by Bonnie Lass
Memories of a lost love
I know Harry admired and respected my intelligence. He knew and liked the fact that I was smart and wise beyond my years, as he often commented. He was not threatened by my intelligence or my independence. In fact he seemed to relish those traits. We had discussions in which he never failed to at try to see my point of view. But that fairness did not extend to our disagreements. No matter how far they went, there was a certain line we did not cross, and in even the most stressful situations Harry would never treat a lady like anything but a lady. Nor would he treat a princess like anything but a princess. After careful consideration…those words became a thorn in my side. That phrase became the kiss of death. More often than not, he would have made up his mind that he was right and that was simply that. He would become aloof, even indifferent and his eyes would get that look. His mouth set in that thin, frozen line, voice calm but with a touch more bass, firm and sure. Infrequently, he would listen and acquiesce. For the most part, it would be me who would concede. Our disputes were generally not of great importance. It was not worth the time and energy to argue hopelessly for a cause that was not dear. Sometimes the cause was not very clear. It was often amazing that sensible, logical Harry would take a stand on some things that were not recognizable. There was too much to risk for these minor squabbles. I don’t believe Harry knew these things about himself. If he had, he would have been dismayed.|
Out of the blue, Jack the drummer called. And I wondered what had prompted it. ‘Hi, how are you?’ “Fine, what do you want?” I knew he would wreck things for me, if he could. And he might cause distance between Harry and me. You see, somewhere in the very back of my heart there was still a bit of feeling there. I wanted to be with Harry, but love, the past, our child and a strong sense of obligation made me feel slightly guilty and disloyal. The cross current was horrible. I wanted a future with Harry, but there were people from the past who would not let me leave the past behind. Perhaps that was one reason, I treated them so coldly, to avoid any room for doubt and any room for intrusion. I could never tell Harry that Jacinto played any part in my reasoning, no, it was more likely the main reason, I was acting in a certain manner. He had not understood when we discussed my treatment of Ralphie. I did not expect him to understand any of the rest. He made it sort of difficult for me to open up to him on past relationships. The whys and the wherefores, and the sense of obligation and responsibility. How could I make him understand? So, for the most part, I just handled it on my own without involving him. It made me feel alone sometimes, but I could not take the chance of Harry misinterpreting or feeling sorry for any of them.
On the other hand, although Jacinto was a jerk and had treated us unkindly and unfairly, I really did not want to hurt him if I could possibly avoid it. ‘How’s the baby?’ “Fine, what do you want?” ‘I just wanted to know if you and Cori are okay.’ “We are, no thanks to you.” ‘I saw you both the other day getting into your car.’ “I know. I saw you.” ‘Oh, I didn’t think you did.’ “Yes, Jack, I saw you then and many other times. What are you doing?” ‘Like always, trying to catch a glimpse of you and Cori.’ “I wish you would stop doing that.” ‘Why? I’ve always done it. You used to like it.’ “That was then, this is now. If you want to see Cori, pick up the phone and make arrangements.” ‘What about you?’ “There’s no need for you to see me.” ‘Except that I want to.’ “Jacinto, move on. I will not do this again. You have your life and I have mine. It was your choice. So leave it at that.” Jack had left me for another woman when I was 8 months pregnant. ‘I can’t.’ “Well, you’ll have to. I have left you alone. Why can’t you leave me alone?” ‘I haven’t bothered you. I haven’t even called.’ Yes so why now, I wondered. “But you’re always around.” ‘I’ll always be around, Babe. Why does that bother you so much?’ “Aside from the obvious, I don’t want you tagging along wherever I go.” ‘It’s never bothered you before. What, did your boyfriend say something?” Smack there it was, the reason he showed up again. Somebody had a big mouth. And that somebody knew it would get Jacinto all riled up. Brother against brother as it had always been. It left me in the wake.
