I have been blessed in uncounted ways in my life. I have enjoyed the benefits of a loving and supportive family, an excellent education funded mostly by scholarships, generally good health, and work that is challenging, worthwhile and fun. I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to a wide range of exotic places. I'm humbly thankful for whatever writing talent I have and for the persistence required to turn that talent into a semi-career.
When I think about it, though, what I am most thankful for is the fact that my husband didn't give up when I tried to brush him off.
Let me explain...
Romance is the realm of love at first sight, but when I met K., I tried to discourage his obvious interest. The last thing I needed was another man in my life. To start with, we lived 3000 miles away from each other. He lived on the east coast, where he was studying towards a PhD. Meanwhile, on the west coast, where I was working at my first job out of graduate school, I was juggling three different lovers.
I know that this may sound a bit shocking to some readers, but at the time I was exploring my sexual self and trying to figure out what I needed in a romantic relationship. I wasn't lying to anyone; each of the men I was seeing knew about the others. I was just having some difficulty deciding which if any of them was Mr. Right. In fact, I wasn't sure that I subscribed to the concept of one perfect mate.
Anyway, K. came up to me at a scientific conference on the east coast, where I had just made a presentation describing my research. He asked me some intelligent questions about my paper, but I could tell he was more interested in me as a woman than as a colleague. I liked him, but I was already reeling from the complications in my love life. I definitely didn't think I could handle yet another lover. I was polite but distant. K. joined me at the welcome cocktail party that evening. I pointedly ignored him, flirting instead with the cute British guy who was also part of the crowd.
K. did not give up. He invited me to lunch the following day. I accepted (hey, I had to eat!) and found him to be articulate and unpretentious. He was quite a bit older than I and had led a fascinating, unconventional life. As I recall, we talked about relationships. What was most remarkable about our interactions was the level of comfort. I barely knew him, yet it seemed as though we had been friends a long time.
Still, I held back. He took the offensive. He was driving up to Worcester (my home town) from the conference that afternoon. Would I like a ride? Certainly it was better than going by bus as I had planned. The three hour trip was filled with sexual tension. He was beginning to win me over.
He dropped me at my parents' house and asked if I wanted to have dinner that evening. Of course I agreed. We dined at a Japanese restaurant where he regaled me with tales of his travels in Europe and Asia. I urged him on, eager to hear more. Near the end of the meal, he looked me in the eye and said,
“You know, I'm looking for someone to travel with.” I was more or less hooked.
I flew back to California the next day. For the next six months we wrote and called each other. The other men in my life transformed themselves from lovers to friends. When I came home to Massachusetts for Christmas, it seemed completely natural that K. would return with me to the west coast to share my apartment. After the holidays, we set out together on a three week cross-country odyssey. We were still relative strangers, yet traveled together as if we had known each other for years.
On that trip, in a motel in Taos, New Mexico, K. proposed to me. I told him to wait a year and then ask me again.
That was thirty eight years ago. I'm grateful every day for his love, his support, his companionship, even his criticism. We are not only lovers but also partners and collaborators. We work together as well as play together. I am amazed by the strength and longevity of our connection.
When we met, I thought that it was unlikely that I would ever marry. I couldn't imagine that there existed one man who could keep me interested over the long term, and I didn't want a string of divorces like my aunts.
I was wrong. And now I'm eternally grateful.