.

I can’t remember a time when you weren’t a part of me. Intellectually I know that it existed. Intellectually I know that there were years in which I was a boy and then a man who had no idea that a girl/woman like you existed. I think that I might have dreamt about you. I think that I must have, but I am not even sure.

There are moments that stick out, little fragments of time that I think foreshadowed your arrival. I remember nights in Jerusalem where I felt like there was someone waiting for me, felt a presence that I could never identify. I remember a time in Yosemite hiking through the hills where I felt like I was going to find someone.

We didn’t meet in any of those places. It was elsewhere, a secret garden that we built. Our private sanctuary in the world that we created. We laughed and cried together. Sometimes we screamed at each other. We let loose the arrows and slings and unloaded all that lay there.

The trust we had was incredible. No one had ever spoken to us like that. It would have been intolerable and unforgivable. But we were more than that. Incredible and extraordinary. Our fire burned brighter and hotter.

I have heard people suggest that this sort of passion isn’t sustainable and that it is the beauty and burden of the relationship.They say that this is what makes you love another more deeply than ever before and that is the reason you can’t stay together.

But I never paid attention to that. I jumped into the fire and burned but wasn’t hurt. You protected me. Your heart and your soul kept the flames from consuming me. And while you sat in the boat I pushed it through the river of flames.

It was part of my promise to you. When I saw the storm coming I said that I would find a way to get us through. I told you to focus on the things that you had to do. I told you that your love would be enough. You are my air and my heart.

And so here I am engulfed in the flames. I burn and I ache in ways that I cannot describe. The normal lines of communication have been severed. I move ahead on instinct and the belief that my gut will lead me to where it is we need to go. I have paid a severe price, but I would gladly pay it again.

I ask for answers but I don’t hear anything but silence. There is no deep booming voice from above or lightning in the skies. I have listened for the thunder but there is none of that either.

The plaza around me is almost empty. There are just a few others wandering around and I decide to make like Tevye and speak to G-d out loud. “I am not going to sing about being a rich man or ask for money. I just want to know if this is something that I should do. Do I make like a detective and reopen the case or do I just ignore it all and go for a fresh star.”

There is still no answer and I start to walk back towards the hotel. A man in a tattered black suit calls out to me. I turn and face him. Don’t know why but I have this sudden feeling that Elijah the prophet is about to speak to me. That is what is going to happen.

We keep walking towards each other and with every step I am certain that he is Elijah and I am about to have one of those once in a life time experiences. He is smiling at me and I am smiling at him. I am so excited that I practically run towards him. Just as soon as Elijah gives me my answer I am going to give him a big hug and tell him that if shows up at my next Passover seder I will see that he is treated like a king.

When he gets within five feet of me he clears his throat and says, “do you know what time it is?”

Somewhere G-d is laughing at me and if not him, then someone. “Fine, I’ll figure this out on my own. It is really what I expected to do.” The man in the tattered suit looks shocked and moves away from me like I am the crazy one, but maybe I am.

Not Much Of a Dancer

There are moments where I love the blackout shades in a hotel and now is one of them. It is the middle of the day in Jerusalem but my body hasn’t quite figured that out yet and I am exhausted.

It is a different sort of fatigue that extends beyond jet lag into something else. I call it “Jack is an idiot who forgot that he can’t stay up for 72 hours straight anymore.” Truth is that I never could do that without paying some sort of price but it was certainly much easier when I was in college.

That’s not me waxing nostalgic about a past that never was. It is not me trying to convince you that had I not blown out my knee I would have been a professional athlete. I never have blown out my knee and I never came close to playing pro ball in any sport. I was always a good athlete and at my age now I am better than quite a few of the fellas but that is because unlike those weekend warriors I never stopped playing.

The only reason I mention any of this is to establish that I understand that we have a tendency to romanticize the past and I am not doing it here. What I am doing is trying to figure out what the hell I was thinking in not making sure that I acclimated to the time change as quickly as possible. I am not a rookie traveler and have been fortunate enough to have traveled all over the world.

What I am now is a man who is babbling because I over extended myself and for reasons of stupidity I am beyond exhausted. I have spent the past hour trying to fall asleep and I just can’t do it so I am sitting on my bed with may laptop in my lap.

It is getting pretty hot down there in happy land and I swear I can hear C. Everett Koop, the old surgeon general warning me that too much heat is bad for sperm counts. It leads to a strange chain of thoughts because I don’t remember Koop ever talking about that but the thought of sperm leads me to whales which leads me to Moby Dick.

I am laughing hysterically now because I thought of Moby Dick and the laptop is located close to mine. It is the kind of thing that won’t ever be funny to anyone else and isn’t worth explaining. But fatigue is the best drug and I am laughing so hard my stomach aches.

Finally I compose myself and I start flipping through my email and see that someone has sent me a video montage of Saturday Night Fever

The clip ends and I get lost in a memory from long ago. Ann and I are at a party. She is wearing this red dress that shows a lot of leg, a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. I am in a black suit wearing a pair of very shiny shoes. The two of us are on the dance floor and I am feeling kind of goofy and doing a silly impression of Travolta. “You know I love you, but you look more like Horshack than Vinny Barbarino.”

“Baby, it is ok, I have a note from Epstein’s mother that says she thinks I am a great dancer.”

“Well maybe she’ll take you home tonight and you’ll get lucky.”

I have this very witty response about her wearing her grandmother’s pearls and how that would make her Epstein’s mother but I decide not to say it. Ann has a great sense of humor but making a comment about a woman’s appearance can be dicey and I do want to get lucky tonight so I keep my mouth shut.

Loud noises from the hallway interrupt my trip into the past and I get lost eavesdropping on a conversation between a husband and wife who have just checked into the hotel. It is their first trip to the “holy land” and she couldn’t be more excited. Every few moments she shouts “Jesus, I am so glad to visit your home” or some variation thereof. In between these bouts of praise I hear her husband mutter something about her having packed rocks in her suitcase.”

I desperately want to open the door to see if they fit the image I have in my head because what I see is the stereotypical picture of a tourist to Israel. But I can’t quite muster the energy to get off the bed. They must be checking into the room next to mine because the noise seems endless.

The giddy laughter of a few minutes before has passed and now I am just cranky. All I want to do is sleep but they can’t stop making noise and she can’t stop thanking Jesus for letting her visit his home.

Finally I shout, “Jesus says go the fuck to sleep!”

The silence that follows shocks me and I finally fall asleep.

What I Miss

Editor’s note: This is a quick rough draft. Don’t have time to do more than try to jot down some notes, but will come back to polish later.

One of the strangest things to happen me was to realize that what I missed most about Ann was her friendship. It might sound silly to some of you but you have to understand that it surprised me.

Surprised me because I have been blessed with many friends who are the kind of people that others want to be. Stalwart companions that you can always rely upon. They come through when times are hard and are there when times are not.

They aren’t the fair weather sort and that is something that has always touched me and been a source of pride too. If you wanted good role models you would find them among my crew.

I mention this because had you asked me what I thought I would miss I probably would have listed other things than her friendship, but maybe it is a sign of maturity now that I don’t list the “x-rated” material first.

Ann was my best friend. She knew me in ways that no one else ever has and maybe no one ever will. There was a depth to our friendship that you rarely if ever see and that was what everything else was based upon.

We liked each other. We made each other laugh. That is one of the things that I miss about her, that laugh. Or the sound she used to make when I would surprise her, the way she would suddenly inhale. I sometimes called her “airsucker.”

People used to remark upon it because they thought it referred to something else and I used to just laugh. I never said yes or no, never told them whether they were right because it didn’t matter.

What I miss is the way she and I were able to create our own world. We could be in the middle of a crowd and get lost in each other. It wasn’t something that disappeared either. There was never a honeymoon stage. The lust and physical need for each other never disappeared or dissipated.

Looking back I attribute that to that friendship and to the enormous trust we had. I miss talking to her about everything. It sounds silly, but if she thought I could do something it always gave me a little boost, a lift.

And that comes from someone who hasn’t ever lacked confidence in his abilities.

Maybe that is why I am so torn. Maybe that is why I have this stutter/start thing about trying to reconnect and rekindle.

There is this part of me that wonders about a million things. I have this image of seeing her at the office. She is downstairs eating lunch under a bright blue sky. I walk over and sit down next to her. We don’t say anything and just eat our lunches.

We finish eating, stand up and walk away holding hands- no words have to be spoken because that magic connection has never left. There is a part of me that consistently wonders what would happen if I kissed her. Would that electric feeling shoot through my body again.

I know what my heart says, but my head says don’t be a fool. Don’t write these things down because you sound crazy. Don’t open the door and don’t look back.

But you don’t become a writer unless you know how to dream. And the very best dreams come from the heart- source of passion, power and magic.

For now we’ll wait to figure out whether to follow my heart or listen to my head. But I’ll admit that sometimes in the dark of the night when I stare at our moon I say her name out loud and strain to hear her saying mine back.

A Bollywood Production

Dear Ann,

I stumbled across this video and decided to write you a note. I don’t know if I’ll ever send this to you or if you’ll ever see it in any other form. Why do I mention this?

Well woman I know you well enough to know that if we are ever in a good place (whatever that means) you will ask the question about why I didn’t send it to you. It will be like that time way back in our past where you told me that I had permission to do whatever I wanted to you/with you.

You wanted to know why I didn’t take advantage of it. You wondered if that meant that I found you less than attractive or if you had some sort of other undesirable trait. I told you that there were two basic reasons.

1) I am not a freaking mind reader. It is true that I know you well, or at least that I did. It is true that often times I could accurately gauge your mood and that it enabled me to do things that didn’t aggravate you.

2) You are not a piece of meat to me and you never were.  You know better than to ask about my libido. That is not male bravado because you know from experience and more importantly from your heart that there weren’t any issues there.

But you have to understand and appreciate that I was never going to put you in that place where I didn’t honor you. I couldn’t do it and I refused to let it go there.  I could point out more than a few memories of moments we shared that left us both trying to figure out what the hell just happened and how could we do it again as quickly as possible.

It all comes back to trust. Release and submit. Give yourself to me and let me drive and good things happen. You know it. I know it and we lived it.

Anyhoo, screw all that because it is not what I want to focus on. I want to go back to Bollywood and talk about how there have been moments since you left in which I thought about trying to make some sort of crazy Bollywood video for you.

The thing is that I am not a dancer. I can see the moves in my head but I can’t make my body move like that. I am not built for grace but for demolition. It is not the first time I mentioned this.

Yes I can be gentle but gentle isn’t synonymous with grace. So I can two step and do a bunch of the simple moves but I can’t pull off the other moves the way that I wish I could. Maybe I am being too hard on myself and maybe I could do it without making it look goofy, but at the moment it doesn’t really matter.

Anyway, I’ll keep the idea in my back pocket. Can’t rule it out completely, all things are possible. Still the dance that I wish to do most is that one we once did together…

Watching and Waiting

Watching and Waiting. It is what she did. She was watching and waiting for the thing that would send her running for the hills. It wasn’t any particular item, not a specific habit that made her takeoff. Each time she left it was something that happened because of a gut instinct, intuition that made her think that the relationship was doomed.

Most of the time her departure would be followed by bouts of clubbing. She’d find a nightspot where she could lose herself on the dance floor. She didn’t have any preference other than some kind of odd techno beat that drew people like her. She wanted to get lost in a writing mass of bodies that shared a love for a beat.

Sometimes she’d dance with a boy but most of the time she just danced by herself. She really didn’t want to talk to anyone. She had not interest in being picked up and didn’t feel the need for company. These nights would end in similar fashion. She’d come home drenched in sweat and exhausted, far too tired to shower but too revved up to speak. But they never stopped the voices in her head, that whisper that asked if she was broken so badly that she’d never be able to fall in love again.

The real problem in her life was that she had experienced a love that was so potent and so piercing that she couldn’t stop searching for it. She felt like a heroin addict who knew that she could never go back, never experience that amazing high again but would always remember what she had lost.

Sometimes she’d just lie in bed and shiver. Invariably she’d push beyond this and her attitude would improve. In reality it wasn’t that her attitude was improving it was just that she had managed to find a way to stuff her feelings down again. Push them, beat them back, make them go away because if you cannot feel you cannot get hurt again.

When she was younger her father had taught her that life wasn’t fair. It was one of his favorite sayings. She’d ask for something, a toy, shoes, whatever only to be refused. When she tried to convince him by telling him how many of her friends had whatever it was she wanted he always said “life isn’t fair.”

Daddy was right, life isn’t fair and she knew it from firsthand experience. There was no relief, only occasional interludes during which the empty feeling didn’t overwhelm her.

This time she was trying hard to break the chain. Determined not to follow the same pattern and path she had made a point of taking the bus to her father’s cabin. It meant that she would be forced to do things differently. The frantic dancer was not going to be allowed out of her cage. This time she was going to find a way to feel good and to enjoy life again the way that she used to.

The Mediterranean

Been in Israel for about a week or so now. Spent more than a few minutes visiting with family and friends and remembering why I have always loved it here.

This place is home and always have been. I have a few of them but this is a land that restores my heart and soothes my soul in ways that words can’t properly convey. It is not just one thing that does it. Can’t say that it is a religious or spiritual need that is fulfilled any more than I can say that it is because of all the good times that I have had here.

It simply is.

Here in the land of my ancestors I walk around cities that have been coveted and captured by virtually every empire that has been. It is the middle of the day now and I am in Tel Aviv. I am sitting on the beach staring out at the Mediterranean and listening to the music that one of the hotels has been pumping out. It is a crazy mishmash of pop, country, rock and disco.

If I were a more superstitious man I would wonder if someone or something was/is trying to send me a message. Just a few minutes ago I heard Don Henley sing about the “Boys of Summer.” That was followed by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood’s duet, “Remind Me.”

In between and around there have been all sorts of other songs some of which I recognized and others that I did not. I only mention those two because they jumped out at me. It was as if the music suddenly got louder and or the sounds of the beach got softer.  Maybe it was my imagination or maybe not. I try not to spend too much time thinking about these things because you can make yourself crazy trying to figure out why things happen.

More than twenty years ago I made plans to move to Israel. I was ready to find out if it was home or a vacation spot. I was ready to join the army and become a part of something bigger than myself. The land had become a part of me and I knew that if I left it would mean leaving a part of me behind.

That never happened. I’ll let others decide if the reason was destiny or dumb luck because the reality is that it happened. It is also fair to say that it is among my few major regrets. It is fair to say that there is/was some heartbreak tied into this. But it is also fair to say that the same thing is tied into Ann.

Heartbreak and regret. Questions about what could have been and what never was.

I don’t mention these things for anything other than background. The past is gone and now I have the present to make decisions about the future. I deem this moment in time to be serendipitous. I am back in Israel and the piece of me that lives here when I am gone is back. That particular hole in my heart is filled, for now at least.

What isn’t settled and what remains is the place that Ann filled. The truth is that much time has passed and we are different people than we once were. But I can’t say that means that we can’t be what we once were or that we can’t be more than that.

So when I get back to the states I think that I am going to take a chance. When I get back to the states I think I am going to reach out to her and see what happens.

Kim Boston says that the greatest opportunities for love come from opening our hearts and forgiving the pain of the past. Let go of the harm and the hurt. She says that men who can do this provide women with the opportunity to love them more deeply.

I don’t know if that is true or if it is some new age bullshit, but I haven’t got any reason not to try. I have never had a relationship where I could be as open as I was with Ann. I don’t know why that was. I just know that there was something about her that made me lower my guard. There were no walls on either side.