I should have never let him engage me. “Excuse me?” ‘Yeah, I heard you are seeing somebody.’ ”Yes, I am. But this has nothing to do with it.” ‘You sure about that?’ “Yes, I am sure about that. There is right and there is wrong. What you are doing is wrong and I don’t like it. That’s all there is to it.” ‘I hear he is rich.’ “What if he is?” ‘Just curious. Is he?’ “He’s comfortable.” ‘Wait a minute. How serious is this?’ “None of your business.” ‘It is my business. Besides, I’m just asking. Why are you so touchy?’ “Oh, here we go again. It is truly none of your business, but I’m going to tell you anyway. He is a very nice man. He has a great job, and he treats my daughter and me quite well. I like him a lot and he feels the same about me. At this point, that is all there is to it.” ‘Our daughter. Don’t forget that. And that’s not what I heard.’ “Oh, what have you heard?” ‘That you two are quite an item, that wedding bells are probably in the future. And that you might move away with him.’ Damn that Benecio. “That’s pure supposition. We haven’t even thought that far ahead.” ‘But there’s a possibility.’ “Yes, I guess there is.” ‘You wouldn’t really move away?’ “I just told you, we haven’t thought that far yet.” ‘Well, I am thinking about it. You can’t leave. You have my daughter. What about us?” “There is no ‘us’ and there is no point discussing this now.” ‘Just tell me this. If you were married to him, would you go away?’ “I might have to.” ‘If he asked you to marry him, would you say yes? ’ “Not right now.” ‘Sooner or later, you probably will. I kept trying to tell myself this day would never come. I knew it would, just not this soon.’ “This soon? It’s been a long time, Jacinto. Maybe not for you, you had somebody lined up before you left. I’ve been all alone. Now, I have someone too. You knew this was going to happen. Again, this was your choice.” ‘I know, I just keep thinking…’ “Yeah, I know too. You thought wrong.” ‘I can’t let this happen.’ “What do you mean?” ‘I can’t just let the two of you leave forever.’ “Oh no you don’t. Firstly, I am not going to let you wrap me up, only to be hurt again. If you are wanting to make a commitment, go do what you need to do, then call me.” Until then, I will not listen to anything you have to say. I knew he wouldn’t although a small part of me hoped he would. All I’d ever wanted was my own family. He was my daughter’s father, after all. But still I knew it was too far gone. . Secondly, you left us.” ‘Don’t be mad. I am just trying to talk to you.’ “And con me. How long did you think you could keep me on hold?” ‘I don’t know. In the end…well, I just kept thinking about that.’ “Well, this is the middle. I’ll not go through it all alone. And, you know what? I will probably marry Harry. I am lucky to have him and so is our daughter”. ’Harry? Is that his name?’ I’d struck a nerve. ‘Look you can do whatever you want; I can’t stop you. But taking my daughter away is something else.’ “Why are you making such a big deal about this? It is premature and I just don’t understand. You never even come see her anymore.” ‘Oh I come to see her. I might not visit with her- I’ve already told you why. But I come by 100 times a week just for the chance of catching a look at her’. I knew that was true. “When are you going to get it Jacinto?” ‘Get what?’ “The point for God’s sake. You cannot keep doing this.” ‘I’m just so scared of losing my daughter.’ “Then do something about it, before it’s too late.” I told him that I would not hope falsely. But in truth, a small part of me did.
I was confusing so many feelings. Guilt and loyalty and honesty. Longing for the family life we had planned. That had always been my dream and I guess a part of me was clinging to that. What about the vows I had taken; the promises I had made? A great sense of obligation and responsibility to Jack, to our child, our lives tore at me? How could I do this to them? It might have been easier if I did not have to think about leaving him behind and alone. Yes he lived with another woman. Yes he had family, but I was the only real sanity in his life. He confided in me when he would not trust anybody else. There was nobody he would listen to. Sometimes I was the exception. Some of those thoughts pushed into Harry’s space. Thoughts of Jacinto and love for him threatened to enter into our life together. I did not want that to happen, to have any of it intrude, but could not see how to avoid it. If I let myself get too close to him, and I decided to go back with Jack, it would hurt Harry, and me. I knew if I let myself really love Harry, I would not be able to leave him for Jack. Nor would I want to. There was no guarantee that Harry and I would stay together. There was such a difference in our worlds. There could be no obstacles in the way when the time came to make a decision. I knew my heart and my resolve could be easily manipulated. I’d always looked out for others. It had never been about me, and I found that to be a challenge. I wanted to do the right thing. For everybody. I just couldn’t figure out exactly what that was. I hoped that the moment would come when it would all just become clear. I did and do have a special place in my heart for The Drummer and our time together. A big part of me will always love him. But all these years later, I realize it was the idea of family that influenced me more than anything, and trying to be true to the commitments I had made. I promised to always love Jacinto, and I have kept that promise. It will be honored until the moment of my last breath. I make no apology for that. Most people can’t or won’t understand it, and there is no point in trying to explain. Love is eternal.
