CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

A very wonderful experience occurred with a lady with whom I fell briefly in love. I would like to share this experience with you here. I think it demonstrates the connections possible between two open people when we allow ourselves to go more deeply than we usually do.

A mutual friend introduced us one midwinter. In anxious anticipation of our introduction I dressed in what I then felt would be suitably casual, but at the same time dressy enough to show I had some pazzaz. My taste in clothing has never been an impressive point for me. And this first meeting nearly became a disaster on that account.

The lady in question was more than ten years younger than me. So I was a bit apprehensive already because of the age differential. I have always been fortunate enough to look somewhat younger than my actual age, but that has never prevented me from being aware of it. Consequently, for our first encounter I wanted to look as attractive as I could and knew that a good choice of clothing would help.

The young lady knew our respective ages and had agreed to meet me only because our mutual friend had convinced her that I was a very interesting guy. I felt fairly confident that once she got to know me a little she would probably find me interesting enough. But I knew that I had to make that initial impression a favourable one.

Hence, my concern for dressing in an appropriate manner for our first meeting. Unfortunately, in trying to select a pair of pants that would be a bit dressier than jeans I picked a pair of trousers from an old tux I had hanging around. It being winter, I also donned a plaid flannel shirt. I topped it off with a brown corduroy coat with a black fake fur collar that my mother had sent me for Christmas some years before.

Without realizing it, I went out looking as dull as crumb cake. Later, after we had known each other a few weeks, the lady said she had almost run away. I had made a terrible first impression. Not only with my poor choice of clothes but all around. I had been as dull in my conversation as in my appearance.

What saved the evening happened as the three of us walked back to our respective cars after coffees. This event occurred at Niagara Falls and a heavy mist from the falls had been blowing over the side walk on the Canadian side for days. It was buried in about three feet of slick ice. What with our slipping and sliding all over the place and hanging onto each other as we walked, we all got to laughing and having the first really enjoyable time of the night. As we neared the parked cars I turned to this lovely young woman, whom I desperately wanted to see again, and asked her what we were going to do the next day.

As it happened, this question took her completely by surprise. I had not asked her if I could see her again. She had been expecting me to ask that. And she had her answer already prepared. One of those gentle ways women have of saying get lost.

When instead I asked what we would do together the next day, she later told me that her mind just suddenly went blank. She was so surprised she could only nod and agree to accompany our mutual friend to my place the next afternoon for conversation and tea.

As much as my first impression had been terrible, my second impression, the next afternoon, was fantastic. I felt comfortable in my own little space, animated and quite engaging. Where the evening before I had been reserved and dull, the next day I was outgoing and charming.

At that time I lived in a small room behind my piano workshop. It was sparse but cosy. Books dominated one wall. My loft bed and exposed closet beneath it filled an alcove opposite. A counter and sink occupied a third wall.

I had one of those small, round trampolines that served as a seat. My two lady guests reclined side by side on that while I sat on what had once been the top of a piano duet bench to which I had attached legs with metal, screw-in brackets.

The afternoon sped away amidst hot cups of tea and spirited discussion. I must say that I acquitted myself remarkably. It was one of those times when everything went well.

I was witty and interesting. I was dynamic and enchanting. My guests seemed attentive to everything I said and did. We all had a wonderful time together. I enjoyed them and they enjoyed me. And especially I and the young lady enjoyed each other.

At one point a very funny incident occurred. I had two plastic batons with colored ribbons attached to them that I had used in a dance workshop some months previously. While my two guests watched, I put on a cassette tape and stood on the former duet bench twirling the ribbons around the two women in time to the music. Even though it sounds silly to tell about it, this was great fun.

Suddenly, the legs of the former duet bench decided that they had endured enough punishment and let go. As we all laughed almost to tears, the former bench top descended slowly to the floor, almost in slow motion, as the metal brackets bent under my weight. The ribbons came down around the women in a tangle as the bench with its splaying legs deposited me on the floor.

Eventually, about mid afternoon, the mutual friend announced that she had to leave. In a scarcely concealed panic, I asked the young lady to stay, offering to drive her back to Niagara Falls later. To my great joy she agreed.

This was the beginning of one of the most wonderful relationships I have ever experienced. It turned out to be brief, three months or so, and ended in misunderstanding and lots of disappointment for both of us. Due in large measure to my own stupidity. But it showed me graphically the depth of connection that is possible between two people.

I want to share one event that I think illustrates what I am talking about. As soon as we met I began writing poems to this woman. I have seldom written poems for a woman. Or been inspired so thoroughly to do so.

She loved poems, seemed to enjoy mine and continually asked me to keep writing them for her. I did so and sent them to her. Just to make sure I wrote them for her alone, I kept no copies of them for myself.

In a way, these poems connected us on a very subtle level. I wrote one on a Tuesday morning that included a line or two about a soaring eagle. I mailed it off to her that day and she received it Thursday. As we lived a distance apart, we wrote to each other once or twice a week. We also telephoned frequently.

She called me and also wrote to me specifically about this poem with the reference to the soaring eagle. As it happened, the morning I composed the poem she had been taking a shower and had been seized by the image of herself as a soaring eagle.

For the next couple of days, until she received my poem in the mail, the soaring eagle image possessed her attention. She could not get it out of her mind. When the poem arrived, she was quite astounded by it. In fact, the poem upset her greatly, even though she liked it immensely.

For some reason I could never understand and she never explained clearly, this correspondence frightened her terribly. She was apparently confused how such a thing could occur and alarmed that it did.

I immediately concluded that we had simply connected with each other on a subtle and intuitive level. We had already connected in other ways. This seemed to be a way of extending our connection in a more intimate manner.

Far from being shocked or fearful I was overjoyed that an experience like this would happen to us. To me it was beautiful and wondrous. I told her so and tried to help her come to a better understanding and acceptance of it.

She was able to accept it. And she insisted that I continue writing for her. But she apparently never really got over her misgivings.

Had our relationship continued, I am certain that more experiences like this would have occurred. They are part of the marvellous journey towards intimacy.

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