In my peripheral vision is James. Mr. K., as his adoring students call him. My second husband and lost love.
James. Not the alpha male, but content in his own skin. And very fine, brown skin down his long back and well-formed arms indeed! The curl of dark hair touching his tanned neck I still recall. James, the sensual man, the nature lover. Tall, lean frame astride a BMW or the bike de jour, leaning into a turn rides my memory as an archetype. The peaceful warrior, the knight in black leather.
James, we lived through so much B.S. with that mission church turning to a cult. I tried so hard to be the perfect wife that it really wasn’t your fault I lost touch with you. Being a guilty bystander to so much strangeness incapacitated intimacy. So-called “prayer” drove me to isolation. And, how could you know the black hook in my heart, the cult leader being the reincarnation of my violent/schizo alcoholic father? You married a girl tied to the fear trip of surviving her daddy. But was my bit of neurosis really reason to abandon me?
With very frightening people I walk very carefully, not wanting to make waves. You left, afraid, at least able to articulate your fear. I was numb. Or the remnant brethren ran you off. But the point was, you left without me. You said you needed space.
James had the wide territory of my heart. Yet, his Leave-It-To-Beaver Willow Glen heritage made him hide in “keeping it positive.” Mr. K, I could not tell you my problems. I was becoming something monstrous while you watched from your superior perch. I bore it alone, like your alcoholic Mom.
So I broke our legal bond, with the most deliberate sadness ever. It was March 4th when I had the papers served. A march forth, a long time ago. I fiercely wanted not to love someone who would walk by me weeping piteously on his recliner while he collected his Fiesta ware and homemade jam. Your apologetic air wasn’t enough to save me. When you wrote love letters from the “outside” I burned them on the patio grill because your words didn’t match your actions.
Years later, I would finally stop looking back in regret, stop longing for the simple comfort we took in each other. The ache of seeing another put his arm around his girl, or two being silly in a grocery store. The pain of spring blossoms screaming I’m alone without you.
Once we walked, you as Abe Lincoln in a 4th of July parade, and I, of course, worked well as the short wife, eccentric and supposedly mentally ill. I remember that now, since Speilberg’s film is out. Yes, I seemed crazy trying to loathe someone I loved.
And that’s not the real tragedy. Not the great loss. The lie of a sealed system of “correct” belief that was paraded as salvation was tragic. The unabated emotional cruelty of cult leadership was obscene. However, the saddest piece may be that I married you when I believed you’d never stay with me.