I don’t know if I can explain it reasonably. It’s certainly not that I did not care deeply for Harry. I did. I enjoyed being with him. And I liked him so much. In fact, I really loved him and thought more and more often about marrying him. What a nice life we would have! Quite simply, I was leaving an “out” for me and an opening for Jacinto. Just in case. I did not want anyone to have my whole heart- a small part still belonged to him and always will. I could not take vows-and mean them because the vows I had already taken were still very real to me. When I spoke them, they were meant to last a lifetime. I had promised that lifetime and meant it. Even when I really did not want to honor them any longer, a big part of me still did. I guess I knew it all along. I just didn’t know I knew it. I held two hearts, two lives in my hands. Things were swimming about in my head and heart, love, life obligations, family and doing the right thing, or trying to for each man. I did not want to make a choice. I was hoping that things would work out as they should. Destiny would mark the path. Even though I would not admit it at the time so as not to cross the line, I loved Harry and wanted him in our lives always. He had taken up residence in my heart. But Jacinto was insisting that he was in love me. He was passionate about me, and his desire for me was still obvious. I do wonder why Harry had not put more of a “claim” on me. Looking back on it, I realize that would have held a lot of weight.
What a choice that was being forced upon me. I could go back on my word and my vows, disregard honor and trust. Hearts would break at my hands and possibly destroy at least the essence of some lives. To cut ties and connections, I would have to set aside some of my values and moral fiber. There were people, places and things I did not want to give up. I had familiarity and confianza that had been ingrained in me. That would have to be terminated. I would have to do it in order to have Harry’s love and be part of one life with him. It was an extremely difficult choice, and unfair in so many ways but the truth is, there never really was a choice. It had been made without me being aware. Harry’s love for me and mine for him had made the final judgement. We really had no say in it. I was a fool to believe and worry that there was any other course of action. We had been written in the stars, long before we ever met. And somehow, we both knew it long before we were ever aware of each other.
Harry began to complain, yet again, about how hard it was to reach me. It came up more frequently as we went on. (Oh if we had only had cell phones then). It wasn’t intentional. Truly. I wanted to be with him, I loved being around him, everything was better in his company. Doing absolutely nothing with him could make me giddy. He just never seemed to grasp all the responsibility on my shoulders. I had a baby, and family, I had Connie and Ben. Consuela could not drive so I was chauffeur to her and her kids. Hosting their affairs, doing all the cooking and cleaning, l was also the disciplinarian. I shopped and paid for groceries. Often I had to take Ben to work in a nearby town. The laundry had to be washed and dried at the laundromat. That was my job as well. It was a lot to carry out every day. And Harry lived clear across town. One night, when I returned his call, knowing he might have felt slighted, I asked if he wanted company. ‘Yes, yes, yes’. When I walked in his door, his eyes lit up. That made my heart happy. ‘You look great! That outfit looks really hot on you.’ I was wearing very short cut offs with frayed hems, and long-sleeved pull over blouse, tucked in with a belt. And a pair of clogs. Actually, it had been raining so I carried them in, as I would not put my suede shoes through the puddles. Men seemed to love that look, although I am not sure why. Harry was one of those men and commented on how much he loved my legs. Anyway, absence (and a hot outfit) makes the heart grow fonder. Harry was particularly attentive and romantic that evening. We sat in our usual spot with only candle light. He turned on the Hi Fi as he always did. It had started raining again and we discovered we both loved the sound and the feel of a cool rainy night. He made us drinks. There was none of the usual chatter and laughter. We just sipped our drinks, and relaxed, enjoying the night, the rain, the music, and each other. There with him, all trouble and care disappeared. And I felt sure, he would chase away any monsters, any ghosts. It was safe and secure in that apartment in North Tampa, idyllic even. I don’t think I have ever felt the same since. That peaceful bliss and the lack of fear has eluded me. I suppose since they were a gift from Harry, it would be only fitting for him to claim it all back.
