My Fur Coat

I love you so differently than I have ever loved before, I confess to him. I am thinking, I want to give and give and give to you. It’s because this is the first time you are really loved back, he says.

I think of the other relationships I’ve been in, of Ken and Jake and Tom and Ben, and I wonder about each man in turn, and his level of devotion. Joe loved me, I am sure of it, however briefly, in a desperate, all or nothing kind of way, that went, not surprisingly, from all to nothing almost overnight. Ken probably didn’t, but that was my doing; I never gave him the chance, sabotaging any possibility of real intimacy from the beginning, in the way a very young and fearful girl will do in the face of doubt she could stay with any one person, when life is secretly beckoning her to run like the wind and not look back. Tom never loved me and frankly I didn’t care anymore at some point; I gave up wanting his affection and in doing so gave up the act of loving him as well. By that time I had a child to care for, a son to exchange love with in a forever, unconditional sort of way that prior to his birth was the stuff of fairy tales; now, understood without reservation or fear.

And Ben? I loved Ben a great deal, and in spite of the fact that he withheld his love from me in the steely way a miser will guard his stash of gold, I convinced myself that he really did love me. I could feel it, in spite of his desire to keep it confined, invisible, and unspoken. Whether it was his, or my own feelings reflected back onto me with the force of sunlight in a rearview mirror at sunset, I can’t say. I allowed it to blind me for four years until he told me he didn’t want me anymore and then the question of love or don’t love became a moot point.

Now, this new man – this wonder who has swept into my life with the force of a tornado and shaken my very foundations – is offering me the chance to love and be loved with all the redemptive powers of a presidential pardon or a Catholic confession: freedom to be accepted in all my torn humanness with everything showing that has come before, yet none of it mattering.

He is not an optimist, a glass half-full kind of man. On the contrary, he finds very little in life to wonder at, marvel over, or worship. The dark side of human nature is the bane of his existence, the weight of it great enough to usurp what is beautiful and eclipse what is light. It is not a resistance to joy that he sports, though it may seem that way at times, but a continual struggle to keep his head above the ugliness. What remains at the end of the day is not so much acceptance as it is tolerance. Once in a great while something moves him and he lets go, he gives everything while expecting nothing, yet wanting just enough to stave off what torments him a while longer.

How I chanced to wander into his path is a mystery, and how I could possibly be enough, I may never know. He wears his passion for me like a favorite old t-shirt, as if it’s the most natural and comfortable fit he has ever found. I wear it like a silk lined sable coat, reveling in its protective warmth, amazed by its softness, determined to keep it clean, supple and free of stain. Bewildered by the fact that something so beautiful is touching me, each time, as if for the very first time, and suffused with the desire to remain enough.

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One Response to “My Fur Coat”

  1. ….smile….

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