Shades of Summer

 

I haven’t been online much lately. The dating sites that is. Too much disappointment and I’ve lost any expectation that my man is just a click away. To be honest, I’m seeing Re-Run-Ron, and he is just what his name says. We had a one year live-in relationship a couple of years ago. It was months of domestic comfort and euphoria and then it all came crashing down on his little cabin by the ocean. Every nuance, every bothersome personal habit of his irked me to the point that I told him I wanted to go home for a while. He was angry and hurt. The next day he boxed up all my pots and pans, bags of clothing and dumped everything just outside my door. He rapped angrily and when I answered, shock registering on my face, he simply said…you can’t just do what you did without some sort of reaction from me. Fair is fair. Okay, I said, if that’s how you feel, let’s just end it. And that was that.

He called me up last week and perhaps due to loneliness on both our parts, we’re seeing each other again. Dinners, poker games out on his patio across from the ocean, with the bubbling and soothing sound of the creek just outside his door. Again, the relaxing bliss. Like donning a well-worn comfy housecoat. But I am cautious. The bedroom is out of bounds at this point. I don’t want to leap into that fire again without careful consideration.

It was on my mind the day that I encountered Kevin, that what I needed in my life is a gay friend. All single women could benefit from this, I figure. For me, how great it would be to share things like: hairdressers, clothing tips, man tips, (who better?) and also, I wanted him to own a truck. It’s always a problem for women who are single to move things, to buy large items like a freezer from the store and move it into their condo. And at fifty dollars a pop to pay a guy with a truck, the sale you just managed to snag, goes up considerably in price. So, for me, a gay man, whose only interest in you is friendship, advice, fashion ideas, decorating input and by chance owns a truck, is what I think my life is lacking.

I was riding my bike along the seawall when I stopped at a street vendor and bought a foot long hot dog with all the decadent trimmings. I noticed this man behind me as I sprinkled onions and olives. Good-looking, with chiseled Harlequin Romance hero looks, shirtless, amazing body. His hair was trailing down his neck, reddish blonde, nicely trimmed short beard and moustache. He was a romance-starved sight to behold. However, the Hawaiian shells around his neck seemed suspiciously gay to me. I walked away thinking, why is it the best looking guys play for the other team? Maybe he owned a truck?

I sat on a bench and munched down on my lunch. He sat next to me. I gave him a sidelong glance behind my shades. We sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the waves and people watching. The tattooed bodies, the blue-haired teeny-boopers with piercings too numerous to count. Everyone sporting broad smiles after so many sunless days.

“He sure makes a good hot dog,” he spoke, between bites.

“Yes, he does. Decadent, but you gotta enjoy life and eat a hot dog once in a while.”

We smiled at each other.

“Brave soul,” I pointed to a figure in the water.

And then we did the usual Vancouverite lament about the wet and cool weather we’d been experiencing.

“You live around here?” I asked.

“Yes, just walking distance actually.”

“Oh, nice.”

I don’t know how our conversation detoured from the small talk that it was in the beginning to in-depth, revealing dialogue that we experienced after the last crumbs of our lunch were brushed away. But that’s what happened. I discovered that he worked with the down and outers living in the East side, notorious for drugs dealers, mental illness and dark alleyway stabbings.

“There are many areas of the East side that I won’t walk down,” he revealed.

“Really?”

“Oh yeah. There are people down there, and you don’t read about this in the paper, that will stick you just to hurt you. Just to get five bucks off you. No value whatsoever for human life. No, I won’t go down there.”

“So that’s what you do? You help them?”

“Yes. I counsel, feed, help, shelter. I work for the Salvation Army. I work with guys coming out of prison as well.”

“That is such interesting work. Do you find it difficult working with those men?”

“No. I know the difference between their pain and my pain. I don’t take it on.”.

And like an onion he willingly peeled off the layers.

“I used to live in suburbia. I played the game, workaholic, and was immersed in things and objects. I lived the materialistic life. I had to have it all. The cars, the beautiful home, and all the trappings. Then I got sick. I had a heart attack,” he looked over at me. “Many mini-strokes later, I realized I had to change. I had to stop all the bad stuff I was taking. It was killing me. I moved here, sold my car, I walk everywhere.”

“What a change!”