*****

If life is a collection of moments in time this is one to remember. I feel free and relaxed in a way that I haven’t in more years than I care to think about. There are people windsurfing, sailing and tanning. A bit down the way I can see two old men playing chess and there are a couple of teenagers holding hands.

Technically I am alone but at this moment I couldn’t feel more connected to the world around me. My skin is tingling, my heart is pounding and my head is devoid of any negative thoughts. This is the sort of feeling that you wish you could bottle and sell. It would make for one hell of an informercial. Stick in between the hair treatment for men and dance the fat away for women bits and you might have the most incredible infomercial trifecta of all time.

Certainly far superior to that fake Japanese knife that was supposed to cut through anything or the magic cleaner that didn’t work any better than any other brand of soap.

Hunger eventually intrudes upon my moment and I realize that I need to decide whether to eat a quick lunch or grab a snack. I am supposed to meet some friends in Jerusalem for dinner tonight. It may be the holy land but that doesn’t mean that I have angels to escort me past the inevitable traffic caused by rush hour.

I decide I’d rather give myself plenty of time to get back than to try to fight through the traffic later. On the way to the car I stop by a kiosk to buy a drink  and a snack for the hour ride back.

Five minutes later I come across the couple from the beach but they haven’t a clue that we have seen each other before. Truth is they probably don’t even know that I am there. He is leaning against a building and she is pressed up so tightly against him they could be sharing one set of pants.

Having once been his age I am guessing that he is feeling so crazed that in a few minutes he won’t care where he is or if anyone can see them. Although she doesn’t seem to have any sense of people being around either.

There is something sweet about it and I realize that they are having their own moment in time. They are in their own secret world and it makes me smile because I remember what that was like. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to experience it again.

You Were Always There

Dear June,

Someone once told me that a woman never wants a weak man and that the last thing I should do is tell you that it hurts not to have you around.

They said I should pretend like you didn’t exist and ignore you. They said that if I ignored you it would lead to the whole absence makes the heart grow fonder thing. They said that you would come looking for me and that I should be mean to you because women like men who are mean.

Well, I am a mean man and I mean that in more than one way. I am not always the nice guy. I am a jerk who has been his own biggest enemy. Don’t have to look any farther than the closest mirror to see the truth of that.

But that doesn’t mean that I am only a jerk or that I haven’t got any good qualities because I have plenty. It is not egotistical for me to say that I know I touched you on a deeper level than any other man has. That is simple truth.

And the same goes in reverse. You found the real me and you saw what I never let anyone see.

For a while we were two souls in sync and complete. You were my air and I was yours.

Maybe I look backwards to punish myself. Maybe I blame myself for how things are now. And maybe I don’t. Maybe I hold you accountable too because no relationship happens in a vacuum.

And maybe what is more important is to let the past rest. You have one and I have one. Does it matter who did what, when or how.

Well it does to a point but I am not convinced that it has to be the final arbiter of what will be. Because what we found is rare, special and unique. I am not convinced that such a thing can truly be lost or that it ever dies.

I can’t tell you why I feel like this other than it is in my heart. The same heart that you stole beats hard and long. And dammit, it tells me when you are out there thinking about me.

Because you do and it is not in the I hope he is well mode that you tell yourself it is. I call bullshit. I say that you are lying to yourself about that. I say that if you pull out one of your famous lists you’ll find me there.

You were always there, even when I didn’t know your name, you were always there. Part of the reason we worked so well was because we broke all of the rules.

We stripped away all of the pretense and let naked souls speak. We screamed at each other because we had complete faith that we could do so and we did.

And when we did we always made up. It wasn’t the kind of stormy dysfunctional relationship that you see on a soap opera. It was real. It was honest. It was authentic.

The biggest challenge we had was bad timing. Life happened to us and we got lost. When we got lost we let our fear guide us and love took a back seat.

I am always happy to be in a back seat with you but not like that.

Those people who tell me to be mean to you don’t get it. They are right about a few things. You won’t admit it but you hate when I ignore you. You wonder if that means that I have finally let go. Sometimes you wish that I would because it would make it easier.

But you feel comfort in the connection even if it isn’t what it once was. It is not daily and direct but we still touch each other in that place.

And you know that if you needed me I would cross the ocean to be by your side again. You know that I would fight the monsters, slay the dragon and rebuild our castle.

There isn’t enough uncertainty about that to make you feel otherwise and that is ok with me.

I do things differently. I take the road not taken and I walk where there is no path. Sometimes that bites me in the ass but it is the only way that I know how to live.

Don’t have time or the right words to say more at this moment. Hell, I don’t even know if these words are working properly. All I know is that we know more about true intimacy than most and I miss that.

I miss that trust. I miss the girl who helped me remember that life is love and that the fire doesn’t have to burn you.

Can’t keep this side open for long or it will wreck my reputation. So remember that I love you. Remember when I pull your pigtails and take your cookies that I have always loved you.

Probably always will…

Hah, don’t tell me that you read “probably” three times and wonder why I qualified it. Hee hee, got to make you squirm a little bit now don’t I. ;)

Perfect In Her Imperfections

She was perfect in her imperfections and I loved ever more deeply and passionately for them. I didn’t see worry lines or wrinkles in her face. To me they illustrated character and beauty and a wealth of wisdom that can only be earned by having been privileged to live for more than a few years.

When I looked inside her eyes I saw a depth that didn’t exist elsewhere and in return I shared a smile that was reserved solely for her. While there is no doubt that there was some disappointment in not having been able to experience and share personal and private moments before that there were benefits that were born because of experience.

Among the very few regrets was the reflection she saw in my eyes didn’t accurately or effectively display what I saw or how I felt.

“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” Jane Austen

I never was a Jane Austen fan but when I stumbled across that quote I stopped and stared it because there was, there is real truth in it. Because the reality is that you can spend a lifetime with some people and never know who they are. And then there are those rare few that you encounter who require next to no time to walk into your heart and make themselves comfortable.

Sometimes you try to push them away because you fear the things that can’t be attributed to logic and to reason. Sometimes you push them away because there are a million “rational” reasons not to listen to that piece and part your heart that is singing a song in perfect harmony with their heart.

It is a magical moment and a dance where you move in perfect rhythm, regardless of whether you have it in real life or not. It is that moment in time and that secret world that you create regardless of time, space or place.

That is what I tried to show her. That is what I wanted her to see, to know. That connection and the creation it came from was and is more than just a moment and worth more than just a few words. I wanted her to understand that even a writer who has command of words cannot always create the kind that provide perfect illustration of what he sees.

It was the perfection of her imperfections and her acceptance of my own that created that connection and built the union.

The Dream

I had a dream and you were in it. You were the woman that walked into my life unsought and unexpected. You were the girl that turned my life upside down and inside out.

You found your way into the places that no one else had been and made yourself at home. You were given the right and the privilege to see what no one else knew. I who had always been unwilling to bare my soul did so gladly and without reservation.

It was among the most shocking moments of my life and something that no one who knew me would have ever expected. The others had seen nothing but glimpses of what lay behind those doors but the moment I felt their eyes upon me I retreated.

I didn’t want it and figured that I didn’t need it.

Easier and better to be the lone wolf.  There was strength and nobility in my solitude and I liked it that way. Better to be an inscrutable mystery than to open that door and be wounded.

Perhaps it was a sign of immaturity. Perhaps it wasn’t. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter because when you left I shut the door again and threw away the key. When I felt weak or uncertain I composed a list of grievances and set it on fire. It didn’t need to be a raging bonfire because a slow burn was just as effective.

It kept the others out or at least at arm’s length and it allowed me to stay angry with you.

But time has a funny way of playing with people and with the fires we set. Some flames are extinguished and others keep burning.

So it was with the torch I carried for you. The fire never left and the memories never died. Though I did try to rid my mind of them. I worked on trying to convince myself that memory was incongruent with reality and that history was being seen through misty colored memories.

I suppose if we could sing we would have done our own rendition of Streisand and Diamond singing You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore. And maybe for a time that would have been all she wrote. Maybe for a time that would have been all that we could have.

But I have a dream that we are going to find a time and a way to give it another shot. I have a dream that the tears that have been shed and the pain of our separation will end. I have a dream that we are going to get a chance to do it right, except the funny thing is that in many ways I don’t think we did it wrong.

Can’t say what I believe in whether it is meant to be or not. Can tell you that I am sorry that we never got the chance to have those six kids we talked about. Can tell you that there have been moments where I have seen us together in my dreams. And every time I have seen a big house and heard a ton of noise from all of the children running around.

One could be bitter about that or get lost somewhere in the echoes of time but I hear the echoes of the future calling and I think we should answer. The dream I have now gives us decades of life to live and love and to laugh.

I am still here singing our song. I never stopped singing it. If I were a painter I would paint it for you.

There is this big empty hand that is reaching out across time and space. There are are arms that would wrap you in them and a heart calling out for you.

And nestled among the hope there is fear too. There is concern that maybe yesterday is all there is and that we missed out on the time of our life. There is fear that giving the fire free reign might leave my insides with fresh burns long before the scars of the past have had a chance to heal.

Yet that hand remains because the only way to learn whether a fool frolics freely is to dance in the fire and I have been dancing for you for a thousand years now.

In that dream I see you living your life but looking out the window. You are waiting for me to call or come for you. You give me the barest hint of your interest and wait for me to do what you fail to say out loud.

I know the drill. I know the girl who won’t ever say I love you first out loud is there. Air sucker, I know things and I see things. Just remember that though I dance in the fire I still don’t wear a sweater when others are cold.

For now I burn and I ache alone and apart. But the future is unwritten and who is to say what can happen. Submit to possibility and potential and watch what happens.

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love

It is midnight or well afterwards again and I am back in my hotel room. My time in Jerusalem has lit another fire inside my head and heart. There is a different rhythm on the streets here and the smells are foreign and familiar.

Outside my room I can hear people talking in some language that I can’t understand nor can I recognize it. I love that about this place. I speak more than one language and am well familiar with many more but I still don’t recognize the origin of the words that I hear.

Israel is a crossroads and a nexus of time, people and places. It is where so many of the major moments of my life have taken place and there will be more to come. There is something different about being here and I am not the only who senses, feels, touches or tastes it. It is part of why so many have tried to claim the land as their own.

That feeling is part of why I find it harder to sleep here. It is not because I have insomnia or am unable to sleep, far from it. I am famous for being able to sleep any where, in any position and at any time.

No the reason I can’t sleep is because I know that this is a short trip and I don’t want to miss a moment. I want to cram as much as I can and savor each minute of every day. When I leave my heart will  break again and my soul will cry.

That is not melodrama or hyperbole. It is a simple and accurate description of what I feel. It doesn’t mean that I can’t function without or apart because I have done it and I will do it again.

We figure out how to create a space from the part, the place and the people we miss. We learn how to operate without them or we retreat into a fantasy world or catatonic state that provides a refuge from the pain.

Space is what I created, one of my own. Way back when we split up and I wondered if I would ever learn how to love and live like that again I did what I had to do- I created space. I worked hard to figure out how to do it and I got it done.

But time and space have worked with Jerusalem to remind me of what was. And now I am more determined than ever to try to find out if the memories have been made stronger, better and larger than what was.

Won’t lie and say that I haven’t wondered if I have fooled myself into thinking that there was less to her and to I than I think of. My heart says otherwise. My heart says that it was everything and more.

My time here in Israel has been good for many things. Harold says that my writing is more inspired than he has seen in a long while and that he hopes all of my future works burns as brightly. I am happy to hear it but I am less happy that he still thinks we need to speak each day, or should I say each night. Each night is when he calls and every time I answer he tells me how tired he is.

Last night I told Harold that I would wire him a $100 to use as he pleases. He asked me why and I said that I hoped he would drive south, cross the border and find some nice hooker to occupy him. Ok, I used much cruder words than that but at the moment my heart feels so light I choose not to be so…graphic.

Outside the stars are bright, the night air is warm and I know that there are places to go be. The city isn’t quite asleep yet and my desire to soak up the moments is pushing me to leave my room and go off in search of fun. But I also know that if I don’t force myself to catch more than a few hours of shut eye I am going to pay for it later and I don’t think I am ready or interested.

So I change into my usual sleeping attire of shorts and a t-shirt and climb into bed. Still can’t sleep so I turn on the television and find myself watching the tail end of The Blues Brothers.

Don’t mean to wax philosophical about the film but listening to them sing Everybody Needs Somebody To Love makes me smile. It feels like a sign and a message to me. Think I just might have to do something about that.

The Flight Home

There are secrets that we keep deep in our hearts that may never be shared with another. If we are lucky in life and love we find that special person who enables to share those tales that would never otherwise be told.

Not everyone is lucky enough to experience it and some who might have miss out on it because they don’t recognize it for what it is. Can’t say whether it is better to have never known it or to walk around looking for someone like you.

What I do know is that I never expected to find myself wandering around the largest alligator farm in the Middle East. Or maybe it is more honest to say that I didn’t wander for long, I ran and not because a gator was chasing me.

I ran because I saw Ann. I saw her standing off in the distance. Long black hair pulled back in a pony tail, sunglasses on and a blue dress that flapped a little bit in the wind. I saw her standing there and my heart stopped. I couldn’t figure out why she was there and then I started to laugh.

This was the kind of tale that could only happen in Israel. I can’t tell you how many times I have run into people I know in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, but never at an alligator farm.

It is called Hamat Gader and the alligator farm isn’t the only thing there. It also has the ruins of a Roman bath and the hot springs that they once used are still there. They are still in use and in the past I have visited them on more than one occasion, but that wasn’t why I was here this time.

This time I was there because my cousin Jonathan’s baby son wanted to see the alligators. I hadn’t planned on going, but when he grabbed my hand and told me that I had to go I couldn’t say no. So we packed some snacks and jumped into a little Subaru and drove up North. Fifteen minutes into our ride I decided that Jonathan made Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride look like a Sunday drive.

Who knew that since my last visit Israeli law had made obeying traffic signals and stop signs optional. Ok, that is an exaggeration and the reality is that driving in Israel has always been an adventure but until that ride I had never truly been scared. I couldn’t decide if that meant I was getting old or if Jonathan was the craziest of the drivers I had ridden with.

Come to think of it I probably should have paid more attention to the way his father laughed as we left their apartment. I had chalked it up to his just being happy to see his favorite cousin from America. After that ride I might have to rethink whether he really thinks of me as his favorite cousin from America. I’ll have to ask him after I finish kicking his ass.

Anyhoo, we hadn’t been there more than twenty minutes or so when I saw her. It is possible that I looked up at the endless blue skies and spoke to God like Tevye once did. Except this time I didn’t run around my farm talking about what I would do if I were a rich man. Nor did I start singing about tradition. No sir, not me.

I started laughing and then I started running. I like to think that I ran I like it was tie game in the Super Bowl and I was fifteen yards out. Except I have this sneaking suspicion that I looked more like Curly trying to out distance Moe and Larry before all of the players on both sides could catch me.

Ultimately it didn’t matter whether I looked like a gazelle or a rhinoceros running because when people saw me they moved quickly to get out of the way. The whole time I was running I felt this incredible feeling of euphoria and a sense of destiny being filled. It didn’t matter to me why she was there I just knew that when she saw me we would end up in one of those crazy Hollywood movie endings. You know, long embrace and the kiss that your children never want to see you plant on anyone.

That is how it should have gone. That is how it would have gone except for one detail.

It wasn’t Ann.

In a matter of moments I went from praising god to cursing him. Considering that I was hanging out in the holy land that may or may not have been the smartest thing to do. But given the circumstances it was almost unavoidable.

