Sep. 20, 2020

THIRTY YEARS AGO YET...IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY.

THIRTY YEARS. That's right. Wednesday, September 16...less than one week ago, I received an email from Kevin Loud. I haven't seen or heard from him in thirty years but---I remember Kevin like it was yesterday.

His message said: "Sally, Just thinking of you the other night and thought I would say hi and hope your doing alright. Kevin". Thirty Years is almost an eternity except...when it involves the heart--especially My Heart.

I responded with a positive response and...for the next three days...our email exchanges became a regular conversation of questions and answers. I mentioned I'd shared our picture together--this one--in the book and I'd also shared how he'd broken my heart. He ordered my book and it was expected to reach him on Saturday, September 19. Nothing about our present-day status was discussed--like marriages, divorces, current status---only memories from the past. It seems Kevin couldn't remember exactly how "we" ended the relationship. Rather than emotionally-returning to the "scene of the crime"...I continued to explain that I'd covered everything in the book.

The last email he sent was late Friday evening, September 18, and it was positive, glowing, and full of promises to "Stay Close"...to "Always Love Me" and .....whatever. I replied with a kind and thoughtful AND honest message..how I was happy he had thought of me...that I still loved him...and had no regrets. That was the last of our communications.

It took almost all of Saturday before I realized he would never respond after reading about my "broken heart". Apparently, since I was traveling the most remote parts of China, Kevin never expected me to learn about his marriage and new baby.

Selfish, narcissistic "men" never change...never "grow-up"...and...just keep charming women with their "Bad Boy" ways.  Yes, I still love Kevin...even after thirty years but...I don't like him.

FROM MY BOOK: 

"Song lyrics are my poetry. Lyrics set to music, so easily identify with different people and events in my life. Sure, I’m a romantic but it’s me--- it’s the essence of who I am.

Sitting at a table in one of Houston’s most elegant Hotels and talking with new friends, I glanced at the crowded bar across the room and locked eyes with a handsome, stylishly-dressed young man.

At that moment, I thought of a line from the song, “Some Enchanted Evening.” In case you aren’t familiar with that particular song, it’s from the Broadway Production: SOUTH PACIFIC. At some point, it was turned into a popular movie with the same title.  Eyeing the stranger, the lyrics sang to me:

 “Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger—you may see a stranger—across a crowded room. And somehow you know, you know even then—that somewhere you’ll see him, again—and again.”

The stranger walked over, introduced himself as Kevin Loud, and asked me to dance. It was the beginning of a fascinating romance. I loved everything about Kevin and, by the end of our third week together, I stopped seeing other men. 

Fourteen years younger than me, I’d watched Kevin “grow up” on Television. I easily remember 1973, the year I divorced; the year Public Broadcasting (PBS) launched a new television series called: An American Family. Cameras followed the “typical” American family—the Loud Family—as each family member went about his/her “normal” day. No one could have imagined that, decades later, the twelve hour series would be recognized as America’s first reality television show.

My daily schedule was tight: As Shell Oil's official loaned executive to Greater Houston’s United Way, I spent every working day representing the Giant Oil Corporation. Of course, with the Great Wall Journey as my future goal, I ran twelve miles daily—six miles in the early morning and another six miles after work. And, don't forget the three mornings each week, from 9-12, when I worked-out in the fitness center at Rice University.

But, I made time for Kevin. We were both Buddy Holly fans and spent hours riding around Houston, listening to Kevin’s Buddy Holly collection.  We joined together to “sing-along with Buddy” to such favorites as That’ll Be the Day and Peggy Sue. We danced together, ran together, and shared an intimacy--both intense and unforgettable. Being in love makes life better—at any age.

Kevin and I spent my last night in Houston, together. Early the next day, I was flying to China in preparation for my Great Wall Journey. I recall Kevin waking me about 2 am: “Sally, please talk to me. I want us to get married but you keep saying you don’t want any more children. Having a son is important to me but I want a son with you. Would you change your mind if I asked—just one more time? I have to know before you leave me tomorrow.” Barely awake, I kissed him. It was time to share what I’d recently learned from my doctor.

One week earlier, I’d had a complete medical check-up prior to leaving for China and my Great Wall Journey. All the test results were perfect… except for one. The doctor urged me to postpone my China trip because tests showed I was menopausal. He feared my body, under such intense physical stress, could experience any number of medical issues. Running in China’s most primitive countryside, so far from medical support and emergency treatment, the doctor expressed fear for my life.

 I listened and agreed to take the hormones he prescribed but, I refused to postpone my China Adventure.

Menopause was a sign that, at forty nine, my female body parts were retiring, taking a permanent rest. I hoped Kevin would understand I could never get pregnant again; having children was no longer a choice. Regardless of how I felt about having a baby—it would now be impossible. Neither of us slept. There were more questions but no-more answers. Knowing the future held no guarantees for the two of us---we wrapped ourselves inside each other and held on tight.

Seven months later, after successfully completing the first-ever journey of ALL THE WALL, I returned to Houston.  Not knowing how long I’d be in China, I’d relinquished my Houston apartment and shipped my furniture to my youngest daughter  in New York City; my cats had taken-up residency with my oldest daughter in Atlanta; while my Jeep and many personal items stayed in Pine Bluff with my mother. Who could have predicted that, once again, my mother would control my life?

Before my plane landed, my mother announced to the throng of waiting reporters that “My daughter has had her fun and now—Sally’s obligation is to me, her Mother”.  I would be returning to Pine Bluff to take care of her.  

Two days later, I answered the phone at my mother’s house and Kevin was on the other end. In minutes we were emotionally together again—back where we’d been—seven months earlier. Saying he was in Oklahoma City on business (a likely story) Kevin asked if I could meet him in Little Rock the next day. Beyond excited, I said YES.

I probably don’t have to tell you about romantic reunions; about how it feels-- after almost one year-- to reunite with someone you love.  Yes, I loved Kevin....he loved me....and our reunion was worth the wait. I agreed to join him in Houston…just as soon as I could “break-free” of my mother. Before our last good-bye kiss, Kevin made me promise to call him the next evening—just to talk.

For me, there are no coincidences. Everything in my life happens for a reason and it’s always based on perfect timing.  If you’ve read any or all of my story, I think you’ll agree.  I’ve experienced too many “chance meetings” and “split-second happenings” for even one event to be considered a “coincidence”.

I returned to Pine Bluff. On the way home I noticed my brakes weren’t working well so I made an appointment to have my jeep checked.   The next morning, walking into the auto repair shop’s waiting room, I was amused at all the outdated magazines stacked high-up on a table.  Having been away from the United States for so long, it might be fun to play “catch up” with some old news.

Randomly selecting a PEOPLE Magazine from the middle of the over-flowing stack, I sat down to read. It took only seconds to be reminded, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.”

On the cover of that randomly-selected PEOPLE Magazine-- dated eight months earlier-- sat my present Love--Kevin Loud-- holding a baby. Seated next to Kevin was a woman, with her arm around a young girl.

 The caption under the picture read: “Kevin Loud, a member of the famous Loud Family, is shown with his new son, his wife, and stepdaughter.”

Who knows why I chose to keep my promise to call Kevin that night. When a woman answered, I asked to speak with Kevin. In response, I heard “This is Kevin’s wife, can I say whose calling?”

I hung up the phone. Regardless of “who, what, why, how, or when”---- Kevin and I had nothing to talk about. All those “Some Enchanted Evenings” were over. Kevin had become just another “stranger across a crowded room.”