“Yeah. Well you see, I had things happen during that time. I started drinking again. Fell right off the wagon as they say. Took a long time to get back on. Then I was good for a while. Then it happened again and my relationship ended. She left. And I understand. I deserved that. Then all the other health problems happened. I was on the liver machine.”

“Oh…so now you’re okay?”

“Yes.”

“No heart medication?”

“None.”

We listened to the waves and the bright sparkles on the ocean mesmerized me.

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I work with developmentally disabled individuals. And with the elderly too.”

“So you have a big heart?” he turned to me suddenly with this shy little smile. “And you’re patient?”

“I guess so,” I turned away, suddenly embarrassed.

He took his sunglasses off.

Aquamarine eyes. The color that redheads have. Like the sky.

I left mine on.

“So you counsel men as they are coming back into society? You must find that very gratifying,” I said to him. and turned back to the water.

“I love it. I need to go to school now, they say, to get my accreditation. That will take two years. I dunno if that’s what I want to do. But, yeah, I really like it. I’m talking to a guy right now who is in and he’s been incarcerated for 40 years! Can you imagine that?”

“No, I can’t. So you’re going to help him get a place and that kind of thing?”

“Yes, I can do that. Actually I’ve been in the system myself,” he turned again to me with those eyes.

“Oh…”

“Yeah, I was in twice. Once when I was a young guy and then in for a couple months. For a drinking related thing…”

He looked away from me with this information.

“So you have an understanding then.”

“I do.”

“They would look at you with a certain respect I would think. Here’s a guy who was in and now obviously is doing okay.”

He nodded his head.

I felt his strength and his vulnerability. I felt a supercharged connection to this man and not only due to his movie star looks. This was not my potential gay friend with a truck. This was something else.

“Adrienne. It was so nice chatting with you,” I introduced myself and extended my hand.

He beamed. He took my hand in his and I felt this chemical reaction surge through me. He squeezed hard enough to make me feel at complete attention to him. He captured me. And he lingered there. And then he released me.

“How far to Second Beach? Do you know?” he asked.

“Let’s see. I ride there so it’s a longer way. I think about a half a mile, I would say. I’m going there too.”

“Okay. I’ll see you there. I’ll watch for you.”

And that was that.

I rode the seawall, weaving in and out passing rollerbladers and families with children on tiny bikes with little bells on the front.

“To your left,” I warned many of them as I zoomed by in the sunshine.

I thought about him, our conversation. My hand still tingled from his touch. How different it was, this encounter, without the internet connection. Two complete strangers on a bench sharing so much and feeling a bond. How refreshing it was. I felt nervous suddenly, thinking about seeing him again. What if he was just being polite about watching for me? Do I really want to continue on with this? Liver machine? Is that an indication as to how far the damage to his body has gone? Off the wagon twice? A bit of a risk to say the least. Almost an hour later, I rounded the curve, past the mermaid statue and approached Third Beach. I rode a little further and thought I spotted him standing, putting sunscreen on his legs. He had his head down. I think it was him. Not sure. My heart pounded. I went on a little further to where the bike stands were and locked my bike up. I moved onto the beach by an unoccupied log and kicked my shoes off. The hot sand leaked between my toes. Ahhh, summer. I spread my things out, laid down and put a hat over my face.

Every few minutes I sat up and looked around for him. I fell asleep lulled by the sound of people riding and walking past. Much later I gathered my things, mounted my bike again and made my way down the seawall. I rounded a corner and there I realized, was Second Beach. I was at the wrong place.

Oh well.

Soon I passed the hot dog stand. I thought I heard my name being called. I turned my head slightly, but kept on going.

Some things are perfect just the way they are.

This is Adrienne, reporting to you from the beaches of Vancouver.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Shades of Summer”
  1. Gaboo says:

    Oh, Adrienne. (It was funny that you went to the wrong beach.) Missed your tales. Aah, the might-have-beens. Haven’t visited the beach yet this summer and this took me there. Thanks for the read!

  2. Gaboo says:

    If you hover the pointer over the picture, it reads like they are ducks, but those would be the goosiest ducks that I ever saw.

    • Adrienne S Moody says:

      Thanks for the read, g. Yes, the wrong beach. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be more than it was. I will admit that I’m heading back there this week: same day, same time, same hot dog stand. I’m a hopeless romantic!

      xoxo

      p.s. My ducks are never in a row. :-)

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