I have to tell you that, with every letter I read, I believed more and more in the dream he and I had of one day being together. We were a perfect fit. Isn’t it amazing how quickly little whispers of words that discourage and repudiate the luster and indomitability of love can worm their way into the mind (never the heart) and work their destructive magic? I know how precise is the aim of phrases like, “Long distance relationships never work. Be practical.”, “Don’t you think you are just daydreaming?”, and “You are wasting your youth…time you should be dating and really enjoying life.” It should be noted that my parents were NOT the ones saying these things to me. THEY believed in the dream we had. Yet, when you are hearing these kinds of things from people you have loved and emulated most of your life, it is hard to remember one simple phrase. Love can overcome. It was these things that caused the awkwardness. It was almost as if I had sought to drive him away and he had DRIVEN 900 miles to see me. Somehow, we managed to get past all of this and enjoy his visit, but that doubt haunted me. Within a couple of years, I found myself a bride…one who had settled for less than she wanted because she stopped believing. The real trouble with all of this was that I had never told Gord.
We each knew that the other was dating, but we were quick to let people in our lives know that we were not available for committed relationships. I had fallen in love with this young man who finished his letters to me with sweet, sweet passages written in French that I would immediately set about to translate and he had fallen in love with me, his small town Southern girl with the soft drawl. Yet, we still went out to dinner with dates to a movie, a game, a concert. Gord told me of a young woman that he had gone out with. She was attending the same university as he. He told me that he had shared with her his commitment to me but she wanted to continue to see him. She didn’t realize the depth of our feelings and thought that maybe something in his heart would change. I would tell him if I had gone out with someone, but I was never very specific. Neither of us were really. I know it seems strange to say that we spoke with each other about our dating circumstances, but we understood the reality that we were very far apart in distance and we were young and wanted to socialize and couldn’t be with each other right then. The only thing we knew for sure was that we had to be honest with each other…and I was for a good little while but those doubts just wouldn’t shake loose.
I met a man the summer of my 18th year and married him in April of my 19th year. He was seven years older than me. Lloyd had been married before. He owned a home and had worked at his place of employment since he was 18 years old. He owned a motorcycle and he was mature and settled. At the same time, he was a little rough around the edges, yet gentle with me. He was, when it first started, an adventure. The further down the road I went with Lloyd, the more I convinced myself that the people whose whispers I had heard were right…it could never be possible with Gord. How could it? He wasn’t here with me. He wasn’t at my side. Still his letters of love continued to show up in my mailbox even though I wrote less frequently. I began to plan my wedding and we set the date in April. He gave me a beautiful ring. I was feted by my family and friends. I chose my maid of honor and bridesmaids. We picked out dresses and flowers and tuxedos. We chose our music. We planned our honeymoon…and my heart was breaking. It began to rain the week before my wedding day. It rained for a full seven days until it finally stopped. The weather simply mirrored how my heart felt. It was like a runaway train and I didn’t know how to stop it.
One day, in particular, my sweet mother saw me crying and I think a light must have gone off in her head. She came to me and asked had I called Gord to tell him I was getting married. It was now only three days to go before the “I dos” and I looked at her in desperation and almost inaudibly told her, “No.” She made me call him, right there, on the spot. She told me, in no uncertain terms, that she would not be left to mop up this mess…she was not going to have to be the one to break the news to Gord. I dialed his number and listened to the ringing of the phone while my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. He answered and I died a thousand deaths. I told him that I had something I had to tell him and I then revealed to him that I was getting married in three days.
When he finally spoke, Gord’s voice was tender and soft, but cracked with emotion. He asked me, “What do you want me to do, Lisa? I am a college student and I can’t just hop on a plane and fly down there to stop you. I don’t have the money to do that.” I told him, “I know. I know you can’t. I don’t know what I want.” Then he spoke to me and told me these words that have followed me all of these years and will not leave me alone. He said, “Lisa, I don’t know what to say. You are the girl I could wait a lifetime for and I know you will be a beautiful bride. I know because I have imagined it a million times. I love you and I hope you will be happy.”
I cried right up to the day of my wedding. Yes, I went through with it. No, it didn’t last. No, the story of me and Gord did not end here. Love, when left unfulfilled, is at it most romantic. It creates, quite possibly, limerence. Even more, it beacons the lover carrying the torch with promises of what might still could be.
As we go forward, I will write of later encounters with Gord. All I can say right now is, “Electric.” Oh, and good night.