Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or
arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not
irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I’m going to be a bit repetitious here. As I was doing a little research, I stumbled across a letter or journal I wrote which summed up my thoughts at the time. It was written after Mom and I started dating when, out of the blue, she broke it off for a month “to be sure.” I don’t particularly remember writing it, but it is in my handwriting. I don’t know why I wrote it. But I did. I don’t know how Mom got it or why she kept it all these years, but she did. And remember I was all of 18 back in the still sexist ’60s. Here it is:
“It’s a day of mixed feelings, that day a fellow discovers he’s in love. One side shows forth the new love, another, a bit sneakier, slinks its way into the very near future. He’s happy, contented, joyous and virtually bubbling over with excitement. But, the doubts, fears and responsibilities do their part to produce one condition, common in all young men in love … confusion.
I guess the feeling is the same with the girl but since I don’t have any experience in that line, I can’t say. From reliable sources, though [Mom], the feeling is generally mutual.
Still, I have to say it’s more so in the guy. All his life, it’s been him who made the first move, the phone calls, the countless refusals and the more subsistent and stubborn recalls. Sometimes, maybe five or six girls get called before one finally accepts to go to that dance, or movie, or prom, or just go out. More often than not, it’s his sixth choice for a date that he, and I hate to use this word, gets stuck with. But rather than suffer the embarrassment of not going out at all, he takes the challenge and tries his best to make number six feel like number one.
All through his social life, this boy grows up with the sense of competition, which can definitely do him no harm. But still the fact remains he often has to settle for a date, all the time trying to idealize a not-ideal evening.
With a guy it’s funny. Exteriorly speaking, the first girl he calls should accept. He is laying down his mind, idealizing an evening out and an experience. But that’s the price of freedom, and in a way it’s good because, if the guy has any sense at all, he’ll realize she’s not good enough for him. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had gotten my first choice every time. And I always get the same response. My ideal evening probably would have been wrecked anyway.
In my case, all have happened. I’ve felt the pain of being put down by number one and finding a substitute with whom I was very, very happy. I was put down and found a substitute with whom I had an enjoyable evening and I’ve gone out with number sixes who stayed number sixes. I’ve also gone out with first choices who I wish were sixth choices.
But then one day you meet a girl, a chance meeting, maybe through the help of a friend. You don’t think anything in terms of going out, but you do become close friends. Then one day it hits you … instant infatuation and you ask her out. Then comes liking and liking very much. Confusion starts to wrack your insides and every conscious minute is spent in thought and contemplation. All of a sudden, the signpost labelled love is seen and that chance stranger, who also claims to feel the same way, disappears “to be sure.”
Jealousy, confusion, hurt and fear appear in one person. Jealousy because the one you want and are only a step away from loving is being held by someone else, being kissed by someone else and enjoying someone else’s company. Confusion as to just why and whether or not you should retaliate with someone else or just sit and wait out your confinement.
You feel hurt. You feel put down. You feel rejected. You feel your number one made you her number six. Everything becomes numb and everything around becomes oblivious, except the memories.
But, perhaps the most dominant force comes to the front, fear. Because if you’re not afraid of losing her, you’re not even close to that state of being called love.
But, that’s my story. I guess you should know the whole truth, so I’ll start at the beginning.
The night before, a very close friend [Bernie] went out with her and tonight is stag night. You know you just ride around trying to waste an evening. But that friend shanghais you to her house and before you know it a three-way friendship emerges.
Through the next weeks you see Karen start falling for your friend, but being on the outside, you see it’s not a two-way process. Automatically, you get drawn to the situation, trying to reach a compromise situation, even though you know it can’t be done. She’s blind and he’s stubborn and cold. He does nothing but abuse her [actually puts her down] and there you are, helpless, wishing she was yours instead. But you don’t act; you just stay an observer.
Then, all of a sudden your buddy is gone, drafted, as in my case. He tells Karen he is no good, but she thinks it’s just soldier pessimism speaking. You keep up a correspondence with your buddy, priming him with pertinent information regarding Karen, with whom you have become infatuated.
Finally, you can’t stand seeing her getting hurt anymore, so you show her the letters, ask her out, and start liking her.
You take her to a drive-in, but you watch the picture, at least with your eyes. You want so much to put your arms around her and kiss her and still make her feel important and not as if you stole her away while her boyfriend was gone.
But, for some reason, you decide not to. Instead, you watch the picture and think. You think of how everyone thinks she’s your girl and how, because of lack of interest in the beginning, you never bothered to clarify the situation. You wish it didn’t have to be clarified. You wish she was your girl and you’re full of doubt and indecision.
It comes time to take her home and you kiss her good night, expecting a small thank-you peck for all your anxiety. But ,she surprises you and there you are, the two of you, kissing good night the way it should be done.
The shock dazes you but you still go away on a vacation and while you are there you relax and think. It’s now the beginning of September and you’re 1,000 miles from her for only four days before you realize how much you miss her. And now the liking really shows up. You write her a letter, using a popular song of the time as a guideline, One of the phrases goes, “It won’t work, use your mentality, wake up to reality. And just before I do, I stop just because I think of you.” You tell her she’s your number one choice and you close by saying you want her to be your girl.