He would lean over and kiss me occasionally, but after he’d had 3 drinks to my two, it turned into a full on make out session. The pure lust caught me off guard. Until that moment, he had always been the perfect gentleman. And he’d always been so cool and calm. I had wanted some passion with him, but the quick, unexpected trip from one extreme to another overwhelmed me. It was too much, too fast. I knew we should stop, but frankly, I didn’t want it to stop. It was thrilling and flattering in many ways. When Harry took my hand and led me toward the bedroom, my heart and head started racing. “See, I told myself, He is just like all the rest. Out for one thing only. Unlike Jacinto”. That was unreasonable. Irrational. Unfair. We had been seeing each other for a while and he had made it clear he cared for and about me. He was so good to me. I thought of Jack and guilt washed over me. I thought of him being hurt and my poor heart screamed, “No. No. No”. It would be different if this was just physical. Even Jack could accept that. But it wouldn’t be just sex with this man. There was no question about that. My heart and his would be involved and we both knew it. We would be invested in our relationship. Which somehow meant to me in my crazy heart that I was cheating. It also meant leaving a little more of Jacinto behind and adding more distance between us. Distance that might have to be crossed one day. Taking this step with Harry would mean entering a new phase in our relationship, serious business, holding on and letting go. It smacked of commitment. It was just too much for this girl.
We were seated on his bed, and all the sudden, I bolted like a scared rabbit. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this, I have to go. Tears flooded my eyes from the thoughts rolling around in my head. If I was not able to move forward with Harry, I might have to let him go. I could not accept that. ‘Rita, we don’t have to do this’. “Yeah, sure.” ‘We’ve waited this long…You don’t have to go.’ “Yes, I do.” ‘I’ll leave you alone. Promise.’ “I gotta get outta here. Now.” ‘Why?’ “I just do.” Grabbing my purse, my hand was on the door knob. A muscular arm shot out in a flash landing one giant palm flat against the door, his arm outstretched, and leaning into it. The muscles bulged and the tendons stood out. ‘I’m not going to let you go.’ “You can’t stop me.” ’Listen to me.’ “I want to go.” He raised his voice slightly. ‘Listen to me. I don’t want you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but I can’t let you leave like this.’ “Why not?” ‘Don’t you know? Because I care too much about you to let you walk-no run out of my life like this. We have too good a thing to just let it go.’ “I just want to go for now.” ‘No, I don’t think so. I think it is much bigger than that. I just get this feeling that if I let you go, it’s not just for tonight.” ‘It is.’ “No, I don’t believe that. You’re running from more than this evening.” I want to go.’ “Do you?” ‘Yes.’ “If I let you go now, we will both be sorry. But if that is what you really want, then I have no right to hold you against your will.” ‘Thanks. I am sorry. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.’ “Goodbye, Rita.” ‘No goodnight.’ I turned the knob, ready to run but turned back to look on Harry. There stood that big man, arms hanging limply at his sides, slowly shaking his head back and forth. “Bonita, please don’t go. Not like this. Please?” His beautiful eyes were wet. My hands covered my face and there I stood sobbing uncontrollably. Big arms closed around me. “There, there. Princess. It’s okay. Whatever it is, we’ll work it out. You are trembling. ‘Did I hurt you? Scare you?” I shook my head no. “Tell me what it is. I can’t fix it if I don’t know. “He thought he could fix my problems, and wanted to. Maybe I should have let him at least try. ‘I can’t.’ “At least tell me what you’re running to or from.” ‘I can’t tell you. I don’t really know myself.’ “Okay. If it is about tonight, that’s a big step and yes, a little scary. But we don’t have to take this one or any other one until you’re ready. Unless we are both sure it’s what we both want, it’s not worth it. And it is not worth losing you or what we have.” His sincerity, compassion, his insight and his obvious concern for me, brought fresh tears. “That’s it, isn’t it? I guess I came in a little too strong. I am sorry. It won’t happen again. I promise. When you are ready, you let me know. That big man stood there patiently. He was just too good for the world we were living in. Any girl would be lucky to have him. Self -sabotage had struck again. I had been thinking he did not, could not love me. Suddenly, I realized that Harry did love me and he did have a girl. That girl stood there in his loving arms. And I had him. I was the lucky girl. And he made me sure that he would never let me go, didn’t want to let me go. Realizing all of that made me see things more clearly. My mind and my soul opened up and suddenly it was all very clear, very lucid. I was so lucky and so happy to breathe the air that was Harry. That night and so many times later, Harry would roll over and pull me closer. That seemed like the happiest feeling in the world. But then night would end and Harry would rise like the sun bringing a new day and a new life every morning.
