I don't know if you remember me. It was so long ago, but also seems like yesterday. I had just bicycled from Kansas City to Toronto, Canada. I can still remember the smell of the fresh baked bread as I went through the Portuguese section; the stacks of fresh produce in the Chinese section and reading the newspaper headlines the next morning that Elvis Presley had just died.
I remember trying to impress everyone at the cocktail reception at the convention we attended. I remember when I first realized we were the only two who were not with spouses. You seemed a little depressed with the idea you had just turned thirty years old. I tried to assure you it was not the end of the world. I had just turned thirty two.
Although, in hindsight I might have settled for anybody, I felt I had hit the mother lode when I went up to your room that night. I have never drank alcohol, and neither did any of the girls I had ever been with. I had mixed feelings going up to your room that night. Would you have taken me with you if not for the fact you had had a couple of drinks? Was I taking advantage of you or would you have gone up there sober?
The term: "One Night Stand," has a shabby and derogatory connotation if you know the people. By the second night, I felt I had won the lottery. I knew our time was short. I was determined to memorize the smell and look of every part of you. I was mesmerized by you.
The next day, we went on a tour of some farm, or ranch, or brewery; I don't remember much except the stables where they kept the Percherons, or Clydesdales. I was hoping to hold hands, but we needed to keep things quiet. The rest of the group had no idea what had gone on the night before. I remember you going over to sit on the wooden bench. Your dark curly hair seemed still wet from your shower. Although the light summer dress was probably non-descript and inconsequential, it looked good on you. It was white with little blue spots. It looked great.
I remember how numb I was with shock when you said you were going to leave the convention early. You said you were going to go home and divorce your husband. You tried to convince me I had nothing to do with it. I have wondered for years how I would have behaved, ahead of time, if I had known you were even thinking about it. Would I have tried to change your mind? Would I have even gone to your room? I've struggled with this issue.
In the years that followed, I often tried to call, about once a month, after my workout, to see how you were doing. I always felt your reaction was tentative; uncertain of my intentions and what your new husband might think. I asked you if you wanted me to leave you alone, but you never told me to.
I remember how awkward it was. I would call "person-to-person" and have to drop $ 3.50 worth of quarters into the pay phone. I didn't want to risk calling from home or work. For $ 3.50 you only get about 2 ½ minutes or so. Not enough time to find out much. I followed you as you traveled across the country. I remember how you said owning a restaurant was so much work. I remember you telling me how you had sold your house so your new husband could own his own truck.
I asked what your husband knew about us. You said: "He had no idea." You seemed determined to keep it that way. I tried to time my calls for when he was out of town. I was hoping to run into you again; to have coffee, if anything. You never mentioned the baseball cap I sent you. For one of your birthdays, I got it at Anne Taylor and thought it would be appropriate for you. I always tried to get something "innocent," so if you had to explain to your husband, it would not cause trouble. You never mentioned it.
When I brought up getting together for coffee, you made it plain that was all that could ever happen, and I was good with that, but so far, nothing. You said you come through Kansas City occasionally and might be able to do it. Obviously it isn't going to happen.
I lost your number several times. I could usually get it through your ex-husband, who seemed to pass it on cheerfully. I thought this would last forever, because you both kept in touch through your daughter. When he died, I was stumped. I called everybody in town with the same last name, but no luck. No phone number.