The good news is that I managed to avoid completely humiliating myself and potential arrest because when I got close and heard “Ann” talking I realized that in real life she didn’t speak Italian. Granted I hadn’t seen her in a long time so it was entirely possible that she had learned the language. But I was positive that Ann hadn’t decided to start wearing a cross nor was it likely that she had suddenly become the mother of the twin boys in the stroller she was pushing.

Tastes Like Chicken

It really wasn’t a surprise to find a large Italian man standing in between the kids and myself. I can only imagine that I must have looked a bit like a crazy man as I came flying around the corner and towards his family.

In between the huffing and pushing I did while trying to catch my breath I tried to make light of the moment by telling him that Alligator tastes like chicken. I don’t know if he understood me or not but that is ok because I didn’t understand his Italian. I am fairly certain that he said something that was threatening and or insulting.

I returned the favor and said, “Hey Chef Boyardee, relax.” When he didn’t respond I threw out a series of other words like “Pizza, linguini, fettucine and gnocchi.” That was when I knew for certain that he didn’t understand what I was saying. I am not proud of that but I can only say that in the midst of disappointment and confusion I self medicated with thoughts of good Italian food.

If I ever write my memoirs I think I might leave that moment out. I need to make a mental note to come back and edit this section.

And we move on.

The day ends. I endure another nail biting ride back to my cousin’s apartment followed by a bus ride to Jerusalem that made the car ride seem pleasant. More time passes and I finish my trip.

Now I am six hours into the 15 hour flight home. It is just me and the 87 members of the something something West Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Ok, there are lots of other people on the plane but I got stuck sitting in the middle of this group.

Don’t get me wrong, the people are among the warmest and nicest I have ever met. Under other circumstances I wouldn’t mind being with them at all, but these aren’t normal circumstances, they are far from it.

To begin with I hate flying and the last thing I want to do is talk to anyone. I’d much rather get lost in a book or movie and then follow that up with a ton of writing. And I would but for the constant conversation by the women seated on either side of me. They can’t stop talking. They want to know why I was there and what I was doing.

They tell me all about their trip and how thankful they are to have visited the lord’s home and tell me a million times how much they love Israel and Jewish people. I am grateful but I am tired and I am cranky.

I am about to tell them that I just can’t talk anymore when I veer off in another direction. Don’t know why, but instead of saying that I have to go to sleep I tell them all about Ann and I. Maybe it is because of that thing that sometimes happens on an airplane where you end up telling a stranger your life story. I can’t really say for certain.

But it doesn’t matter why because I share details with them that I have never told anyone. I tell them little things and big things. They ask questions and when I tell them about how things ended up they shake their heads at me and tell me that I was wrong. I get an earful about how foolish I was and then they surprise me by telling me that I shouldn’t have given up on her.

And it is not just the two on either side of me who are laying into me anymore. No, now there is a third and maybe a fourth speaking to me. They are in the row behind me telling me how dumb men can be and what I should have done.

When I tell them about the great run at the alligator farm they laugh hysterically and tell me that it is really funny. Just when I think we are done talking the lady sitting just behind me on the left says that the alligator farm was a sign and that I must contact Ann when I get home.

She says that I shouldn’t worry about what happened and that the past is the past and that Ann will think that my running to get to her at an alligator farm is romantic.

The other women agree with her. I surprise myself and confess that I want to call but that I am nervous about opening myself up. I say that she could reach out to me and that since she hasn’t I am not convinced that she is interested. I say that from all appearances she has moved on with her life.

They tell me that it is possible that she has but that their intuition is that she hasn’t. I am not sure that I want to listen to a bunch of old church ladies but there is something compelling about the moment. The one on my left put her hand on my wrist and looks me in the eye.

“You be strong here. She remembers the man that she fell in love with. She is not stupid. She knows that you have changed just as she has, but the man she loves is still in there. He just has new stories to share with her. And if for some reason she chooses not to take advantage of a second chance, well there will be someone else.”

The other ladies nod their heads in agreement, “but if you ask me, she won’t let you just walk away. Not as long as you reach out to her. She has to know that you are serious.”

Not Quite The Home Stretch

It is the home stretch and I am feeling a mix of exhaustion and exhilaration. Been almost ten years since I left home and started walking down this road and lord knows that I didn’t have a clue where it would lead me and what would take place.

This has been among the great journeys of my life and it has changed me in almost every way that I can think of. Some of them are good changes and some of them are things that I can’t quite categorize or identify yet. Don’t know if that makes a difference or not.

Don’t know a lot of things other than I am doing my damnedest to finish what I started. It is a mix of anger, hope, frustration, sadness and determination push me. It is an alloy of joy and something else that pushes me.

It is a million different things that won’t let me just lie down and quit. It is the memory of what was and the hope of what could be. It is the dream and the fantasy intermixed with the sticks and stones that make me move.

Remember what we said about it all starting with one kiss and how nothing would ever be the same. Remember the promises we made that somehow we would hold on and find a way. Well I might be crazy but I think that we still have that chance to make the change that matters.

And I know that you know what I am talking about. I hear your words and listen to the empty spaces in between. I ask for the chance to find out. I ask for the chance to learn together whether what was still is because to not ask would be wrong.

Sometimes I wonder if you fear taking that chance. Sometimes I wonder if you would rather roam the grapevines with me in pursuit than side by side because it feels safer to you. But I can still protect you from the storms. I can still guide you through the flames and the fire without fear of being burnt.

Close your eyes and tell me that you don’t see mine looking back at yours. Two souls….

Tear Down The Wall

One of the joys of being jet lagged is that you end up being too tired to sleep and so you start sorting and sifting through old boxed and papers you probably otherwise would have missed.

And if you are me you come across a letter written on the back of an old notebook that hasn’t seen daylight in years.

Dear Ann with no ‘E’,

Midnight here in this place I live that some would call hell and others limbo. Me? I just call it another stop on the next place in this journey I am on.

Since that day way back when there have been moments that felt like minutes and minutes that felt like eternity. Call me melodramatic. Make a list of reasons why I am messed up, crazy and or confused. Do what you need to do to convince yourself that this is nothing more than curiosity.

You can run or you can walk away but you know just as I do that you’ll find yourself moving back to that place that we both find ourselves standing in. As a writer I should be able to come up with a better description of what it is but I can’t come up with anything more clever than “the land of unfinished business.”

Sucks, doesn’t it.

No one wants to be left with those unanswered questions and that feeling of “what if?”

That doesn’t mean that one can’t live with those questions. You can always find a way to do that but later in life it comes out. Grandma starts making references to that red haired boy and you know that it means something but you are not sure what. It is not senility speaking or any sort of mental illness or infirmity.

It is the “what ifs” that were never answered rising to the surface.

When you ask me how I know this I’ll tell you that I know things. I’ll tell you that I know things because I just do. Some things aren’t based upon logic or science. They defy rational thought and ask you to rely upon that fickle bastard called fate.

Somewhere way back in the moments we had and never left I promised to be your knight. I told you that I would be there to hold your hand and to protect you from the monsters of the night and those that walk during the day. I swore to hold your heart in mine and said that I would walk through fire and wade through mud.

Remember those days when we talked about traditional roles and laughed and loved. Remember when your heart spoke and you listened. Remember when I said that I would find a way to tear down those walls and I did.

I know how stubborn you are and how saying these things might hurt my cause. I know that it might push you further and farther but I also know that sometimes you need to take a risk to get the big reward.

That is why I dance in the fire. It is why I ache alone and apart.

I could ignore you. I could walk away and leave you in silence. There was a time when you couldn’t stand that. There was a time when you would have chased me down and told me that I was being unreasonable and unfair. There was a time when you asked me how I could do it. I told you that I couldn’t and that I was a good actor.

Now I could do it again. I could play the absence makes the heart grow fonder card and see how that goes but to me that would be a silly game. So instead I write these words in the diary that you may or not see.

And I say unequivocally that I am convinced that you will find yourself looking up at me again. I say that we’ll have more time and a chance to try to solve this puzzle. It is more than animal magnetism and lust.

There is a reason why we called each other best friend and said that we had never loved anyone like we loved each other. You silly girl. How much longer must we do this dance.

Are we really going to pretend and ignore the moment, the majesty, the mystery and the magic.

Our is not the sort that you run out of. It is not quantifiable in the sense of material things. You can’t buy it at Costco or make it in a shop. You can only stumble upon it and marvel at how lucky you are.

Give me your hand and give in to me. Come sing our song. Submit and surrender and I will too.

The echoes of the future are calling and I hope you will answer them with me.

They Call Me Storm Walker

Dear Woman of my dreams,

I told you decades ago that I was a storm walker and that for better or for worse I danced in the rain and dodged bolts of lightning. You know this and you know that what could have been simple became far more complicated than it should.

These aren’t things that are new to you or to I.

So let me set a few things down in print where I know you will read them twice. I am sorry. I apologize for all that I ever did that was wrong. I apologize for missed opportunities for the children we won’t have together and the sweet moments that accompany them.

I apologize to you for all that I ever did that hurt your heart. I apologize for making you cry and for wounding you in ways that no other could or did. I am sorry.

I have paid for my mistakes. I have taken the beating and continued to dance in the fire. You know that I am not exaggerating when I say that for far too long I have lived alone and apart. There is a giant hole that has never been filled and I ache.

I ache.

I ache.

You know that I will continue to take that beating not just because I can but because I know that it is part of the journey. You know that when I accepted my role as Storm Walker I entered the fraternity of those who have lived, loved and lost.

My tears have been shed in silence and my pain has been obvious yet hidden to most. That ring of fire burns, burns, burns.

But I also see things.I know things. I have seen what lies behind your eyes. I know what you hide and I have forever cherished the gift you granted when you gave me your heart.

You have been all that a woman can be to a man and yet you have been more. I have told you that you were the best thing to ever happen to me and the worst. But even during the hardest moments I have remembered the smile in your eyes and the soft touch of your soul.

I tried to stop loving you. Tried to just let go. Made my lists of reasons why and promises- yet here I am.

Here I am the would be hero and the sometime fool. Here I am all that I was and less than I am. I stand here defiant, unbent and unbroken.

Two souls.

I would write that song and sing it to you.

We can focus upon all that we lost and all that we could have had. It is easy to do that but I don’t take the path that others walked. I don’t yield to convention and yet I accept that force of will isn’t enough- not mine alone.

If you join your voice to mine we could sing a song that would make the angels weep. We could be all that we were and then some. There is more depth and more soul. I didn’t think it was possible to find that but that is just what my heart says.

So here I am dancing in the fire. If need be I will swim across the burning rivers and sashay across the plains.

That is what storm walkers do. It is part of who we are and how we are made. But the truth is that you made it all better. You made me better.

Now what are we going to do about it.

The World Stopped

They were called Modern English and as far as I know they only had one song I Melt With You. Granted I am certain that they had more than one song but I couldn’t tell you what they were and it doesn’t matter.

Doesn’t matter because for a brief moment Modern English caught lightning in a bottle. They came up with a song that spoke to millions of people from our generation and I suspect to many in others too.

“I’ll stop the world and melt with you”

Ann and I know about lightning in a bottle because we lived it. We stopped the world and created our own space. We built a moment in time that never ended. Sure, some of you might argue otherwise. You might say that because our relationship came to a screeching halt it must mean that our moment in time ended too.

You would be wrong.

That moment in time was for now and forever.  It is/was built upon a contract made by our hearts at a level that the brain doesn’t operate at. Your head looks at logic and reason not at the ethereal or mystic. The heart is where the magic and mystery is located.

The head doesn’t look at magic with eyes that accept. It fights to understand how a rabbit could be hidden inside a hat. It struggles to understand how the magician cuts the woman in half without blood and gore.

No, we stopped the world and we melted…together.

It is funny to me to think about that song and Ann because she hates most of the music of the eighties. Damn woman turns her nose up at much of what I listen to but that is ok with me because some times there is no accounting for taste. Hah, I wish I could see her face when and if she ever reads that.

Why? Because I just used her line and did it better than she could. If she were here right now I’ll pull her pigtails, or more likely her pony tail. Why? Because I can.

Yep, I am the biggest five year-old boy you can find and I love it. Men are always capable of being serious but inside we love to be the boy and I am not exception.

Her Voice

Been thinking about her voice because I hear her talking to me. I feel her presence and I have for so long now I can’t remember what life was like before her. Sure, there are lots of moments where I don’t notice but there are plenty where I do.

When we went our separate ways I had to figure out how to turn off that Bat Signal inside that tells me when she is around or that she is thinking about me. I just know things about her and about us. I know that there have been times in the past where she was nasty to me but not because she meant it or wanted to be.

She was nasty because it is easier to say goodbye when you are angry. It is easier to keep someone at arm’s length when you do something mean. Sometimes I reacted to it and that made me angry.

I didn’t get angry because she said it- I got angry because I gave her a reaction. She’ll tell you that I am pretty good at giving you a blank stare. I don’t wear a coat when you are cold and I don’t jump up just because you decided that now is  a good time to yank your chain.

Kim Boston had a whole line of thought about this. Matter of fact Madam Boston was irate when I told her that I think sometimes men need to say no. Sometimes women think that they can manipulate us with sex. So I say that sometimes we say no. Turn her down. Gently push her head away.

Say you are tired or you have to do your hair. Just say no.

It is not really something that I think should happen often, if ever, but sometimes you need to remind them that there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

Part of what made things so complicated, so special and so crazy was that we had no boundaries and we loved it. But that worked for us because we communicated more effectively than most.

Hell, I have never had better communication with a woman than I did with Ann. Some of that is because we melted together. We created that everlasting moment. I asked her to let me drive and she did.

Thing is in my experience if you find your way into her head and her heart she will give you more than you give. It is not because of selfishness but because of how we are built. And when it works no one minds because she feels like you are guarding her heart and soul and you know that she is doing the same for you.

When I think about running through the alligator farm I know that I didn’t question whether there was anything left between us or if it would be hard to talk to Kim. That hasn’t ever been a concern. You could drop us on an island for a month and we would be fine. Course she would probably be pregnant and I would want to name the baby Tarzan, but that is a different topic.

Her voice. When I think about her voice I hear her talking and I see us together. I also see my fear of what could happen. I see my concern about whether we would work or if it would implode.

But the difference is that now I think about it and say that the worst thing that could happen is not to try. Now I think about it and my biggest regret is that we didn’t manage to overcome the fear the last time. That fear is what led to things ending and it is why I am not writing about the six children she and I said we wanted to have.

That past is gone and now the present is staring at me and the future is off in the distance. So the question I ask myself now is what direction should I head in. Actually I am fairly certain that I have an answer to that question. Bet you’d like to know what it is.

Loving Her Was Easy

It is midnight and I am home. Been back for a while now but have been buried in all of the crap that accumulates when you leave town.

Can’t help but wonder if there is an as of yet undiscovered scientific law that states if you leave town you receive twice as much mail as you would when you are home. I think that the post office ought to pay me for picking up my mail and taking it home because I must have carried in two tons of magazines and another 376 pounds of letters.

Someone needs to tell some of these companies about this magic place called the Internet and how most people aren’t interested in flipping through a 25 pound catalog filled with pictures of crap the store wants you to buy for your home.

It is possible that I might be biased about that and perhaps even a bit bitter. I know, I shouldn’t be bitter but sometimes when I think about my old house I get this twinge. There are pieces of it that I sometimes miss and then I think about 6’2 of stupid in my old bed and I smile because he has to deal with all of the other crap.

Life is too short to spend time working and worrying about things that are unimportant which is why I don’t live that life any more.

Sheri left me a half dozen messages on my phone asking me what I had decided to do. Apparently my tale of the race through the alligator farm must have made her think that I am really coming around to her way of thinking. Course I have noticed that many women seem to think that if you repeat something enough times a man will eventually come around to their way of thinking.

