Artistic penance?

The artist had a gorgeous studio/loft combo and the Murano glass was /is breathtaking. The seductive set up was dizzying: sangria, soft music, small platter of fruits, pepperoni and a complete lack of awkward tension. We exchange the usual spiel of family, interests, absent significant others, etc. saying whatever was on my mind without being second-guessed/accused of ulterior motives – no judgement, no pressure. Greg was almost too good-looking with startling green eyes, black hair, 6′ 2″ strong build: a good rebound choice. Yet, I felt like it really would be cheating on my ex and unexpectedly, I realized how much I missed Beck just flirting with me. Since April, I had missed being able to pick up the phone to hear his voice or him calling me to hear mine: each reaffirming to the other that we kept our love on the forefront of the mind, no matter how far apart and just how much we needed us. On occasion, I got frustrated because I felt awkward/useless having nothing of interest to share with Beck and/or feeling pressure to hold up a one sided conversation. Compounding the issue were past incidents where I either a) was talking too fast, b) was on a topic that may have interested me but not him and he was quick to shut me down, c) spoke in faltering spurts as carrying the call fell to me (regardless of who initiated it) or d) a combo of the above. The disconnect became destructive, isolating and stifling all at once. Still, I was caught off guard by that powerful wave of emotion, involuntarily tearing up and Greg allowed the weakness to play itself out, just sitting on the bar stool by me, listening to all that I blurted out. It was genuine kindness and interest being shown towards me without anger/impatience brewing beneath the surface. There was no need to talk around a subject in a convoluted manner thereby infuriating him like it always ended with Beck. I didn’t have to speak or walk on eggshells to avoid trapdoors and conflict; I didn’t have to keep my opinions/thoughts locked away. I felt free, strong and confident. I felt like myself before Stitch died: able to *feel* without dreading how it would affect my lover. Beck and I had been so close, so intricately and tightly connected, the onus was on me to shelter him from my darker feelings and thoughts. If I’m brutally honest, all these months I’ve felt lost and trapped within myself.

Greg gave me the words I’d been trying to find for nearly six months and why I’ve been reeling from the display of support towards me in the last six weeks: I didn’t feel deserving of any gentle kindness because killers aren’t worthy. People who can sentence/choose death for their ailing, helpless, beloved family members have to answer for their actions. Mercy is a big burden to carry out, not because it’s a difficult choice but because the insurmountable guilt can be too much to live with. Often, I associated my love for Beck with Stitch. The same breathtaking pride that I had them in my life and the fear for their well being and over their potential loss always gave me pause: I know now, what it means to feel your heart swell so big in your chest, twice to triple its size you really believe it can burst. It’s tough to have to remind myself to forgive me everyday – to push back the way I have all my life. I’ll probably fall off the saddle again, many times (and not just for being clumsy), and I’ll just have to find a way back on. I’ve always lived in and for the moment, to be in the Present but I needed that reminder, that nudge.

People who don’t take advantage of others, especially men, seem to become fewer and fewer as I get older. Greg has the perfect set-up for seducing women: the charm, looks, money. By giving me space, physically and figuratively, I felt that much more relaxed and secure, like I could tell him anything and trust him to keep it to only himself. I almost caved when he touched the small of my back and thought with a bemused smile who was playing with whom? However, he managed to gracefully accept my refusal to stay the night. I was pleasantly surprised by the dignity with which he took my rejection to sleep with him. Even knowing it, he expressed desire to continue keeping my company for an hour or so more into the night before walking me close to my parked car. An offer to return another day or to correspond in some way was a nice touch but also refused – it felt really wrong, timing wise and I was still tangled up inside. Give the man props for taking it all in stride! If not a rebound, a potentially good choice for a courtship, no matter how brief or long: I won’t know until (if) I reach that fork in the road. With the heady feeling red wine leaves me, I got home feeling refreshed and airy, like a puzzle piece I’d been missing was found and it was only I who could have ever provided it, to connect it to the rest of me.

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