When I was twenty-something, way back in the 1980's, an entire lifetime ago, one marriage and two children and four cats ago, I met a man who would change my life forever. I didn't really know that then. I didn't really know what unconditional love meant back then in my youth, or what it meant to have a soul mate. I didn't understand the mysteries of love, nor did I grasp the levels of feeling that one could have for another human being. I was twenty-something! I barely knew how to get myself to a job in the morning or keep my house clean. So, to discover this man...this love....was really wasted on my youth.
We met in a bar. He played guitar in a rock band in my small hometown. I was there with friends from work, drinking tequila shots with beer back, probably wearing my spaghetti strap, peach-colored OPI sundress. And jute wedge sandals. He wore tight, tight jeans and turned around a lot to offer me a clear view. He was handsome and sexy and talented and had a way with a love song. When I watched him touch his guitar, I wished it was me he was touching. More importantly, he was a man. Not a boy. Not like the boys I'd dated in the past. A man with a career and a Mazda RX-7.
He seemed to fancy me as well. He came over to our table to talk to me and I fell into those deep brown eyes like I was falling into pools of chocolate. Sweet and rich, with promises of secret kisses. My friends and I began to frequent the bar. What do they call girls like us? Oh yeah....groupies. I found out he had a girlfriend, but that it wasn't going so well. I, too, was in another relationship and that wasn't going so well either. I believe we secretly both knew that neither of those relationships would stand a chance against the chemistry we had for each other.
Soon, those other people...those other relationships...fell by the wayside. We were fairly inseparable, taking all of our meals together in local restaurants, going on weekend trips to San Diego to sail and visit his favorite Italian place, trips to the snow of Flagstaff, bon fire parties in the desert, playing golf while drinking champagne from the bottle, and of course...the music. Always the music. The bars, the gigs, the road trips, the jam sessions. Watching him set up, watching him tear down. Always in those tight, tight jeans.
There was no doubt in my mind that he was the love of my life. But he was young...only 25...and quite popular with the ladies. I knew I wasn't the only one. Still, I clung fiercely to the thought that he would eventually realize that I was his true love. As luck would have it, it just didn't work out that way.
I moved away but we were never far from each other’s thoughts. We saw each other in between relationships, spent lovely weekends together in a variety of locales. We never lived in the same city at the same time, but we simply could not stay away from each other for any long period of time. Until the day that we could. And then we did. We had seen each other over a period of ten years and then one day, we just didn't see each other...or even talk...anymore.
But I missed him always. When I was getting married, I wanted him to know. When I got pregnant, both times, I emailed to tell him. He was in a long-term relationship by that time. We had both moved on to new lives. I was happy in my marriage...very happy at the time. And yet....I still had dreams about him from time to time and woke from them with excruciating sadness. I didn't understand how I could be so happy in my new life and at the same time, feel such loss. Each time, I shook it off. Well, shook it off after feeling blue for an entire day. It made no sense, but it happened at least once monthly. For many years.
Fast forward to 2006. I accepted a job on a cruise ship to sing for a small tour group of women. We sailed from San Pedro to Catalina to San Diego to Ensenada and back to San Pedro again. I love Catalina and so I made sure to disembark there and wandered the small sea-side city alone. It was such a lovely day. A clear blue August sky. As I made my way back to the tender boat, I passed a small psychic shop. I thought it would be a hoot to have my palm read. I didn't really bargain for what the psychic would tell me.
She said that whatever my job was, I was loved and appreciated and would do well in it. She said that I was in a very unhappy relationship (married at the time) and that I would eventually understand that it was not good for either of us. I nodded solemnly. Slowly, she told me she saw that there was a man who thought fondly of me and often and that I had similar thoughts of him. She could not see his face or other details, but said she saw two P's. I think all of the blood must have drained from my face, because she asked if I was alright. Yes, of course. That man...the love of my life...his initials were P.P.
I took this as a sign. I had to see where he was, who he was with, hear his voice. I got back to the ship and, with fingers shaking almost uncontrollably, I called information and got his number. The phone rang...twice...he answered. When I told him it was me, I could hear in his voice the disbelief. Then the excitement. He was giving a guitar lesson, except now he played jazz. He called me back later that day and we talked for hours.
Let me please point out that I was not looking for an opportunity to have a side relationship. I had missed this man, as a human being in my life, for many, many years. When we finally saw each other a year later, after my separation and my husband had moved out, after many late night phone calls and hints of romance, after seventeen years of not seeing one another....it was as though no time had passed at all. It was the same magical connection we had always had. Except this time, it was between two grownups. I had found him....again.
Now, five years later since that cruise ship phone call, I still marvel at the fact that I did not hesitate to call him. That somehow, I knew it was the right thing to do. I think of this sometimes, when I look across the room at him, playing his guitar, and he smiles at me. Without a doubt, he is the love of my life and the best thing I ever found...twice.