How did we get from that place where our souls were one to this place where our souls no longer even touch?
I met him 23 years and 2 months ago. I had just turned 18 a couple of weeks before; he was 43. I remember it like it was yesterday. There hasn't been a day in my life since, that I couldn't bring it to my mind with perfect clarity. I was in the bathroom doing my hair, getting ready to go out on a date with a guy named Kevin. A guy I had been dating for some time and was considering moving to Miami with. I had already cooked supper for Mom and Dan and their guests. I knew Buddy, he had been to our house many times before. I had never met him before, only heard Mom mention him. She called me to come out to the front of the house and meet him. I walked through the foyer and through the kitchen and into the dining room. I remember that I was bare-footed and my toenails were painted red. I saw his sneakers, his boot cut, button-fly jeans, his polo shirt, his beautiful, dark brown hair, that wonderful, full mustache, his laughing hazel eyes; and my lungs forgot how to function. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't speak, I couldn't remember my own name. He was so beautiful! Not the handsomest man I'd ever seen. Not the buff-est man I'd ever seen. But definitely the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. The moment my eyes met his I fell head-over-heels, ass over tea-kettle, deeply, madly, eternally in love with him. I called and canceled my date and never saw or spoke to Kevin after that.
We sat up nearly all night long, sitting on my mother's front porch, talking, laughing, smiling, smoking, talking some more... He was a perfect gentleman, never made a pass, never tried to touch me, never said a word that wasn't completely innocuous. But he looked, oh how he looked at me. And I knew. Oh yes, I knew he wanted to touch me and kiss me and love me, as much as I wanted to touch him, kiss him, love him. Finally, about 5 in the morning Dan came out and asked us if we didn't think it was time to go to bed. So I went to my bed and he went to sleep on the couch. I waved good-bye to him later, as he drove away in his truck.
A few days later, after Mom and Dan had gone back on the road, he called. He was going to be coming back that way and wanted to know if it would be all right if he stopped in and visited with us a bit (us being me and Sandy, Dan's little sister who was living there at the time). Of course it was. He came, we all three went to Circus World, he and I held hands some, we smiled and we laughed together. We stopped at Casa Guillardo's for supper and he and I sat on the same side of the table, very close together. We got home and Sandy went to bed and he and I sat on the front porch for a while, smoking, talking, laughing. And when I couldn't stand it any longer, I took his hand and I led him up to his truck and we climbed in and I dragged him into the sleeper and had my way with him. He still says I seduced him, maybe I did (personally, I don't think I had enough experience at that age, to seduce anyone). I just knew that I wanted him and I knew that it was going to happen, so why wait? It was the most incredible thing. It was wonderful, as I knew it would be.
A few weeks later, I was flying to meet him in Atlanta with my mother threatening to have him arrested, which she couldn't since I was 18, and Dan threatening to break his knee-caps when next he saw him. It was the happiest time of my entire life. I felt so free, so safe, so loved. We were so in tune with one another, we fit. We could talk about anything, and we did. We had so much in common, it seemed. And we loved, oh how we loved... We were together a blissful few months, several, in fact, before reality reared it's ugly head. My family worked together and his friends treated me like a child (and he let them), and I left him. My family quickly bundled me off to Texas and kept me busy and he went off to do his thing. We didn't see each other (except for once) for the next 13 years. (and that one time, if he had put his arms around me, if he had acted in any way like he wanted me back, oh well...)
During those 13 years, I lived in Texas, in Alabama (where I was living when we saw each other that one time), in Florida, in Canada, back to Florida. I married a man I didn't love but thought I could get along with (turned out I was wrong). Thought we had some common goals (we didn't). Moved to Canada with him for a half a year, then back to Florida. Was just about to cut my losses and leave him when I found I was pregnant with a child I never wanted and now can't imagine living without. Was married for about 6 years and was desperately unhappy when one day, while I was driving Mom around town, she says to me, "I often wonder if we shouldn't have just left you and Pete alone? I think you would be happier now if you were still with him." And I almost ran the stop sign before my body started functioning again. (It was a fortunate thing that the blood loss to the brain didn't cause me to pass out and wreck.) Then she says, "Me and Marie were on her computer the other day and we found out where he's living. We called him up and we talked to him. He's living in Dallas and he's doing okay." She shut up just long enough for me to begin breathing again and then she said, "I have his number here, if you want it." and she tucked a piece of paper with a phone number on it into the inside pocket of my purse.