‘Harry?’ “Yes?” ‘I’m ready.’ “Rita, we don’t have to.” ‘I know. I want to.” “You do? Just a minute ago…” ‘I know. I wasn’t ready then, I am now.’ “Are you doing this to make me happy? That’s not what I want. It has to be a mutual thing. If you are doing it for me, not necessary.” ‘Well, of course I am doing it for you. But I am doing it for myself as well.’ “You’re sure? This is what you really want?” ‘Yes.’ “Rita, I am really torn here. I want you so bad it hurts. But not at the risk of pushing you into something that will hurt or upset you.” I think that was the first time anybody had ever put my happiness and well- being ahead of their own. My desires, my feelings were as important to him as his own, maybe more so. It was unfamiliar territory for me. I finally realized that he did that almost all the time. He was the first and only one to do that for me. I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him. ‘I want you too.’ “Oh God”, he groaned. Harry swooped me up in those big strong arms and carried me away, physically and emotionally.
Tender, sweet, and unselfish, he treated me like a porcelain doll. It was the first time he told me he loved me. My eyes flew open. Then he said it several other times. I felt like I was expected to say it back. I did love him but those words had gotten me in trouble before. And I didn’t trust them. Too many times I had believed and regretted them. I was convinced that for most, they were just words. I didn’t want to say those words to anyone without taking it very seriously. What if he didn’t really mean it? Then I would look like a presumptuous fool. And I guess I still wondered why a man like him would love somebody like me. The fact is I stopped thinking and I did say those words over and over to him. When normal breathing resumed, Harry lit two cigarettes and handed me one, then rolled out of bed, bringing back a cold glass of water for me. He slid back in next to me, and pulled the coverlet over me. “It’s chilly and damp. I don’t want you getting sick, Princess.” It was such a sweet, wonderful gesture. One of the most loving and romantic of all time. That was the man who was Harry. The man I adored.
I look back now and realize even the smallest thing he did was spectacular. At the time I remembered the old saying about something looking too good to be true. Cigarettes extinguished, I sat up reaching for my clothes. “You running away from me again?” ‘No, but I have to go.’ “Are you upset?” ‘No Harry it’s just so late.’ “Don’t leave. Not yet.’ ‘Babe, I have to.” Boy if I had that choice again I would have stayed for an eternity, in paradise. “Just for a few minutes?” ‘Okay, just for a few.’ He held the cover up for me, then leaned on an elbow next to me. “There now; aren’t you glad I stopped you from leaving? ‘Are you?’ “Yes, but I cannot be completely unless you are.” ‘I am.’ “Really?” ‘Can’t you tell?’ “Yeah I guess I can. This is really great.” ‘Um hm.’ “Can you tell me now what made you so upset?” ‘No, I can’t.’ “Maybe one day you’ll feel like you can tell me. I hope so.” ‘Maybe one day I will, Harry. Sadly, I never did. It just got pushed deep inside my mind. He never brought it up again, nor did I. Maybe I should have told him, but I wasn’t completely sure of the feelings and thoughts that bombarded me, and I really did not want to hurt him.
