I love women. I’ve always loved women.
In kindergarten, I followed my teacher home one winter’s day and stood behind a tree, waiting, for what I can’t recall.
My teacher, the Widow Winnie was somewhat of a forlorn creature, a thin, tall blonde with hair braided and set upon her head like a permanent halo. I thought she was an angel, always stopping by my desk with words of encouragement.
Obviously, my frosty breath gave me away. Soon, I heard her calling, “Philip, what are you doing out there? Come in.” Inside her home, I was treated to milk and cookies and a fairy tale in which a Prince Charming of sorts rescues a damsel in distress. After that, I always dreamed of such rescues.
Charlotte, my collegiate amour, begged to be rescued from her parents who she professed to hate. I was a most willing Prince Charming, particularly for a damsel with exploding hormones.
One night, her father returned unexpectedly from work to find us locked in a passionate embrace.
“What are you doing,” he screamed as if it wasn’t obvious.
“Uh, ugh,” we answered timidly.
The next day, he sought me out in the college cafeteria, sat us down with his hands on the table.
“What are your plans for my daughter?” he asked, a steely look in his eyes.
“I love her. She loves me. We want to get married.”
“Oh, do you now. And how do you plan to live?” he asked with reddening face. I noticed his hands curling into fists.
“On my writing, sir.”
“Your writing!” he screamed. “ You want to take my daughter to starve in a hovel while you try to make a few pennies writing. I’ll kill you first.”
Good knight rising. “Go ahead. Is there a more noble thing than to die for love?”
He looked at me with contempt, or was it pity, and stormed away.
Well, while I won the skirmish, I lost the war. Charlotte called the next day to say her father convinced her we had little, if any future. Curtain falls on drama.
Nicole and a dazzling night in Paris, first night of spring. Chestnut trees in blossom, singers, dancers, fire eaters and a crush of joyous Parisians. The sky was brilliant with stars elbowing other stars for a place in the heavens.
We sat briefly at a small table at a bistro on the Champs d’ Elysees enjoying an aperitif and the passing parade. Soon, we were in that parade, walking hand in hand until we reached Les Deux Magots, legendary restaurant of Hemingway, Sartre, Camus, and many others, and now, moi. Alas, we found the journey mattered and not the food.
Nicole, Nicole. I soon lost you. My star had faded. Was it me or my terrible French?
My Lily of the Valley, flaming hair, fiery temper.
Together, we explored California, Napa and Sonoma when the crush of grapes and tourists fades to memory and those who work the wineries pause to catch a breath. Fall colors creep into the vineyards, reds, rusts and yellows, spewing across thousands of acres of tired vines. The sun rises brightly and slowly in the morning, heightening the intensity of the reds and rust, but like a runner tiring in the late, late stages of a race, it seemed to gasp in mid-afternoon, then throwing out a blanket of lemony haze.
She breaks the moment, screaming, “Not one more winery.”
Then, there was you.
A beach a short ferry’s ride from Venice. We sit huddled under a blanket on the veranda of a near deserted hotel. Dinner that night is bread, cheese, sausage and wine. The wine and our body temperatures raise comfort and spirits. The entertainment is reading of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, “Love in the Time of Cholera” which we both enjoy.
We reprise a theme. “How long should this moment last? Forever. Until the end of time.”
We laugh and snuggle closer under the blanket.