There Are Places I'll Remember All My Life, Though Some Have Changed...
I remember the back seat of his father's car, but I can't remember his name. I remember the soccer field at night, that delirious night, but I can't remember that one's name either. The faces fade in memory. It doesn't matter, they were all teachers. This is the story of another teacher.
All I'd wanted was his help on a design project. I'd been asked by the theatre board to produce a twenty-fifth anniversary gala. I came to him for a set and lighting design, his specialties. He agreed to help, and after a few days he told me that he loved me.
"What are you talking about, you love me? I'm married. I'm older than you. You hardly know me. Stop it!"
"I love you."
"But I'm fat."
"So? I love your body, too. It's part of who you are. And I can't stop."
I wanted so much to be loved again. My husband turned away when our unborn child began to round my body, and he never touched me again. And I knew he was right. Fat is the same as ugly. A fat wife is an abomination, and shunning the proper response. Question: fat? Answer: adios. We still shared a house and a mortgage, still slept on opposite sides of a king-size bed, still raised our child to believe men and women never touched. I was guilty of the sin of fat, and my punishment was to live alone, within an empty family.
And then this. A man who wanted my body, wanted all of me, from my heart and mind to the soft folds of flesh around my waist, the breasts whose better days had been spent nursing a child, the blushing apples he could coax in my cheeks by gently kissing my throat. A man who delighted in twisting my disbelief to joy, simply by stroking the dimpled flesh of my thigh.
We finished my project, stretched the idyll into one of his. I remember padding naked one midnight through the shell of a retail store we were converting to a haunted house for Halloween. I had a paintbrush in one hand and a plastic cup of cheap champagne in the other. I was helping. I was needed. I was in love. He laughed at the paintbrush, said, "Come back over here, I want you again."
It couldn't last, and it didn't. I was neglecting my health. He got me smoking again; with the late hours and reckless intensity of our pleasures, I became sick.
I decided to recover in a hotel instead of a hospital. No bright lights, no intrusive husband. Room service and fresh sheets and towels whenever I wanted them. My lover never visited. I cried to a friend, and she told me he'd been to see her, asking how to break it off.
I called my husband and said I was ready to come home. It was almost Christmas, and I said I wanted to go on a cruise. He booked the trip, and I vomited all through the Caribbean. I tried to call my lover ship-to-shore, but he refused to come to the phone. It was over.
Five years have passed. I am no longer married. I have a new lover now, one who treasures my spirit and wants my body endlessly. He is wonderful, and I love him with all my heart.
And there is a corner reserved for the man who gave me the courage to question the law that a fat woman cannot be loved. Because of him, I fell in love with my own body. Because of him, I can be completely in love with a man who will stay.