By the way, I want you to know that I will not hold you to what you said.’ “Why not? I meant it.” ‘You did?’ “I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t. You thought I was just saying it in the heat of the moment because we were in bed.” ‘Yes I did.’ “I’m kind of hurt. You should know me well enough to know I would not say it under any circumstances if I did not mean it, didn’t feel it. I wanted to say it because that is how I feel. That was my heart speaking.” He was right. I should have known him well enough to know that. And I knew he was an honorable man. It was all me, my insecurity, my pride causing doubts to take over. I was blinded a bit because of them. I wish what I knew of him and trusted in him could have defeated all the demons that instigated my fight or flight mode. That strange insanity that was me. He was the only one who could save me from my own chaos. He did so with love and patience, and never tired of it. His love was for real. I knew that. I just couldn’t get past the rest. And he was so different than anyone I’d ever been involved with before him. There was no unbridled passion, no combustion, and no fiery explosion. It was good, real good, just not what I had been accustomed to. I had grown up with the hot Latin Lovers. Although they could be tender and big hearted, and very loving, they were the bad boys in our community. Harry was a good guy and I was not accustomed to good guys. He was loving, tender, and kind. He was careful with my body, my heart and my soul. He showed me how much I meant to him. He was never too forward, demanding or rough. And I loved that, but I didn’t quite know how to deal with it. “Does that mean that you didn’t mean it when you said it?” Boy could I create a mess! Truly I had not meant to say it. I kept warning myself not to love him, that I could not love him. But how could I not love this man who came to brighten my life? The man who was happy if I was happy? The mere mention of his name made my heart smile. I longed to be with him, if for no other reason than to have the pleasure of his company. We asked and expected nothing else from each other. Harry would gladly put his own needs and desires aside for the sake of my comfort. It was the first time my feelings and I had ever come first. I wasn’t accustomed to that. He came pretty close to being the perfect “catch”. For some reason, I started thinking about his poker chips, his celery sticks. Suddenly, a lot of things that had bothered me became little quirks that were part of the whole adorable package. I would never feel quite the same about him as I did for my daughter’s father. Not less, just different. That was just something I would have to live with. I should not have expected that of myself. It was clear that I would be able to accept that at some time and not look back too much. I might not experience the same blinding passion. He might never possess that tiny bit of me that I had already given to the drummer, but he got the best of the rest. I wish I had realized that of course, I wouldn’t and shouldn’t feel the same about the two. He was different. He was good and kind and funny. He made me so darn happy. He had breathed life into me again. I should have known that I could bury the drummer and my love for him in a deep special part of my heart. Suddenly, I knew without a doubt how much I loved Harry and there was the passion I had wanted. Just in the feeling of him. I loved just breathing with Harry. I was so happy for all the moments we shared the same heartbeat. More and more often it felt as if we were one. I could easily live out my life with him. Contentedly. I hadn’t thought about how many kinds of love there are. Undoubtedly, I had found one of the best with this big, sweet man. “Harry, I didn’t mean to say it, but I meant what I said.” He seemed to breathe at last. ‘Then, say it now.’ “I love you Winston Harold Alexander.” ‘I am so glad because I do love you.’ It was so different, but it was so much better than anything I had ever known. He was better than anyone I had ever known. I don’t know why my insecurities and fears still gave me doubts. All I had to do was accept what he was giving.
I had been conditioned to expect fireworks, roller coasters, fiery passion, fury, intensity. I had grown accustomed to explosives, furor and insanity. Overcast skies dotted with thunder and lightning. It was all part of the package or so I had been led to believe. Being with Jacinto was often like waiting for a hurricane, one never knew which way the wind would blow. It had been exciting and enticing. It ended as unexpectedly as storms do. It felt like I was trying to push against gale force winds. Then came Harry. So sane, so steady. We lived and loved in a different way together. He showed me a different way. Being in love with him was deeper, stronger, and just lovely. There were no more extreme highs and lows, none of the vacillating atmosphere. Intensity grew as we continued to develop. We both learned to look at love with fresh, new eyes. The black skies shone with millions of stars. We learned a lot from and with each other about love, life, and so much more. He brought reality to my world and I brought fantasy to his. It all came together as a workable happy blend. I brought thunderstorms and he brought warm summer days. The storms were devoid of trepidation and we appreciated and enjoyed those storms. Even in a tempest, I was assured that I was safe. Harry would comfort and protect me. Although we relished the Florida sun, the darkness took on an appeal of its own. I thank Harry every day for showing me the difference and teaching me to appreciate that. Jack might have been the carnival, but Harry was the golden ring.
