Friday, March 17, 2006


More than just being St. Patrick's Day, March 17th is important because it happens to be the birthday of someone who has meant alot to me. Someone who I met back in the late 90's and had an off-and-on relationship with over several years. Someone who I came to feel closer to in some ways than anyone before, or since. Yet someone who I also kept distant time and again when I foolishly placed misguided expectations above genuine emotion. Someone who I came to love, yet never told in person when I had the chance.

Heather and I met online when she sent a blind response to my profile on Love@AOL. She had sent a short note with a brief description of herself, and had attached a large group photo of her alongside twenty other volunteers with Tipper Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign. She mentioned that she was the one with red hair and a blue suit over on the right hand side of the picture--except that there were actually a few women who fit that description. I remember leaning in closer to the computer screen and scanning the photo for other details, hoping that she was the girl that my eyes kept getting drawn towards. When I saw her in person a week or so later, that was exactly who she turned out to be.
We met for the first time at a restaurant in Manayunk, and later moved to another bar with music. As the place became more crowded we began to naturally move closer to one another while we talked. The attraction was immediate and powerful, and before long we were kissing just off of the dance floor, pressed up against one of the large speakers that was pumping the room full of music. We later wound up in my car in a secluded area of the parking lot, and took things a little, but not all the way, further.
 We saw each other again the next week, and it was at the end of that second date where we went back to her place and had sex for the first time. From the start there was an intense sexual chemistry between us, and it only grew over time. I had never had such an intimate relationship with anyone else--I felt completely free to share my deepest desires with her, and she knew that she could trust me to do the same. At the time I didn't realize how unique that kind of bond truly was.
 I've been stuck on this next paragraph for awhile trying to describe the nature that our relationship eventually took--it wasn't a traditional boyfriend/girlfriend thing, but it was much more than just physical desire. We would have a few weeks of intense nights together, followed by months of silence and separation. But sooner or later one of the two of us would not be able to resist the urge to reach out to the other, and then the pattern would repeat itself.
The truth is that the main reason why we never moved closer together as a couple is because I kept holding back emotionally. I was clinging to some idealized image of a perfect relationship--and while I was definitely feeling drawn to Heather I never let her know that while we were together. One night, while we were in the middle of having sex, she looked up at me and said "I love you." I knew in my heart that I loved her too, but before I could tell her the words caught in my throat. My mind was holding my feelings back, not willing to risk the consequence of where that next step might lead. I think I said something lame like I loved how it felt when I was inside of her. The moment passed and neither one of us mentioned it again that night. Looking back on it now, I know how open and vulnerable she must have felt to share that with me in that moment, and I am ashamed at myself for holding back my true feelings from her.
Once during our time together Heather had arranged for us to go see the musical "Rent". The show was incredible-- the songs filled with energy, passion, heartbreak, and hope; the voices moving against each other in counterpoint and then coming together in harmony.

For me, one song in particular now resonates a little more deeply than the others:
There's only now,
there's only here.
Give in to love
or live in fear.
We had a series of on-again/off-again moments, but eventually I got involved with someone else in a relationship that was closer to the image that I had formed in my head. It turns out that I need more than the house with the white picket fence and the 'Father Knows Best' relationship like I had seen growing up with my parents. With the perspective of time, I realize that they needed more than that themselves. I haven't written much about this side of my personality yet on this blog, but I am a very sexual person and I've come to find that I need to be with someone who is open and comfortable with their body and able to express what they want to be completely fulfilled in a relationship. I had learned too late that finding someone who you can share your most intimate self with, and who is willing to risk sharing themselves fully with you, is truly a rare thing and should never be taken for granted.

There's only us,
there's only this.
Forgret regret
or life is yours to miss.
Heather eventually moved out west, and there was a time when it seemed like we might never speak again. Even though we had become separated by time and distance, she was never too far from my thoughts. About a year ago I felt that I should try to get in touch because I didn't want her to go on never knowing how I had truly felt. I looked up her number and left a message. She called back a day or so later, surprised to hear from me and a little curious as to why I was contacting her now. I explained what had been running through my head, and I let her know that I had cared for her more deeply than I had let on, and that I regretted not telling her that while we were together. I told her how much I appreciated everything she had done for me and apologized for not being there more for her when I had the chance. She was understandably at a loss for words at first, but by the end of the conversation she said how much it meant for her to hear that from me, and that she was glad that I had called.

We've kept in touch over the phone since then--calling each other up across two time zones every couple of months to catch up on our lives. She was the first person that I told about this blog, and a few weeks ago she called with a question that I hoped she might ask. Back in my first few weeks of blogging, I had filled out a meme to provide some insight into parts of my background. One of the questions was "Ever fallen in love with someone that you met online?" She asked who I was thinking of when I wrote my answer: "once."
I told her that it was her.
We may not have found the right melody until after it was too late, but I am glad that she knows now, within me, my heart was keeping time all along.
No other life,
no other way.
No day
but today.