The following is an edited version of short story I wrote based on true events while I was living and working Bakersfield, Calif. — the place I retreated to after my marriage failed. Entitled “And This Season Too Shall Impasse,” it discusses the inertia, loneliness and despair I felt in life life as I struggle to comprehend my new life and grapple with a failed glimmer of love and engage in pointless flirtations with a man I was both attracted to yet despised.
This is all part of a two week series on “Doomed Romance,” love gone wrong even if it felt so right once upon a time. I will be contributing my own stories along with readers who submitted their own tales of heartbreak. To read previous entries click here.
AND THIS SEASON TOO SHALL IMPASSE
December 29, 2003
Men don’t like to be called beautiful and weren’t taught to appreciate the sensuality and grace of their own bodies. Men were supposed to be a little ugly, even when they were handsome and no one was supposed to really notice. But being a woman was like constantly having a light shining on you and all your flaws.
He was tall and a sandy, golden brown with closely cropped sandy brown to dark brown hair. She thought he was beautiful, he thought it was OK, but previous rejections by women had let him gun shy. The attraction was mutual, but she had to be the pursuer.
He was the one man who seemed to share in her passion, the one she met almost a year ago. Was the one who wouldn’t and couldn’t make love to her. He’d given his heart to the Lord and he wanted a woman who would do the same. Although she could devote herself to him, she couldn’t devote herself to Bible studies three times a week and all-day in church on Sundays. She wasn’t raised in the church. She believed in God, but not in the way that he did. And even though the desire was more real than anything she’d ever known they parted ways and it ended.
He said it was better to end it now before they fell in love with each other, which was where it was obviously heading, very quickly. He knew he would fall in love with her compromising his faith. She was, the goodiest of good girls, but one Bible study and three hours in church on Sunday was all she could take. She didn’t want to give up her “secular” music. He was a five-day a week Christian. She was an Easter/Christmas Christian. She didn’t want to say good-bye and neither did he, but religion would have become and issues.
For years when retelling the story of their wondrous month-long courtship filled with ridged formality then passionate temptations, black women would admonish her. How could she break up with a man who knew God? What was her problem? She didn’t know how to explain it or defend it, so she didn’t.
They said they’d remain friends, but they both stayed away. Some men you can be friends with. She couldn’t be his friend and he couldn’t be hers. They were either going to be lovers or nothing at all. Desire was too strong.
She often wondered why she didn’t go after him or try harder. But she knew it had to be this way. She’d tell herself it would have never worked out. Besides, he was much younger than her. Still, the fact could not escape her that he could kiss so sinfully, while touching and caressing her head and face. It amazed her. He kept his hands far from her erogenous zones, so all he could tempt and persuade her with were the lips and his lips were so skilled that if he’d been so inclined to press further she would not have stopped him.
She’d never wanted any man so much in her life.
And he was so beautiful. And he made her feel beautiful even if it wasn’t true.
She would cook him such beautiful dinners and they would have such good conversation. And he was so sweet and romantic. He could sing in a lovely, velvety baritone. They could sing Nat King Cole together, talk Sci-fi and politics. She could barely remember how they met. She couldn’t remember their first date. She couldn’t remember their first kiss, but she remembered all the others.
So sitting watching movies and feeling sad over her beautiful boy and feeling fat and like a troll she thought about what the rest of her life would be like. Would every day be like the one before? Her living out this life sentence for a marriage she terminated after a matter of months? Would she die wanting? Would she ever take another lover, another friend, another husband? Would she ever meet anyone? Would she ever feel that way again? Would she live in this place of impasse for all time, nothing changing? She needed for something to happen, anything, but she didn’t have the strength anymore to make it so. And although she didn’t like the term she wanted to be rescued. Anyone would do.
And so tears, round and fat, fell down her cheeks and she stared at her ashy feet and said, “We’re a sorry state. It’s just you and me.”
She didn’t want to feel different. She just wanted to feel like herself again. But she’d gone and ruined herself, she couldn’t feel that way again. But could she feel a new way that was just as satisfying? Could she feel in a way that would make her get up and do something with her life? Could she feel in a way that wasn’t ruined? And could she feel hope again?
So much to ride on a little bottle of little blue pills promising miracles. And the doctor said it could make it all better. And so she thought of her beautiful boy and how she reached out to him when she was in need and how he seemed to sense it and know just what to do. He knew just what to say.
“I’ve never known anyone like you before,” he’d say kissing her eyes. “I thought I was the only one.”