Cyber Affair 1
Barbara and I had been conversing with each other through an author’s web site, via the internet, for six or so months and after a month or two of poet, author, friendly enough but fairly formal back and forth mostly positive criticism of each other’s work, the tone of our Emails changed from, what one might refer to as, well, friendly/formal to what one might refer to as, minimally, flirtatious and soon went beyond “minimally” as in some of our written conversations, I know that I did, and I think she had also skirted the word “honey.” Then, in a short time, more than a few times the word “love” slipped into our conversations, which could have been deleted, but wasn’t.
Two months ago, when “writersplace.net”, our authors web site began looking for three of our most popular, most widely followed commercially unpublished poets, Barbara’s name came up and the three Writers Place poets were invited to a poetry competition in Chicago to each read, depending on length, two or three of their favorite poems, the prize being the hard back publishing of the winners first book of poetry along with a guaranteed placement in at least one major book marketing chain.”
I am an older, seventy-four old man and Barbara is... Twenty-four years my junior, to me, Barbara is young woman.
Due to a care-giving obligation on her part that does not allow us... my sixty-four year old girl friend and myself to live together or to marry. Being in a ongoing, long, long-term committed relationship, finding myself cooling because “long term” had stretched into, seemingly, forever, this young woman that I met through “Writers Place”, this, to me, young woman that – as one who never cared for or even attempted to try to understand poetry – Barbara opened a new world of beauty to me and, to be honest, I, irrationally…
Irrationality being a major factor here because Barbara, for some reason, flatly refused to show a picture of herself so I had not the slightest idea what she looked like, however…
Barbara opened a new world of beauty to me and, to be honest, I, irrationally fell in love with her through her writing and our – as she lives in Long Island, New York and I about forty-five miles north-west of Los Angeles – I fell in love with Barbara due to her poetry and our long distance computer generated conversations, and, so I gathered from Barbara’s words and the slant of some of her poems that I know were written for and to me, I was rather sure and, irrationally, very irrationally hoped her feelings were mutual.
Always knowing, thinking, hoping that there would be some way for us to finally meet, for us to finally “break bread” together, for us to sit across a table, finally able to look into the eyes of the other and then...?
Not knowing what Barbara looked like and knowing myself to be somewhat of a shallow male I really had no idea where our meeting might lead, but if our meeting led to nothing more than a thoroughly platonic friendship — though I truly was hoping for more— I would settle then for a platonic friendship.
Okay, I know, seeing as Barbara is married and lives 3,000 miles from me and has a Down's syndrome sister along with her mother that she helps to take care of to say nothing of our twenty-four year age difference, I know that whatever might happen on this weekend would — platonic or not— most probably end when we say goodbye on Sunday afternoon.
“Congratulations, Barb!” I had written. Crossing my fingers, I asked, “Is your husband going to Chicago with you?”
“No,” she wrote. “He has absolutely no interest in my writing,” adding rather sourly, “or anything I do.”
Letting my breath out, “Tell you what, as your greatest rooter, would you mind if I joined you in Chicago?”
From the other end of the country there came an immediate answer, “Mitchell, I would love to have you join me in Chicago!”
“Great!” I wrote, “Thank you! Where are you staying?”
Emails going quickly back and forth:
“They’ve reserved rooms for us for the eighteenth and nineteenth at the Allerton on Michigan Avenue.”
Looking at my appointment book, “The eighteenth and nineteenth of June,” I repeated.
“The competition starts at 9:00 am Saturday so yes," she wrote, "I’ll be there sometime Friday afternoon.”
“Have you made plane reservations yet?” I asked.
“No. I figured I have plenty of time, so thought I’d wait a while.”
Not quite sure what I was going to tell my girlfriend, “I think I’ll call as soon as we’re through talking, then for hotel reservations, too.”
“Okay, why don’t you make them, then maybe... Write back and I’ll see if I can land at about the same time so we can go to the hotel together.”
“Good idea. I’ll talk to you later, Barb.”
“Yes, Mitchie, I’m looking forward to meeting you.... Bye.”
To be continued
©January 30, 2012 / Mark M. Lichterman