January 18, 2023
I was thinking about some of the nicest and most loving things men have done for me. There are so many. It’s easy to think about all the ways I’ve been wronged, but there have been some incredible men in my life who have done incredible things for me. Those are memories I treasure and reminisce upon, on ugly, frozen, stay-at-home winter days like this.
I hadn’t been dating Don long when, on one of our ever-other-Sunday’s together, he told me he’d forgotten his daughter’s piano recital. He had to leave in a few minutes, and he’d be gone for a bit. I knew he was a private person, I assumed that anyway. I knew he’d been hurt horribly by his ex-wife and had only dated one other woman before me. I assumed he might have trust issues.
“Oh, well I can go, we can see one another next time. Or I have some errands I can run and come back, if it’s not too late,” I said, assuming he’d not want me in his apartment alone. He barely knew me.
“No! You can stay here. I shouldn’t be gone longer than a couple hours. Please, make yourself at home. Do you know the Wi-Fi password?”
“Are you sure? I understand if it makes you uncomfortable,” I said, expecting him to change his mind, although that’s silly. When someone tells you who they are, believe them. He was open and trusting (which was good because I am trustworthy) and he cared about me and my comfort.
He left and came back and showed me videos of the recital. And then we had some bang-up sex.
It’s been just over a year, now, since Vance has been gone. I knew something was wrong, I abruptly stopped hearing from him. In the seven years we’d been friends, following the end of our tumultuous romance, I’d heard from him probably once a week. And then nothing. I finally reached out to his sister, who told me he’d passed last December. I wasn’t surprised. Vance was a lifelong alcoholic. The last I’d spoken to him, he told me about his symptoms, and I knew it was cirrhosis. I knew his time was short. I don’t think he ever realized how sick he was. Or maybe he did. I wasn’t there at the last, I just didn’t know.
Vance was probably the most demonstrative of all the men I’ve ever dated. He always wanted to hold my hand, put his arm around me and draw me to him, put his hand on my leg, grab my legs and pull them over his lap when we sat next to one another on the couch. He was a champion nighttime cuddler, too. Not many men are. At least not many of the men I’ve dated.
When things weren’t going well, at least when they weren’t going well in my mind (he was often oblivious), his affection annoyed me. But there was always some part of me that appreciated that aspect of who he was. There is nothing quite so comforting as waking up in the dark of night and being wrapped in someone’s arms. And he wasn’t one of those men who assumed affection was foreplay. I mean, there was plenty of all of that, but he consistently, and without effort, showed me in small ways he valued me a great deal.
After I’d moved away and the romance ended (and the romance did not end well), he continued to stay in touch. It meant a lot to me that he did that. It has always been important to me to stay on good terms with an ex. If he’s an ex, why hold onto ill will?
He’d call and leave the sweetest voicemails.
“Coco, you are so smart and so sweet. You were so good to me. You were so soft and so nice to hold onto. And you always got the joke,” he’d say, laughing. “You always got the joke.”
You can compliment me in any number of ways, but the way to my heart is to tell me I’m kind and funny. Those are the two things I value most in others and in myself.
And then there was Dale. My college boyfriend, the love of my life. I laugh saying that now because he’s become a devoutly religious, ultra-conservative, second amendment supporting fiend. It never would have worked. But way way back then, 42 years ago now, he was very good to me. I loved him quite desperately, and he loved me desperately right back.
We had a short time together before I transferred to Western in Bellingham, the other side of the pass from Central in Ellensburg. I thought I might die without him. We continued to visit one another those last two years of school, but we’d begun dating other people. The love was there, though. It was there for a very long time.
During one of those visits, when I’d taken a Greyhound over Snoqualmie Pass to see him, we were in the parking lot of Bi-Mart. Bi-Mart was the go-to place in Ellensburg in the 80s. That’s where he bought his generic beer. Oh goodness, I have never liked beer. Not ever.
“What can I get you, honey? What can I get for you that would make you happy?” he asked excitedly as we walked into the store.
“Hmmm. I don’t know. I like dark chocolate.”
And so he bought me a Hershey’s Dark, a big one. I broke off squares and fed them to him while we drove back to his apartment in his pale yellow Datsun 510. That candy bar tasted better than any candy bar I’ve ever had. That Sunday, when he took me back to the Greyhound station, I left the rest of that bar in his car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of what he did for me that day, and how much I regret having left that silly bar in his car.
So there ya go. Three seemingly small but incredibly meaningful ways the men who have loved me have shown me their love.
I have been loved. I have truly truly been loved. That I can say for certain.