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pretty sure it was
the shoulders that did it.
had four years to
think about this: to try and pinpoint exactly what it was that
made me fall in love when I
saw David in
that airport terminal for the very first time, four years ago tonight.
For a while, I liked to tell people that it was his smile that reeled
me in: easy, open, accessible, movie-star-dazzling. At other times I've
decided that it was his handsome profile, or his gorgeous blond hair,
or those spooky translucent blue eyes of his ... eyes that seem to
pierce right through pretense and artifice (and fabric, occasionally).
In less carnal moments, I've considered the possibility that it might
have been his honorable heart or his brilliant mind or his twisted
sense of humor that won me over.
in the end ... it
always seems to come back to the shoulders.
brand-new experience for me at the time: something different and
exciting and vaguely exotic. Before David, my previous two or three or
eleven romantic partners had been -- how shall I put this? --
in the shoulder department. They were otherwise normal, healthy,
attractive men with no glaring physical deformities, no
incurable skin diseases, no mullets (except for my ex-husband). But
they also had no shoulders to speak of. At least,
not compared to David.
is "ever-so-slightly deficient" in the shoulder department.)
saw him striding down
the concourse towards me, four years ago tonight, and I remember
thinking Wow! He's so much
bigger than I'd imagined! Bigger
in the physical sense -- taller, sturdier, hunkier, handsomer -- but
bigger also in personality and in spirit and in sheer life force. I'd
picked up on some of those *Life Force Molecules* in the chat room and
on the phone, over the years. But until you actually meet an online
acquaintance face-to-face, you can't really know what they're like.
Personal experience has borne this out for us both, time and again. My
chemical reaction to David, as we stood there and exchanged that first
Hello-nice-to-meet-you hug, was
swift and visceral.
it said. Are you sure you want
to sleep on this guy's SOFA
was able to beat
it back, though ... mainly through determination, intestinal fortitude
and sheer force of will. (Plus I hadn't eaten anything but airplane
over eleven hours, and I was going to keel over right there in the
middle of the terminal unless we got some Honey Walnut Prawns into me,
stat.) After all: I wasn't in California to fall in love. I was in
California to spend time with my friend. And not just any friend,
either, but the friend who had hand-held me, long distance, through the
first forty days of my recovery. I wasn't about to fudk that up.
then he took off his
saw those remarkable
broad shoulders, sitting across the dinner table from me, and I
couldn't help myself. Those
are relationship shoulders, I
thought. Good for leaning on.
Or crying on. Or massaging with fingertips ... or sitting on top of,
topless and shrieking, at a Journey concert ... or looming above me in
thing about the
libido: once it veers off in an unholy direction, without any help from
the rest of your brain, it's pretty tough to steer it back to weather
chat and Honey Walnut Prawns. I don't know how men do it, frankly. But
somehow I managed to get a grip on my feelings -- without blushing,
even -- and finish the meal without making a fool of myself. If he was
at all aware that there were little *lust explosions* going off inside
my head (and other interesting places) for the rest of the evening, he
never let on. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure that he wasn't
finding me anywhere near as attractive as I found him ... and that was
OK. (Well. No it wasn't OK.
It was mildly depressing, actually. But it meant that the sanctity of
our friendlationship would be preserved.) We had a lovely, 100%
romance-free dinner. We talked non-stop, with no awkward silences or
uncomfortable lapses: music, kids, chat room gossip, relationships,
recovery issues. We planned our sightseeing schedule for the weekend:
The Cliff House, Haight Ashbury, The Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown,
laughed ... a lot. We made eye-contact ... a lot. We
finished each others' sentences ... a lot.
didn't touch at all,
except for once when my foot accidentally grazed his.
When dinner was over,
we went back to his tiny Alameda apartment and sat on the sofa --
maintaining a safe, discreet, wholly platonic two-foot distance from
each other, the whole time -- where we listened to Robyn Hitchcock
albums, one right after the other, until the wee hours of the morning.
All very companionable, all very comfortable, all very innocent. In
fact, I had just started to congratulate myself on my vast reserves of
willpower and restraint -- See?
This *Just Friends* stuff isn't so tough!
-- when all of a sudden he reached over, right in the middle of "I Have
A Message For You" -- and
pulled me me towards him. "Come here," he said softly. The next thing I
knew, I was sitting in the crook of his arm.
my face was mashed
into one of those remarkable broad shoulders.
you ever walked
into a room or a church or a garden, for the very first time, and known
beyond question or reason that you were
home? That's what those
shoulders were like for me, that first night, and what they've
continued to be like the past four years, as I've leaned on them and
cried on them and loaded them down with my burdens and my baggage ...
as I've rubbed them with Icy Hot and drafted behind them on the bike
trail ... as I've draped my purse across them in shopping malls, and
snuggled against them in
the middle of the night. Those shoulders have been my home. Those
shoulders are probably what cinched the deal for me, right from the
very beginning. Plus those shoulders prove that the old saying is true:
shoulders ... you can never go back.
throw a rock