Saturday, November 03, 2001

I’m searching for reasonably priced tickets to go home for the holidays, though I don’t really want to go.

I am going to be sad and missing ML and it will be an extra burden to appear happy for my mother, Lord knows she has had enough to worry about over the last couple of years without knowing about my life. I would prefer to just stay here, holed up with a couple of books, a pot of coffee, and thoughts of next year. I think I know how animals feel when they seek out a warm cave in which they can lick their wounds.

I had naively hoped that ML would be out by now so I had made no plans for the holidays, but of course even if she was on her own her family wouldn’t have permitted her to spend her first Christmas alone in a NY apartment. I should have thought it through.

Focus on the destination and not the timing; that has become my new mantra. I will say it a few hundred more times today.

Well, the only fares I have found so far are too high, so maybe I’ll take a road trip up to Canada or something. I’ll tell my Mom I’ll come home in February…

Thursday, November 01, 2001

Hey LG, you just had your first Halloween, and you were adorable. I like when you make your little Oh face. Your eyes get wide as something catches your eye, and then your mouth rounds into an O, giving you an expression somewhere between surprise and wonder. Usually this is when your tongue pokes out.

Your mother and I look at you and smile, hoping that you’ll smile back to light up your face and ours. You are a gift and I will never regret either your existence in our lives or the timing of your arrival. But there is little else we can do but look at you and smile because, with such a limited capacity for auto-entertainment at your early age, you will brook very little time outside the center of our attention.

For the last three days your mother and I have seen each other every day, and I’m smiling still at the thought of it. But “see each other” almost completely describes our interaction with each other, because most every other form of interaction that we contemplated was quickly made impractical by your constant demand for eye contact, cuddling, and carrying around from interesting object to interesting object. Every kiss was cut short, every embrace ended early, and every longing gaze was rushed; you simply would not be ignored. I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose, was it?

Your mother called a lawyer this week, and it was undoubtedly one of the toughest things she’s ever done. Unfortunately some destinations require really tough journeys, and your mother and I are both finding this out in a very real way right now. You though, I’m happy to tell you, are easing the way for both your mother and for me. You are absolutely the light of your mother’s life and I know she finds solace in the difficult times by simply looking at your face. A smile from you will make her smile no matter what she is feeling.

For my part, I can tell you that you awaken feelings in me that I didn’t know I would ever feel. I want to hug you every time I see you and you make me wonder how I could ever doubt wanting to have children. I’m so glad you came along so that I couldn’t be stupid and miss out on how you already make me feel. Some things are all about timing, and both your mother and you have arrived in my life at exactly the right moment.

Well LG, thanks for brightening up my Halloween. See you again soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2001

Today, assuming I take an actuarial perspective, may be the day in the center of my personal timeline. Barring unforeseen calamity or an overwhelming self-destructive personal crisis, my life will likely extend as far out ahead of me as it, today, stretches behind me.

If today is a mirror, each day in my future has a reflection in my past, each equidistant from today. Today with yesterday, tomorrow with the day before, these brother days will reflect as much contrast or sameness as my uncertain memory permits, some of the contrast valued, some not.

Today I’m lucky; my today was like yesterday, almost exactly. I took the train to the city, worked hard enough to feel valuable, made an excuse to leave early, and saw ML.

Tonight we were alone for over an hour, LG was at home in the loving care of his grandmother and we made good use of the time. We watched the sun set over the Hudson, held each other close, kissed like teens in Paris, and talked through some of the fears and complexity of our current state. It was a good hour, yesterday my heart was heavy with the weight of an uncertain future; today it feels like a heart should.

I wish that life were easy, that decisions were always without ambiguity, and that when we looked over the transoms of our lives we would see only people glad to be in our wakes, glad to have been in our lives.

Decisions, big or small, are the bifurcations in the paths of our lives, where the path taken extends to the next branch; the path untaken fades into maybe. They mold our tomorrows and make our yesterday’s (born out of yesterday's point of view, seen now through today's) seem unfamiliar; they are today’s cause, tomorrow’s effect.

They sometimes also beget the necessity of new decisions; not all paths lead on indefinitely. Sometimes, after putting it off as long as is reasonable, you have to choose either the rock or the hard place, at least for a little while.