It is possible that there is truth to that but I have to be honest and say that for me it usually means that I am sleeping with you. I know, that sounds sort of shallow but you can’t expect me to run around pretending to be sweet, sensitive and cerebral all day long, now can you.

Besides I am good at aggravating women and have found that there is all sorts of fun in making their eyes bug out.

Anyway, I did try to call Sheri but her voicemail picked up and I didn’t leave a message. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had because the message wouldn’t have been long enough to contain all of the details that she wants and she just would call me back.

She has long been convinced that this Ann thing isn’t a thing in an abstract sort of way and that my best bet is to do more than think about calling her. She wants action which probably explains why her last message said something about my proving that my balls weren’t cut off. The juvenile part of me is tempted to send her a picture and a note saying that she was right.

Of course the picture won’t be of my boys because that would be unseemly and besides the Internet is filled with all sorts of fun stuff that I could use. The big problem with that is she won’t get upset or even roll her eyes. Damn woman has known me for far too long and would expect that. You know there is something kind of sad about that, no magic there.

Oh well, there comes a revolution.

Besides it really is easier to just give her what she wants to know and that is what I have decided to do about Ann. There is no real secret there either, I am going to try to get in touch with her.

The big question in my mind is how to do it. I can’t decide if I should just call, write or send smoke signals. Maybe I should send her a picture of Richard Dawson’s headstone.

That might sound sort of morbid to you, but there is a connection. We used to go back and forth about whether he was dead or alive. There was sort of a joke tied into that, but I don’t know if it would come across the way I want it to.

Hell, I am not really sure how to approach this because the reality is that it feels like no time has passed and at the same time it feels like a million years have passed.  It feels like two different extremes to me. You could tell me that we would see each other and end up in bed within five minutes or end up screaming at each other within five minutes.

Either one of them feels possible and plausible. At the same time it really doesn’t have to be an either or proposition- there is a middle ground. I suppose that it is fair to say that I am nervous, but in a good way.

I remember a conversation with Ann where she told me that she was concerned about what I would think of her after pregnancy. She was afraid that her body would go through radical changes and that in turn I would lose interest in her. I told her that wasn’t true and that I couldn’t ever see a time where I wouldn’t be attracted to her.

We had the kind of crazy animal attraction that just doesn’t die and it wasn’t based solely upon looks.

Really, the biggest decision I am faced with now is whether I call or write her.

Hampshire Road

A fragment that I might or might not use in the story:

Man I remember the day that I really heard Springsteen sing about wanting to know if love is wild and wanting to know if love is real. It hit me hard in a way that I can’t describe other than to say that I just knew life had changed.

It wasn’t a subtle or soft change either. It was a punch to the gut, kick me in the balls and smack me in the teeth kind of moment. That is because someone or something out there knows that I am not the kind of guy who shifts position or moves somewhere else without some thought on my part.

I don’t wear a sweater because you are cold and if you hit me I wipe my mouth and hit you back…twice.

Don’t misunderstand me because I am not pretending to be a tough guy because there are lots of them out there and most are harder than I am. But then again it would be false to say that I don’t do a good job of holding my own or that my threshold for pain is limited. I suspect that tolerance for pain is part of the problem because when the powers that be try to push me a certain direction I just grunt and keep doing what I was.

So it took some time for me to realize what the source of that ache was and to understand that she was the cause and the cure. She made me aware of the gaping hole that existed and that when you find the right person you don’t feel that sort of thing. When things weren’t right I felt wrecked, angry and confused.

I know what I miss and why. I found the letter she wrote telling me the same. I didn’t need to have her here to hear her voice or remember how she told me she cried. Don’t forget things like that, not the storm walker. Nor have I forgotten about how I punished myself for a million different things that I blamed myself for.

I danced in the fire and embraced the flames. I shouted at the sky and called down the thunder. Anger became my refuge. It was where I went because it made it easier to try to forget but when you can can’t stay angry you come up with new reasons and excuses to do so.

Man, all that crap started way back on Hampshire Road but I didn’t know that. Never could have guessed that a girl who went to the Heights could have that sort of impact on me. I was too busy trying to be like Danny Zuko and she was too good at playing Sandy- she sang the hell out of “You are the one that I want.”

Damn if she didn’t figure me and this out before I did and when I didn’t respond as fast as she wanted she took her leave- moved on and left me trying to figure out what happened and why.

But eventually I figured it out- slow or not I always come around. And when I did come I told her that I wanted another shot. When she rejected me I said I would be back and I was. But she shot me down a hundred more times and I began to wonder what I was doing so I walked away.

That was when I found out that she wasn’t willing to just let go either. I found her following me, saw her watching me and I knew that there was something there. I knew that there was something here.

I haven’t figured it out yet, but I will. She is watching and waiting. It is not a game nor do I see it like that. I just know in my gut that if I want her to be my girl again I need to solve this puzzle.

Heart and head continue to battle about it all but if what my heart told my head is right the answer is staring me in the eye. Time will tell.

Dinner With Sheri

I told Sheri that I wouldn’t make very good company. Said that I was jet lagged, cranky and not in the mood to be in public. She told me that is how I am all the time and said that she would pick up something and bring it over to my place.

I told her again that tonight wasn’t a good night. She asked why and I told her that I was furious with Ann and said that anyone who didn’t have a penis was the enemy. She laughed and said that I would never give up women and that I would feel better after we spoke.

“Sheri, you are treading on thin ice. I am not playing. This is serious to me. That vein in my forehead is sticking out and I want to punch a hole in the wall.”

“That is exactly why you should let me come over. You need to let it out, whatever it is. I’ll be quiet and listen to whatever it is you have to say. I am not the enemy, I am safe.”

Don’t tell anyone but this is the reason that I love that woman, platonically of course. She understands and she knows that I do feel safe. There are very few people in the world that I am willing to truly open up with and Sheri is one of them. I used to wonder why and I decided that it was a waste of time. What difference does it make why I am comfortable. I just know I am and I am grateful for it.

A few hours later the bell rang and I shouted for her to come in. The room was dark and I was seated against the far wall, beer in hand.

“I can’t see you. Where are you sitting?”

“Against the wall. Follow the sound of a clinking bottle.”

“Are you drunk?”

“Nope, not even close.”

“You sound drunk.”

“No, I am jet lagged, cranky and really angry.”

I was shocked by the edge in my voice and a bit uncertain why I was so angry. A moment later Sheri sat down next to me. She didn’t say anything and neither did I. I handed her a beer, leaned forward and took a deep breath.

We sat silence and then she just rubbed my back. I love that. I find it incredibly relaxing and Sheri knows it. For a moment I sat there and thought about how absurd it was. How many women would walk into a dark apartment, grab a beer and start rubbing the back of the man who had been sitting in the dark.

I suppose you can call it a testament to our friendship and the security we feel with each other.

“Did you talk to Ann? Why are you so angry with her?”

“Nope, haven’t talked to her but I am furious with her for a million reasons. That girl promised me the world and I swore I would give her the moon. We said that we had never loved anyone more deeply than we loved each other. We made a pact that we would never let go and that if something happened we would find our way back to each other.

And she left me anyway.”

Sheri squeezed my hand and I continued.

“It was a long time ago. People change. I know that. You know that. We know from our experiences that sometimes things change, people change- but this is, was different. I still remember the terrible things she said. She was a major bitch to me. I am not saying that I didn’t deserve some of that or that I wasn’t a party in what happened, but I wasn’t as nasty.

I didn’t go there because I was afraid that if I said those things that people say in anger she would never forget them. I promised to be her hero and I tried to do it…forever.”

“Some times things don’t work out. Maybe you guys split up for a reason.”

“There is always a reason. She left me, went and let that guy knock her up. Bought a house and spent the past 2,000 years serving as his sex slave. Whereas I didn’t do any of that. I drew the short straw and fucked myself.”

“Jack, you are being ridiculous. You didn’t draw the short straw. You moved on and she moved on. You have great kids and for a long while you had a great life. Your marriage wasn’t all bad. Trust me, I know all about that stuff. Try being the wife who doesn’t want to be married but pretends to be happy because she doesn’t want to hurt her children.”

“Sheri, I hear what you are saying. I understand, I really do. But I am scared. I don’t know where these feelings came from and I am not totally certain what to do about them. There was this period of time where she didn’t hurt me any more. There was this time when I was cool with it all. There was this time when I thought this was dead and buried. Yet here I am, wondering what the fuck I am doing thinking about this woman who tore my heart out and didn’t care.”

“Jack, every time I think you might have a clue about women remind me that you don’t. If you think that it didn’t tear her up you don’t know anything. And I am sorry, you don’t understand what it is like for a mother. It is different for us. We can’t be like men and just ignore our kids and go do whatever the hell we want to. We have to think about things in very different terms than men do.”

There was something about that last comment that stuck with me. The way she said that mothers have to think about the choices they make and then I remembered that Sheri knew things I didn’t know. Remembered that she said she had spoken with Ann and so had Kathy.

Call me a chauvinist, but women talk…a lot.

I took a deep breath and asked her if she had told me everything Ann had said about me. She told me that she wasn’t entirely sure what I was talking about and I said that I thought she might have forgotten to share some things with me. She didn’t say anything and I knew that there was more to the story but she hadn’t decided if she was going to tell me what that was.

That could be because she thought that it would hurt me or because she truly didn’t remember. What I wasn’t sure of was whether I wanted to know what it was. Part of me did, but there was a part that wondered if it would be helpful.

It reminded me a bit of when I first found out that Ann had a new guy. One of the reasons why I became a writer is because I have this exceptional imagination that works over time. I don’t just write stories, I see them. And when I found out about the new guy I immediately pictured her doing things with him that I didn’t want to think about.

Sometimes this imagination of mine isn’t such a good thing.

“Sheri, what aren’t you telling me and do I want to know?”

“I don’t know if you want to know any of this. I don’t know if it means anything or if it is helpful.”

“Screw it, now you have to tell me.”

“Ann told Kathy that sometimes when she would have sex with her husband she would pretend he was you.”

“So, lots of people fantasize during sex. I am glad to hear that she was thinking about me, but it is not like I benefited from that. Good, she thinks of me while she goes down on him. That is great. If I wasn’t so irritated I would write this down. I am sure that there is some kind of great joke about whose head is in whom and where but I just can’t come up with it now.”

“Jack, women don’t talk like that when they are really happy with their husband.”

“Sure they do, I know. I have heard it before. It is like that hall pass thing where everyone talks about that one person they would be with if they weren’t married. Of course it is almost always someone they could never get but that is beside the point.

“This is different. Trust me. When you get married you stop telling your girlfriends all the little details you used to share. This just different.”

Different. I knew different. It reminded me of a conversation with Ann after things had ended where I had tried to convince her to give things a shot. She shot me down, told me that she wasn’t interested and that she didn’t want me pining away for her.

I told her that I wasn’t interested in pining away. All I wanted was to hook up periodically. We had a great sex life and I didn’t see a reason why we couldn’t or shouldn’t sleep together without any of that commitment stuff.

She never responded to my suggestion. If memory serves Sheri told me that she probably wanted to but wouldn’t go there because it was too complicated or something like that. Which made me think that this was another moment where she probably slept with some guy while thinking about me.

I don’t know about you but I am sensing a theme here that I don’t really like. I wonder if I can call Ann and tell her that I want to collect on the sex she had with other men while thinking about me. It is only fair. It is the reasonable thing to do.

Think about the letter I could write.

Dear Ann,

I have it on good authority that you have had sex on multiple occasions with a man or men while thinking about me. The rules of the universe, common decency and honor dictate that you permit me to have sex with you again so that I too might benefit from the moments you shared with them.

If this is unacceptable I will gladly accept several blow jobs as compensation, the exact number to be determine at a later date.

Damn, even I realize that a letter like that is probably not going to be well received. Fuck, the crazy thing about this is that if we were together I know she would laugh at that. Hell, the damn woman once told me that I should ignore anything she says in anger and that if we ever split up I should keep fighting until she gives in or something like that.

I told Sheri about all this and she laughed. “there is some truth to all of this. If a woman isn’t certain about what she is going to do she will keep you arm’s length. Even if she really is interested in sleeping with you she won’t ever tell you, not while all of the other stuff is going on.”

“Sheri, that is the whole point. It feels like an Abbottt & Costello routine. She might really like me. She might really want to be with me but because of all this other crap she won’t say. So I am supposed to pursue her and try to read her mind with the hope that she’ll magically get naked so that I can know for certain where her head is at.”

“Nah, you still won’t know for certain. She is not a twenty something who can’t figure out which way is up. She is a grown woman who is comfortable with her body and her sexuality. She might sleep with you because she wants to get laid. That is part of the blessing of age. We finally feel comfortable being more like men, at least in that respect.”

And then I swore again that I might decide to be gay and listened as Sheri laughed. “Jack, you aren’t ever going to switch teams so give it up.”

It is always good to have good friends, even when they don’t answer any of your questions.

Window Of Opportunity

It is well past midnight and I know better than to call but I can’t help it. Ann is engaged and her wedding is coming on like a freight train. I want to scream in anger and frustration.

I don’t know how this happened and I know exactly how it happened. Some time after we broke up she met another guy and supposedly is in love with him. We couldn’t be more different . I am a writer and he is an engineer. I have black hair and he is blonde. I have olive skin and he is Swedish or Swiss.

Or so I was told. Really I don’t care what his country of origin is. I just want him to go back to the fucking mountain top farm or dance with the Von Trapp family and sing about the hills being alive with the sound of music.

It has been months since I found out about him and I have managed to maintain my silence. I want to be cool and dignified. If she wants to throw her life away with this other guy, well I can’t stop her.

But the thing is that it is eating me up inside. I find a million little moments that remind me of her, of us and I miss her. The weekends come and go and I stay home. Sunday morning hits and I try not to think about how we used to start our day or those long brunches where we would just sit and talk.

It is hard. I can’t keep my head from picturing them together. I think about what it would feel like to kick his ass and I smile. It is not his fault. He has nothing to do with me and her. I know this but it doesn’t stop me from wishing that I could just smack him.

A mutual friend tells me that he has a soft, kind of squeaky voice and that my voice is much cooler. She says that women like my voice and something else but I am not paying attention. She is trying to help but it just hurts.

I pick up the phone and dial her number and then slam it down. Can’t let myself give in, won’t let myself give in. Finally I give in.

“Hi, it is me.”

“It is really late. Is everything ok?”

I promised myself that if I called I would be cool, but it is late and I am inspired by the liquid courage I just drank.

“I hear you are getting married. That is a mistake.”

There is an edge to my voice and I know immediately that she is not going to respond well, but that liquid courage mixes with frustration and fear that she might do this.

“Jack, you had your chance and you blew it. I am not going to wait forever. You made every excuse and dragged your feet. I love him.”

Those last three words suck all of the life out of me. I should hang up, I should just go but I am being stupid.

“Ann, he is an idiot and he won’t make you happy. He can’t make you happy like I can. You should leave him. Give me a chance.”

It just gets uglier after that. Ann doesn’t hang up the phone. She berates me and tells me in no uncertain terms that I am a selfish jerk. She says that she wants me to be happy and I should want the same thing for her.

I say that I want him to go sailing with Gilligan. She doesn’t laugh.

“I am going now. You should go to bed. Take care of yourself. Don’t make me be a bitch to you. We promised we wouldn’t do anything to make us hate each other. Let me go Jack, we were good but we are done now.”

I swear I hear an echo, “we are done now” but I am not sure.

“Good be happy. Only an idiot would marry a putz like him.” I hang up before she can respond.

I wander over to the corner and sit in the dark and watch as a cascade of memories pass by.

