Saturday, April 08, 2006

True confessions: Freedom 58

December 13, 2004.

I have to look it up because my memory for dates is awful. I know that was the day because on December 12th, a Friday, I said in an email to Coyo, (who had once teasingly called me Sister Mary Snake because of my celibacy) that the Scorpio had touched my hand, and told me he might call.

And even if he didn’t, I told Coyo, “I am so tired of Sister Mary Snake. I am so tired of my solitary bed.”

We’d been trying to remain civilized on public transit for months by then, the Scorpio and me. Well, I had been trying. When I’d spot him, I was as cool as your average six month old Golden Retriever spying a Frisbee. The Scorpio’s got a game face.

He liked me I knew, but I wondered if I was a curiosity, a kind of interesting freak to him. Experience gives me to understand that I am puzzling, possibly threatening to a lot of men. Interesting perhaps, but a little too off-center and absolutely too direct. Overly-present you could call it.

I said to Coyo, “I know he won’t call but…”

I hit send on those words and the phone started to ring.

I figured, seeing he’d given me his birth information and I’d made a few remarks about his birth chart that hit home, he’d use that as an excuse for coming over. And after all, he’d been through hell with his health, he’d been through dozens of funerals and that’s the kind of time when people usually look me up. I prepped on his chart the night before. And got a good basic lesson in astrology the next day. Scorpios don’t do excuses. I’d got too used to men who danced, it seems. I wasn’t expecting one who didn’t.

He knocked on the door at 2:00. I asked if he’d come to hear about his birth chart and he laughed. “No,” he said, looking straight into my eyes, “I have not come to discuss my horoscope.”

“I’m not sleeping with him,” I’d told my girlfriends. But I shaved my legs. I dithered about beforehand trying to find something casual yet devastatingly attractive to wear. I figured out just how I’d take control of the situation. By 2:30, we were in bed. “Get condoms,” my thirty-year-old girlfriend said. I didn’t. He didn’t. We both thought it would seem presumptuous. Besides, I certainly wasn’t having sex with him the first time I saw him.

By the third visit, we’d installed a toothbrush and deodorant for him. Sixteen months later, I keep Tequila and lemons on hand, and we’ve added a hairbrush. He has a key.

I’m thinking what an odd relationship it is. By all accounts, it should be doomed and I should be wringing my hands and despairing of dying alone because this is not heading for city hall, not going to end up with us at the same address – and according to popular wisdom, I’m past my best-before date. I should be either desperate or adopting hordes of cats by now.

This is how it is: we have whole lives, circles of friends and family who are unconnected in any way. Different orbits.

This is how it feels: like we aren’t intended to be together in this lifetime, but it’s a nice surprise that we’ve found each other again. We’re grateful that we get to see each other. There’s no need for it to be more. And that the relationship exists as a kind of island out of time and place, doesn’t make it less. It feels like we’ve known each other for centuries, so we’ve learned how to cut to the chase.

Fifty-eight years and this is the first time a relationship has felt like it fits right. Not too tight or loose. Not too casual or too formal. Not anything like I ever expected or thought I wanted. No rings, no promises, no lies, no having to squeeze either of us into anyone’s expectations. No games. Lots of laughter, respect, gratitude and affection on both sides.

For this, I’d happily die alone. Because really, we all do anyway. And in the meantime, being around a man who doesn’t want me to be just a little less, or a little more of myself, who likes me as I am - that is my personal Frisbee and walk in the park. Hell, sometimes it feels like the Holy Grail of relationships.

So, here’s to men who truly love women. Here’s to men who don’t need to prove anything. Here’s to the transit system. Here’s to you, sweetheart – even though you hate reading and will never see this. Here’s to you.