She was beautiful. Intelligent. And clearly very talented. Working for a top New York design firm. Taking evening classes at Parsons School of Design, where I was her professor.
There was an immediate chemistry. She began to stay after class, asking me questions about her work. Our design discussion soon turned personal. We left the school together to find something to eat. And there we made plans for her to visit me at my Upper West Side apartment the following weekend.
When she arrived she was wearing headphones, listening to one of her favorite songs. Placing the headphones over my ears, the music affected me so that I immediately leaned forward and kissed her, passionately.
We were both in our twenties. Attractive. She was, very. There was only one problem. I was single. She wasn’t.
She shared with me that day how her husband, who she married while young, had no ambition. Would often do the stupidest things. How they didn’t communicate anymore. How their evenings were spent watching TV, and the conversation that once made up their marriage had died.
I was very sympathetic. It wasn’t hard to be. She was so beautiful. Intelligent. Maybe even brilliant. She challenged me in a way that captivated me. But I had “rules”. I wasn’t about to cross the line of fidelity and hurt another man’s marriage, no matter how empty the description of that marriage. This perplexed her, as during one of her later visits she was clearly willing to give me everything. She crawled into my bed wearing nothing at all. God, the temptation. But I resisted. I didn’t want to get hurt. In New York City it is every easy for someone to “disappear” should they leave you. In New York, a city filled with people searching to find a personal connection, they do leave you.
We couldn’t stop seeing each other. She would wait for me after class, visit me at my apartment frequently. Our conversations were electric, alive. We’d walk along Columbus Avenue near where I lived and people would stare at us. Perhaps envy us. Learning that she had two cute dolls as a child, that she missed as an adult, I sought out a store that sold rare dolls and ordered both for her as a surprise. She shared during one visit that she would wake up each morning having dreamed of me, holding tight her pillow.
The intensity of feeling between us grew to such an extreme. One weekend as the evening fell and the interior of my apartment grew dark, and we were seated next to each other, I just stared at her. With admiration, attraction, electricity. She was staring out my window. I was captivated by her profile. And I began to ask myself, using my hidden inner voice, “Who are you?” As I continued to stare at her beautiful profile in the interior evening light.
Suddenly I found myself seated on the ground, next to several others. Those sitting near me were women, wearing shawls over their shoulders and heads. We were all sitting outside under a night sky filled with a soft moon and many stars. In every direction as far as I could see all I could see was dessert sand, lit by the moonlight. The other women with me were busy, distracted, doing little things, quietly talking with each other. But I had my attention somewhere else. On this one man. This incredibly handsome man who was standing near me. He, too, was looking elsewhere. Across the dessert. At everything, at nothing. Just staring off into the distance. But I couldn’t stop staring at him. I was deeply in love. And it was then when I realized that I, too, was a woman. Just one of the women seated on the ground, near to where this incredibly strong and handsome man was standing. Me, and the women with me, were his harem. It didn’t matter. I didn’t mind. But did he know how strongly I was attracted to him? Did he know how handsome he was? How he made my heart tremble?
The evening of that moment long ago softly returned to my New York apartment. I could hear my voice still inwardly repeating, “Who are you?” as I stared at this vision of feminine beauty sitting in front of me, as she was staring out my window at the evening descending over Manhattan.
Now I knew. We had a past.
How strange. How love will bring us together again, no matter the setting or the time. Or even if you are a man in one life, and a woman in the next.
Love never keeps you apart.