“Give us a hug.”
And with that tentative embrace, right after I stepped into the lobby of Belfast City Airport after almost 18-hours of traveling and waiting, and after being identified and identifying successfully, and with my red pocketbook slung over his back because I didn’t have a moment to put it down, we went back 28 years and we went forward 28 years. We went right back to the deep friendship we had already revived in our three months of daily hours-long email and phone conversations, but we also stepped into a romantic sphere that we had, because of our self-confidence-lacking 21-year-old’s and 22-year-old’s minds’, never broached. And so, a path not taken or a spark set ever so gently or a light at the end of a tunnel was brought into being.
And then there were the delicate kisses, or should I say the tentative checking to see if lips fit, if the mind interaction would be joined by its best bud: the body interaction. Indeed.
And with that four days of non-stop talking and walking and laughing and eating and lovemaking began. Yes, it was a wonderful weekend. Not wonderful because, as so many people have told me “I deserve to be happy,” but wonderful because it was in and of itself wondrous, not in comparison to what had come before, but in and of itself. What could be said about a man who not only looks right into my eyes when he tells me he loves me, but makes me feel that way when he makes me laugh, or sits down to eat a leisurely meal in a restaurant he had walked by for years but never went into because he didn’t have with whom he wanted to eat there. And what could be said of a man who doesn’t try to one-up a couple we met at the bed and breakfast where we stayed when they told us that theirs is a true love story because they got together again after breaking up three years ago.
Was it too easy? Should there have been an awkward phase to get over? Or was it that I was never with a man as a lover who was also the person who I felt the closest to, the person to whom I would reveal my secrets and my silliness? Had I never been in love with a friend, a best friend? Was that the secret? Not to want to run to tell anyone about what he said and did and how you felt because the person you want to talk to is there, across the table or across the pillow.
On one of our walks around Belfast, we walked around Titanic Quarter, where the Titanic was built. (A tee-shirt for sale in Belfast reads: The Titanic. Built by an Irishman. Sunk by an Englishman.) I remember when I saw the movie Titanic I thought how improbable the love story was. How, I thought, could a woman go from being with such a nasty, vile man as her fiancé to the loving and tender Jack? Here was my answer: in the man who was sharing with me a bag of chocolate-covered raisins as we sat next to the River Lagan and watched the current pick up and talked in the shadow of the cranes that held up the Titanic as it had been built. Sometimes we women learn from our mistakes. Yes, we do. We learn the difference between when a man says he loves you because of who you are—the good, the bad and the ugly (he did see me in the morning), and when a man says he loves you because he wants something from you.
Where do we go from here? Ah, the deliciously improbable is where. In nine days he will be moving here. This is not a trivial thing, especially for him. Twenty-eight years ago, when I left New York to move to Israel, he also left the states—only to return twice for two very brief visits more than 26 years ago. Without me here, this meltingly romantic man told me, he lost all desire to be in the states. And so, now, he is returning to a person he has loved for all those years and to a place he never expected to return to. And me, who has spoken of despair and lived through my personal hell; me, who was a pessimistic optimist, afraid to think I would ever be happy but afraid, too, to think I wouldn’t be; well, I am in love. In love with a man who is, according to the note his boss wrote for me, “a good guy.”
And after all those posts moaning about men who only want women who are thin or in shape or "care about their looks" or work out seven times a week, I have by my side a man who loves a curvy body--my curvy body.
So here I am. No longer alone. No longer wanting to be alone. I am looking forward to sharing my life with a man, my Kenny, who says to me, “Every day with you is the best day of my life.”
Yes, to be continued.
Life and love after a bitter divorce.