Earlier

We are at Ann’s apartment. It is Sunday morning and I am smiling. She is wearing my shirt and wandering around the kitchen talking to her mother.

“Mom, I think you are really going to like him. He is a writer, his name is Jack.”

I walk behind her and start running my hands up and down her body. She smiles at me and pushes my hands away. I chase her around and she laughs. I hear her mother ask if “Jack” is at her apartment now.

Ann says “yes” but I don’t hear her mother’s response but I can tell from Ann’s reply that her mom wants to know how serious it is.

“Mother, can we talk about this later. I have a lot of things to do today.”

I yell from across the room, “yeah we are kind of busy.” Ann makes a face at me but her smile tells me that I am not in trouble.

There is a flash in my head and we’re transported in time again.

“Jack, we need a plan. I like knowing what I am doing and where I am going.”

“Baby, you are going to be with me. We’ll get married. We’ll buy a house and we’ll get you pregnant.”

“Our kids are going to be so cute. I want to talk to you about names, but not now. We are not married yet and we don’t even know what city we want to live in. I’ll live almost anywhere you want, but we need to think about it. We want to be somewhere with good schools and a home that works for us.”

Alone in the dark I hear her voice. I see her sitting across from me and I remember that conversation. That was at breakfast. Later that night we met some friends for dinner.

I remember sitting on the couch with Mike while Ann and Stephanie stood in the kitchen talking.

“Jack and I want to wait at least two years before we have kids. Ideally we’ll buy a house before then but if we don’t that is ok. My parents lived in an apartment with me until I was three. It is definitely doable.”

She and Stephanie go back and forth about the future they are planning, Ann with me, Steph with Mike. Mike and I don’t pay much attention to it but periodically one of us will make a comment about not wanting to plan out every step of our future.

“I am a writer. Part of the joy in life is just going with it.”

“Baby, part of the joy in life is having a plan for the future.”

“Ok baby, I plan on eating dinner with you, Steph and Mike. Later on when it is dark I plan on showing you my plan for this evening.”

The girls both roll their eyes and Ann shoots a look at me. This time I am not getting away with trying to be cute.

More moments in time flash in front of me but I don’t bother getting up. I am still trying to reconcile what she said about being in love and the coming wedding. I wonder if the movies imitate real life. Can I be like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate? If I burst into the room and demand that they stop the wedding, will they?

Will it be like some crazy movie scene where I have to fight the would be groom and the guests? Will she come willingly or will I be told to get the hell out and accused of humiliating her?

I don’t know and I am not sure. Up until now all I have focused upon were the happy memories, but the darker ones are lurking there. In a moment I’ll see and hear her end it with me again.

That is enough to make me stand up. If I start moving I think I might be able to stave off having to hear her tell me it is over again. If I move I won’t have to replay that moment and hear those words again.

I am wrong. Movement doesn’t prevent it from washing over me again.

The Present

I am seated in my apartment thinking about all the stuff that Sheri and I have been talking about. My mind is swirling with all sorts of mental debris and I am thinking about a different time when Ann said we could only be friends and nothing more.

Was she truly being honest with me? I don’t know. I have a million questions and when I think about the advice women have given me about how to deal with women my head hurts. It hurts because the advice is contradictory. One tells me that women want to be pursued and that no means chase harder. Another says that chasing harder just makes me look desperate and pathetic and that no woman wants desperate and pathetic.

Someone else tells me that I just have to figure out how to get her in bed. At the time she wasn’t talking about Ann or any woman in particular, it was just general advice for how to deal with women. She says that if I get a woman in bed I’ll have a much better chance of getting her to do what I want.

I think I might have been about 25 when I heard that but I remember feeling this urge to tell her that this was the most idiotic thing I have ever heard.

The real kicker here was that all this advice I received was about how to deal with single women not single mothers who are former lovers.  So I decided that I had enough thinking for one night and went to bed. Yet even after I closed my eyes I heard and felt more memories….

I kept coming back to the conversations we had about our window of opportunity.

What Ann Said

Editor’s note: I have written and rewritten this particular post multiple times. This time I intend to publish whatever I come up with and edit it again later.

The experts will tell you that the proper way to break up with someone is to do it in person. I can’t tell you if that really is true or false because experience has taught me that every relationship is different. Those differences have a tremendous impact upon how the people in them handle whatever challenges they face.

A thousand years ago when Ann and I were the couple that you hated she told me that people had funny memories and that we tended to rewrite history. I remember it because it was part of her tale about how two former boyfriends of hers had “inaccurate” recollections of what happened in their relationship with her.

I remember looking at her and saying that it was because the first guy was just a stupid asshole and the other was a redneck junky who was lucky not to have overdosed on whatever corn he was smoking. At the time she giggled and thanked me for being jealous. Later on she would tell me that my comments were mean spirited and unfair.

I of course reminded her that she had told me that every ex of mine was fat and stupid or that they made her sick. And because I am male I followed up with a comment in which I suggested that I should beat those boys silly.

It was both juvenile and stupid. I knew it then as I know it now but the words came from a place of significant pain. I knew that things were falling apart between us and I was having a terrible time trying to figure out how to fix it.

You see for a long time any time things were rough, bad or hard between us I knew how to bridge the gap. It wasn’t just because we had great communication skills, but because we really were two souls that had discovered our other half. That sounds goofy and like some sad cliche but it is true.

We really didn’t fight often but when we did it was always followed by the most amazing makeup sex either one of us had experienced. Ann once asked me why I thought that was. I responded by showing her my ring finger.

“Do you remember when I dislocated my finger playing ball?”

“Yes, but I don’t see where you are going with it.”

“My whole finger should point in one direction, except when I dislocated it the damn thing ended up pointing in two different directions. We are like that finger, normally we are one unit but sometimes we end up pointing two different ways. It is painful, awkward and uncomfortable.”

It wasn’t very romantic or eloquent, but she understood what I meant.

Sometimes after that if we had a disagreement I would wiggle my fingers at her. Most of the time she would roll her eyes at me and ask me if I would just learn how to say I was sorry.

It took some doing, but I did learn how to do it. I wish I had figured it out earlier. If I had I might have avoided a lot of heartache or maybe not. It is easy to speculate now.

“Jack, I can’t do this any longer. It is too much. It is too hard. You took too long and I can’t wait.”

“Baby, please don’t do this. I am working on things, but I don’t want to pick up and move without finishing this project.”

“I have spent years waiting for you to finish. I want to move on with my life. I thought that we would be further along. I thought that we would have already had a house and kids by now. Jack, I am sorry.”

I could hear her anguish over the phone, but I didn’t completely believe what I was hearing. I knew why she wasn’t doing it in person. It would be too hard. We couldn’t be that close and break things off. The physical chemistry was far too strong.

“I love you. Please don’t do this. I just need some more time and I can make this happen for us. We can be a family. We can stop ‘practicing’ and try to get pregnant.”

In the past that might have worked but this time it wasn’t enough.

“We need to take a hiatus. I don’t want to talk to you or hear from you for at least a month, maybe longer. We have never gone that long without contact. Let’s take some time apart and see what happens.”

That was when I started to get angry. I didn’t hear her saying that it was a hiatus. I heard her trying to let me down easily and I couldn’t accept that. I didn’t believe that she didn’t love me anymore. She told me she still did, but that she couldn’t wait.

“I am sorry that I am not the man you want me to be.”

There was a lot of venom and hurt in that, but it didn’t stop her from telling me that I was. That almost made it worse. She wasn’t my first love or the first woman to break my heart. But she was the one that hurt the most, bar none.

Large chunks of time passed and I reached out to her. At first she ignored all of my attempts to contact her, but finally we made contact. She still refused to see me in person so we exchanged letters. Some of them were happy and some were less…so.

“Jack, we can be nothing more than friends. I don’t want you pining away for me.”

I read those words and the ones in between and felt flames shooting out of my eyes, ears and nose. I wondered who she was sleeping with and whether ripping his lips off might make him more “interesting” to kiss. I didn’t want to feel like some teenager, but she had an effect upon me like no one else had.

But I didn’t respond or write that down. I didn’t tell call her names and did my best to be nice. When Sheri said that she was acting like a bitch I told her that she wasn’t to talk about Ann that way.

I said that I had promised to be her hero and that I wasn’t convinced that it was over forever. Sheri told me that I was a fool. “You need to find another woman. I am not saying you should run try and get laid either. Give yourself time to mourn and then find another woman. There is someone out there who will love you like that. It will get easier.”

Well, I guess we both found other people…for a while.

And now here we are in this funny place. I am still not convinced that she ever stopped loving me. Maybe she stopped feeling like she was in love with me. That happens, you fall in and out of love. But I just don’t believe that what we had dies.

Even when I know that she talked some smack about me and said some pretty awful stuff, I just don’t believe it. There is a double standard at play here, but we’ll ignore that because it really doesn’t matter.

Some people might disagree, but I didn’t spend my life or the time in between then and now pining away. I acknowledged that the torch wasn’t completely extinguished but that doesn’t mean that I  think she is the only one out there.

There have be more than just a few women out there who could make me exceptionally happy, but I haven’t felt the need to go looking for them. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t.

I told Sheri that if it is meant to be we’ll find our way back to each other. She told me I was idiotic and that I was being given an opportunity to follow up on unfinished business. I told her that we have the same conversation over and over again.

“You are right Jack, we do. So what are you going to do differently this time?”

Take a Chance on Me

In the time that once was I used to tell that long legged seventies girl of mine that any time I heard Dancing Queen I couldn’t help but think of her. Don’t know why that is or what the connection is, I just did and I guess I still do.

But that is neither here nor there, nor fair or foul. It just is.

“You are far more tactile than I am. You like knowing exactly what is. You want plans. You want a path to follow. Well woman, I don’t always follow the trail. I run up the side of the mountain.”

“That makes no sense, you don’t run up the side of mountains. You climb them.”

“Baby, I am a writer. You are the math major. The difference between words and numbers is that numbers add up or they don’t. Words don’t have to. I am a dreamer. I always have been and I probably always will be. Logic and rational thought have to be put aside sometimes or nothing happens.”

“That makes no sense to me. If you don’t have a plan you don’t get things done. I like to get things done.”

“Crazy woman, you know that I love you more than anyone- but you make me crazy when you say stuff like that. You have your planner and your lists. I watch you put them together and I smile. I love that you do that. Every time you check something off on your list you do this thing with your lips that just drives me crazy, in a good way.”

“Insulting me isn’t going to get you where you want to go.”

“Oh yes it will, because I am not asking but that is not the point. I like teasing you. Can’t help it, I want to pull your pony tail and laugh. I love just watching you. I can listen to you breathe and be happy. I don’t want a clone of me. I want someone who does things differently. I need that. I need a woman who is strong, smart and  somewhat opinionated. Someone like you, judgmental, cranky and beautiful.”

Can’t help but laugh thinking back on the conversation. She would make this face at me and pretend to be irritated, but she always melted into my arms. And she was smarter than I am. Damn woman was so very sharp, but I loved that. I couldn’t be the steamroller. We didn’t have to spend a lot of time talking about certain things because we just knew. It just worked.

But some people just didn’t see it.

“You know, I like these traditional roles. Be the woman and I’ll be the man. Be a good girl and get me a beer.”

Past experience with other women had taught me that was the sort of thing that would get me into trouble. Smarter men than I did their best to avoid it, but sometimes I couldn’t help but push the limits a bit.

And on that particular day I really couldn’t help myself. Ann’s friend Sheila was hanging out with us and she was truly making me crazy. It is not nice to make fun of people based upon their looks but she really invited it. Sheila’s sense of style was to force herself into tight jeans and a tight shirt.

I know, it sounds innocent but you never saw her. She looked like a stuffed sausage but that wasn’t what made me nuts. What irritated me was her non stop chatter and know-it-all attitude. Not to mention her need to tell me constantly that she thought it would be really sweet if I let Ann buy us another set of Laura Ashley sheets.

I never gave a damn about what sheets were on the bed. All I cared about was whether it was comfortable for Ann and I. The rest of it was immaterial to me. It would have been fine, but Sheila once heard me tell Ann that I was a man and men don’t sleep on flowers. I was kidding, but she didn’t know that. So every time we saw her she would try to be the good friend by telling me what I should do to make Ann happy.

My lovely seventies girl thought it was kind of funny to watch the two of us go at it, so she never told Sheila that she wasn’t bothered by any of this. And that is why my comments would get progressively edgier. Because Sheila didn’t know her place I would start throwing out these chauvinist lines.

I have to admit that I was curious to see if  Ann would ever stop me but she didn’t. It took a bit of time before I realized that part of this was Ann busting my chops. She laughed pretty hard when I caught on and made some comment about men being airheads.

That might have been true of the other guys she was with, but that wasn’t me. Got my share of foibles and faults, but that wasn’t part of it.

Anyhoo, that same day Sheila was hanging out with us was also the day that things got really crazy.

Ann and I hadn’t seen each other in several days. I don’t remember the exact reason why, but I think it was because I had to go out of town on some writing assignment. So when I got to the apartment all I really wanted was to be alone with Ann.

I kept trying to get her to excuse herself for a little while and she kept telling me no.

“Honey, I’ll make it up to you tonight. Sheila came over because she needs to talk.”

“Fine, you can talk to her. I just need ten minutes of your time…without her.”

“I know exactly what you need and I promise you will get it tonight.”

I want to say that I smiled, said ok and went about my business- but I didn’t.  I was tired, cranky, horny and pissed off that Sheila was preventing me from spending time with Ann.

During the ride home I had this half baked idea of taking Ann in whatever room I found her. We didn’t have kids and I had no idea that one day it would be “normal” to schedule time to be together.

“Jack, what did you bring Ann? Did you get her something nice? She loves flowers.”

“Well Sheila, I am so glad you asked. If you’ll let me take your friend into the bedroom I am sure you’ll hear the gift I have been waiting to give her. And manye if you are lucky some man might get drunk enough to give it to you.”

I said it with a big smile and expected to find Ann laughing or at least smiling- I was wrong. Two sets of angry female eyes shot me with that female look of death and I quickly realized that I was in trouble.

“Does this mean I am not going to get a blow job so that I can take a nap now?”

If you are going to go down in flames you might as well throw gasoline on the fire. If you are lucky the explosion that follows will suck all the oxygen out of the room and the flames will go out.

I was not that lucky.

So I wandered over to the bedroom and sat down on the bed. Seconds later Ann flew in behind me and started flinging bolts of lightning at me. I don’t remember all of what she said but some of it was less than kind. I must have started yelling back at her because Sheila burst in to the room and said something about needing to protect her friend.

That was when I really lost it with her.

“Sheila, you have to be the dumbest, most irritating bitch I have ever met. I only wish that Ann would tell you to go fuck yourself or at least give you a mirror that works because clearly you get dressed in front of one of those fucked up fun house mirrors.”

What happened after that doesn’t really matter. Some of it is a blur but Ann and I yelled at each other some more and I left.

Many hours later I sat in the car and wondered if that was it. Was it over? Were we done? I wasn’t sure and sitting in the car wasn’t helping things. So I drove over to my buddy’s place and crashed on the couch.

The next day I found more than several and less than a dozen messages on my voicemail.  They were all from Ann, each one progressively more concerned about my welfare. When I heard those it just took all the anxiety over the fight out of me as well as any lingering anger.

“Sweetheart, I am like my father. When we get angry we just blow up and then it is done. You need to ignore what I say when I am like that.”

“Baby, I am not like that. When I get that angry it stays with me. I can’t stand her. All I thought about was spending time with you and when I to the apartment and found there I was so disappointed.”

“I love you Jack. No matter what happens we will get through it.Promise me that you will keep fighting for us. Promise me that if I blow up you will ignore it. I have never loved anyone like you, you are my air.”

