Into the Trees Across the River

It’s funny that no matter how hard I try, how sure I am that I am through with my limerence, my unrequited love of a woman 30 years younger, I seem to circle around it.  I happened to see Karen the other day, down the end of the hallway from me, as she walked along an intersecting hallway.  I’d have shouted a Hi Karen! if I’d been alone, but I was in a conversation with someone, and he was talking to me at that moment. So, I simply waved to Karen, a little bit enthusiastically.  Karen saw me and waved back.  For a few moments I stared at the spot where she had been.  I was practically mesmerized.  Since I was still being spoken to, and I hate to be rude, I jerked my attention back.  The guy speaking to me noticed, and a questioning look came over him briefly, but he never stopped talking.  Later, I remembered that it was Friday, the day that Karen and I always used to have lunch, the only day she would meet me.  We never said we would not meet anymore, but it is obvious enough we will not.  So it goes, as I’ve said before.  I have no idea if she read the email I sent her, or if it just disappeared into the void with other junk mail.  Well, that Karen sighting was no big deal, although I was surprised at my reaction to seeing her, after basically having said my good-bye four months before I leave, before the time comes when there will never be another chance encounter, when she will be lost to me forever. She was never within my reach anyway.

across the river So, this weekend I have been taking it easy. Last weekend’s mountain hike fucked my feet up.  I have a bruise in the center of each heel, probably from walking across so many rockfalls along the trails, and all the other sharp rocks I couldn’t avoid, in a sea of them.  My toes, squeezed too tightly in my simple boots, were sore and raw.  No hiking in the mountains for me this weekend.  Next weekend I will head to Horseshoe Lake


Horseshoe Lake at elevation 11,750 ft.

in the Pecos wilderness area of New Mexico.  It is another 11-mile hike.  I took my other boots in and had them stretched in the toes, so they won’t pinch so badly as last weekend.  I also bought some heel cushions, just in case.   I have looked into buying a new pair of boots, but the 4E width I need was not in stock, and the salesman seemed to think I should get an H width anyway, but he would have to special order them.  I don’t know how they will fit the rest of my foot.  Well, good shoes are important, especially if  one walks a lot or hikes in the mountains at 10,000 feet.  These hikes just keep getting tougher, so I’d better get some tough shoes.

I’ve been reading Ernest Hemingway’s Across the River and Into the Trees.  It is a fascinating book, centering around an old (50 years old, to be exact) army colonel who fought in Italy during the Second World War.  It moves along slowly, telling a story of the Colonel’s return to Italy, just as Hemingway himself did. There is a duck hunt, and war reminisces, and the interplay between the Colonel and his young driver.  I didn’t know anything about the story.  I had read several other of Hemingway’s novels and short stories, and I liked him.  I saw the book in a box of books to be given away.  I took it home to read.  This weekend I found out that the story contains a major subplot, in which the Colonel has met a young woman 31 years younger, and she is madly in love with him, as he with her. Renata_Babak_Kozlovsky He, however, is dying, in an age before heart transplants.  They both know this, but the Colonel and the Italian Countess spend as much time together as possible.  There are obstacles, in that he is divorced, and the Countess should not marry such a man, but that is just a convenient excuse.  The difference in ages is discussed often.  No one begrudges them their affection for each other.  They spend a lot of time kissing, passionately, in gondolas, in the street, and everywhere they are.  Their love is wonderful, perhaps because time is short.  The Colonel takes his pills every day, but still has his “twinges” of pain in his heart.  Love and hearts, they go together.   It is so funny to think that, at least in another lifetime, in a world far away, two people of such different ages could actually love each other, if only for a short time.  To be in love so deeply before one dies – that is surely a good thing, although not for the one left behind.  But the young woman is well aware of that, and accepts it as much as she can.  The two of them pretend at times that they will have five children. Sometimes they pretend to take a train into Kansas City, sometimes they fly into Albuquerque.  It is fantasy and love and wistfulness, and romance.  It is everything I wished I could have had with Karen, who is almost the same distance apart from me as Colonel Cantwell and Countess Renata.