I kept that piece of paper for about 3 months, took it out and looked at it nearly every day, before I got up the nerve to call him. I was on my knees, hardly breathing, in my bedroom. Hands shaking so hard I could barely push the correct buttons on the phone. When I heard his voice, I nearly lost mine. We talked. Just talked about stuff. He was at work, not really conducive to serious conversations. We spoke a few minutes and then he said he had to go and that he'd call back in a day or two. I gave him my number and hung up. He called back two or three days later and during the course of our conversation, he suggested that I come to Dallas and live with him. I reminded him that I was a mother, that it wasn't just me alone, anymore. He said, "I understand that. He's my son anyway, or should have been." So, I told my then husband that I wanted a divorce and my son and I moved in with my mother. It wasn't like it was a shock or anything. We'd been leading up to that for a while. Neither of us was happy in the marriage. I think it was a shock to him that I brought it up first. I know that now he'd rather he'd been the one to ask for it first. Just so happens I beat him to the punch. I know that some would say I betrayed my first husband for another, but I don't see it that way. My first husband never held my heart, only he has ever done that.
I wanted to be with him, longed to be with him, but I wasn't sure how my son would react. I had already had plans to go to Angleton, TX with my son and my mother to celebrate two of my younger cousin's high-school graduations, so I asked him to meet us there. We got there a day ahead of him and piled in at my uncles house. He didn't get down there from Dallas until after we'd already gone and come back from the first graduation ceremony. We arrived back at Allen's house around 9 or 10pm and he drove over from where he'd been waiting in the parking lot of the store next door. I was involved in getting my almost 5 year old, sound asleep son out of the car and into a bed. He walked up, we looked at one another. To be sure I was a shock to him. I was no longer the size 3, 18 year old, sex-kitten he'd known before. I'd warned him that I was fat and ugly (even sent him a picture, so he would know) but he said it didn't matter. That I would always be beautiful to him. We loaded my stuff and my son in his car and went and got a hotel room. The second graduation ceremony was the next evening so, we had time to talk and re-learn each other. He took Thomas swimming in the hotel swimming pool. By the time that day was half over, Thomas was holding his hand and laughing with him and smiling at him. So I knew it would be okay.
We were married on July 5, 1996.
I was so happy. So at peace. I felt so free, and safe, like I could do anything and anything was possible. I felt so warm inside, so loved. Goes to show what a fool I am, don't it? It was all an illusion. An illusion of how we used to be before life intervened. Before I got old and fat and ugly and before he got old and bitter and alcoholic. I think in his mind he thought it would be neat to be able to tell people that his wife was 25 years younger than him; that he was 55 and had a 5 year old son. It suited his vanity to tell people that. And it sounds good until you meet the reality of it. But that's why we never go anywhere. Someone he knows might see us and find out that his hot young wife is in actuality... me. And he is embarrassed of me, of Thomas and me both. We are not perfect people. We are not beautiful. We don't fit his story.
And I still love him so. Even though I no longer feel safe, or loved, or like anything is possible. And I certainly don't feel free. I'm trapped by my love for him. And I'm emotionally starving to death. He's so cold and mean-spirited and shriveled up inside. I know love used to be there. I know he used to have the capacity for love, for care, for generosity, for open-mindedness. I know we felt love for one another once, the kind that most people never find. We used to fit together so well that we could complete each others sentences. We just knew what the other was feeling. We could speak to each other with just a glance, a touch, a smile. Our souls were twined together into a whole. Now our souls no longer touch. I feel like a part of me is just gone. I miss feeling loved and cared for. I miss the joy of knowing I'll never be lonely. All I am, now, is lonely. It breaks my heart, but I feel like he is dead to me. There is nothing there of the man I used to know, or thought or I knew. Sometimes when he is sleeping, I look at him, see his handsome face. The features are still the same. But the man is not. Something else animates him now, he is a stranger to me. I don't like being married to this person. I want my husband back. I want the man I knew before; the man I thought I was marrying. I don't want this stranger.
It's bizarre. It is like living with a complete stranger. I don't want him to see me unclothed. I don't want him to know what I'm doing. I don't want to talk to him about what I'm thinking. Sometimes I forget and try to talk to him and the responses I get are so far away from what my husband would say that it's scary. I don't want to be with this strange person. It hurts so much to look at him, see that familiar face, those arms, those hands, that body, and feel like I'm seeing a ghost, or some sort of evil twin. Sometimes I just want to run away and hide from this person. Sometimes I hate this person who's stolen my husband's body. I can't live like this much longer. Something has to give, and sometimes I think it will be my mind.
I had to write all of this down. I had to remember, make it be real again for a little while. He used to love me. He used to want me. He used to care about me.
He did, I know he did.