Join the Navy, marry young (too young), leave her standing in the rain, say something stupid for the thousandth time, buy the house instead of moving into the city, keep the house after I was alone, take the startup job as the bubble bursts, send a note card to ML after her parent’s divorce, kiss ML that first time. These decisions and many others have shaped my life, none more than the last; and it is shaping hers too.

In four years, I will be forty and ML will have chosen either the rock or the hard place. If, as I hope, it is the latter, I think by then the hard place will have softened to a place of warmth, love and dreams fulfilled, and the contrast with my life four years ago at 32 will be a happy difference. Two children, ML, and a home full of love reflected against the crumbling marriage and the bitter tears and ship-adrift-in-the-storm feeling that were its side buoys.

Later, when I am fifty, I expect to find my days happily similar with their brother days at twenty-two, because at twenty-two my first marriage still had happiness, hope for the future, and the joy of togetherness, all of which I am sure will still be present in abundance some 14 years from now.

Friday, October 19, 2001

Thursday’s come and gone and our visit was all too brief, but I can smile while I remember it because I’ll see her again today. I’m also smiling because it was funny.

Out of logistical necessity, and because I haven’t seen him in a while, she brought the little guy (LG) with her yesterday. He’s still tiny, but the size 10 hat on the size six body (on the size three legs!) is an adorable sight. He’s got this stocky old man look that makes you want to call him Bruiser out of respect even though he’s too little to worry about any more; until he smiles, then he’s just an adorable little guy that you want to hug.

Children change rapidly (especially at this age?) and the most noticeable change in him, other than the smile, is his new found alertness. No longer content to while away the day napping, he is now endowed with a wide-awake curiosity whose power more than outstrips the mobility-producing capacity of his legs to satisfy it. Pick him up and you get to see his eyes riveted to the nearest item of interest, put him down and his legs start kicking in locomotion-inducing futility, and then the crying starts.

In those brief interludes between tears and noise, my love (ML) and I hold each other, kiss the way lovers separated too long kiss, tell each other all of the things we’ve been longing to tell each other, and simply relish each other’s presence.

When LG simply will not be ignored for another minute I pick him up and carry him around to see what he can see. Suddenly he is quiet, his breathing settles into a rhythm, and his eyes focus (you could say, without exaggeration, that he is transfixed) on the large Liechtenstein print hanging on the living room wall. Whether by the colorful dots that form the composition, or the subject matter of one beautiful lesbian rubbing the other one’s back that attracts his unwavering interest I don’t know, but he’s quiet.

ML sits down on the chair in front of us and I reach down with one hand to caress her cheek, she places hers under my shirt on my stomach and kisses my leg. LG notices none of this; the allure of the lesbians is too strong. For ten minutes I rock back and forth while LG takes it in, enthralled; ML presses against me and repeatedly loses herself in our touch only to come back to the reality of her son only two feet away staring at lesbians (or dots). The situation is just too funny (and too weird) to focus on being lovers, so we do what parents everywhere do when their kid is wide awake and needs stimulation, we put him in the stroller and go for a walk.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

It’s Sunday night and I’m reflecting. The chores are done (at least those that will get done), I’ve poured myself a drink, and put on some music. Like a horse finding his way home in the dark, my MP3 player starts up with the Sarah McLachlan song that was playing that first time we kissed; and I relive the whole evening in my mind as well as the events that led up to it.

Those were months of subtle words, seemingly random touches, and a burning in my chest that I knew wouldn’t go away on its own.


Do you remember the cold walk to the train station when I squeezed your hand? I don’t know what came over me. Or the way we always ended up side by side at meals? Do you know that I will never forget the feel of your cold fingers brushing across my face after you came in out of the December wind, or the look in your eyes when you first told me of your parent’s divorce, or waiting with you at the drycleaner when you dropped off you’re tailoring as well as a gift of cookies for the owner.

Of course you don’t remember that I was glad of your absence from the party that I attended with a date, but I do. Even though it couldn’t possibly matter, I didn’t want you to see me with her. And I remember when I noticed that you stopped offering to set me up with your friends. I cared even then that you not see me with anyone else, and I was glad too when I saw that you were becoming selfish of me.

At what point did we transit from the safe place of submerged interest to the less tenable terrain of subtly acknowledged desire? The place where we exchanged gifts, went out on dinners between colleagues that weren’t dates, and slipped out for coffee without inviting the others? Our growing desire for each other’s company known but not discussed, like a private joke between friends.

