There’s an emotional distance I couldn’t have imagined before. Giving up on Karen seemed to put me into a euphoric state of relief, relief that I wouldn’t have those haunting lows of unrequited desire and longing, after each time I was with her, or after my dreams were over, or sent her an email she’d never answer. Instead, I found myself unemotional, with a depression-like lack of interest in anyone.
I saw my old girlfriend Elaine, and hung out with her a little. She was one of those great loves in my entire life, the whole reason I’d moved to New Mexico in the first place, and the reason I’d stayed even after that was over. I found other reasons to stay eventually. Since she’s divorced now, and I’m divorced, the timing is perfect, but the spark just isn’t there. I would think that I’d jump at the chance to be with someone, so I wouldn’t feel the emptiness so much, but, I’ve gotten used to it. She was a woman I loved back then, and she is very similar still, but I don’t really want anyone. She is like an echo in my head, a dim memory that reverberates, but falls off in intensity.
I don’t hate my ex-wife, the dragon, anymore, although I briefly wanted to see her head explode after she came between me and my step-daughter. Elaine wanted to get revenge on her for me, which brought me out of that! I simply don’t care enough about her anymore, after being in love with her all those years, to want to even hate her anymore. She is another echo. I remember the feeling, but I don’t feel it. Odd.
Irene, my wife in between Elaine and the dragon, works nearby. I see her from time to time, or get an email from her. She was nice enough to send me pictures of her kids, getting married, their kids, and pictures of herself and her guy. She is a very nice woman, but even if she were available, she is like another echo. There were feelings there once, but where are they now? I used to say that once I loved someone, I loved them. How could I forget that I loved someone? I figured either you do or you don’t. Once you do, there’s no end to it, unless you didn’t love in the first place.
Echoes of feelings, from beginning to end: Teresa my amazingly beautiful 4th-cousin; I wanted to marry her. Kathy, who I thought I was in love with when I started life on my own; she filled me with desire. Sue, who brightened up my life like a supernova; I was so hot for her. Bonnie, who I went to classes with, and drove around town with in her little sports car; I wanted her so bad. Echoes now.
Echoes of sex and love. Geri, my first lover; who disappeared into a mental hospital in Texas; she left me so confused. Polly, the Zionist I argued with about the Palestinians. She had been a virgin, but she left for DC, and then for Israel. Bunny, the first married woman I had sex with; that was weird. She had four kids; one from her boyfriend killed in Vietnam, three with her husband. Her trucker husband was on the road a lot and wanted to kill me later, but they divorced instead, and, after Bunny told me in tears that she’d missed a lot of her pills, gotten pregnant and aborted it, I pulled away. Linda Tatta, the hot Puerto Rican/Italian mix from the projects in NYC. A beautiful woman, smart. I wanted to marry her. She had other guys around, and there was the venereal disease scare that one time. I became a little crazy then; thought she was doing coke, and scared her off. The nurse, an older woman whose last boyfriend had done strange things with knotted plastic bags in her butt. I can’t remember what the sex was like. I know I wasn’t into kinky. Then, I met Leah at a Sci-Fi convention. Leah, who was all about sex, and sex, and sex. Hoo boy; did we ever have sex! I can’t recall if it was ever more than ten times in a single day, we were at it almost all the time, until I left town on my first bicycle trip. We wrote, but by the time I made it back into town, that was just over. Cathy, the dollmaker, divorced, with a daughter, in Scottsdale; we had so much fun together in the desert, and secretly in bed in her rich parent’s house; I left her to continue my bicycle travels, and never made it back. Debbie, a bicyclist I met on the road, and she said I touched something deep inside her; but I had already met Elaine, and I had given her my heart.
The echoes pile up and interfere with each other, like multiple stones dropped into a pond. But the pond is not still, and much more than a 2-dimensional surface is disturbed.
Jody, who I met at a commune in Virginia; she was a Native-American beauty, and her serenity touched me. The utopian commune frowned on monogamy however, and I was already committed to a return to New Mexico by then; I continued my bicycling. I met Marcy, and we drifted sideways a moment, had wild sex, and it was the briefest time imaginable. When next I saw her, it was over, just an echo. The echoes keep coming, and coming. Many of them center around sex. Mary, the carny while I worked for a traveling show. Cindy, the college student I met in Oklahoma. Sheila at the foundry in Arizona. Amy, a friend of Bunny’s; we found a hayloft and pounded that prickly straw into gold. The pregnant woman at the commune in Maryland. The friend of a friend in the cat costume, in a hammock when I first returned to my hometown. Shirley, an older woman, a receptionist at the University while I was still working concrete.
