[Spring has arrived and I have moved outdoors and taken my lazy, winter-indulged body to the park for long, cerebral walks. It was during one of those outings that I met a woman who was sitting alone on a bench near the pond. Having spied this older, eclectic-looking woman and wanting to get a closer look at her, I slowed my pace and came to a halt just short of the pond. There had been something curious about her that caused me to do so. As I approached her I sensed an un-earthly aura surrounding her; she had lived a full life, seen many things, and had a story to tell. By nature I am not a social creature, but I am out-going and friendly which allowed me to strike up a conversation with this woman. She was easy to talk to and I suppose she felt the same about me, because within a very short amount of time we were discussing the story I pen below. It is an extremely shortened version, of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, which leaves the reader, the writer, and the protagonist with a longing for answers to a mystery that was left unsolved decades earlier.]
She said to him, “Why are you so much of an avoidant? You and I are in the autumn of our lives. I want more, don’t you?”
Despite all the previous failed attempts to engage him, she still believed that she had enough fire in her belly for the both of them if only she could find the way to light a spark. She continued, in her typical devil-may-care approach to life, by trying to fan a flame that she knew surely must exist somewhere within him.
“Let’s buy a house with a barn for you and a library for me. It can be on the water, if you would like, but it would need to have some trees for me so that I could have a hammock to swing on and wile away the afternoons while you are off sailing or carving mastheads in the barn. It will be big enough for us to have our own space and solitude. We can sail in the summer and ski in the winter—picnic in the spring and drink mulled cider in the fall. Life is so fleeting and we are only on this ride for a short amount of time…”
He stood next to her, looking out on to the waves that would soon be coming on shore with the rising tide. All the while she spoke, he nodded his head, as if in agreement with her. She wanted to believe that her words had left an impression on him, but she knew in her heart that her message had, again, fallen on deaf ears. She also knew that he was intractable in his solitary ways and it was not that he would not change, but rather that he could not.
She touched his arm in an attempt to gain his attention and he responded by leaving what was his outward focus on the ocean and turned to face her. Their eyes met and she was overwhelmed with emotion at being able to see and feel the love that was living behind those eyes. She took his hands in hers and spoke softly, almost pleadingly to him, “We could live the ‘happily ever after’. Why not? Are you afraid you might just be happy? And is that such a bad thing? Why do you punish yourself so by denying yourself all the good that is around you?”
He turned his head away from her and she glimpsed a tear escape his eye and migrate down his cheek. At that moment she knew that he heard what she had been saying to him. She also knew that his demons—whatever they were—would again win. The love that they felt for each other was palpable and that is what frightened him. His fear was heavy and strong, so much so that it outweighed the love they felt for each other, and ultimately would be the victor. It was in that moment that she heard the silent words he had been speaking to her all along and she knew that for them to continue on this road together would serve no purpose and lead nowhere. Her heart would break and she would mourn for what she believed was his unrequited love. He, in turn, would feel an empty freedom from, and be haunted by, having let go of the woman he felt a love too deeply for. It is often said that sometimes love is not enough, but for this man, for whatever reason, love was too much.
[She never saw him again, but she carried with her the memory of his face and his touch. And, although she would meet and marry someone else, this woman never again knew the love that she had felt coming from that man’s soul on the day they stood on the sand and looked in each other’s eyes. She still wonders what became of him and if he carried with him any memories of her. Despite the suffering she experienced at having lost this man, she says that she has no regrets about having loved him, because, with him, she was also able to realize the depth of love that perhaps can only be found once in a lifetime.]