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I just barely remember how it began. The school bought Christine Lavin tickets and organized the trip. We ended up sitting together. Few words were exchanged, but she remembered how much I laughed. Later, she decided she wanted to know more about me. I somehow failed to receive a note that she wanted to talk to me, she didn't know I missed it. But she persisted, invited me to talk with her.

It was a touching and auspicious beginning. I ended up in her room one night in early December. This was my second year in college and I was terribly lonely.
The night was like no other, it seems almost mythical to me now. One of the worst blizzards of the winter, I trudged into the overwarm and invitingly dim dorm and then into her room. I felt the privilege of being ushered into a queen's chambers, like I always feel when I enter someone's room. It is the feeling of raw personality, of the fact that this is their safe and private place, almost like you are entering her body. Like her secrets are revealed. I sat, not really knowing what was going to happen. There were some other people there who eventually left, I hardly noticed them I was so focused on her. Jessica sat on her bed doing some paper or another, probably art history. That was her explicit goal for the evening, to finish the paper, it was due the next day. That hardly mattered though, we fell into each other. I sat on an uncomfortable chair next to her bed while she wrote and we talked, mostly I listened. I sat for hours and hardly noticed the chair. She was in turmoil about coming to college and about her boyfriend. I listened, hoping she would decide to break up, trying to nudge her in that direction. I have learned a lot more about women since then, but I was young and naive then. She introduced me to Leonard Cohen that night. His work embodied the sparkling tragedy that was our relationship from that night on. Even now listening to "Take This Waltz" thrusts me to that moment in time, with its attendant feelings of zig-zagging emotions tinged with regret.

"and you know that she's half crazy
and that's why you want to be there

There was already a foot of snow on the ground, more was coming by the inch, and the wind buffeted outside and groaned, and creaked. This made the interior feel so safe and cozy, and the heat was on too high. It felt like a womb. It got so hot that the window was open about 6 inches and we could hear the wind and the conspicuous silence of the snow. Neither of her two roommates came back that night. We lay in bed talking and listening to The Smiths' "The Queen is Dead." I can not imagine a more perfect moment as the wind blew snow crystals in the opened window and onto our bare legs and feet, the heat of the room, of us, and the cold wind and ice mixing in delicious extremity. She told me she dreamed that the wind was blowing diamonds in onto her legs. We talked. We talked about amazing things. Until the clock read 4:31. It was still snowing, the outside looked so surreal it might as well have been a fantasy. Going to sleep, we lay there next to each other, almost on top of one another ( it was a single bed). I reached my arm across her back, feeling a terrible need to hold her close, tinged with fear that she did not want me. But the second that her hand touched mine and held me there I felt so safe and loved. We slept lightly, she awoke at 8 to go to class and I slept until 10 and got up, wondering what had happened, bewildered, almost desperate to know that this would not be the only time.

There is this stretch of time after such a profound experience when you attempt to return to you life, your room, feeling exhilarated, scared, opto-pessimistic, and you can't seem to fit back into this universe very well. That night, more than the other with her, exists out of time, in a parallel dimension of intense and beautiful moments. We had several more nights that were similar, though not as charged. Finding her the next day, scared shitless how she would feel about things, I was relieved when she smiled. Our lives intertwined for the next 7 days, me with her, she with me. Our souls merged. Perhaps some of the intensity was driven by the deadline, one week and she was to leave for vacation. Never to return, I later found out. We wanted desperately to be together, but she was conflicted about her boyfriend. We never kissed, not till many years later. It was only a week, and then her father and boyfriend came to pick her up. She didn't want me there when they packed her up and left. The night before was the goodbye, it was tortured, haunted. I, desperate for more of her, she, torn. The whole thing ended in a tense quiet orgy of repression.

That was supposed to be it, I walked home through the snow, crying, to the most depressing room I have ever inhabited. I cried for the rest of the night. Partly for her leaving, but also because we were so unfinished, so much that I wanted to say to her was left unsaid, trapped.

