Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Part I -

This tale is written solely for my own benefit. Writing has always been the way I cope with stress. I wrote my way through the growing pains of youth, motherhood, divorce and death. I have the need to write about my relationship with Ron. So this is how it starts.... Read it if you like, no offense taken if you don't.

I’ve always wondered how one can meet a total stranger and immediately have a connection as if you have known each other forever. It’s like an instant click and you find yourselves talking for hours like two old friends. Then there are people you have known all your life and yet still don’t really know each other. That’s how it is with Ron and I. We have been together 8 years now and he doesn’t talk. Anything I have learned about him I’ve had to drag it out of him. We are as different as night and day as I will talk to anyone who will listen and he is the guy that never says a word. Since we were kids everyone assumed that Ron (or Ronnie as he was called in grade school) was just shy. He was the tallest boy in school and because he hadn’t grown into his size he was a little clumsy and awkward. He was always considered one of the nicest boys in school as well. He got the good citizenship award every year in grade school and we got it together 2 of those years. I sure didn’t get it for being quiet I can tell you.

We are such total opposites in everything that I wonder at times what sustains our relationship other than a shared history (pre-college years). He is the conservative Republican and I’m the bleeding heart Democrat. What sustains us I think is our shared sense of continuity. We grew up only one block from each other and our mothers were acquainted as well. It is always nice to have someone in your life who remembers you “when”. You know, when you were young, and when you were still a size six. This is the thing that I thought was lost to me forever after my divorce.

I have had one revelation about Ron though and that is he is not shy in the least. On the outside he appears shy and uncomfortable but that is false body language. He simply is a silent observer (a trick I have yet to master) but enjoying his self every second no matter where he is. I on the other hand am not comfortable in groups or new places. I’m a one-on-one kind of gal and I don’t really open up in a crowd. But get me alone and I'll spill my guts. So in some ways we are both the opposite of how we are perceived. What’s interesting is I know that people think I don’t have a shy bone in my body when I actually do. Ron on the other hand has no idea why anyone would think he is shy.

Duh, I don’t know Ron, could it be that they have never heard the sound of your voice?

What drives me nuts when I’m around him is that I always feel like I’m talking to myself. I mean I’ll admit I’m pretty crazy about the sound of my own voice but hey…there is a limit.

Ron came back into my life most unexpectedly. In July of 2001 I was going about my life as a divorced mother of two just as I had been doing for 24 years. I had finally reached a place where I was comfortable if not content. I at least convinced myself that I was content. My daughters were finishing college and about to embark on their own lives. I had time to devote to myself and I had long ago given up the dream of loving someone again or being loved. I no longer yearned for something I believed would never be. I don't want to trivialize how difficult it was to finally find that contentment. It was a very long and difficult journey. I think I was wishing my life away, waiting for the time when I would finally be old enough that no one would expect love to come along. At 51 years of age I had finally arrived to a place of contentment. My mother had stopped giving me advice on how to find a man. Her best being the time she told me to watch the obituaries. She advised me that men remarry quickly after losing a spouse. I'm not sure what she meant by sharing that information. Did she want me to beat all the other divorcees to the family car or what? I was also grateful that my friends no longer tried to set me up. Age and wrinkles had finally brought their own reward.

So, here I was just living and working and going about life as usual when I received an email from a fellow high school classmate. She had created a web page for the class of 1967 to help classmates reconnect before our upcoming 35-year class reunion. On the web page was a list of classmates and their email addresses. I immediately went to the site to see if there were any names I recognized. I had absolutely no intention of attending the reunion but I was curious just the same. There were a few names I looked for and one of them was Ron’s. I had thought about Ron many times over the years.

Ron and I met in the first grade. I remember thinking that he seemed like an adult standing taller than all the other kids. He was the quietest boy in the class. He never spoke but there was something calming about his half smile. We exchanged smiles but no words until the day he gave me a Crackerjack ring and I drew him a picture of a sailboat. We each stood up in front of our class to show off our treasures for show-n-tell. That was the beginning of the next 12 years of shy glances and timid smiles. We went all the way through school together. We never spoke in those 12 years but somewhere in my heart that crush remained.

After high school graduation we went on to different colleges. He graduated from our local University and then went out of state to receive his master’s degree. In the mean time I fell in love and married in 1969. I never saw Ron again until our 10-year high school reunion. At that time my marriage was on the verge of collapse but Ron’s had just begun. I asked a mutual friend at the reunion if he had seen Ron was told he was there with his new bride. After locating him across the room I was absolutely ahh struck by the way he was looking at his new bride. He was so filled with love and looked at her so adoringly they might as well have been the only two people in the room. I don’t know how or where I found the courage but I walked across the room and spoke the first words I’d ever said to him in my life. Ron smiled and returned my greeting and then introduced me to his wife and that was it. I congratulated them and went back to my seat across the room but I never forgot how he looked at his young wife that night. Throughout the years, especially when I was feeling lonely, I would often remember that night and how Ron looked at her and wonder how it would be to have someone look at me that way.

So, 25 years later looking at the reunion site and locating Ron’s name and email address I decided to write him a note and tell him how he had impressed me at the 10-year reunion. I wanted to tell him I hoped his life and marriage had continued as happily as it was that night. Sending that note was so out of character for me but I really wanted him to know that he had left a lasting impression with me.

A few days after sending Ron the email I received a reply. He politely thanked me for my note but said unfortunately his marriage had ended in divorce 3 years earlier. He said they were married for 22 years but unexpectedly one day his wife said she no longer loved him and asked him to leave. I could tell by the tone of his words that he was still hurt and struggling. He told me he had one daughter who was married and had a son. Ron received his master’s degree in long-term health care and made his career as a nursing home administrator.

When I received his reply I was speechless. Now, what do you say after sticking such a large foot in your mouth? I responded apologetically but somehow in the midst of our awkward beginning we began emailing one another. For almost a year we exchanged emails, not regularly but every once in awhile. I thought he was still living in North Carolina so the exchange felt safe and comfortable. I was not looking for a relationship nor did I want to date. However, I enjoyed the exchange and began to look forward to his emails.

Then one night I was on the computer when I got an instant message from no other than Ron. This was the first time we had talked in real time. I was taken back when he suggested we go get a snow cone sometime. I laughingly responded, “Sounds great but how do you plan to do that from North Carolina?”

“I don’t live in North Carolina, I’m right here. I live in mom and dad’s old house” responded Ron.

I couldn’t believe it. We had been writing to each other for almost a year and it had never occurred to this man to mention we were living in the same town! This changed everything. I immediately got nervous and stressed. I was scared to death. All my self-consciousness rose to the surface. It had been more than 25 years since the last time we had seen each other. I was now 51 years old. What on earth would he think of me? I suddenly felt old, fat and ugly, but I quickly typed my answer, “Why not!”


kenju said...

What a good story!! I hope that all the widows and divorcees read it, as it can give them hope for finding someone.

Nancy said...

Yes, it is a good story and I can't wait for the next installment....

Arkansas Patti said...

What a great story. You have me hooked. I have been where you were.
Looking forward to the next page.