“Ok baby, I love you too. You know that you are my air. When we aren’t right I just ache. It hurts.”

Back in the present I sat on the couch reading the latest Stephen King novel. Earphones inside my ears kept me connected to my iPod.  Take a Chance on Me has just finished playing and the memories that it dredged up are still swirling around in my head.

It is another moment where I wonder about what Ann said. I promised to be that guy. I said that I could and would carry us. I promised to never let go. What does that mean now…if anything.

Do I chalk it all up to experience or is the song a message from the universe, a sign to do more than reminisce.

Sheri is right. We keep having the same conversation and I keep asking the same questions. I need to do something about that.

Only Time

Only Time isn’t a song that I remember listening to with Ann, but something about it makes me think about her. I don’t know what, why or how it does nor do I care.

That is because I am operating on nothing more than my gut and intuition. I am ignoring the quiet whispers inside my head that say that this is a fool’s errand and running uphill to try and gain a vantage point that allows me to see what has been hidden.

That wacky woman has done a number on me like no other and it infuriates me. I don’t like feeling off kilter and off balance. I don’t like this sense of unfinished business or this other presence inside my heart that keeps tugging on it.

I don’t like it because it doesn’t make sense but in many ways nothing about us ever did. All those cliches about us were true. We broke the rules, stole fire from the gods and were punished for it. Or at least I was punished.

She might call it melodrama, my saying that I was punished but I wouldn’t. I say that is a clear description of how I felt and in some respects still feel. Maybe it is a character flaw to be irritated by our not having gotten the chance to try living the life that we could have had together. Maybe I am a fool for thinking that love like ours never dies, but it is how I am made.

And she knew it and if she knew me as I think she did than she still knows it.

You see the thing that burns me up now is that sense of being so close. It is that feeling that she is almost there, that if I said the right thing she would nod her head and smile. And that smile, the one that no one else got would warm my heart and make me feel like superman.

That moment would last a life time and I wouldn’t hesitate to pull her to me and find out if absence makes the heart grow fonder or if memories are colored.

Someone once asked me if I would feel better knowing that she agonized over us as I had and I said yes.

It is true. I wanted to know that her heart was broken and that she was devastated at the thought of not being with me. But at the same time I never wanted or want that for her. I always said that I would step in front of a bus for her. I always said I would take the bullet because that is just how it was. She was my girl and I would never forgive myself if I didn’t do all that could to protect her.

The joy of being human is that you know that you aren’t perfect and that you have flaws. But for that moment in time in which we loved each other we accept each other without reservation, qualification or exception.

I let her see me for who I am and she loved me.

How can a man ignore that. Only a fool would. And I did the same for her.

So here we are in this strange place that neither one of us could have predicted. I have written her a hundred million letters and not sent a single one to her. You see what I never told Sheri is that I did reach out to her on several occasions.

She rejected me every single time.

There was never any indication that it bothered her or that she missed me. I never saw anything in the letters she sent me that suggested an ounce of regret or a reason to hope.

A thousand years ago when we were “us” and not two separate individuals she saw me battle. She watched me debate and win time after time. She saw me go to war on the field and win.

I like to think that she remembered that I have never been one to just give up. I like to think that she was testing me by playing hard to get. But that also suggests there is game playing and that was not part of us. We played games, but not that sort. And when I thought about it I figured that maybe I needed to just heed her words and let go.

Maybe she was being honest and didn’t want anything. Maybe there was nothing left. We used up all of our magic dust and it was never replaced. So when she said to go away… I did.

That wasn’t easy to hear or accept, but I did. I walked. I left. I turned off the lights and locked the door. The shop was closed and there was no point hanging out hoping for a different outcome.

At least that is how it was until that lunch with the girls when they said she was available. I still didn’t want to follow up because I didn’t see the need to be kicked in the teeth and then Sheri told me about how Ann had mentioned me. She told me about how Ann read everything I wrote and I began to wonder.

Thoughts began to percolate and I remembered things I had forgotten. I read some old letters and heard her ask me to not let go. That wasn’t my own desire talking- it was what she said.

Her notes to me said that I was the love of her life and that she thought we could overcome anything. After one of the biggest fights we ever had she made me promise to ignore comments made while angry. She told me that if let go she would never forgive me and that I just needed to figure out how to convince her to spend time alone with me.

I remember telling her that it was ridiculous. She agreed. She nodded her head and said that it was silly and that one day we’d wake up and make breakfast for our grandchildren.

“Jack, stupid things happen sometimes. Promise me again that if we lose each other you won’t just forget about me. Promise that you will fight for us.”

I teased her about that conversation. Wrote a story about it. She yelled at me and said that I made her sound ridiculous. I laughed and said that I didn’t do that, being female did that.

She rolled her eyes at me and then she kissed me. “You know more about me than any other man. If we are dumb enough to lose each other you’ll figure out a way to get me back. I won’t make it easy. When I am done, I am done. That is what happened with every other guy, but you are different.”

Those weren’t the exact words, but they are close enough. It is what I remember. For a long while I agonized over that and believed that it didn’t happen that way. I would have continued, except I found the letter from her that confirmed it.

It sounds like the plot of some ridiculous Hollywood romantic comedy, except it is not. It is what happened and now I have to figure out how to convince the woman who made me promise her that if we ever broke up I would ignore her rejection and fight to get her back.

Yep, that sounds like a recipe for all kinds of fun now doesn’t it. When does no mean no except when it doesn’t mean no. If you know it would great if you tell me so that I would know too.

Words On a Page

“Ann, you are the best thing and the worst thing to happen to me. You infuriate me like no other woman ever has. That is not necessarily a compliment either. You told me that you wanted me to just let go. You said that I should trust you and just let loose. You said that you wouldn’t leave and that if you did it would be a mistake.

Well, I have to thank you for making me feel stupid. Have to thank you for managing to hurt me in ways that are profound and lasting. Have to thank you for ensuring that the next girl will meet the hardest and most obnoxious asshole they have ever met.”

I don’t remember what her response was because I was doing my best not to lose it completely. It is funny because Ann always told me that she was impressed by how calm I would stay during arguments with people.  She had seen me debate and engage with others on many different occasions.

Many years ago we were members of a charitable organization that helped raise money for the homeless. There came a point in time when politics split the organization into separate groups. It was an ugly time.

I remember one night I walked into a meeting and I saw three women arguing with Ann. I wandered over and listened for a moment and then jumped in. Ann was perfectly capable of handling herself but I wasn’t about to let those women feel like she had no support.

As soon as I said that Ann was right they turned on me and it got personal. I don’t really know how that happened, but I remember telling one of them that it was never a good idea to allow the lady who styled her poodle’s hair to do hers too. She had this high squeaky voice and a Scottish accent that under other circumstances might have been enjoyable to listen to.

“Your princess here thinks that because she wears a tiara she can say whatever the hell she wants as if she isn’t a common whore.”

My eyes narrowed and my voice dropped an octave. “If you ever call her a whore, threaten her or look at Ann in a way that is less than friendly I will make life miserable for you. That is my promise to you. I only wish that you were male so that I could demonstrate my affection in a more appropriate manner.”

On the ride home I told Ann that I didn’t expect to win any awards for citizenship or chivalry from that group.

“Baby, they were completely unreasonable. You should have heard what they said about you.” While she filled me in on what had led to the the argument I realized that I had missed a lot. I suppose that you can attribute some of that to a man not picking up on women’s politics/social cues, but it was also because Ann always protected me too.

She didn’t tell me about some of the things that were said about me because she didn’t want me to be hurt or upset by it.

“Anneleh, do you know how much I love you. It is goofy, but I feel like singing that song Miracle of Miracles.”

So many years later it feels odd to think or talk about these things. The chronology feels a bit off and I wonder if these examples make sense to anyone but me.

“Jack, you are acting like a moron. I told you that we are done! It is over and it has been for a long time. Let go. Just let go. Don’t make it harder.”

I bit my lip and turned my back. Inside my head I began making a list of everything she did that I didn’t like. I began to remind myself of how hurt I was and listened to the whispers that said this was proof she never meant what she said.

Finally I felt that fountain of anger explode and I told her that acting like a fool and that this was profoundly stupid. It was in my mind the harshest thing I had ever said to her and it hurt. I don’t know is she ever realized how intentional I was in my effort not to curse with her. That wasn’t me. I have never been the guy to fight with women I was involved with by calling them a bitch or things like that, but I have been known to use terms like “fucking stupid” with much more ease.

But not with Ann. That was because it was a sacred relationship to me.

+++

Sheri started crying when I shared that with her.

“Jack, no man has ever said something so beautiful to me. You have to tell her. Don’t argue with me, you have to tell her. You have to share that with her too. She needs to hear it.”

“Sheri, I am confused and I don’t have a clue why I would say that to her. If the theory is that I am trying to get her to talk to me so that we can go get coffee or something isn’t that a little strong.”

“Jack, your relationship with Ann is so complex you can’t just go to coffee with her. She is not going to do that unless she is prepared for possibilities of other things.  If she agrees to see you she will have already decided in advance just how far things can go”

“Ok, now I am really lost. Why would she be thinking about all of that. Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse. Why wouldn’t she just take it as it comes. And if I tell her that I saw our relationship as sacred won’t if I come off as being some cheesy guy who is just trying to get into her pants?”

“We are not 15 any more. You are a man. If you think that she doesn’t assume that you have some sort of sexual interest in her you are fooling yourself.”

There was a lot more to the conversation with Sheri but my takeaway was that women are weird, illogical and irrational. I don’t understand half of what I heard or maybe I just don’t understand how any of that makes sense.

Ann and I haven’t talked yet so we haven’t established any sort of real communication between us. There is no agreement yet to meet and the last conversation we had was awkward, stilted and uncomfortable. She told me again that it was over and said we were friends. I told her that we weren’t friends and suggested that she think of me as being dead.

There was more between us but you get the point.

And maybe if you are female you understand how I am supposed to share the story of the sacred relationship while maintaining appropriate boundaries and an understanding that she might want to sleep with me and might really think of me as just a friend.

Or if you are male you might appreciate why I am beginning to think that it would be easier to get a colonoscopy or write an entire column about this. Here is my outline:

Introduction: Dear Ann,

Body: I am supposed to be cool, sensitive and understanding. I want you to know that I wonder if you really were the love of my life. You said that I was the love of your life. Even though you have given birth you look really hot. Those kids call you mom. I think I could still call you a sex goddess. No, I am not really asking to sleep with you, but damn I really want to. No, I didn’t say that. Yes I did. Are these mixed messages confusing to you too.

Conclusion: Still cool. Still sensitive. Those hips really are/were childbearing hips, but they look mighty fine. Really, let me hold onto them and prove it to you. I am being sensitive. Not hitting on you, but if you are open to it maybe I am.

Regards,

Jack

P.S. 1 million readers are now completely intrigued with our story and desperate to find out if true love lasts a life time.

Yep, that could be fun to write. On the pro side of things it might really work. Once upon a time Ann had a sense of humor and loved my writing. It is the kind of story that might really go over well and there could be all sorts of upside to it.

On the con side of the fence it could totally piss off Ann and kill any chances we might have of reconciling. It might also piss off my female readers and lead to some sort of silly feminist backlash.

“Jack, I will always love you, but I am not in love with you. Take care of yourself…please.”

“Ann, one of these days you are going to realize that this is a mistake. If you want time away from me you can have it. Just ask me to wait for you and I’ll do it.”

“No, I am not asking for that.”

“Ask me, I just need to hear you say it and I can do it”

“No, I won’t.”

“Fine, just remember that when you come looking for me I will have become a monk and forsaken women.”

“Take care of yourself.”

There was a click and then she was gone.

A Plan Develops

“Sentimental journeys were for the old and decrepit or the mentally weak. It was time to give this crap up.”

She smiled to herself as she realized that from out of the past the boy spoke to her. This wasn’t really her own thought, it was something that he had repeated over and over. Not unlike so many other teenage boys he wanted to be tough, to be viewed as a man. This was just one of those things he said and did to try and prove his manhood to the world.

Well the repetition had worked, at least she apparently had come to believe it. She wondered if he still did. He had tried so hard to be tough and she had tried to support him in this effort, even though she knew that he was not. He had a soft and tender side that would sneak out without warning. It was part of what attracted her to him, especially the fact that he wasn’t even aware of it.

She was always careful not to let him know what she really thought. It wasn’t that she thought badly of him, she loved that part. It made him more real, more human and less like some of the other idiots they went to school with. No she hid her true thoughts because men have fragile male egos and she would have been quite upset to have hurt him.

The light in the bathroom was less than perfect. It cast funny shadows on her face, making her look older than she really was. She spent extra time staring at herself trying to figure out if she really looked that old. Her body was still tight and lean, no children had come from her so nature had not done all that it could have to age her, at least not physically.

Overall she was pleased with what she saw. She wondered if the boy would still find her to be as attractive. Would he still be consumed with passion. Would he still desire her.

Back in school his desire had always been obvious. A man’s body had a way of betraying his thoughts. She had taken great pleasure in finding ways to make it hard for that not to happen. It was a bit of an ego trip, but a little positive attention never hurt and for certain it was a lot of fun to try and make him a little flustered.

Ruffle his feathers and keep him off balance, why not.

In the Internet age it was easy enough to try and track someone down. Type their name into Google and a couple more search engines and you could often find a vast wealth of information. It might be kind of fun to try and locate him, play the voyeur and see what he was doing with himself these days.

Although the truth was that she was reluctant to find out what his present status was. She didn’t want to learn that he was married or find pictures of a family. Even though it had been years since their last communication it felt better to her to think of him as being single and available. There was some comfort in knowing that there might be a possibility of their being reunited.

Reunited. The word made her laugh. Once while waiting for a doctor she had read a trashy romance novel in which the hero had come for his love. The author had penned the classic line “their love was rekindled and reunited like East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

It was so bad that she had to laugh. But maybe it wasn’t that far fetched or silly to think of it in terms of the fall of communism. They had a bitter fight. It was long, protracted and towards the end very nasty. A lot of hurtful comments had been exchanged and even years later it wasn’t unrealistic to think that he could be angry. Or maybe she wanted him to still be angry because it would help to validate the feelings she had about their relationship.

The truth was that there had been something very good and special about their love. There had been a passion and a level of trust that she thought she would never experience again. The men who had followed the boy would have been shocked to have seen her then, or should she say they would have been surprised at how open and laid back she was.

That is not to suggest that she was cold and distant, but since then she had become far more controlling of who and what gained access to her heart. She had been in love at least a couple of times, but the soul piercing, time stood still, kind of her youth hadn’t come back. So maybe it made complete sense to wonder if the line from that book was applicable to her. Maybe, just maybe if she found him they could describe it as being similar to ““their love was rekindled and reunited like East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

But that was best left for a different day, the truth was that she really did need to figure out what to do with herself.

A Simple Disagreement

We were a couple of twenty something year old men circling each other in the parking lot of a bar. I had a couple of drinks in me which is code for I wasn’t feeling any pain. Can’t tell you how much the other guy had to drink, but I guessed it would have been about the same.

He was a little bit taller than me and a whole lot dumber. We probably wouldn’t have ever been friends and under different circumstances I wouldn’t have paid any attention to him, but these weren’t normal circumstances.

He was an ex, Ann’s ex. The guy who she went out with before me. I really didn’t know a ton about him other than he was a big oaf who played baseball and had a bad temper. She had told me a few stories but I didn’t care all that much because he was history and I was the present and the future, or so I had thought.

