She was very pretty and very sweet. Kind, in a nice way. She was also very unhappy, in a relationship with a guy who was cold to her. She confided in me. Not just about that relationship, but how she was seeing someone else on the side who was colder still. She just couldn’t find love.
I felt something for her. And was very attracted to her. One wild night, to distract her from her sadness, I spontaneously drove her across the entire state of Florida. We arrived on the east coast at a long pier at three in the morning where fisherman were pulling in fish that were six feet long. We walked the pier, we laughed, and looked in each other’s eyes. We fell in love.
The following day she bought a plant for my apartment. A couple of days later she moved in. Next it was designer covers which she purchased for the bed we shared. It was wonderful to hold her closely underneath them.
We enjoyed each other’s company. We did everything together. The beach, smoothies near the beach. Her parents owned one of the more successful restaurant and night clubs out on the key. They let me play piano in their club in front of their customers during the early part of the evenings until the real paid entertainment showed up. Their daughter, my girlfriend, waitressed. I’d wait for her and we’d go home together. Cuddling through the night beneath the designer bed covers she’d bought. She was very pretty. I wasn’t too ugly. People called us “the cute couple”. It felt nice.
I was fresh out of college, starting a career, trying to run my own business. It was harder than I thought, and took more time than I ever imagined. I became more distant, stressed. Our passion waned. She would go to work every night at her family’s restaurant and bar. I would stay home. She joined the others where she worked and stay late after hours with them, drinking. One night when she didn’t come home I went out to the parking lot to search for her. There she was, passed out in her car. Just a few feet from our front door. Drunk. When I tried to lift her head she threw up on her blouse, still asleep. Because of my work, worrying about the money, my self imposed stress, I refused to believe that I was the cause. Instead I wanted her to get it together.
Instead it got worse. And too soon I discovered that she was cheating on me.
My piano playing, in addition to my work, was escalating. I was busy all through the day making my business clients happy. At night I started headlining at a local theater. More and more frequently I began seeing my name and photo in the papers. A couple of years later I would move to New York where my career would really take off.
But while we were still hurting, one night she came to see me perform on stage. She looked so beautiful. But she had cheated on me. I was distant, non-responsive.
The next day she came to the cozy beach apartment we had shared to get her things. Inside of me I was dying, broken, crying. Outside I was cold, aloof. Saying goodbye to her.
Her car was packed. I needed to get to the theater. As a final gesture of goodbye I pulled her into my arms and held her tight. I picked her up in my arms and even swung her around a little. If I were honest with myself, I didn’t want to let her go.
As I set her back down I looked deeply into her face, her eyes. A slightly different face superimposed over the one in front of me. Almost the same, but different. And I recognized this other face. It was her, but from before. From another time before. And I realized in that instant that I knew her from another life. I could remember everything. How I loved her back then. How I would often visit her, love to stay with her, always looked forward to seeing her again. However, in that life my life was cut short. I was killed in a war. A war that was 300 years ago.
The face of the person who was immediately in front of me this sunny afternoon in front of what had been our apartment by the beach returned to my view. She was smiling at me, with a look of hope that perhaps something might change. That maybe I would forgive her and we could walk together once more, holding hands, into the apartment we had shared. That we might, by some miracle, stay together as a couple. But I was momentarily quite dizzy from what I’d just remembered. Our past life together. I was not back then so used to spontaneously recalling my past lives. And I was still angry, hurt, over her cheating on me, as well as her drinking.
Instead I turned, got into my vehicle, and I drove away.
300 years had passed, and I still hadn’t gotten it right.