Trapped in Reagan’s early 80s, the farmers and I were depressed in a western Illinois university town. I’d walked out of a fast food job rather than tolerate unfairness, leaving behind so many tempting coworkers I’d been unable to choose until one came home with me from a party and didn’t leave. When she finally did, I wound up with her cat. There weren’t any other jobs and it became the first time I lost everything I couldn’t carry. I wound up back in Massachusetts living in a trailer on my father’s land, working in a local factory to pay off debts and save enough to get an apartment.
A woman from another company visited my job regularly and after months of business chats, I finally asked if she’d like to go out and she gave me her number. She drove twenty miles to meet me for dinner during which I stared entranced by the pendant in the teardrop opening at the neck of her white blouse.
We went back to her place and sat talking and kissing at her kitchen table until she said let’s go to bed and I let her lead the way to candlelight. After the second coming, I said I think we’re getting the hang of this and she said she should get me home because of her kids in the morning. I said I hope this means I’ll be seeing you again; she said you’d better, you asshole.
We spent long Sunday mornings in bed with the newspaper, thick in those days. I loved the curve of her hip as she reached for a cigarette. I couldn’t get enough of her, and told her, and showed her. We commiserated about our parents and childhoods. At a restaurant, a pianist played As Time Goes By and she told her father it was my favorite song. She worried I’d be attracted to her younger sister.
We spent time by the ocean, at theaters and concerts, and in her home which gradually came to be the first one I’d ever felt, alone and with her kids and dog. Poor and not driving, I was still crazy enough then to ask her to marry me, and she was crazy enough to say yes. Her daughter asked should I call you dad; I instantly got a lump in my throat. The girl now a woman doesn’t remember, but it was my happy moment of fatherhood.
She ended the relationship for no real reason but her fear of commitment when I moved to her town, and I felt I’d lost not just her but a home and a family. But the connection never ended, and we reunited whenever a late night phone call brought us together again after months or years apart. We each knew that both of us were screwed up, incapable of a healthy long term relationship, but no matter how much we might hurt each other, we also knew there was a deep love and bond between us and we always came back for more.
We shared a therapist though not together. I needed one and she recommended hers but we were both uncomfortable with the incestuousness of that threesome. I went looking only for a recommendation of another therapist, but the energy worked and she helped me for years.
During a visit by my college roommate and his wife, we all went to a club where she got very drunk and asked me to dance with her, I refused and she called me an asshole. Knowing she wasn’t serious but embarrassed anyway, I lashed back and asked why she was with me then and she looked shocked. After we left, I stayed at her house and sent my friends back to my apartment. Later he’d say she treats you like shit, but it was him I visited after his wife left him. Only two people really know what happens between them, and often even they don’t really understand it.
We spent a Valentines weekend in a Boston hotel. At dinner her foot was in my crotch beneath the floor length tablecloth. We made love in the tub, but what I remember best is her saying don’t you know I love you, how could you, I never say it. Even then, she’d later claim it was just the drink and not true, but I always did know, despite her difficulty in admitting it.
One reunion broke up my next relationship with a woman who loved me so much she’d offered me sexual freedom (not what I wanted or needed) unless I was falling for someone else, then I was to break up with her. She believed I was still in love with her predecessor--she was right and I hurt her by following her instructions.
In one late reunion she said she’d heard there was a porn star who looked like her and asked if I knew who it was. I said no, I wasn’t looking at much porn these days; later I found it was Sandra Romain. As always, the resemblance is more obvious in some photos than others -- the similarity in the eyes and hair and skin tone mostly. What did you think it was going to be?
We had a vicious ending after I took the job in Yellowstone – kicking me while I was down from my grandfather’s death and father’s betrayal, she wondered how she’d gone from loving me so much to hating me? Was it because I was leaving her for good? Was it because I was just a shell of the man I’d been and she knew she was partially responsible? Was it because I’d accepted the fact that I was worn out and defeated?
When I made a quick last return to Massachusetts to ship my things from storage to Duluth storage, I eventually kicked back in one of my vilest moments, sending an email suggesting a hate fuck because I’d never be back.
I had nothing really left to give to another woman, and all my future relationships began through detached means such as newspaper ads or internet communities. All the other attempts at real life interactions failed before they really began and I gave up for years until hooked by a last intriguing possibility in the park which became the biggest and saddest final failure of them all.
While working in Yellowstone, I learned that she’d been attacked in her home, which had been mine for a while, and barely escaped being murdered. I traded final conciliatory emails with her and her daughter.
In a town near Yellowstone in my final year in the area, I met a woman who looked like her and immediately wanted her. Still tangled after all these years.
Next up: http://bobdylan.com/songs/things-have-changed
Next up: http://bobdylan.com/songs/things-have-changed