Yesterday was the first time I blow dried my hair in two months. With record breaking heat and oppressive humidity nearly every day, it seemed like an exercise in futility to try to straighten out the waves and curls I was born with. My hair is much longer this summer; the financial devastation of the previous months has whittled away the luxuries I once enjoyed. Salon days for a cut and color with a spa pedicure and French manicure are far and few between. He would have liked my hair like this but he’s been gone for many months and never saw the many ways he’d changed me.
My Husband was the first one to see the connection between me and the Boy, to see something that I thought was just a small spark hidden deep inside of me, awareness on my part but nothing more; to see the palpable energy between us, the emotional magnet drawing us together. He saw something as the Boy and I had a casual conversation of no consequence. He saw what my steel cage would never let me see, never let me hope for. He saw something in the Boy. With his primal instincts aroused, he called me out and accused me of having an affair. He put it in such vulgar terms even I was affronted. How could he possibly think this younger man I had just met had any interest in me? But he clearly thought his territory had been encroached upon and he was on high alert.
For my part, I felt something at the first handshake but I would have gone to my grave with that feeling safely locked away. I might have taken it out a time or two and wondered about it, but I wouldn’t have acted on it and I certainly would never have expected it to be reciprocated. To me, my Husband’s jealousy was a ridiculous reaction to a non-existent event. It was an overreaction to nothing. Or so I thought then.
I couldn’t say when the exchange of phone numbers happened, but it was innocent, probably an emergency contact number. I can say that I have that first text message memorized. We talked and we texted, that was all, but it was enough. Little by little information volleyed back and forth and I came to know him as the other half of myself. Habits and hobbies, likes and dislikes, needs and wants matching up in a way previously unknown to me. The casual conversation of two people getting to know each other acted as the perfect foil for my marriage. He and I were synonyms; my Husband and I were antonyms. I was aware of this, even though at the time my precognitive sense was screaming danger to me, I couldn’t stop myself.
I wish I could say that he was perfectly handsome, a flawless Adonis, that tempted me into a licentious affair that petered out when we were sated and became a secret between us that never saw the light of day. I wish I could say that, but I can’t. What I can say is, he wasn’t particularly handsome. He wasn’t a man of great position or wealth or status. He wasn’t a scholar or a poet or a great thinker. He was just a regular guy that, for some reason, became the air that I breathed.
The word love never entered a conversation in reality or in my head back then. I was fascinated by this man that had broken through the last of my defenses. Why him? Why now? After eighteen years of guarding my heart and blinding myself to the attractions of all men, why did this one break through? There was something connecting him to me that I could not define, months later the best I could do to explain it to him was to say it was like a nylon thread between us; transparent but nearly unbreakable. I could awaken in the middle of the night, pick up my cell phone and within moments a text would come through from him. I could sense his moods from miles away and accurately tell you what kind of boxers he was wearing though I hadn’t seen him or didn’t even know for sure if he wore boxers. He was a very secretive person but to me he was no great mystery. In the following months I would sense those secrets, some lies, some betrayals but I let him keep them. I never thought they were mine to explore.
Oddly enough, I never guessed for a moment that he could have real feelings for me. He had clearly made remarks that let me know he was interested, remarks that always seemed to cut directly to the questions and excuses rattling around in my mind, as if I had directly asked him if he liked older women or plus size women, which of course, I never would have asked.
We were in a crowded room, surrounded by friends and strangers alike, when he stood too close to me and I let my guard down for just a moment and said, “Please take your pheromones over there, I can’t stand this close to you.” I was horrified that I had betrayed myself so, but the look in his eyes as he turned his face toward me was all I ever needed to see. The tenor of our relationship changed critically in that moment, the connection was undeniable. I didn’t know the depth of what he felt for me, but I was surely in love with him.
As the days and weeks turned into months, the physical attraction and the emotional and mental attachment became central in my life. The trip to New York that She told you about would be the first time we were apart, even though, as I told you, we were not having an affair in the strict sense of things. I was only going to be gone for thirty six hours so we said our goodbyes on the phone the Friday night before my early morning flight. He said he would talk to me when I got home Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t say for certain but I think I looked at a picture of him every few minutes, while my romance novel sat unread in my lap. He didn’t even make it twenty four hours. I had just checked into the hotel room when the first text came through, “How is NY?” Across the room, She rolled her eyes as I flopped on the bed with my phone in one hand and his picture in the other, smiling ear to ear.
Yesterday was my fiftieth Birthday and I was surrounded by well wishes from so many lovely people in my life. My thoughts idly strayed to last year’s Birthday and the very first touch of his hand on the side of my face, his fingers in my hair; the small sound of resignation under his breath as he turned his head and lowered his lips to mine. I cannot tell you that any touch ever meant more to me.
A full year later and I am so angry at him for tarnishing those memories and letting me destroy the life I had built, that I still scream and cry in frustration nearly every day. My heart is surely broken. I thought I had read somewhere that a heart once broken is absolved of all that a heart must be. But mine still beats just for him and I cannot tell you that any love ever meant more to me. ~DazzledGirl