How We Became Strangers
It was not the picture I visualized 12 years ago, talking with D. long-distance from my office, when the sound of his voice made my body nervous and tingly. I had dated my share of men, but none of them were men I could imagine being the father of my child. When at dinner parties the conversation would come around to how we'd all met, ours was the story that made people smile. We discovered each other at our ten-year high school reunion. D. was a jock and I was a flower child. In high school our lives barely intersected. D. was athletic, boyish, possessed of a wry and sometimes angry humor. Both of us were middle children, and watching how he interacted with his family, I saw much of myself. We were both listeners and mediators, ambitious do-gooders motivated by the compulsion to make up for crimes we hadn't committed. He was going to law school in the Midwest. I was a poet working as an editorial assistant in New York. To this day we thank People Express Airlines, those $39 airfares that made it possible for us to sustain the long stretches where I thought I'd go insane if I didn't see the shape of his body leaning against the wall beyond the airline gate as I deplaned. After one of our weekend trysts, D. drove me to the airport and, just as the plane was about to board, convinced me to take the next flight. We sat in two seats facing the runway, mad with the inexplicable euphoria of two people in love, until the next flight began to board and D. tempted me to call in sick and stay another night. When we were apart, I fell asleep curled into the Princess phone while we talked long-distance. In the morning his was the first voice I heard as I reached for the phone and cradled it next to my goose-down pillow.
Once we moved in together, in my studio apartment just large enough for a pullout couch, our days and nights were fueled by adventure. We sat in bars and drank gimlets. We maxed out our credit cards over romantic dinners and weekends in front of fireplaces at bed-and-breakfasts throughout New England. We slept late. We awoke watching the moon slip into the sheet of the new light of morning. Or we didn't sleep at all. We went skiing, ice-skating, and to the movies any night we pleased. He pressed up against me in dark alleys. We made out in taxicabs. There was a volatile tension wired through our relationship that made my body catch fire, feeling his arm resting against mine in the dark cavern of a movie theater.
Next: The beginnings of something wonderful