Anyhoo, we really didn’t hang out in the same places or have any reason to interact so all we were to each other was a name.  Somewhere down the road that changed.  He and I ran into each other at the mall. I can’t tell why we were there or how we recognized each other, just that we did.

The way I remember it is that he kept giving me the stink eye and that eventually I glared back at him. That was enough for him to start talking trash. He started out by asking pointed questions about Ann that were supposed to show me that he knew her intimately. They were the kind of details that only someone who had been with her would know.

At first I ignored them but he kept trying to push my buttons so I decided to respond. I told him that Ann said that since he was her first she never realized how inadequately equipped he was and that I had shown her the difference between the men and the boys.

Granted it was a juvenile response but let’s face it, we were both juveniles. Ok, maybe not officially but when you take two guys and ask them to fight over a woman this is how it goes.

He turned really red and started advancing towards me. I encouraged him and promised to help make some adjustments that would alleviate his need for female companionship. We were about thirty seconds away from engaging in the big dance when mall security intervened. Two of them stood in front of him and one in front of me.

As he walked away he promised to pay me a visit and I told him to make sure to ask the manager at the sporting goods store he worked at to give him a bat to bring because we all knew he was in need.

Two weeks later the tires on my car were mysteriously slashed and the car was egged. I didn’t see him do it so I can’t honestly say that he was responsible, but I do know that when Ann broke up with him he egged her parent’s house.  Maybe it was just coincidence or maybe it wasn’t.

After that there weren’t any other mysterious incidents with my car but Ann and I did run into him twice. The first time almost isn’t worth mentioning because it was really nothing more than two cars passing on the street. But the second time was at the mall and he tried to start up with me again.

Except this time his opening salvo was to call Ann a whore. I told him that his best course of action was to walk away or risk not being able to walk again. He called her a whore again and this time I didn’t say anything. I just started walking towards him.

Had Ann not grabbed me I wouldn’t have said anything. I would have walked right over and punched him in the mouth. I really wanted to, but she wrapped both of her arms around my right arm.

Hell, I ought to check that off as another example how well she knew me because she grabbed me before I started walking. I probably dragged her half the distance towards him and had it not been my concern that she would end up getting hurt it would have gotten ugly.

Not that it mattered because apparently we had a date that wasn’t going to be stopped. It took a long while for it to happen, but the big difference is that when it happened it was after Ann and I had split up.

Can’t tell you how long I had been at the bar when I spotted him but I knew when I did that I hadn’t lost any love for him. He clearly felt the same because he made his way over and immediately started in about how he knew she would dump me.

“Fuck you. We’re nothing alike. You are a big stupid oaf that she dated to piss off her parents. No one liked you. High school is long over and you have a long life of selling shoes and footballs.”

The best part of this was the look on his face. I had stung him and since I was already hurting I was happy to share my pain. When I think back I like think that Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) by Elton John was playing on the radio, but I think that is just my writer’s brain adding to the story.

What I can tell you for certain is that there weren’t any security guards in the parking lot. I’d like to say that there were two thumps. The first was me hitting him and the second was him hitting the ground, but that is not true.

He slugged me a couple of times and we ended up wrestling on the ground, but I got the best of him and not by just a little. He called Ann a whore again and I hit him twice. I didn’t care if we had split up or not, I wasn’t going to let anyone talk about her that way.

I am not proud of that moment but I don’t really regret it either. There is a reason why her friends thought he was an asshole and that hadn’t changed.

Telephone

It is sunset and I am sitting by myself on a beach in Malibu. Got a little flask filled with my favorite beverage and I am looking out upon the water thinking about nothing.

Twenty five years ago Ann would have been sitting in between my legs with her back against my chest. I would have nuzzled her neck and gotten lost in thoughts of a million different things.

At some point in time she would have turned her face towards mine and kissed me, dark eyes would look at mine and ask me what I was thinking about. I’d shrug my shoulders and say nothing and she’d probably let it go because silence wasn’t our enemy, it was our friend.

We were happy to just spend time together. I could listen to her breathe and just watch her. She brought a certain sense of calm into my life that didn’t exist before her and hasn’t really been around since. That is probably because I am pretty guarded and she was one of the handful that I trusted completely. She wasn’t just my best friend or lover, she was my partner.

I let go with her and trusted that she would always have my best interests in mind as I had hers.

Been thinking about that a little bit. Been thinking about it because I have been trying to understand what it was that we had and why the attraction remains. There was a while when I thought that it was sexual in nature. She used to laugh and say that I brought out the animal in her. It was this crazy pheromone thing, a chemical connection.

But it was more than that too.

I remember having a conversation with Ann about the second guy she was with and my second girl. It was one of those deals where we compared notes and talked about how after you had been with your first a million times you thought you knew all there was to know about sex and then someone new showed you that you didn’t.

There was never an awkward moment between Ann and I. We just knew how to be together and the first time felt incredible but it also felt like we had been together our entire lives. I won’t lie and say that I haven’t wondered about that. But like I have said a million times before, she was never just someone to sleep with and she isn’t just that now.

Music is playing behind me. Someone has just turned on Boys of Summer and now my head is really spinning. I can hear Don Henley singing about that girl he once loved and how he is going to get her back. He is talking about her Wayfarers and her brown skin shining in the sun and I see the silhouette of a woman dancing on the water.

I know that there isn’t really anyone there but I am just going with the moment. It is Ann I see dancing, her hips swaying from side to side, those long legs are just as muscular as they have ever been..

There are voices coming from just behind me now so I turn my head and I see a couple lying on a blanket. They are lost in their world and I watch as he rolls partway on top of her. She giggles and I wonder if they realized that I am 30 feet or so away from them.

The music switches from Don Henley to Fleetwood Mac and now I am really lost in memory. They are playing Tusk and we’re dancing, caught up in the concert we really are in our own world.

Just ahead of me the couple apparently has decided that they don’t care who is around. Her legs are wrapped around him and I can’t figure out why I am still staring at them. Maybe it is because now the stereo has moved from Tusk to The Chain. Between the music, the setting and the warm feeling in my belly I am convinced that this is my moment.

This is my time to reach out and call her. I haven’t a clue what I am going to say but that hasn’t ever been something that I worried much about. I don’t like being scripted. I do better when I just speak and let the words flow.

So I pull out my cellphone and pull up her name. For a moment I stop and stare at the numbers, this is my chance to put the phone away. I don’t have to dial. I can walk home, have dinner and enjoy a quiet evening alone.

But I am not without balls and the willingness to take a risk. This doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to be done. So I dial her number, put the phone to my ear and wait for the ring.

There is a electric charge running up and down my body. In between the first couple of rings I wonder where she is. “I finally get the nerve to call her and she isn’t there or is screening my call. Really. Is this really happening. Answer the phone Ann.”

Ring number three goes by and I start wondering if I should leave a message or just hang up. Suddenly there is a click and for the first time in years I hear her voice on the other side of the phone.

It Takes Two

Ann and I walk into the bar and she immediately rolls her eyes at me. “This is your kind of music and it is terrible.” I roll my eyes back at her and laugh.  We’re listening to It Takes Two byRob Base and DJ E-Z Rock.

I come up behind her put my hands on her hips and we start swaying back and forth. “Who said you have any taste anyway.” I try to keep a straight face while saying it but she knows that I am teasing her. Not that I am worried about it. I have more than 400 CDs and a ton of vinyl in my collection and we have spent hours listening to music together.

The song ends and we head over to the bar and I order a couple of drinks for us. “If you think you are going to get me drunk so that you can avoid talking about things you are wrong. I don’t care how late it is, we are going to discuss this.”

I nod my head and smile at her.

“Jack, I am not kidding. I am not going to not talk about this and if you keep this up you should plan on going home alone.”

I laugh again. “Don’t make threats you don’t want to follow up on. You are only punishing yourself.” I probably should have paid more attention to the tone of her response than I did because any time a woman says “fine” like that you are in trouble.

Except I didn’t pay attention. My comment was in response to a fight that we had quite some before. We had gone to a party and I had gotten really drunk, apparently so drunk that when we got home I ignored her advances and went to sleep.

It had been a novel experience. That was the first time I ever got yelled at by a woman for not putting out. Ever since that time I had occasionally teased her by saying that if she pissed me off I would refuse her. Between you and me I still think it is kind of funny. Women are used to being in control of sex and when men turn them down they don’t quite know what to do with themselves.

Time passes and we are joined at the bar by two other couples. I hang out with the guys and we yuk it up while the women talk about whatever it is women talk about.

“Jack, have you made a decision about whether you’ll take the job or not?”

This is precisely what I didn’t want to talk about and it is the reason Ann is so uptight. I have a standing offer at a newspaper out of state and Ann doesn’t want to leave her job unless I put a ring on her finger. I understand why and I don’t have a problem with it.

We love each other and I want nothing more than to get married, but not yet. I am not ready. I have told her a million times that I need a little more time but she is getting tired of my unwillingness to set a date.

I am not afraid of commitment nor do I have any misgivings about marrying Ann. My hangup has everything to do with my desire to do a few more things career wise before marriage. I don’t know exactly why I feel this way, but I do and that is making her crazy.

“Yeah, I am going to take it. It is too good an opportunity to pass up.”

There is no way for me not to notice the look on Ann’s face. She is not happy and for a moment I consider saying something about how it is great city to raise a family in. It would be an easy way to defuse things but I am irritated about her being irritated with me.

Three hours later we walk into our place and get ready for bed. I climb into bed and I watch her go through her nightly routine. I find it sexy to see her get ready for bed. There is something about the way she brushes her hair right before she puts it into a ponytail that I just love.

I watch her slip into her nightgown and think about how lucky I am. She is beautiful and she is mine. In a few moments I’ll pull into my arms and then I’ll…my thoughts about what I want to do are interrupted by the realization that she hasn’t said a word to me.

Normally she would be talking to me about her day and or asking me about mine. This is bad. There is no multitasking going on. There are no questions about what I have to do tomorrow or comments about what the girls and she spoke about.

Looking backwards it is easy to see that we were on the verge of something bad and that I could have done a million different things to avoid it, but you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders. While I was busy thinking of how badly I wanted her she was busy thinking about what a jerk I was.

Even though I recognize that she is angry I decide not to say anything because I figure that if it is important she will say something to me. She turns off the light and without a word she climbs into bed.

Since I am smart and sensitive I immediately roll on top of her and kiss her. She kisses me back, but it is without any passion. I kiss her mouth again and then start kissing her neck. She doesn’t respond but she doesn’t tell me to stop so I keep going.

“Hurry and get this over with.”

Now I know for certain that there is a problem but I am still not smart enough to just stop.

“Ok baby. Give me a moment, this feels so good.”

There is a part of me that is screaming “cease and desist immediately!” That guy knows that all I have already climbed inside the hole I have dug. He is waving his hands at me and screaming because he knows that in another moment I am going to get hit in the head with the shovel.

“Are you done yet.”

Her voice is flat. There is no edge or anger in it but I wish there was because I may be slow but I am not a complete idiot, or maybe I am. The lack of intonation is worse and I know it.

I roll off of Ann and lay on my side. “Baby, if you want to talk about it I am ready.”

“I am not. I am going to sleep.”

*****

I am always amazed by how much you can remember in a moment.  Three rings can’t take more than a few seconds but it was long enough for me to remember an entire evening.

But I don’t have time to think about that now. I am too busy listening to Ann say hello.

“Hello?”

“Hi Ann, it is me.”

My heart is pounding and I am trying to think of something cool to say when I hear her say hello again.

“Hello? Hello? I can’t hear anything. Is anyone there?”

I am practically yelling “hello” back but she still doesn’t hear me and the line goes dead.

I start screaming “fuck” and now I know for sure that the couple that I had been staring at is aware of my presence. I don’t know what the hell to do now.  I don’t know if she has caller ID on her phone. Does she know it was me? Did she hang up or did the call just drop? Am I supposed to call her back or  pretend that this didn’t just happen.

“Fuck you universe and whatever powers may be. Screw you cellphone provider and cellphone manufacturer. I hate you all!

This sucks. I am a grown man and I feel like I am some high school boy who just babbled at his crush. What the hell. The couple is staring at me like I am some sort of crazy man and maybe I am.

“Yo jackass, put your dick back into your pants and go find a room. No one is interested in watching you pretend you are a porn star!”

The guy starts to say something to me and then thinks better of it. I am not really angry with them but I am frustrated and at a loss for words. And let me tell you, that never happens to me.

For a moment I am tempted to fling my phone into the surf and then I notice it is ringing. My heart begins to pound again, it is Ann calling me back.

There Are No Coincidences

There are no coincidences because what you see, hear and do are part of something greater than us. It is tied into something larger that can be described as both mystical and magical.

Don’t ask me to explain this because I can’t tell you how or why. All I can say is that I know because I have experienced it. I have seen it. I have lived it. I have been there and that is all the proof that I can provide.

It won’t be enough for some of you. It won’t be the kind of thing that you can accept because you can’t buy, touch or taste it. Actually that is not true, you can but only if you open your mind and let your soul seek its match.

I know this because for the longest time I didn’t do it. I spent years not buying into it or believing that it could be real. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to because I did. I desperately wanted to believe that this thing was something tangible. Because I just knew that if I could feel it in my hands and see it with my eyes it would prove that there was something to this dream I had once lived.

You see I fell in love with a girl and I loved her fiercely. I loved her madly. I loved her passionately. I loved her in every way that the poets wrote of, spoke of and dreamed of.

I loved her with all of my heart and all of my soul. I loved her desperately and somewhere in that madness I lost her.

Some of you can’t feel what I am saying. These words have no meaning to you. They are figments of imagination that you can’t feel, see or taste. So they never grab you. Your heart, your eyes and your mind are closed to them.

I can’t fault or blame you because I used to be like you. I used to look at this sort of writing and roll my eyes because I didn’t know. I hadn’t seen. I hadn’t felt it.

But that was long ago. That was in the time before I became who I am now. That was before I understood that love is a drug that can make you soar to the highest heights and or drop your ass into a pit so dark and dank you can’t remember what it felt like to see sunshine.

Some of you are nodding your head. You don’t even realize that you are doing it. You aren’t even aware that your pulse has quickened and you can’t see anything other than these words and even those are growing faint.

That is because we are running with the moon you and I. We are partners on a journey and you want to know more about my story because you hope that maybe it holds some sort of key insight to your story.

You want to know about the girl I loved and what happened to her. You want to know if there is hope for us because if there is hope for us there might be some for you.

The thing that is ever so interesting about this is that I haven’t given you much in the way of detail. You haven’t heard about how we met in the most unusual way or how crazy it all was. You don’t know how it is we fell in love. You wonder if I am exaggerating or maybe you don’t.

Maybe you know what it is like to have that kind of passion where you can’t stand not having that person in your life because there is a gaping void that aches and burns without respite.  Maybe you too were surprised to discover that the kind of crazy love you experienced the first time you ever fell in love could come back. Maybe you were shocked by the passion and overwhelmed by the loss of the friendship that you had.

Because that friendship threw you for a loop. It wasn’t just about love or lust. You liked them as a person. They filled the gaps and made you believe that you could be more than you were. They made you believe that all that hokey stuff you read in cheap paperbacks or saw on television might be based in reality. You understood that you could be naked in every possible way with them and be confident that they would caress your soul and cradle your heart.

It doesn’t have to be a dream. You don’t have to keep running with the moon. You don’t have to feel that enormous sense of loss or wonder whether you can ever love and be loved like that again because if it happened once it can happen again.

There are no coincidences. You can live your dream. You can find a way back. All you need to do is let go, submit to the reality of the possibility and accept that there will be opportunity.

It is not poetry or fiction. It is reality. It can’t happen on its own but if you ask and if you believe you will find the answer. You don’t need the old gypsy woman to sell you Love Potion number 9.