Getting my first blow job in the middle seat of a van full of sleeping people on the road between Albuquerque and New York; that was surreal. Had anyone heard? Did they all know? or care? I was overloaded on sensations then, and can’t remember her name 30 years later.
Jane, the bisexual friend of my roommate. Chris, with the stiff, fake boobs, and Mary, the med student, Rose, the Mormon-Native American mystic, and Maria, the ex-nun from Columbia, and Karen, the air-traffic controller, and Carla, the smoker, from LA. Sigh, too many choices to make just one.
Judy swept into my life, a younger married woman while I was still with Elaine, and the sex was good, and she liked me so much, it seemed. After my relationship with Elaine was over, I saw a little of Judy, but she was married. Even when she finally divorced, I wasn’t sure about her. At a dance one evening in the old hotel downtown, I was ready to ask her to move in with me, daughter and all, but she disappeared with Bruce, of the bad teeth, from Guadalupita in northern New Mexico, who was much more sure about her. I visited her a couple times, but she and Bruce were a definite item. There was Teresa, the meth dealer supporting her daughter; she wanted me to put meth on my penis like people did with cocaine. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make a choice there; she drove off to start a new life in Colorado.
Benay was there right after Elaine. Even while I met other people, we spent so many nights together for five years that we were almost a couple, but not quite. She had two kids, but they lived with their father in Texas. She and I had wonderful sex, but not much else. She met a professor who taught at the University and she was in love with him. He traveled a lot, had an ex too, and wasn’t with her a lot, so she called me, and I’d come over, any time of the night. She had vodka in a water bottle by the bed every night. The pregnancy and abortion were our last acts together too.
When I met Lorraine, I thought I’d found a good replacement for Elaine. She was warm and sensual and we had a year-long friendship before we ever had sex, but only the week before she left town. She called me from Colorado; she was pregnant too, and she needed money for the abortion. I seemed to attract women then for sex, but not for the real life together, raising kids and all such stuff. Such sad, gut-wrenching echoes. Even when she moved back, things didn’t work out.
I spent some time alone with the echoes for awhile. I tried to be alone, but Jane, the cowgirl who rented the place out back was just too interesting to resist. I was trying to sort out my feelings for Elaine, and Lorraine, and Benay, but I was a little put off by the smell of horses she brought into bed with her. A couple guys moved into her place with her. I didn’t see her much after that, except in passing.
One day I met Vickie; I don’t know where. She worked in administration in the school system here. She is very intelligent and the most incredible sexual being I’ve ever met. She once had me lay perfectly still while she fucked me! I was impressed. She was divorced too; had a son. I kept an eye on him while she went off to a conference in Mexico, but while she was gone I met my first wife Irene. When Vickie came back, I had to make a choice. I was still seeing Benay too. One day I ended up, purely by luck, having sex with all three of them on the same day. That is an echo that used to cheer me up, but it seems so far away now.
Before marrying Irene, I went off to Peru to connect with a pen-pal there, a woman, of course. She looked beautiful in her pictures, but I didn’t feel attracted to her when I met her. We flew off to Cusco and visited Machu Picchu. I was afraid to get her pregnant, and she got an IUD implanted in a Cusco clinic while we were there. Sex was awkward. We also had language problems. My Spanish was rudimentary, and her English lacked understanding; a friend of hers had been helping her translate letters. When my vacation there was over, she cried into her dad’s chest while I sat on the bed watching Spanish-language TV with them, her mom and her bother and sister-in-law. I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t promised her anything, and I couldn’t stay.
As soon as I got back from Peru, I moved in with Irene. After a year together, we went on vacation and got married. She had two kids, and it seemed best to marry instead of shack up. I was her third husband. That lasted six years, but we dated for a year after the divorce. It still didn’t work. Celia came after that, but when I told her I didn’t love her or want to marry her, she got mad. It was brief.
All these echoes. Some patterns there. Some destructive interference, just like sound waves can cancel each other out, or add up to white noise. I screwed up so many times, misunderstood so much, made so many stupid choices. It’s no wonder I find myself alone now. I guess I can’t really complain.