13 October 2008

From Denials to Uniting

Today I got to spend some time with Dominick, finally. I don't think we've been together since the school year started. So a season has passed, literally, since then.

And have either of us changed? Maybe. The last time we saw each other, only our thin summer clothes seperated one of us from the other. But today, a rather warm day with a cool breeze that reminded me that yes, indeed, it's autumn, I felt as if...

Well, I'll try to describe it metaphorically, through a place we visited: Fort Totten, on Long Island Sound in Bayside. It was decomissioned about fifteen years ago, I think. Now it's a park that is accessible only to cyclists and pedestrians.

(Why are military bases such great places when they're not military bases anymore?)

Along the road that loops around the perimeter of the park--and, for about half of its length, curves with the shoreline--stand sturdy old red brick buildings that once housed officers. At one point, three of the buildings open out to a patch of lawn. And they're all covered with ivy that, like the leaves on the trees, has just begun to turn various shades of red and yellow and gold.

It seems that buildings like those are made specifically to be looked at in autumn. And there they were, on the edge of that road that, from there, made a turn toward the sea.

So it was possible to see, if only fleetingly, those colors of turning, changing earth transposed and then merged with the metallic blue and gray waves of the water, sky and a bridge a bit off in the distance.

Was I looking at two parts of the same soul uniting? Or two souls, or minds, joining, or at least drawing closer?

I have always loved both the tones of the sea and the shades of the earth. But I never really expected to see both in harmony. And I guess I'm one of those people who, if she doesn't expect to see something, she fights or denies it until there is no other choice. Then she doesn't "learn" to love it; rather, the love finds her.

I spent three years denying how I felt about Dominick. There were the rationales: he was too young; we saw things too differently; I'd had relationships exclusively with women for the previous 20 years, etc. But over the past year or so, it's come to the point that I can't, and don't want to, deny him--deny his love--any longer. And I certainly don't want to deny it because it is something I never expected to have in my life.

That, by the way, is a pretty good analogy to how I reacted over getting the job I have now. I had long since given up any hope of getting a full-time faculty position at a college because I'm too old, don't have a PhD and don't fit into academic culture. And this semester, when I got one--if by default--I let the college's administration drag me into it kicking and screaming instead of running to embrace it. And I used the same sort of reasoning: I'm too old, don't have a PhD, don't fit in and will be resented by my colleagues for getting in through the back door, so to speak. In fact, I went all the way back to my youth, when I told myself that teaching was the last thing in the world I ever wanted to do.

At one time, sleeping with a man was just about the last thing I would've allowed myself to do. Being a woman was probably the only thing I was less willing to do. And in both cases, they were exactly what I wanted. At least, to be a particular kind of woman with a particular sort of man--although, I must say, both turned out to be a little different from what I'd expected. Better, actually.

As was this day: better than anything I could've anticipated. And so was the dinner we had at the end of it: at a waterside restaurant called Louie's in Port Washington. Neither of us had eaten lobster or any other shellfish in some time, so we ordered a "clambake special" that included two lobsers, a few clams and oysters, corn on the cob, a potato and cole slaw. All of that after an appetizer of calamari and home-baked bread. All of it washed down by cheesecake and coffee for him, mint herbal tea for me. All of it delicious. And each of us brought home a lobster and other things we couldn't finish.

Just in front of our table, Louie's pier jutted out into the water. Twilight was turning into evening, and I saw a light, above the skimming boats and their flickering reflections, in the horizon. And I recalled that we were in Gatsby country, more or less. And it is not the end of summer or the beginning of fall; it is autumn now. Autumn, with three more seasons to follow until I unite in the way I've always wanted: my body to my soul. Or as close as they're likely to come in this life. My body to my soul; my soul to another. To his.