Then the fear and frustration pops up again. How will she take the letter? What if she doesn’t feel the same way? But why would she have kissed me like that?
Then you start hoping she accepts your offer but you don’t know.
So you fly home, knowing if she’s there, the answer is yes, if she’s not, it’s no. And your seat on the plane is next to an attractive girl. What do you do? Ignore her, look forward to the landing or start a conversation knowing if Karen is there and she walks out with you, you have blown everything. You think about it so long, the plane lands before you decide and you find Karen is there waiting.
I can’t describe the feeling inside me when I saw her. Nothing else mattered. My heart flew and I was in a world of my own. I could have been greeted by the president of the United States and I would have brushed him off like a fly from my shoulder. It was there in the airport where I started liking Karen very, very much and when I got home I said a prayer thanking God for making that the happiest day of my life.
But, that’s how it is when your number one acts the way she should. That’s the feeling. Just think of the best thing that ever happened to you and multiply it 10, no 100 times, and you might come close to matching the feeling of knowing the evening was ideal!
Throughout the next weeks, that signpost appears. You give her your ring and everything looks great. Everything you do revolves around her. She’s the only thing that counts.
Sept. 29, 1966. That was the day. All my fears and doubts and indecisions came. After picking Karen up from work, she gave me a questionnaire she filled out on compatible couples. Some of her answers were she always wanted to be near me; if we were truthful to one another we could always be happy; she wanted to be with me more than anyone else; etc. Then, after I got off work, I went to her house and we went for a ride. When we got back, zowie, just like that, she tells me to go out and “to make sure” before we really get serious.
This stunned me because not even five hours ago she told me she wanted me. My importance was attacked and I was confused. I told her to go out and make sure but, for some reason, I thought it was me she doubted. I thought she wanted me to make sure.
Anyway, Saturday, Oct. 1, I conceded and told her I would go out and she could go out.
Monday, Oct. 3, I called her from work and she had gone out. I was stunned, shocked, hurt and jealous. I though she was bluffing but she wasn’t. Now, I was really confused and called another girl who, fortunately, wasn’t home. I had no right to feel this way but I did.
Tuesday, Oct. 4, I wrote Karen a letter telling her I wanted her and her only and she wrote back that she wasn’t sure about herself and she wanted to make sure. I agreed and now I’m all alone. I can’t see or talk to her until Nov. 1, and it hurts not because I was shunned by her, but rather because I’m afraid I’m going to lose her and I don’t think I could take that. She has become more than a friend to me and I wish the month was over so I could know where I stand.
Last night, after we made the pledge, I went home and couldn’t sleep. I went to bed at 10:30 and was still listening to the radio at 3:30. I was awake when my father got up at 5:30 and I realized how empty my life was without her.
I did a lot of thinking last night and I still don’t have any answers. I don’t know if I should go out because I don’t really want to if it’s not with Karen. Then I think, what if she decides not come back. The answer is simple … all I’ll waste is a month.
I don’t know what to do. I want to talk to somebody but I don’t know who. I don’t want to lose her but I don’t want to force myself on her either. I’m feeling pretty bad and I’m taking it hard. Like I told her last night, I feel like I’m in a corner, with the rest of the floor freshly painted and a window inches from my arm. If I go to it, I’ll ruin the paint job, or lose her by forcing myself. And if I stop and think about it, I might lose the paint job and her after the period’s up anyway. And if I decide to wait, I may just lose hope. I just don’t know.
Today is Oct. 5. I don’t have anything else to add now except that it hurts. All his life, a guy fights off the competition. Finally, he gets what he wants and it starts all over again. If I have any new developments I’ll add them. Otherwise I’ll finish on Nov. 1. Then I’ll find out where I stand and, as of now, I hope the verdict’s in my favor. It’s reduced to a game of waiting. I don’t know if I’m going out. I may, but then again, I may not. “D” Day is 27 days off. I hope my nerves can last that long and I hope I can be kept sufficiently occupied to make the time fly.
Oct. 7. Today, I cracked the meaning of love. There aren’t many ways to put it except to write it. It’s the feeling of perfect satisfaction with someone if you have someone to be satisfied with. Or could it be the realization someone is the person you’re satisfied with and you’re afraid of losing her? That’s how I am with Karen. She’s away from me and I’m afraid she’ll say goodbye. And I’m almost sure that feeling is the feeling of love.
Someone may say they feel that way about a lot of people. Sure, I’ve seen it in myself. Nobody wants to lose a good thing. But that’s human nature. If you love somebody, really love them, it comes from within.”
Well, guys, that was my last “entry” in the pretty hokey synopsis of how a chance meeting turned into true love.
There are, of course, a few addenda to the journal. I actually did see your Mom during October that year. I happened to stop at a gas station at the same time her mother was getting gas. She got out of the car and we spoke briefly, her reminding me of our “agreement” and me insisting it was happenstance. It really was … but just seeing her brightened my day.
Needless to say, when Nov. 1 rolled around, she was just as sure as I was that we were meant to be together. And it was magical! We saw each other just about every day and if we didn’t see each other, we called on the phone … hours at a time. We just grew closer and closer.
The following February – Valentine’s Day – we got engaged. Which brings us to the next chapter …
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: No one is in charge of your happiness but you.