by MD Maurice
Something I wrote for the Thankful Round on SM.
|More and more of my daughter’s honey-kissed locks shook loose from her haphazard ponytail with each bounce and jump. By the time the song ended, her hair was a wild mane and her cheeks painted bright pink from her exertion. My husband had been teaching to her dance, Turkish style, arms outstretched with fingers snapping and shoulders shimmying to the exotic blend of strings and drumming that always evokes images of magic carpets, genie bottles and whirling dervishes. Watching them together, watching him build her knowledge and appreciation of his language and culture, always brings me immeasurable joy. It gives me a moment’s pause to consider that only a few short years ago, I would never have imagined scenes filled with such beautiful promise.
I met my husband at the best and worst possible time. After five years of hopeless devotion to a raging alcoholic, I had ended my relationship on the heels of another painful relapse. My life had become a bleak landscape of broken promises and desperate moments. I shunned all but the most physical connections to people. I wrote angry letters that were never delivered. I believed that I had foolishly given away the very best part of who I was to someone who had never possessed the capacity to love and honor me back.
At the urging of my friends and family, I had begun to date a little. There were a parade of online matches that resulted in a handful of dinners with silly conversations that never went past date one. I was hardly engaged, hardly hopeful that there was anything real anymore waiting for me. I had just about given up when I received an email from a stranger on one of the social sites I used to garner exposure for my writing. It was a simple email, direct and matter of fact. He told me I had beautiful eyes. I remember clicking over to his page. His photos revealed a strikingly handsome man, slim with dark eyes and caramel-colored skin. My very first though was, “no way, too cute for me, Men that look like this do not go for mousy-haired, full-figured girls like me." I dismissed him and his follow-up requests for a date for almost a month. It was my grandmother, who in her typical fairy godmother fashion, managed to convinced me to take him up on his offer of dinner.
The timing could not have been more ill-advised. I had just bought a house and was in the process of renovating it room by room. My ex Seth was still making occasional appearances, insisting that he was getting his life together and that I just needed to give him a little more time. His visits ripped open the old wounds. I felt more of my spirit die each time he turned up, blurry eyed and professing his love, the stink of his addiction rolling off his skin like waves. It was from all this that I rushed, that fateful night, to the commuter lot in town in order to meet this determined stranger. Inspired by the sudden need to be freed from the ugly chaos, I accepted an offer that would deliver one of the most magical nights of my life.
That date, as simple and as strait forward as his original email, spawned a whirlwind courtship. My date quickly became my friend and my lover. I had never met anyone Turkish before and his language was so exotic and foreign to my ears. His dark features captivated me; the fullness of his lips, the thick eyebrows, and the manliness of his movements. The new tastes of him, enticing and exotic, were sensual flavors that filled my mouth and danced on my eager tongue. I was by no means inexperienced, but Fatih’s confidence and sense of abandon in the bedroom made me feel shy and intimated me in the most delightful and exciting way. He charged into sex, full-bodied with his powerful thighs and thrusting hips, moving us through positions with an animal prowess that provoked and enticed me. Hot whispers in his native tongue against my neck fueled my own arousal and dragged me breathless to new heights each time we made love. When he came, he would throw his head back and scream, the intensity of his orgasm rippling through his body and into mine like an electrical current. It was a thrilling time of discovery and decadence. It seemed, in those first few months, we shared insatiable hours in bed, sucking, fucking and loving.
My new found romance was not immune from the rest of my ills however. The chaos still found ways in. Many nights we would return from dinner or a night of dancing to an answering machine blinking ominously in the gloom filled with a slurred message of anger or regret, or far worse, a profession of love. The intrusion would drive a wedge between us, pulling me back to a place where my heart still ached. He would often leave, disappointed and convinced that I was still in love with another. He would always return though, determined that he was the better man and that persistence would pay off. Though I felt myself falling slowing in love, I had to admit that my heart was still occupied by the ghost of a former love, haunted by the promise of another life that could have been.
Tragically, a few months later, my ex finally succumbed to his demons. After a long battle, his body gave out and he passed away before his 37th birthday. For me it was a conflicted time of incredible loss but also burgeoning hope. My new relationship was flourishing, my feelings solidifying for Fatih and what I was beginning to see as our new life together. I still had private moments of profound sadness. I would shatter inexplicably, slipping to my knees in the shower, giving in to torrents of tears and waves of grief that would leave me feeling scooped out for days afterward. I wept I think, mostly for the loss all those minutes, hours, days and months I wasted and would never be able to get back again. It dragged me down, threatened to consume me. Little by little, Fatih’s sweet and consistence nature, his fondness and his affection, his zest for life and his unquenchable appetite for me, healed my heart and repaired my spirit. He became the light in my world of shadows.
What he believes, what he fears most I think, is that he was my second choice. Sadly, he believes that I will never love him as much as I did Seth. He believes that the damage to my heart will never be completely repaired and that there are still empty spaces that he can never hope to fill. I know that he believes this and it makes me ache, it makes me hurt for him. I think about what he believes a lot these days. In the past few months we have been consumed by our busy lives and our constant struggles. We burn our candles at both ends. We spend our energy raising our beautiful daughter together and often miss the opportunity to connect to one another. We rarely take time for ourselves and when we do manage to come together, our sex feels necessary. Our couplings are either urgently heated and devoid of real intimacy or crushingly pedestrian in nature. It is life though, and this life can be hard even when we most need it to be loving and gentle, comforting and kind. I have to believe these are temporary afflictions for which the cure is simply patience and understanding.
Watching Fatih with our daughter, seeing his beautiful features reflecting in her, I am reminded about the miraculous nature of loss and love. I am awed by the power of the human heart. What he believes, what he fears, could not be farther from the truth. I loved Seth but my heart was never his to hold. His claim to it began to fade the moment Fatih walked into my life, looked upon me with clear eyes and made me feel beautiful and normal.
I have fallen in love with Fatih many times over; racing over the waves of long island sound in a rented jet ski with my arms cinched tight around his waist, waking in the heat of a summer night finding him swollen with desire, seeing his teary, frightened eyes above the hospital mask as we waited for my emergency c-section. I fall in love with him each time he rushes in the door from work to snatch Jaden up in his arms or touches first her cheek and then mine when he thinks I have fallen asleep next to her in our bed. He is my reward for having faith in life and love when I could have easily turned my back on both. He is my blessing, my best friend, my hot-blooded Turkish lover, the father of my child. Regardless of what he believes, this is the ultimate truth.