(C) Susan Mason
She was never
quite comfortable when it came to defining relationships with men.
plenty of them,
but what she felt wasn’t easily verbalized. Part of the problem (as
she saw it,)
was that most
of what she’d felt had been unrequited. In situations like that,
it was safer not
to reveal herself
to anyone, much less the object of her desire.
for love and affection was intense, but never desperate. Every time
someone, it was easy to see why she might have chosen him. Typically,
not (necessarily) in the conventional sense. From her childhood crushes
in adolescence and adulthood, these men radiated an innate sweetness and
which was often hidden beneath layers of pain and sadness. They were
intelligent in the arts or sciences...but most had suffered emotional damage
made them beautiful and special also set them apart. It would be
why she sought men of this ilk, considering that she too was packaged
But the truth is she never consciously sought “the type.” She was
them as were
moths to a flame, bees to pollen...a heart to a soul.
In those years
which followed the “Wonder-Bread years,” her devotion was accepted but
Even then, it was only in the most platonic way. Still, she gave
Somehow, the act of being a friend kept her loneliness at bay. Except
late at night.
In the hours
of darkness, her loneliness seemed to swell, consuming her with pain and
to create something
more than just a diversion. While the world around her slept, she
fantasies in which she felt whole and strong. She exorcised her pain
by writing in
certain that some day, those who had used (or even worse,) shunned
her and instantly recognize themselves (despite the fact that names were
Some might try to make amends, but most would be judged by their own
in the mirror.
despite years of emotional malnutrition. She took nourishment where
but never mistook the fulfillment of a physical need for love.
On the eve
of her thirtieth year, it seemed as though the tide was turning in her
who promised her what (until now,) she’d only given to others. This
wanted to love
her! It was too good to be true. He was too good to be true.
Literally. She fell
With him, with his promises, with his strength and his weakness...but when
itself in cruelties and acts of deceit against her, the love could not
with her life. With the exception of a few bruises, the vessel in
which she resided
Her heart was not so lucky. No x-ray could show how badly broken
it was, but
her eyes, one could see the extent of her injuries with chilling clarity.
She began to
heal herself, slowly. She was relieved to find that some men still
but what they had to offer was not in sync with her needs. Still,
figuring that it was a
step in the
right direction, she took solace in physical pleasure--something she hadn’t
for a long
time. It didn’t take long for her to realize that that could never
be enough. Not
since she had
known a greater connection. Still, from time to time she would seek
warm body. The sweet, gentle pressure of a kiss, the magic of a passionate
and the closeness
and intimacy of lovemaking assured her that she could give and receive
However, it wasn’t long before nights of passion gave way to harsh, cold
lover looked like the stranger he really was, and she was plagued with
quickly erased any memory of satisfaction.
While she held
out for “something with an afterglow,” three years passed. Then,
she met Him.
was fated, he told her. And he said things she hadn’t heard in a
long time. “I’m
not going anywhere
unless you tell me to leave,” he said. He’d made up his mind about
On the night
they met, each told the other about the marriages that had failed them.
captivating, and his deep brown eyes hypnotic. He spoke in complete
constantly. She felt no threat in his touch. He told her what
a good listener she
was, and she
looked at him with amusement, saying “Not really. It’s just that
you haven’t let
me get a word
in edgewise!” He did talk a lot, but she was happy to listen.
in the deepest part
of that warm
summer night, he asked if she would let him see her again...She said “Yes.”
to the door and gently kissed her good night. She marveled at the
feel of his kiss,
this man might want something with her, not just from her.
And so, their
relationship began. Their values were seemingly compatible.
It seemed as if
they were searching
for the same things, and his determination that their meeting was fated
gave her hope
that they might find those things in each other. Even with all these
the road seemed inordinately bumpy.
precluded the spending of time together, but he promised it wouldn’t
always be like
this. She wondered what it would be
In dulcet tones, his words wafted over the telephone line caressing her
He lauded her patience and faith, promising that she would be rewarded
a good relationship?” she asked. “The people in it,” he replied.
to wait, as he had asked. If she walked away from him now, she might
she had of finding real love. For her, “real and enduring love” was
a composite of
romance and passion that time could not extinguish.
since he’d found her. He called less often now, and their
lacked the intensity and flirtatious sense of fun which had made her heart
said it wasn’t her, that he hadn’t “changed his mind: nor did he feel any
about her than he had. His other obligations were taking an unmerciful
She hoped that waiting for him was (still) the right thing for both of
them, and that him
would be there when he “arrived” would help propel him to his journey’s
she remained on the outskirts of his life. Before she could even
relationship: might be like, (well, the truth is that she did speculate
its mood, texture
and of course, long-term potential.) She worried still that he might
come to her.
Most of the
time she felt tentative: wanted, but not quite taken. Their
based on his budget. Sometimes his budget allowed only a brief
and on rare
occasions, a trip to the movies. Though days could pass without a
phone call and
go by without a visit, he seemed secure about her. Yet, when they
went to a
movie, he held
onto her tightly--as though he was afraid of losing her.
that possessive behavior surfaced only when they were together in public.
care for public
displays of affection. That was something he made clear early on.
Yet, his grip
on her was
unmistakable. Sometimes it felt more parental than intimate.
The harder she
tired to understand,
the more confused she felt.
In the privacy
of her apartment, his touch was pleasing, but not affectionate and it seemed
if each and
every stroke or caress was a means to an end. Physical contact for
contact didn’t occur to him. Certainly not in the same manner it
did her. She had
appetite for intimacy. He allowed her to minister to him but did
she had asked him explicitly to do so. She was (in the words of a
Knee-Deep in a River and Dying of Thirst.”
(his term for the sex they had) was also done “on a shoestring.”
He initiated it by
energies toward giving her pleasure, then taking her for his. It
but emotionally devoid of passion and intimacy. He wouldn’t accept
her kisses, and
he only kissed
her upon his arrival or departure--rarely both.
for this crucial expression of tenderness and longing made her doubt her
and desirability. He did not touch her breast or stroke her skin.
As a direct
was starving, and the rate at which her sexual self-esteem and desire for
seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds.
done to keep her was not a testament to his romantic prowess. They
bound to one
another by need. At the core, their pain was the same, but that’s
ended. After all, not everyone who bleeds needs a bandage.
Some require only
time to heal.
He must have
considered himself one of the latter. She needed (at the very least!)
And she needed
him to be something he was not capable of being. He was not open
change for himself, but seemingly demanded it whenever and wherever her
and expectations exceeded his willingness or ability to give. The
bottom line was
that one day
he would arrive to collect his lay-away lover only to find her no longer