Three months later…

I fell in love with a woman. I meant no harm. It was as natural as the sun.

Her spirit, her raven black her, her beauty of soul, her heart and body captured me, enveloped me, and left me no escape or recourse. My strength gone, my will erased, I fell in love with her.

I fell for the quickness of her mind, her mischievous joy, her full beauty and her burgeoning motherhood. I fell hard. What else could I do?

I sometimes shed tears, like now. Tears whose source is the guilt my parents were raised to raise me to feel. But I don't really feel it, it is not mine, I am not its subject.

Those tears streaming down my face are a nod to convention, a salute to tradition, because I am supposed to cry and because I have a heart.

But how can I be sad when I am in love with a woman, such a woman, and she loves me?

I am in love with a woman and she loves me. A raven-haired full-lipped beautiful woman whose eyes I can stare into for hours, whose mind teaches me, whose heart beats with mine and I am happy.

The feeling in my heart is the feeling that defines a life. That makes one life worth living when another is empty. It is life and it makes me so glad for mine.

It is risk. It is softness with a hard edge. It is danger. It is joy tinged with the sadness of mortality and the complexity of decisions. But it is also taking, fighting, struggling, and dreaming all rolled into one.

I fell in love with a woman. I am alive. I am in love with you.


Fast forward back to tonight. It’s Sunday night and I will see her on Thursday. Four days during which I’ll be busy with work to speed the time between our calls; but not busy enough not to miss her with an intensity that still surprises me.

I will fill the empty moments with thoughts of her; both of our future together and those highlight reel moments of the last year that make me smile (usually in amazement) at every recollection…

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Drive into the city. Check into the familiar hotel, walk through the familiar lobby, fall onto the familiar bed, and wait.

I try to sleep, I know it will be a while but I’m too keyed up. I should get a drink but I don’t want to miss her if she arrives while I’m in the bar. Every ten minutes or so I look out the window at the street below, and then look out the key hole in the door. It’s not a particularly rational action, but I’m juggling patience and impatience and I have to move around.

I need her like an antidote and yearn for her like Christmas; I’m burning like an ember starved for oxygen. At 1:25 am she walks through the door, and time, which had been crawling, flashes forward.

The embrace by the door lasts only a minute, but on a timeline of the evening it is larger than life, a caricature magnifying glass calls it out to fill half the page. We melt together “I love you I love you I love you…”

By 3:30 she’s gone and I can’t sleep. I’m reliving every moment, every word, and every touch. In two hours we caught up, napped, caressed, made love and napped again; life comes in flashes to be savored and relived for days.

For the rest of my life I will remember these days. I will remember them for their beauty and love, the perpetual backdrop of yearning, for their surreal storyline, and because the intensity of falling in love imprints every memory more indelibly.

Sunday, October 07, 2001

I didn’t get to kiss her today, or more accurately, I couldn’t. I’m fevered, draining and feeling like shit and it wouldn’t do to pass it on, especially not to the boy.

She didn’t bring him out today. When time is short like it was today, it is less difficult if she leaves him home. I miss him though, despite not yet feeling the right to love him, I have begun to. He is an adorable baby with his mother’s lips.

Today we had an hour. An hour during which she was so ravishingly beautiful that my head and heart ache to think about it, but an hour during which we were never alone. That was hard.

No woman in her mid thirties (especially one who has so recently given birth to a child) has any right to look the way she does. She is tiny (I can lift her with ease), firm, and startlingly curvaceous. The only woman I know I’d just as soon see in pants as in a skirt, she is equally arousing in either case. If we were together every day for a year it wouldn’t begin to dampen the animal surge I feel every time I lay eyes on her.

One hour, to embrace, touch, caress, run my fingers through her shiny black hair, tell our stories, and plan our next meeting. One hour when a year wouldn’t begin to satiate my ardor. I will long for her this entire week, like I do every other.

Despite the briefness of our interlude, we parted happy today. As my cab pulled away she followed along the sidewalk. She is beautiful always, but today she was riveting; no one else in the city existed while she was in my view. She smiled at me until my cab turned the corner; and I smiled back. Determined not to be sad, we faked it. And at least for a little bit, it worked.