I had a dream once, many long years ago. It was back when I was young and foolish, and oh, so, painfully naive. And alone. Didn’t plan to be all by my lonesome. It was just the way that things turned out. The folks had died when I was too young, way too young for that sort of thing. Everyone patted me on the head and said that things would be alright, that I would get over this terrible thing. I didn’t. Still haven’t. It marked me, way down deep, too deep for anyone to see, not even those who cared to look, and there were too damned few of those. I pulled in on myself, withdrew, tuned out. An overly-enthusiastic, irrepressible, hard-to-stifle kid changed, nearly overnight, into a painfully shy and very frightened youngster.
High school turned out to be an adventure I’d soon as done without. or most of it, anyways. I was the uncool kid, butt of the jokes, the one who took the brunt of the pranks. Wasn’t much fun. I’d discovered girls, of course. Problem was, I was so terrified of them. A cute chick would look at me and my knees would turn to water. I’d come down with world-class lockjaw. I was just plain no fun for the girls. Which, of course, only made it worse, because by then, the dream had come to me, It snuck up on me one dark night when I was trying to make believe that all was right in my young world.
I began to wonder when it would happen to me, when I’d find a good girl, the way all the other guys seemed to. I’d muse about my wedding day, when it would come, where it would unfold, who my bride would be. I mean, I was so damned naive in the way-back days. I looked at those around me in the insular world of my little home town and I came to believe that life was running on auto-pilot. You were born, you grew into a kid and you did all the kid things, until you developed into a teenager and the things you did were different. Then came graduation day and the doors to the world opened wide. There might be the armed forces, perhaps the university or a job and then you met….her. You went steady, you put a diamond on her finger and then a slim gold band. You brushed the rice from your hair and you bought a house, a car, a dog and a cat and you had 2.5 kids and the dance began anew.
Just one problem with that. There is no autopilot.
The night I realized that, well, just say I was not having fun. I was alone, and the chances for changing that were slim and none. I began to understand that a guy has to fight for his joy. The perfect girl just doesn’t appear in a puff of magic smoke. Building a relationship takes time, building a relationship takes effort, takes an investment. Building a relationship means you take your heart and you put it in someone else’s hand. This requires a willingness to take a risk.
Ah. There’s the rub. In 62 years of searching, I have found…not very many…people who are possessed of such a willingness. Not enough guts to go around, more’s the pity. I haven’t found many who will look a new thing square in the face and say, almost without thinking, “Yeah. Let’s give it a go.” Those that do? Well, sometimes they get hurt. But many’s the time that the risk-takers succeed beyond comprehension. How do the old sayings go? “Y’can’t hit a home run unless you swing at the pitch.” “If y’wanna go for a sail, y’gotta get in the boat.” Yada, Yada.
Me, I am stubborn. When we were kids, my brother would tell me that I would argue with a fence post. I hate to give up, even if there is only there faintest glimmer of success. So I try and I try and I try and….
I’ve been trying my whole life, trying to find just ONE girl. Just….one. One is all I need. I’ll meet someone, somewhere, online, offline, at work, in church, getting left in the lurch, most times. I see, I want, I try, too hard, she goes away. Sometimes I know why, most times I just don’t understand. I wish I could understand….
Sixty-two years old now, and I’m a little gun-shy. But still, they seem to drift by, the girls with….something magical. So you throw caution to the winds and…you try. Most times, you’ll fall flat on your face. But once upon blue moon, it works. Um. Or, at the least, it seems as though it is working. The guy and the gal seem to feel something, they say the right words. The feelings grow and the smiles get broader. You start to think that maybe, just maybe, this is the one. This is the girl I’ve been searching for my whole life. You feel so good when you think that the hunt may be over, at long last.
Sometimes, for some people, it really, truly is. For some people.
For others, one feels that something wonderful has been discovered. One feels so damned good. But for the other comes a nuance, a lessening, drifting cooling. Circumstances suddenly intervene, distance slyly creeps in between two hearts, and one decides,”Well, maybe not…” It could be that words will be exchanged and it could be that tears will fall. Hearts will break. Oh, how they break. Sometimes, there are just no words. One will decide to go, and they will decide that it is best just to silently drift away. So they do. No explanation, no reasons, just a lot of ice cold gone.
And again, hearts will break, all the more painfully, because one doesn’t know the why of it.
I’d thought I was past all of this. I’d thought that God had strengthened me and cleansed me and rebuilt me until the foolish fantasies and fruitless adventures of the heart would never again overtake me. I was wrong. I chanced to find her, out there on the information highway one otherwise bland evening. She was full of lightning and she sparkled like moonlight on the beach. Chestnut hair cascaded down her shoulders. She has a smile that will melt the hardest of hearts. She confessed a fear of dying alone, of feeling hopeless that anyone would ever love her for herself. These last are my very own, time-worn fears.
I knew at once I had to try for this woman. I HAD to. She and I talked and talked and talked and we kept finding that we’d been to many of the same places, we like the same things and we seemed to want the same things. So, of course, I did it. Dammit. I opened my stupid mouth and I told her how I was beginning to feel, the way she had brought light to my lonely soul. I don’t know that any other woman has ever made me feel this way, and I told her so. I was well on my way to putting my heart right in her hand. Told myself this would be the last time, that this would be the one that would work. No more dark and lonely nights, I told myself. Just me and my lady, hand in hand walking in God’s good sunlight.
Ah. But. The circumstance. First I didn’t hear from her for a day. Felt as if it had been an eternity. Then came a brief email. Her son had been injured in an auto accident, not seriously, but she’d flown out west to care for him. Said she’d call. Two days later came an email. Something else had cropped up, she didn’t say what, but she told me she might be out west for months. About things of the heart that I’d written to her, she said nothing.
When I read that last message, I went cold. Absolutely cold, worse than it has ever been. I cried, I prayed, I went to church and I got on my knees and I gave it over to God- the only thing I could think of to do. So night has fallen in my soul once again. Once again, I feel the weight of a life’s worth of loneliness. Once again, I have no idea what to do.
I wish I could understand……