Two Cups of Coffee

Sunday. 9:38 AM. First cup of coffee gone. 

Her name was Gail, she was beautiful and she broke my heart. She had honey blond hair, large green eyes and high cheekbones. The year was 1968, and we both signed up for a campaign trip to Indiana to work for Gene MCarthy. By the end of that three day jaunt I was blindly in love with her. I could think of nothing but her and how achingly much I wanted her. She had a fearsome effect on my body. I was racked with a fierce arousal when I was in her presence, sometimes embarrassing so. If she even smiled at another man I was instantly jealous. My fear of losing her grew into a monster as our relationship progressed and we quarreled more and more often.

Of course it ended badly. When she broke up with me because of my jealousy she became  involved with my best friend. It was the darkest time of my life; I contemplated suicide. It took weeks and weeks to before the painful grip of my loss began to ease.

It helped that I began to learn things about Gail that made me realize the feminine mask I was so smitten with hid a very different face. She was a chameleon, changing her whole personality to match the man she was with at any given time. With me she was into politics, as I was, and claimed to be an atheist, as I was. My best friend was Catholic and Gail began taking instruction in his religion almost immediately. I learned my predecessor in her affections had been a hippie pothead and she had immersed herself fully in his lifestyle.

My brief few months under her spell were intoxicating; for several years after she devastated me my memories of that passionate affair were vivid and bittersweet, with the accent on bitter. For years I  shied away from any woman who had a similar effect on me. I didn’t want to risk ending up with the same level of pain if things fell apart.

I took a photo of Gail once. She was wearing a dark blue coat with yellow trim. She wore a soft smile; she looked angelic. I don’t remember why, but at some point before, or during our break up, I gave it to her. She gave it to my friend and new lover and I discovered it on his mantle when I finally worked up the courage to visit him. When he learned I had taken it he tried to give it back to me.

I ran into Gail in 1981 after my divorce. We ended up having an awkward sexual encounter; but for me the magic was gone. In my bed that night the nervous, painfully thin woman with an abusive husband no longer wore that enchanting mask I had fallen so ardently in love with thirteen years before.

10:22 AM Second cup of coffee still warm

So much for painful memories of my wayward youth. Here’s a lovely photo of a gorgeous pugnacious woman I’d battle with anytime. Original image by Nathan Rupert, subject to a non-commercial creative commons license.

Nathan’s Best and Favorite Shots 

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