(this is an excerpt from last year’s journal, written in early January as I was starting to pack my life into boxes)
THIS is a love note:
Through the abandoning of my defensive mechanisms, I am reluctantly forced to admit exactly how I feel about you.
My discipline, my pride has, up until this point, prevented me from telling you exactly how I feel.
I do not wish to manipulate or pressure you, but as you have asked for this note, here it is:
Without your smile, your touch, your kiss, I feel lost.
For whatever reason, through whatever mysterious process, I find I depend on the smallest sign of affection from you.
I love you Betty, and no amount of discipline or restraint can hide this from me.
I wished to keep the depth of my involvement from you, in order to keep you free from guilt or pressure, but now I am unable to control myself.
Remember: you asked me to write this.
I love you. And whatever—I will never reproach you or myself, for what has happened or what might happen.
And if you decide never to see me again, to never let me hear your whisper again—I will always remember, and love—and wait in the hope it may one day return.
Whatever happens—whatever you decide—you are unbelievably beautiful.
Only love, Rob.
Wow. Is it me…or is that an incredibly romantic note?
This note was given to me when I was 21, maybe 22, and “Rob” was 24 (24!!).
And it was total bullshit. But who cares? Not me.
Rob and I worked together in a restaurant–we were both bartenders and I’m pretty sure our tryst started out as a fun flirtation each night at the changeover in shifts, but as you can see by the note, it didn’t take long for things to get a little heated.
Now, I should say I had no preconceptions that this guy (who ate fire, among other talents) was as serious about me as this note suggests; in fact, we were both seeing other people at the time.
Rob was also seeing my friend Rachel. I didn’t know this at first; I remember we found out about each other—Rachel and me—after we had both promised Rob we wouldn’t tell anyone about our little secret thing (I was going to call it a relationship, but it wasn’t). When we confronted Rob, he was upset that we had betrayed a trust. Hah! Total guy thinking (no offence, guys, but it is).
That pretty much put an end to the fling, and while Rob and I didn’t go all the way—at least not then—we had some serious make out sessions. I recall that it started in the back of a yellow Checker cab, racing down Second Avenue in the middle of the night; the back seat of an almost empty Greyhound—the seat that runs across the width of the bus– coming in from the airport after returning a rental car; in a corner booth in one of those uptown tourist delis (we couldn’t let anyone we knew see us, and only non-locals went to the delis that serve overloaded pastrami on rye sandwiches that were 20 bucks a pop, and I’m thinking any of our friends would rather die than be caught in a place like that); and in his apartment on his bed, which was in the storefront of a building in the East Village before it was cool (of course there were curtains, but back in the 70’s and early 80’s before the designers and established artists pushed their way in and blew the prices through the roof in that part of New York, it wasn’t uncommon to find people living in street level, storefront rental spaces—not exactly apartments, but they were suited to it, and they were really unique spaces).
And if Rach and I hadn’t found out about each other, who knows where this would have gone?
Anyway, Rob obviously penned those words before the confrontation that effectively blew the whole thing up.
I came across the note in one of my keepsake boxes, during my current life clean-up. It’s on a half dozen dupe slips—restaurant order pad pages that no doubt came from the place where we all worked.
I’m not at all surprised I kept it, are you?
I was stunned, but it immediately brought back the memory of that time.
And in case you’re wondering, I did see Rob again—five years or so later, on one of my last nights in New York before moving to Canada. He showed up at my farewell party and came along to the after-hours bar, and later, in the very early morning hours of the next day, we walked to my apartment and spent what was left of the night together.
Memorable…and over when it was over. I got in my car to drive west into the great unknown, and he went…wherever he went. I haven’t seen him since.
I wonder where he is, what he looks like now, what he’s doing and what he’s done with his life…
Happy Valentine’s Day, Robbie.
Tell me: what’s the absolutely most romantic thing that’s ever happened to you? What’s the most amazing thing a partner has ever done or said to you? I don’t know if Rob’s love note is it for me, but I can assure you it comes close—even after all these years.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Go do something spontaneous. Take that leap!