Every grief story
Is a love story
-- Joseph Luzzi
In a Dark Wood
On May 3, 2018, Carol and I met for the first time, following a two-month long "courtship" via email and PM (Instant Messenger). Having been a reader of my blog dealing with widowhood and solo travel, both from a point of view of self-deprecation that could be as withering as it was pinpoint accurate, there was a pretty good chance Carol's initial interest was professional. I believe I can help him, I imagined her thinking. That made Carol different from all the other readers, whom I took for granted believed I was beyond help.
From the first, I was drawn to her humor and wit that could cut at times with a blade so fine, the only way you'd know you were cut was when you found yourself suddenly bleeding out. I had only known two other women who were that naturally and devastatingly funny, and one of them was Carol Burnett.
I wore my white Cuban fedora and brought her a bouquet of roses to that first formal meeting, but Carol instinctively knew louche and charm were but traits I could rent, not own. (I would lose the louche quickly, but the charm of flowers would stick. That part of charm I can pull off.)
Our first activity was a tour of the mission at San Juan Capistrano. While she pointed out the beauty of Spanish colonial architecture, I took the opportunity to point out how the California missions were centers for oppression, enslavement and genocide. (One should note here how the breadth of my charm does not extend much beyond a rose petal.)
If by dinner that evening any thought of a budding romance was already hanging by the the slimmest of threads, I was unaware of it. We spent the following day at the San Diego Zoo, and my decision not to talk about the inherent cruelty of caging wild animals for human amusement probably bought me an additional day's reprieve from a Let's Just Be Friends civil judgment.
We had dinner on Sunday. Counting our initial unplanned lunch the previous Friday, this marked the third consecutive day I would be seeing the same female. In the history of my love life, this generally marked the period of time when the fever would break, the spell would be dissolved with a wand or Fay Wray would be rescued from King Kong. But neither antibiotics, poisoned fruit or the Empire State Building seemed to stand in my way, and the weekend ended with a commitment to see each other again at the end of the month.
In other words, I apparently have game. (Actually I don't, and those who know me know that I know that I don't.) But a more accurate assessment is that I was (except for the Cuban fedora) myself, and that, as it turns out much to my surprise, is enough. It's a lesson for you young people out there. Actually, it's a lesson for you middle-aged people out there. Hell, it's a lesson for all those in assisted living out there: old, bald, paunchy and occasionally forgetful does not necessarily take you out of the game, so hang in there!
As for Carol, she has filled the emptied part of me the way switching on a light fills a darkened room. In a year, we've both learned that the capacity to love lives on even after the previous loved one has left us. Carol and I are proof that every grief story is indeed a love atory.
Happy "meetiaversary," my love!