Episode 260: Boldness be my Friend


I dove into an affair that I thought would be a brief flash of passion, but which would turn out to be a longer chapter in my life than I imagined. Here it starts, amidst the tumult of amateur theater.

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Hello, good morning. It is a beautiful, beautiful fall morning. Sunshine. It’s nippy. Finally, it actually feels like winter might be coming instead of 80 degrees, like we had just recently. That’s crazy! Crazy. So here I am, I’m wrapped in this beautiful shawl that I bought for myself in a market in Paris. It’s all these different gorgeous colors of blues and greens that are really all of my favorite colors. It’s wool and I had it dry cleaned and I’m just really happy in it. So I’m in a good happy place.

And there’s a new cat in my life. I’ve been wondering if cats are the stand ins for men these days. I seem to be having all of these cat encounters, and they are beginning to feel metaphorical. This guy showed up on the day of our family pumpkin carving, which was October 30. It was supposed to be a welcome home party for me, but no one really remembered that part. Instead, there was the usual assortment of thinly disguised family dramas. And then this cat. He showed up as a shadowy figure in the darkness at first, and we thought it was raccoon summoned by the smell of fresh pumpkin. All of our boisterous activity scared him off that night. And I didn’t think about him the next day because it was Halloween and there was a whole bunch of bustle. And then on November 1, he was back, this time in the morning, in the light of day, waiting at the end of the walkway to see if anyone noticed him or if anyone had anything to offer him. 

I went out to look at him more closely and saw that he was terribly thin and gaunt, although very long, and large in general. He’s all black, but he has various tufts of his hair that have turned a murky brown color, like a black cat will do when it’s malnourished. I brought out some boiled chicken that we had from the soup stock we had made, and he wolfed it down. So, long story short, he’s still here eight days later, and we’ve been feeding him and trying to rehabilitate him. 

We’ve tried local cat rescue people, but they’re all overwhelmed, and after saying they couldn’t take him, they begged us to call our congressmen and tell them to do something about the animal treatment laws. Alas, I fear (perhaps cynically so) that there is so much to fix on the human front that they will pay little attention. And so the problem continues. And so the animals and the green spaces and the oceans that share this perilous piece of spinning space dust with us get pushed aside by our overrunning species. To consider at all is to live your days in an angry froth of disgust, so I lift my eyes to the leaf-covered lawn, to the bright November sun, to the last Zinnias that bloomed in the confusion of unusual temperatures, and I choose to save just this one life at least. 

We’ve named him Morpheus, due to his deep black coat and soulful golden eyes. He has an appointment with a vet tomorrow to see if he has a microchip. If not, he’ll need a permanent home. If anyone out there wants a lovely, friendly, grateful black cat, who purrs loudly when he eats and drools out of bliss when you scratch his head, let me know. He’s a keeper. 

So, back to my story, my joy, my shame, for all in all it is my truth and my past. All I can do is face it and learn from it right? I will say that I’m not proud of this liaison that I’m unfolding for you now, but we rationalize ourselves into compromises all the time, don’t we? From this perspective, two decades later, I can see all the pitfalls, but back then I just nimbly hopped over them and moved in the direction that my heart was leading. 

We’ll call him Simon – a new friend, a dad in the community of my theatre company, and a newly enthusiastic amateur actor. He had said to me that he had some ideas about scenes we could do next time, and could he come and discuss them with me someday? “Of course,” I said. We had just finished a performance weekend of collected scenes wherein our company of parents and friends had performed an evening called As You Like It Or Not to packed houses for one weekend only. This was the format that we’d been doing for two such events so far. These evenings were very fun and popular with our local audiences, so they proved to be very good fundraisers. We played them very broadly with high comedy for the most part. So it didn’t matter that the abilities of the actors were widely varied. Everyone had a good time. And that’s all that mattered. 

However, after two rousing successes, some of the actors were getting big ideas in their heads, and they wanted to take on much more challenging material, perhaps even a full play at some point. I felt that Simon wanted to make a case for this. And I chose to believe that all of the mini flirtations that had occurred between us were harmless. So we made an appointment to meet one morning, and then he got stomach flu and he couldn’t come. That was a sign from the universe to be sure, but we ignored it. 

The next day, I got the briefest of emails from him: Dearest Desdemona, I miss you. Othello. I sat staring at those words on my screen for a few minutes. And then I impulsively wrote back, “I miss you, too!” And did he want to come and see a dress rehearsal of Don Giovanni at the Met with me on the 24th? This was December, so that would be Christmas Eve. I had a friend who played in the orchestra for the opera who had given me two tickets. But Simon said he couldn’t come. After all, it was Christmas Eve and he had a family. But he said he had a small gift for me that he would drop off at my house. 

That night, I dreamt of kissing him – my subconscious playing out my desires. I awoke to the torture of the unknown, a flood of questions: what was going on? Was it all in my head? Was there any way forward with all of these feelings? Could we have a wild one-night-stand and get it all out of the way and, and then never speak of it again? On one hand, I had this example of my friend who had so many affairs and never treated any particular one like it was essential or all consuming. If she could do it on a weekly basis, maybe he and I could do it just once. Could we still be scene partners afterwards? Could we still be scene partners if we did not do anything about our feelings? 

The next day, I was at home in the morning preparing a rehearsal when a knock came at my door. When I opened it, there he was, small gift in hand. I let him inside to the living room and turned to face him, and the floodgates burst. Here’s my journal entry that I wrote that evening after he left: 

He said that he was madly in love with me. He said that I was beautiful and very sexy and he thought about me all the time, and that it was growing into an overwhelming pain, and that he just had to say something to me. I was blown away. I said that I felt the same way. I clung to him, we kissed – delicious, trembling kisses, holding each other hard, not wanting to let go. He said he’d thought about so many aspects of all of this, not wanting to hurt his family, not wanting to ask me things that I could give more freely to someone else. I said I didn’t care about all that, and that this was what I wanted. This incredible, powerful, amazing feeling that doesn’t come around too often in any lifetime. I also said that I did not want to hurt his family. And that I loved his family. He said he loved my relationship with them, and that he loved us all in community. And I agreed with that. 

So now what? What an enormous secret. What an aching longing I have for him now. I told him later that I had imagined so many possible scenarios for that afternoon, and that one of them was making love with him all afternoon. There was a big smile. But then he wisely slowed us down. He had brought lunch, sesame noodles. So we went and dished some out and tried to just be together and talk. He said that was one of the things he was sad about – that we don’t get much chance to sit and talk and just enjoy the regular things in our lives. He wants me to know about what his work is like. He wants to hear me sing. I told him that what we do share is a wonderful creative outlet for some aspects of all of that. And he agreed. He didn’t want to leave but he had to go back to work. He said he was still thinking about my previous offer. And I said that it was absolutely still on the table. He laughed. Parting was such sweet sorrow. And then I went to Romeo and Juliet rehearsal and channeled all of that into the lovers. 

So that’s the beginning of something that went on far too long. And I’ll tell you more about it as it unfolds. It was fantastic and frustrating and embarrassing and emboldening… and so many things. We’ll explore them together. Till then. See you next time. Bye

Published by dianathebard

Podcasting about growing up in the Hudson Valley in the 60s and 70s, falling in love, raising kids, getting divorced and being a free and creative world traveler!

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