They fell in love again this past weekend.
The last year for them had been different and difficult. He had pursued the corporate job He had taken to survive. She had endured much more: A stressful, years long project at work. A drifting brother, wife and three dogs who needed respite for nine months. The sudden but not unexpected death of Her father.
There had been for Her some surprising diamonds discovered in the struggle as well: Her brother’s presence was a comfort as the two of them grieved together. The frequent trips back to Her Texas meant seeing Her children more. Planning for Her son’s upcoming wedding brought some joy and anticipation.
Between His job and Her many distractions, They had spent less time together than they had. Their relationship didn’t struggle, but the casual intimacy of weekends that often stretched into weeks was missing. Time alone had been wedged in unnaturally as life intervened.
The last month all that had changed. They had found time for weekends alone Tetrised into the busy of their lives. This weekend was especially private and intimate. They actually found time and mental space for a date. They were able to savor time together rather than rush. They accidentally fell into intimacy when they thought they were doing something else.
They loved each other. They had loved each other now for a long time. But this weekend, They fell in love again.
Since their first four hour phone conversation it had been exactly 3 years and one month. During that time they had ups and downs, learning to see one another, learning how to love in ways neither had experienced before.
Maturing. Not infatuation any longer. More intimate than physical alone. Fun and satisfying on a level deeper than either had experienced.
Tonight He was alone at his apartment 100 miles away from Her. The plan was they would not see each other again until the music festival on September 15 – a full 20 days after they had last held each other in bed.
Life had changed, become somewhat complicated, for both of them. Her brother, sister-in-law and three dogs had moved in. He had taken that “career job” He had put off for so long.
Tonight, after a couple playful texts from Her, He longed. He longed for the smell of Her, Her ample hair pushed against His face as He held Her in bed. The softness of her body against Him. The mischievous smile She seemed to have at the slightest provocation.
He knew She missed as well. The foot massage followed by the playful tickles. The safety She felt in His arms each night. Him crawling back into bed with Her just before Her alarm and holding Her as she went through the 30 minute ritual of waking.
Sometimes, like tonight, the distance seemed hard. He thought of her and pulled a pillow to His chest and hoped to dream of Her.
I like to think myself as seeing people as they truly are, looking beyond labels. This morning I realized just how shallow I can be.
I first heard about Sam a few months ago. He is one of my neighbor’s brothers and she told me he was getting out of prison just before Christmas. At the time I didn’t give it much thought, just conversation. She was excited she would finally get to see him again. I was happy for her, ’cause I’m such a caring, compassionate guy.
Today she was coming up the stairs while I was on the balcony, Sam was behind her. She introduced us. I remembered the conversation from months ago and realized he had just gotten out after an 18 year stint.
We talked for the next hour or so. About his plans. About how his life had changed in the time he was “away.” He was smart, articulate, positive. He owned his choices and was quick to point out life had been more than fair to him. He paid the price for the choices he had made and he believed he would also pay the price or reap the reward for the choices he is making now.
He’s a guy I could hang out with and have a good time.
But here’s what it showed me about myself I didn’t like. When I went back into Area 51 after our talk, I was surprised by him. Without me even realizing it, I had in my own mind a “picture” of what an 18 year ex-con would be like. Seeing himself as a victim. Unintelligent. Negative. Angry at what the world had thrown at him.
It made me wonder how many other “categories” of people I dismiss without realizing they are “people” not just a category. Political affiliation. Religion or lack thereof. Skin color. Geography. Socioeconomic status. Job.
In 2017 I’m going to attempt to see more “people” and less “category.” That might be the best Christmas gift I could receive. Thanks Sam.
He woke a little before 5am Sunday morning.
The weather had finally turned cold and so was his apartment this morning. He lay in bed, refusing to leave the warmth of the covers, wishing Her body was next to him.
They were on a “break.” She is complicated and fragile and wonderful. Her fragile reached its limit at the end of October and they decided to take a break until after the holidays. She needed time to be alone, regroup, read and sleep.
This morning He longed for the feel of Her skin.
They had shared many intimate times. Some of the most intimate had nothing to do with making love. They were travelling, experiencing joys and hardships, joking about Rick the convenience store attendant who called him “Boss” and her “Honey.” Debriefing the day and the week.
But for him the most intimate experiences He had with Her focused on just touching Her, feeling the warmth of Her skin beneath His hands.
When He woke in the mornings, She was usually facing away from him. He would put his arm around Her waist and caress the skin of Her stomach. When they made love, He would caress Her entire body with his palms.
He had told Her “touching your skin nourishes my soul.” This morning, He longed for that nourishment.
Sometimes it’s hard, fighting you for you.
Wrestling not against my error but against your fears.
Sometimes it’s hard, discerning thoughts you can’t verbalize.
Reading your mind without the gift of clairvoyance.
Sometimes it’s hard, giving you unlimited space,
to find the you I’ve already seen and know.
Sometimes it’s hard, reminding you of the good,
when all you can visualize is the pain and hurt.
Every time it’s beautiful, to share our lives,
seeing the joy and the pain together.
Every time it’s beautiful, the love we share,
enjoying intimacy beyond the simple physical.
Every time it’s beautiful, the mundane of life,
being someone at your side who is companion, cheerleader, friend.
Every time it’s beautiful, seeing your joy,
sharing private moments of victory no one else will see.
Every time…it’s wonder, an awe and contentment for me.
Sex is an itch you can scratch.
Love is an itch in that part of your back you can’t reach and you need someone to scratch it for you.
For two years now She had been His joy.
He was working through a difficult time. Walking through mud. Business was picking up, His long hours were beginning to bear fruit, emotionally He was tired.
They were seeing each other less to give Him time to right His ship. She had come to His last weekend and it was delightful. Monday at 6am they waved goodbye and He was back to work.
When He knew they would be apart He would take down His pictures of Her. The wallpaper on His phone and computers changed from Her smile to something that didn’t immediately remind Him of Her. Pictures that didn’t create the longing to feel Her pressed against Him, tightly encircled by His arms.
Today he put them back up again, maybe only for a day. He needed the energy, the peace, the touchless embrace of Her smile.
And for the first time this weekend, He felt joy.