I always thought I must be totally insane to love a woman 30 years younger, to desire her, to pursue her, to fantasize about living together, marriage, children, and warm bodies together on the couch or in bed.  Even though we never kissed, or dated.  She only wanted a friend, especially a safe one.  She thought she was safe with me, the old man.  What she didn’t know was that men are the same always, no matter what age.  Sex is always on our minds, and women can inspire us to great heights of desire and longing.  She is a very beautiful woman, notwithstanding the bad acne that marks her face once a month when her hormones change.  She sometimes covers it with makeup, but I can see it, and I still think she is very beautiful.  In the parts of this blog that I have hidden now,  I have written of my desire to kiss her face all over, to reassure her that such things do not matter.  One time, when the coffee barista called her beautiful, as he does all the women, she reacted strangely, saying she never thought of herself that way.  But she is.  She has a body men would kill to get close to, to hold, to wrap their arms around, and fuck all night.  She doesn’t seem to believe this, although she is 28 years old, soon to be 29.  I think she has a better idea of her appeal now, because she trusts the coffee barista, and she has seen the effect she has on me.  She is a beauty, intelligent and lively, just as Renata is in Hemingway’s novel.

But, of course, any woman a man is in love with is beautiful beyond comparison to any other.  Such was my ex-wife, who I loved constantly, even as she aged and her body bulged and sagged.  Her body excited the hell out of me whenever I saw her nude or touched her.  One time, she accompanied me to Santa Fe, where I was attending some union training.  When the day was over, we sat in the hotel bar, drinking our wine.  I also had a shot of Jamison’s Irish Whiskey, since it seemed like a vacation, a party, a celebration.  She had a couple martinis.  We had not been too loving for some time, and this seemed different.  We were having a good time.  We went to our room and immediately got out of our clothes.  I got into bed and waited for her to join me.  I had forgotten about the effect altitude has on alcohol absorption.  Santa Fe, at 7000 feet above sea level, is 2000 feet higher than we were used to.  We both passed out.   I woke up five, ten, or who knows how much later to feel her naked body against mine.  I was instantly aroused, hard as a steel rod, but she was asleep, out cold.  I thought about waking her, but she had gotten very angry before when I did that.  She often slept late on the weekend, which was the only time we ever had sex anymore, but I usually woke up early and horny.  I often waited for her to wake up, although sometimes when she did she got out of bed to pee, and left me thinking she’d return.  So, sometimes I waited as long as I could, two or three hours after I’d waken up, and then tired to gently arouse her.  It pissed her off  if she wasn’t already awake, so as I lay there that night in Santa Fe, with an enduring rock-hard penis next to my naked wife, I tried to go to sleep, to relax that pulsing muscle and just enjoy the comfort of naked flesh. But I could not.  I held her body and felt her breasts in my hand and her back and her ass and her hands, but she was out cold.   I never got to sleep.  It was an agony of sweet aroused discomfort.  In the morning, when she finally awoke, I tried to interest her in sex, but she said we had sex the night before.  She believed that since we were nude, we must have had sex.  That said a lot.  It meant that, as I’d often suspected, she sometimes passed out after the sex that capped a night of drinking with whatever else we were doing on a weekend night, and she often did not even remember having sex.  Sometimes she said she only had orgasms in her sleep, but I had felt her have them when she was awake.  Of course, since she had often been drinking before that, it now meant that she probably never even remembered some nights we had sex, only the sex in the morning, which was often hurried.  She always had something to do, and liked to have sex over with as soon as possible. However, on this particular morning in Santa Fe, away from home, she had nowhere to be, so she reluctantly agreed to sex.  I was exhausted however, having been awake the entire night, aroused and frustrated.  Now, there was just no life left in me.  I tried, but such a night-long period of continuous tumescence mushroom tumescence had tired the poor muscle out.  Although we had sex later times, the divorce come not much later after that.  I often wonder if that is how she remembers me now.  It was the most aroused I had been with her in years and I lost my chance to truly satisfy myself and surprise her with the passion I had not felt in some time.  Perhaps it would have made a difference, perhaps not.  I know that I rarely drink anymore, and then only socially, and only a single glass.  I still wake up with those hard-ons, but now there is no one in bed next to me anyway.

In Hemingways’ novel, the Colonel dies of a heart attack, after having said goodbye to the Countess, shot some ducks, and is leaving Italy.  I often feel that my life is essentially over.  I did have some love and good times.  That last love though, that long, difficult and wondrous period of exciting unrequited love, that would have been the very best time in all my life, if only it could have been more than fantasy, even for a short magical time.


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