Forever and a Day


Absolutely nothing lasts forever.

Nothing lasts forever.

There may be some things that last forever.

One thing lasts forever.

You’re waiting for me in the cafe.  The place beside the old church and next to the cemetery.  The only place in the city where I can sit next to the fire and feel warm…on a night like this.  We have so much to talk about.  It’s been so many years since we’ve had a chance to sit and think of the days gone by.

You’re waiting in the cafe–I just can’t remember how to get there.

I was very young and you had an uncanny ability to determine when my diaper would be wet.  You would change it for me.  I couldn’t talk to you.  You just knew when it was time.  You held my hand when I could barely walk.  I never said a word.  You cooked my food for a thousand dinners.  You sent me off to First Grade with a clean, freshly ironed hanky in my pocket.  No matter what my grades were, you dutifully signed my report card.  On those many nights when I couldn’t sleep, too many times for a child to fear closing his eyes, you would allow me to sit with you and we would eat crackers with chives and cheese.  The black and white television blinking away in the dark living room.

You were in third grade when I looked over at you–two rows away–and watched while you tried to open an ink bottle.  You pressed it hard against your green school shift.  You’re bangs fell away from your forehead.  Years later, you allowed me my first kiss.  Still later you wore my corsage on your taffeta prom dress.  Then you would find someone else and you broke my fragile teenage heart.

I was curious about the color of your hair beneath your stiff white habit.  Your black rosary hung from your black belt around your black dress–your habit.  You taught us to be kind.  You taught us to feel guilty.  And once, you told me: “Don’t ever be afraid to say no.”  It’s taken me many years to really understand what you meant.

I lit your cigarettes.  I bought you drinks.  I slept in your bed.  We made love under three quilts when the winter was cold and dark.  We sweated on the sheets in August when it was bright afternoon and hot.

I kissed you only once.  I kissed you many times.  I kissed you in my daydreams when you were thirty feet away on the Boardwalk.  Your hair was blonde, then black and red and brown and straight and wavy.  Your eyes were blue, gray, brown, hazel and green.  You were older.  Then you were younger.

You walked down the aisle of a church to meet me at the altar.  We were happy, sad, angry, contented, miserable, joyful and jealous.

We came and went through each others lives.  My hair slowly turned from brown to white.  Your’s from jet black to salt and pepper.  You sang to me.  I couldn’t carry a tune.  We sipped ale in England and wine in France.  We walked on muddy glacier ice in Alaska.  You watched me watching the topless twenty-somethings on a beach in Jamaica.  You never missed a trick.

You said you loved me when I didn’t think I would ever be loved again.  You saved my life, not with a toss of a rope but with a phone call.

You’re waiting in the cafe.  I’m trying to hurry.  I can hardly walk.  When we sit next to each other you will somehow know if I have wet my trousers again.

Is this a hallway or a street in Paris?  I can’t remember.

But, all those memories are so sharp and clear, like everything happened yesterday, or this morning.

You will still be waiting for me, won’t you?  I remember what I said so many, many years ago:

“Nothing lasts forever.”

I was wrong.  Love lasts forever.  We love each other, don’t we?  Still?

Love last forever.  Forever and a day.






Now Arriving…

[“Oh, yes, I remember it well.” -Maurice Chevalier]

I do remember it. How often does a boy get his first kiss (and not from Mom) on an afternoon, after a remedial math class taught by a nun?
My guess is that it’s not that often. However, that ‘kiss’ has to happen somewhere, sometime in a young life. It might as well be after the nun let us out for the afternoon, convinced she had made math clear in our minds, and not knowing that three of us were heading across the Susquehanna River bridge. My girlfriend (who shall remain nameless) and her friend needed walking home. After all, it was a bright sunny (September?) day and they needed to be seen safely home to my girlfriend’s friend’s home in South Owego.
I was the man to do the manly thing and walk them home,
The events that follow lasted, to me, an hour. In reality, it was all over in a few minutes.
But those minutes can and do have echoes that are heard for years to come.
My girlfriend’s friend (I’ll call her Cassandra) had a certain part to play that afternoon. But, only she knew that part. I didn’t. I wasn’t expecting what happened next.
Cassie ran and hid behind the station. I recall there was no whistle, no Mr. Conductor, no Ticketmaster, no Pullman. It was just the three of us on the platform.
But, then there was only two. My girlfriend and me.
I think she sensed my intention because she ran off a short distance and stood in an empty doorway.
She looked at me. In a nanosecond, I grew up a little for I totally comprehended what she wanted…and what I had been desperate for for about three years.
I walked over to her and took her shoulders in my hands.

Well, something has to be left to the imagination.