By Laurie Herboldsheimer
PROMPT — During COVID-19 ...
During the Covid-19 pandemic we've had a few full moons but this last one was the hardest. I cried at least three times leading up to and after the actual event. Cried because I was remembering — am always remembering— someone I love. The full moon was one of our things, I guess still is, since we often text each other "Happy Full Moon". He used to hold my hand as we walked across a vast yard. I loved it when he held my hand. His hands are huge and warm with fat fingers and callouses. He was the last person I deeply touched and was touched by. That was two years ago.
March 10 is my dead dog Gwennie's birthday. This year it was also a first date with someone I knew I liked already. I was telling him about Gwennie, the feeling in my chest for her, the achy yearning in-love feeling for her that was always there, that never went away. My date told me he has never had that feeling.
Four days later, he came to my house. We laughed and talked and cooked and drove 12 miles to pick up a VCR from a stranger's porch so we could watch an obscure movie. We were up till almost 4 am and I invited him to sleep in my bed with me if he were willing to just cuddle. He said yes and we snuggled under the covers. In the morning we talked and laughed some more. Then the pandemic was declared and I wondered if I'd ever see him again. But I did and I have.
He comes to see me every week or 10 days or two weeks and stays for 24 hours. We talk and laugh and cook and make love. We do hours long foot rubs by candlelight. We mix funny drinks from my pantry supplies — old brandy, honey, pineapple juice, and a black olive. We made up a name — the Lumpy Hammock. We hiked in the woods on the seven-year anniversary of my little dog Monkey showing up and I found an ancient lucky horseshoe almost buried on the trail. I soaked it in white vinegar until the rust came off and texted him photos. He's coming to see us again in two days.
It's strange that he's the newest person in my life and the only one I've touched in any way since our first date. Funny that I haven't been with anyone in two years and I'm making love with him. Funny that he's 25 years younger than I am but I don't feel older. Funny that after my forbidden "friend," I'm seeing an openly polyamorous guy whose other partner likes me and heart emojis all my facebook posts. She asked him for my address and sent me a butterfly she drew and colored with special markers. The letterpress message at the bottom said, "Everything will be okay." I feel like a traveler in Backwards Land. But I tell myself I've always been a good traveler.
My heart still aches when I remember my "friend" and all the ways we shared. My new person hasn't held my hand yet. I know I could ask him to but hand holding is a special thing and I don't want to have to ask for it. Or do I?
I wonder if everything actually will be ok.
Laurie Herboldsheimer is a long time beekeeper in north-central Massachusetts where she lives with Monkey the dog, Timmy the cat, and a lot of bees.