When finally, I left, the doubts came creeping back in. Would he still love me tomorrow? My imagination went into overdrive. What if he never called me again since he’d gotten what he wanted? Worse, what if he only called when the mood struck? Incredulously, I was wrong. If anything, he called more often. In fact, he called me first thing in the morning. “Good morning.” ‘Hi.’ “You’re still asleep?” ‘Um hmm.’” I’m sorry to wake you. I just wanted to hear your voice and to thank you for last night.” ‘Aww, you are so sweet.’ “You too. Go back to sleep Princess. I’ll talk to you later.” ‘Okay.’ “Oh by the way, you left your shoes.” I had gone bare footed for so long, it was habit, so I had not noticed. ‘I did? I ‘m sorry.’ “I’m not. I’m kinda glad. I like having something of yours here with me.” ‘Like your stuff being here.’ “It is kind of nice, isn’t it?” ‘It is.’ It was a connection, a reminder, a promise to return. It was a sign of commitment and fidelity. Later, other belongings stayed with him, a dressing gown, a nightgown and other random articles. I knew he would never have kept my things there if he had any thoughts about pursuing other women. And I knew if somebody else went over, she would figure it out pronto. It was as close to a commitment as we had come and it was a good feeling, the gentle glow of a promise.
Thinking along those lines, what happens if your partner is not available at that exact moment of destiny? Do you go it alone, because that is the only thing that makes sense to your heart? Or perhaps there is fear that doing something contrary to plan might push you even further off course, more out of sync? Or do you plunge ahead, even knowing all that? Knowing you might be stepping off your true course to another? None of the options were particularly appealing to me. Was there really only one, or many alternatives? It seems that my hesitation boiled down to one thing. I might be able to accept that Harry loved me, but I knew that Jack was in love with me. Much as I and everybody else tried to deny it. I’d gotten used to that, and part of me believed it could not happen twice in a lifetime. Why was it not plain to see that the road had forked and the new path set for me was Harry? Part of it was just that Harry was from a different world. Maybe I could believe that he loved me, but I wanted him to be in love with me. I wondered if he could lose himself or his sure footedness enough for that to happen. Please Harry, please be in love with me I said to nobody.
I had been ready to go a different route with Harry, thinking of the adventure that was he. It had been going smoothly and I had come to enjoy that. Maybe time and space might somehow self-adjust and show us both that we were on the right track. Somehow we would see that destiny had brought us together for our own journey? Perhaps we could realign on a different plane. I pretty much decided to just let go with him, to set us on auto pilot. Going with the flow instead of trying to set us on a specific course. I hoped something else would take over, and show us the signs and guide us through.
I was right about one thing. Our relationship changed. We were slower, quieter, and more serious. We preferred and cherished our privacy, half shutting out the world. We grew more affectionate and loving. We were more physical and tender toward each other. Our love making became more intense, more exciting, without losing the sweetness. And although we never got to the point of being earth shattering, I realized it didn’t have to be. At the next poker game, I’d walk by him and he would almost absent mindedly place his arm across my hips or reach for my hand to kiss it. I’d spend an extra minute at his chair and found that to be the best place from which to serve. His face instantly smiled and often, he would stop the game for a moment and pull me close to kiss me. I’d put my hand to his cheek or bend to kiss his head. There was always a moment here and there when I stood directly behind him with my hands curled around his shoulders. He never took a bottle or glass from me without caressing my hand. He kissed my fingers while looking up at me in that way he did. We complimented and praised each other. The men gagged. I guess we were pretty sappy. The women wondered why their husbands were not more like Harry, and gave them hell. They told me how lucky I was and I readily agreed. The other men felt the same way about Harry having me. Harry agreed he was the lucky one. He was the best of the best, cream of the crop. Part of why I fell in love with Harry was all the little things he did without even knowing, absent mindedly. But I knew and I had become accustomed to those wonderful little things, those extra touches. Gary got a faraway look and grew quiet some of those times. And Benecio noticed one night, glancing first at Gary then in my direction. He opened his mouth then closed it. I looked him steady in the eye for a second or two, then turned my attention back to Harry. I could not be concerned about anything or anybody at that table except for him. The rest of them were much lower on the care scale. Gary and I had become very close once and remained so. We got each other and he thought of me as a very sexy domestic goddess. The way he and I always behaved toward each other had planted a seed of suspicion in Ben’s mind. Watching Gary watch me, now that Harry was in the picture convinced him. He knew the whole story and I confirmed it but made it clear it was a thing of the past, on my part. All without so much as a word spoken. Surprisingly, Ben never said a word. I knew Gary would not.
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