There are no coincidences.

I Know Things- The Meeting

There is electricity in the air, more than I have ever felt before. I put my fist in the air and start shaking it and then watch as 100,000 people in imitate me. The crowd loves me and it doesn’t matter what I do because whatever it is will be seen as cool no matter how stupid it might be.

But that doesn’t matter because that electrical charge I mentioned earlier has affected us all or should I say infected. I feel like I am floating and it is among the most amazing feelings I have ever had. This is raw energy flowing through my body.

Pure adrenaline that comes from the most natural source- the human body. For a moment I am lost in thought about how that works and how I haven’t had anything stronger than water and excitement about today.

Words fail me. They are inadequate. There is nothing that I can do to make you see what I see or to let you feel what I feel. No matter how hard I try to weave a tapestry of sight and sound it just doesn’t work.

I spend a few more minutes trying to figure out if there is some other combination of words or some song that I can use to describe it but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Just as I come close to solving the puzzle I feel a hand slide down my chest and drop just below my waist.

“Look who woke up,” I say.

Ann smiles broadly, squeezes me once and says, “yeah, look who woke up.”

This moment and the hours that preceded it are proof that life is unpredictable and that you can’t ever say never. Ok, there are some things that you can say will never happen with relative certainty. I am probably not going to play centerfield for a pro ball team or play power forward either. You can say never to those things and I may sigh and agree with you.

But you can’t say that Ann and I would never be together again because this moment and this day are proof that you are wrong. It was a long time coming and there were more than a few occasions where the two of us would have said that you are crazy to think that we would ever be anything but memories of people who once were.

Hell, until relatively recently I would have agreed with you but mostly because I got tired of missing her. I got tired of feeling like we never got our shot and I never got to find out what it would be like to be the guy she gave herself to for all time.

It wouldn’t be hard to tell you a million different stories about the reasons why this was so. Nor would it be hard to give you a different list of the reasons why it could be, but now isn’t the time for that.

No, now is the time to tell you about how a telephone call led to a meeting. We were supposed to meet for a drink and not even an alcoholic one at that. It started out in the usual way. I called to let her know that I was going to be coming to town to work on a story. Didn’t plan on being there long, just a few days for work. We went back and forth and asked the usual questions.

She told me about her girls and I told her about my kids. Spent a few minutes talking about other things that were safe and then I asked her if she would like to meet me for a drink. There was a brief hesitation and then I said that if she could slip away from work we could make it a cup of coffee. I figured that would take some of the pressure off of things.

I told her to pick a place and that I would be happy to meet her there. She asked me where I was staying and then told me that there was a little diner situated a couple miles west of it.

She told me to be there at 10 am and that she would meet me out front. I was there at 9:30.

I want to say that it was because I was cool, calm and collected. I want to say that I got there so I could grab a booth facing the front door so I could spot her walking in, but I can’t.

Ok, the booth part is accurate but the calm, cool and collected part might be exaggerated.

We hadn’t seen each other in years and I was excited, albeit a bit nervous. I didn’t look the way I used to, not that I expected to. Much time had passed and it had taken bits and pieces of the guy I was with it.

I looked good for a guy my age, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to use a term that grated upon my nerves like “good for your age” because it sounds like a backhanded compliment.

Yet there comes a time when it is not. And there comes a time when it is ok not to look like you are still twenty. I had reached both places and so had Ann.

The reason I got there so early was simple. I couldn’t sleep and I figured that it was better to be early than late. And if you know me you know that I run late all the time. It is not intentional. I just get lost in my world and lose track of time. I couldn’t let that happen this time so I made a point to be there.

Ann was always very prompt and I found out that she still was. She walked in at precisely 10 AM. Her hair was still shoulder length and just as dark as I remembered it being. She spotted me almost immediately.

I stood up and we made eye contact. For a moment we just stared and then I got lost. Don’t know if I was staring at the blue sun dress or if I noticed that her long legs were still toned. Can’t tell you if we stared the entire time or not.

What I can say is that when she reached the booth she walked right into my arms and hugged me. It was like time stood still. We stood there holding each other and said nothing.

It surprised me. I had sort of expected to do the quick hug and kiss on the cheek thing. I figured that would be how it would go and then we would sit down. Instead we hugged.

She broke away first, grabbed my bicep, squeezed it and sat down.

“Are you just going to stand there?”

I laughed and sat down. “Sorry, no one has done that in a thousand years. I had to look for the time machine.”

It was kind of a silly comment but she didn’t react. She just smiled at me.

The waitress came over, we ordered and then we started talking. Two hours later we were still talking. It really was like no time had passed. I knew better but that didn’t matter because the comfort level we had always had was still there.

“We can’t stay here forever. Let’s go do something.”

I smiled, “it is your city. What should we do?”

The plan had been to go walk around an art museum and then grab lunch but we got sidetracked at my hotel. I know, it sounds awfully convenient but it is not something that I planned and to the best of my knowledge neither had Ann.

We had gone back to the hotel to drop off my car. Parking at the museum is tough and there wasn’t a point to taking two cars.

I hadn’t planned on taking her up to my room then. Ok, that is not true, I hoped to but I never thought it would really happen.

“Ann, I want to change out of these jeans into a pair of shorts. If you hang on a moment I’ll be right down.”

“I’ll come up with you. I need to use your bathroom.”

A smarter man than I might suggest that I got manipulated into doing exactly what she wanted but I am not that guy. Not that it matters.

What matters is that she walked into the room, put down her purse, looked at my bag and said that it was clear that I still didn’t know how to fold a shirt.

“I am really good at taking them off, but the in between thing- not so much.”

It wasn’t planned. I hadn’t intended to say anything like that, but it just came out. She didn’t say anything, just looked at me.

Because I am a gentleman I can’t provide you with many details about what happened next, but if you use your imagination I am sure you can figure it out.

Remember when I told you that there was a time when I thought that this would be impossible? Well there were more than few where I was certain this would happen again. I can’t tell you why I knew or how.

All I can say is that I know things.

What Comes Next

In the time that once was between the moments we had and those we have yet to create I used to look at Ann and feel like time had stopped. It would be inaccurate to say that it had never happened before because it had. Yet it had never been as consistent as it was with Ann.

I always felt that no matter how old we were she would always look like the girl I had fallen in love with. And now a good many years later I can say it is true. She still looks just like the girl I remember, but she is a woman that I no longer know. Well, that is not entirely true. I know an awful lot about her and though much time has passed I feel the connection between us the same way that I always have.

“You have that look on your face again?”

“Whatever do you mean? My dear woman, I do believe that you need to get your eyes checked. My look hasn’t changed. No plastic surgeon has touched my head. Not my nose, my ears or my chin. Correction, my nose was fixed. I broke it decades ago and had surgery on it. Lucky for me I broke it twice more so who knows what it looks like now.”

“Mister, time might have passed but I still know your little word games. You are feeling clever. A guy gets lucky and suddenly there is this attitude. How do you know that this isn’t a one time thing. Maybe I just felt horny.”

I laughed and kissed her face.

“You are testing me. I know you. You are a planner. I won’t say that you intended for this to happen but I’ll put money down that you took extra time shaving your legs this morning and that you changed your outfit twice.”

She smiled but didn’t say anything.

“See, your silence proves I am right…again.”

I tickled her, she giggled and tried to squirm away. I let her get away and then felt her move back against me. Her body fit against mine perfectly and I made a point not to get lost in memories of what was or to focus on what might be.

Just as I thought she was falling asleep I felt her wiggle a bit. “Give me time, I am old now.” She wiggled some more, pushed me onto my back and climbed on top of me.

I looked up at her and smiled. “The shades are open. Looks like someone is going to get a show.” She put a finger on my lips.

I saluted, “Yes Ma’am!”

A short time later I heard her close the bathroom door and then I drifted off to sleep. When I woke up I was a bit disoriented. I wondered if it had all been a dream. I rolled over and found an empty bed.

I sat up and looked around. The sun was beginning to set and the room was starting to grow dark. Maybe it had been a dream. I got out of bed and found my clothes piled on the chair, looked around a bit but didn’t see a note.

Wandered over to the shower, turned it on and climbed in. I wondered if Miss Manners had any advice for this sort of situation. I knew that she lived relatively close to the hotel, but I didn’t want to just show up at her house.

Could make for an interesting situation if one of her girls answered the door.

“Excuse me, I am the reason mom came home with such a big smile on her face.”

Yeah, that is exactly the kind of thing a child wants to hear about their parent. On the other hand I made a note to tell Ann that she is the sexiest mother I know. Now I just need to do it in a way that isn’t cheesy or awkward.

Still, I was a bit concerned that she had just taken off. It wasn’t like her to leave like that, or at least it wouldn’t have been. She could be different now or maybe something came up.

I finished showering and dried off. As I bent over to put on my pants the door opened and a familiar voice said, “that is not your best side, but it is cute.”

I turned around and there she was watching me.

“Did you enjoy the show?”

She nodded her head and kissed me.

“I suppose we ought to talk about what comes next.”

She didn’t give me the deer in the headlights look but I did see something flash in her eyes. I hadn’t really meant to say that. I didn’t want to apply any pressure. It just slipped out, but when you are so comfortable with someone else things like that can happen.

“Forget I just said that. Let’s talk about dinner. Can I take you out or do you need to go home?

Later on I would look back at that moment and realize that I had given up my roots. Los Angeles would always be home, but I was ready and willing to live anywhere. It was time to change things up and I was cool with that.

“The girls aren’t home tonight so I am free to whatever I want.”

I nodded my head and smiled again. We walked out of the room holding hands. Food was a priority, but I was pretty certain that by the end of the meal we would know something about what was coming next.

I Am Not The Only One

We got about ten feet before I pulled Ann into my arms and buried my face in her neck. I ran my hands up and down her back and then wrapped my fingers in her hair.

She kissed me hard and we dragged each other back into the room. No words were spoken because none were necessary.

+++++

“You are thinking hard about something. I know that look”

I looked at her and smiled.

“That is far too serious a look for a guy who has had as much fun as you have had today.”

I smiled again but said nothing. I just stood up and moved to the window and looked out.

“sweetheart, talk to me. I am here.”

I wanted to say something, but something about the moment had gotten to me. I was choked up and I felt tears welling up in my eyes. It was disconcerting and I really wasn’t sure why I was feeling like that. I wanted to say something but I wasn’t ready to just let it all out. I had spent too much time trying to forget about her and when I couldn’t do that I just closed off that part of me.

But I suppose that all that had happened had forced open the doors I had closed and the wall that had been there was ready to tumble down. That damn woman always had a way to send me for a loop like no one else had. I liked it, but I wasn’t about to admit it. I wanted this moment, but I wanted to slow things down.

I wanted to not feel so damn foolish.

“Do you remember when we kissed goodbye and I walked away from you. I just relived it again. It all came back and it surprised me, caught me off guard.”

She nodded her head and I saw her remembering the moment and then I saw something else flash in her eyes. There was a storm brewing there.

“Baby, today has been everything I expected it to be. It was everything I remembered and then some.” I made a point to elaborate just a little bit and she blushed.

“You thought that I was kidding when I told you that you would never have a better lover. “

She rolled her eyes at me, “why do men always think that they are the best lover a woman has ever had.”

“I know better than to say that. I learned a long time ago that women are really good at making men think we are great, even when you think we are terrible. But in this case I am confident.”

“Ok smart guy, what makes you so confident? What makes you different?”

“That is simple. I know things.”

She rolled her eyes at me again. “What the hell does that mean. Every time you say that you have this smug look on your face. It is not your most endearing quality.”

“Baby, it is not ego when you can make it happen and today proved that I still can. I checked your heart, it was pounding. You weren’t faking.”

She blushed again and smiled.

“Ann, I know things. I just do. The same way you just know things about me, well I know them about you. I can’t explain it in terms that make complete sense. It is not scientific. It just is.”

“You may say that I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. Come dream with me Ann. Take a chance”

It Was Logical

Almost a decade has passed since the two heroes of our story first met. They met as friends, became lovers and then somewhere in the crazy chaos of life they got lost and their love affair ended.

At least they thought it had ended.

The end brought much stress and more than a little pain with each wondering how the other could have screwed things up so badly. In their efforts to protect their own hearts and take care of the other they managed to hurt each other…again.

It really wasn’t intentional. Neither one of them truly wanted to make the other feel anything but joy but sometimes this is how these things go. And with the advent of anger it made it much easier to say goodbye.

Made it easier to come up with lists of reasons why they couldn’t and shouldn’t be.

Jack was always slower to make big changes than Ann. In a way it was kind of funny because she was far more of a planner than he. It didn’t bother him to walk upon the razor’s edge the way that it bothered her, at least not in most things.

She was much more easy going about where to live and things of that nature because she always knew she would bloom wherever she was planted.

One night some years ago Ann made a crack about him being an old man and he responded by telling her that he would show how old he was by wearing her out. I suppose that in some respects you could consider that to be a sort of silly and immature reply.

But you have to remember that men have sex to feel close and women have to feel close to have sex.

Anyway, she smile and told him that he was welcome to try and so he did. Somewhere in the middle when her legs were over his shoulders she told him that women are made to give birth and that she wouldn’t break.

She didn’t say it to taunt or tease him. It was verbal permission to let go. It was her way of saying that she was giving herself to him and he understood it as such. It sounds like a silly cliche but that was when things really did move to a new level.

It was also when Jack realized that he hadn’t been imagining things. They understood each other in a way that he had never experienced. He saw her opening up like that as being among the sweetest and most loving things she had ever done. She wasn’t giving just her body away, she was giving herself.

And that gift was in many ways what he missed more than anything.  That connection. He missed not knowing where he ended and she started.

Ann did too but she would never admit it. She was a woman who knew how to keep her secrets close to her heart where they were safe. She had told Jack that no one else had thrown her like he did. When he teased her and said that he had tamed her she had smiled and nodded her head. She liked it, wouldn’t say it out loud but she liked it.

She liked it because she was the rock that everyone else relied upon. She had long been the caretaker and there was more than a little relief in knowing that she could let her guard down and know that Jack was always there to catch her.

He was in many ways the biggest surprise of her life and certainly one of the greatest challenges. When she decided that it was time to end things she pushed him extra hard. She wasn’t entirely sure that she could live without him and it bothered her. It bothered her because in the past when she was done, she was done. She could look back at a relationship and smile but she didn’t have the need to get back together and break up a million times like so many of her friends did.

Jack never realized how hard it was for her to tell him to go. She did a good job of masking her feelings and when he didn’t catch her weakness she took it as a sign that maybe he didn’t know her as we all as she had thought he did. It was added to her list of reasons why they shouldn’t be together.

He didn’t catch it because he was in shock. He truly believed that they would never split and when he realized she was serious he was dumbfounded.

And yet all those years later he surprised her again by grabbing her hips from behind. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that she was surprised by the tingly sensation she felt when he grabbed her. If he had let go and made some sort of teasing comment she would have gone with it and pretended that it was a silly joke that two people who once knew each other sometimes do.

Except he hadn’t. She couldn’t tell you exactly how she ended up facing him or when she ended up on the bed. All she could say is that once it started time moved backwards and they both knew that something special was happening again.

When she asked him what made him decide to take a chance he simply smiled and said “I never bought what you were selling. I always knew that if we had our moment this would happen.”

“Honey, you took a real chance. I could have said no. I could have screamed. I could have done a million different things. What made you think you could do this and not get rejected.”

“Baby, I still know things. I know that you think your decisions are well thought out and based upon rational thought but not all of them are. No one really does that. I just knew that if we could get to this place it would work. It was logical.”

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