"and you want to travel with her
and you want to travel blind
because you know she will trust you
for you've touched her perfect body with your mind

I never told her what I went through after she left, months of depression, though she had a hard time as well. I so desperately wanted to see her.

We have had a lot of contact over the years, she disappeared for a while, the she found me, but she was married. We were in contact for a while, but Now she is lost again. I still haven't told her how much she meant to me. How much she changed my life. How much I love her.

I don't think an "I love you" ever passed between us, but it was implicit in everything we did, it is still buried within us. I do not know if it will ever come out. If I ever see her again, I fear that my throat will give out trying to voice the immensity of these words. But she will know. She will know.

There is more to the story than I have said up to now. I wrote her several letters after she left, but I didn't get a reply for 2 months. What she wrote was one of the most wonderful letters I have ever received, she affirmed that she felt he same way, but was going through shit and couldn't reply until then. She wrote amazing letters, full of love and beauty and adoration. I have never felt so loved as by her. Never. As spring break arrived I broached the idea of a visit, it was abrupt and poorly executed, but we eventually got the plans together.

I drove, the first of many of these trips, fearing arrival. It took me 4 hours to drive there, through the shittiest, most desolate parts of central New York. The whole time I was thinking the worst, that she didn't really want to see me, that I was pushing too hard to see her, that she would hate me. I was wrong, as soon as I got there I felt wonderful, we talked all night again. We sat, just sat. Her life was always a whirlwind, but I sat quiet in the center, in the late nights, in the deep words. We visited a number of times in the coming year, always feeling giddy and loved, more letters moved back and forth. I went to her place because she had no car. Every time I went, gnawing doubts would chew on me the whole way, often the weather was shitty as well. Though the content of the visits was wonderful, they were always bookended by dread on one side, and this terrible aching loneliness as I left on the other. Often I was morose for days after I got back.

Then for my graduation she got friends to drive her up to see me, I was ecstatic, it was good to see her. What an awkward time that was, I had just tried to break up with my girlfriend that week, and been still unable to stop sleeping with her. So Jessica arrived, hurried, and with friends that didn't particularly care to be where we were. The four of us slept in my bed and Jess and I began to make love. Fearful of waking our companions, and surprised by the suddenness of her, not to mention my pseudo-ex-gf, it didn't work. I think she was hurt, I was unable to explain any of this at the time, so we just left it at that.....left it at nothing.

She left the next day with her friends, turboing off into the distance for what was undoubtedly for her a painful and confused return trip. I wish I could have explained myself, told her that, under any other circumstances it would have been glorious, that I loved her, that she made me feel like no one had up to that point in my life. But no. Those words fell like damp cloth on the ground as I watched her go. Not realizing it would be the last time I saw her for many years, and the last chance I would ever have to tell her.

"Yes, many loved before us
I know that we are not new
In city and in forest, they smiled like me and you
But now it's come to distances
And both of us must try
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.

We didn't speak for years after that. Not intentionally, but we lost each other. I was wrapped up in my life. I didn't hear from her. She was never forgotten, but I don't think that I knew how to speak to her after that.

Years later I got a message from an email address in Texas asking if I was who she thought I was and If I remembered her. I tried my hardest to tell her it was me, but I got no reply for many weeks. She was not supposed to use the work system for personal email, so she hesitated in her reply. But eventually, I got her phone number and called. There was joy in our reunion, but sterile joy, no love. She was thinking of moving with her new husband (insert sinking heart here). I convinced them that they wanted to live in my house. It was big and empty and lonely. They moved in in the depths of January.

In the months that she lived with me I never saw her alone, I never got a chance to talk to her about anything personal, about us. I was good at hiding the pain then.

Living at my house was not what they expected. They moved. Hardly an emotion at her quiet cold farewell. I haven't heard from her since. I do not know where they went.

There are these dilemmas in life, do I seek her ? or move on. Fears that this haunting happiness was my only shot. I have known such feelings since then, but not with enough frequency.

Every once and a while, I think about contacting her, there is a number in her old home town that might be hers, in her husbands name. Should I dial it ?

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