Monday, February 18, 2013
I found her name again in an old notebook I was transcribing, the women I had met at a wedding of a classmate from college in early April, 1982. Doreen was the bridesmaid who caught my eye and who danced with me the whole night and scribbled her name in the back of my notebook with her phone number and address, later giving me directions to her apartment in Rahway to which I traveled several times a week for almost a year, not a ritual of love, but of something that felt good and right at the time.
So seeing the name again, in her own handwriting, all these years later, I wondered what had become of her, and with the internet as a tool, I soon learned she died two years ago as the particularly undesirable age of 56.
For some reason, this pained me even though we hadn’t talked much since we stopped dating, but like all people who come into my life, I wrote about her in my notebook trying to keep her essence alive.
“So Eliot wasn’t wrong,” I wrote on April 6, 1982. “There’s snow out and the spring which hung about with so much promise faded back into a cold miserable winter, casting the world as if through a wedding veil, a cold that makes me think of that time in Boulder, Colorado, when I lost my virginity – though I did not admit it to the woman at the time, she teaching me without knowing she was. In those days I was too proud to admit my virginity – just as the woman I was with two weeks ago was too proud to admit hers. Last night, things were different. Neither me nor Doreen were virgins – she with her diamond rings and her house full of cats and her 28 oz. She plays post office in the most traditional of ways, and she let me play with her. There’s something good about discovering myself again, something normal, real, even complete. For years I doubted myself, but now there is no doubt. This isn’t love, not with Doreen anyway. She and I are in this for good times – that’s all. Oh, there’s tenderness that makes it remarkable in it sown way, but not love, and she says she never wants it to be love. Then, there is Kathy – sweet newly wed Kathy – for whom Doreen says marriage is right. But Doreen sees herself as modern woman and has the life style such women must have, and tells me Kathy would not understand it. Doreen controls her life and wants to keep it like that, telling me Kathy has no control and it is good that she found a good man to help her … Doreen has already set limits and I’m glad. I’m not really interested in love right now either, that intense blinding condition which staggers rather than lifts. I need the sex, some laughs and someone to hold.”
In some ways, looking back, I realize I deceived myself – trying to maintain the fiction for Doreen’s behalf. She didn’t love me, but I loved her, and like nearly all the women I have made love to in my life, I always will – and only broke it off when someone else who I loved more came into my life