A Sense of Security
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
“The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays” EB White
As Jack and I crossed the train tracks, we both heard it, that audible ding. We glanced at each other as if it were the tracks, instead somehow, my incoming text seemed to reverberate off of the steel beneath our feet.
Were her ears burning? She’d been the source of much of the conversation as we walked from Jack’s place to our regular haunt.
“Must be young Jackie taking a break from changing the world.” Jack said sarcastically
I reached into my pocket, retrieving my phone in a hurried effort to prove Jack’s prophecy.
“Not even close. Here I haven’t read it yet, you read it and tell me if I need to respond. It’s from someone else.” I said
It was from you.
Without saying a word Jack grabbed my phone, you and I hadn’t talked in about a month, but for a while you were all I talked about. And Jack knew it, he had heard it, had lived it with me.
“Yup, well you definitely need to answer this. I dunno man, maybe even leave?” Jack said
In the time we hadn’t spoken, few moments had passed where I hadn’t wished we were. Beautiful, smart, fit and funny… but to me, to my eye, far more. You have a way, it puts me at ease, makes me feel connected, in tune with my feelings. A connection, a warmth, that for over a year, had been only a fleeting memory.
You’d coaxed me into letting my guard down. Made me feel secure, bringing me to a place where I was willing to broach my past.
But, we were complicated, our past had run in parallel, but our lives had never interestested, until recently.
You knew my ex wife, more accurately, both my ex wives well.
You’d witnessed my pareless path. Yet still, here you were. With you, I was exposed and oddly the exposure only stretched my sense of security.
A sense I've searched for in countless women. A search I’ve conducted largely in vain. Instead finding a distinct, even rare association between the majority of them and my own sense of security. An internal dilemma, which has been my source of insecurity.
As a result, keeping up with me, connecting with me, can be a tall task. One requiring a certain level of intensity. Which many run from, hell maybe you still will, maybe you already have. But a few have it in them also. The innate desire to love, and to be loved regardless of the cost. And when people, with that intensity, that desire cross paths… well the results become predictable. When you have it, you seek it.
You, you have it. It’s a lust for life, a desire to experience, you want so badly to be loved, the way you love.
For over half of our lives we have known each other, never contemplating , what could be right there. The stars had never aligned, timing is everything. In life, in love, real love there is no overcoming that.
Plenty of people stay together, forever. Do they have the secret we have both yet to find or do they simply require less to be satisfied?
Real love, true love, intense love, the love that someone like me, like you chases, seems more elusive, complex. More dependent on factors which always feel just outside of our grasp.
For love like this, timing is everything. And to the misfortune of the hopeless romantics like us, time is rarely on our side.
I’ve chased this love, left a wife or two in its pursuit. The timing is always off, never on my side.
With you, now, I hoped against hope, against reality that timing finally was on our side.
We’d reconnected, at the beginning of the pandemic. We decided for some rhyme or reason to include each other in our quarantined inner circles. An odd decision when we’d known each other most of our lives in a far more perphiary fashion. But, it felt right, natural, to us both.
We worked out most days, running in the 25 degree Chicago “spring,” narrowly avoiding the snow. For 6 weeks, this hour of our day distracted us from the reality of our world.
And when the hour passed, and I was forced to go back to my reality of isolation, I’d wait in great anticipation for my phone to ding, to plan the next hour.
It was perfect, could time finally be on our side? You, our relationship sent my way, at just the right moment. A moment of heightened universal need for companionship.
But, like I said, it was complicated. And not just by our parallel past. Your present also posed a problem. You had a boyfriend, had been dating him for years, you even loved him. To you, this wasn’t a small detail. For some reason, it was to me, my mistake.
This difference in perspective or perhaps my indifference towards your situation, had forced us apart. We simply stopped talking, estranged without explanation or discussion. We never fought, we didn’t need to. We knew it wasn’t time, not for us.
In the moment our presents collided, I had told you how I cared for you and after we carried on as if I hadn’t. After all, you had a boyfriend, who you loved.
But, my confession planted the seed, and as a seed tends to, it grew, until one Saturday it took on a life of its own, when we blurred a line. And this time the blurry vision to you proved a clarity. You cut us off, drew a boundary, over before we truly started.
Your guilt pulled us apart. Or maybe it was my disrespect for your ongoing relationship. More than likely, it was both, either way we had drifted, hadn’t spoken.
Maybe that had just changed.
Jack handed me the phone.
“Read” he said
I feel so weird texting you about this but I know you’re good for advice… he and I broke up yesterday. I’m pretty numb and don’t really know what I’m thinking, just super sad right now
My face blushed, and it wasn’t the rose I’d drank or the late afternoon sun. I was sad to hear you were hurting. But it also felt like an opportunity, a chance to reclaim the moment we had built together, to add to it even.
“Will you drive over there?” Jack asked as we bellied up to the bar
“I don’t think so, I don’t know, let’s see where she takes it.” I said
You never need to feel weird texting me, I am always here for you.
Jack and I drank and dissected your incoming text, trying to decipher what you wanted, but you didn’t know, you were distraught.
You asked me to call you when I left, we could talk on the phone, I sensed you weren't ready to see me, so I didn’t suggest it.
I missed you that evening when I called, disappointed, but not surprised. I had sensed you were uncertain on how to move forward.
As I drifted to bed, you texted me back.
Sorry, he just left, he came to get all his stuff. It was an intense night, let’s talk tomorrow.
I’d considered driving there unannounced when you had missed my call, luckily I hadn’t. Was time starting to lean towards my side?
I dozed to sleep, slowly, thoughts of you distracting me