It is here that the ghost of my dog waits for me. All the years spent walking and exploring. What was so joyful then is now a holding place, as she looks for me, and yearns for me. All the while I reminisce, longingly, desperately, lovingly.
When I was but 12 and new to a suburban neighborhood, I was thought largely a curiosity, being from the city. Girls liked the way I looked but I was far too insecure to have embraced it fully, and draw warmth and self esteem from it. I remember and reflect on that time which seems so magically like a prior life. It was a sweet thing and there is one memory above all that plays like a short mystical film clip.
As afternoon light grew dim, there remained a soft golden glow when she appeared, dancing. She wore a light blue dress that had enough material to allow for what looked like wings. She then did a slow ballet of sorts. As she glided to music only she heard, I watched knowing she was dancing for me, and the moment became all at once ethereal, surreal, and frozen.
She moved back and forth with her arms extended like butterfly wings, fragile and graceful. I don’t remember all that I was thinking as I watched her move, but I do know I thought her insane. I think the moment was so strange I was able to place it permanently in memory, and as my life has unfolded that memory has remained precisely intact, and has become profoundly more meaningful.
I knew she lived around the block and for awhile I knew her name, but she was not someone I was attracted to and I really did think she was crazy. As I moved into my life she was quickly forgotten but every now and then I find myself coming back to that evening and allowing the clip to replay. Within it lives the mystery of youth, and a life just beginning.
In 1965 when I was 16 years old, I was living alone with my father who was very much a bachelor. He would have been 38 at that time and he was a car salesman who was successful in both his work and play. His male friends were kind of connected, if you know what I mean, and there were poker games where these goodfellas would play and drink and laugh quite a bit. In truth, they were a fun bunch, but there were always the dark secrets that came with these guys, and my father worked to stay on their good side. I’m not sure what his contribution was to this group but it probably had something to do with his work as a car salesman. He was more than a little interesting, my father, and his rough edges needed the kind of smoothing that would keep him away from the apartment for long periods at a time, and I was largely left to fend for myself. This was a lonely time in my life and I recall that I had made arrangements to visit my mother who was living in upstate New York. As the trip was approaching, my father told me to make sure I was home the following night as he had a “surprise” going away gift for me.
While I didn’t know for sure what was the surprise was going to be, I do recall thinking it was going to be most unusual, and my anticipation became quite intense as the day moved slowly into night. I was most excited when I heard the door open and my father coming up the stairs with someone else.
She was absolutely gorgeous, and her name was Ruth. Long blonde hair, 23 years old, and about 5 ft 4 inches. After a brief introduction, my father left the apartment and I was alone with Ruth. My heart was racing and my mind was numb when she started to kiss me. This kissing lasted for some time and she was very complimentary. Although I wasn’t a virgin (what can I say, call me lucky), I never imagined that I would be with a grown woman, and one this beautiful and sexy was beyond belief. After several minutes Ruth suggested that we move into my bedroom, and without any hesitation I stood to show her the way.
She undressed herself and then she undressed me. Her naked body was superb, and her breasts were perfect, arching slightly upward. I was so excited I could hardly breathe, and we were kissing when she climbed on top of me and guided my screaming penis inside of her. It lasted 6 seconds. Give or take 2 seconds. What, at 16 I should have known about restraint and timing? She was wonderful about it all and suggested that we wait a bit and try it again. I was kind of freaked at this point, having lost it so quickly and not really knowing what to do now. During the time that we spent in my bedroom, my father had returned and retreated to his bedroom, where he would wait for Ruth. She was very tender with me and very kind with her words. Right before she got dressed she kissed me for several minutes and told me she wanted to give me a piece of advice. “Always go down on a woman, you have fabulous lips”.
In the morning I peeked into my father’s room and saw them sleeping together. I wasn’t freaked out and wasn’t damaged. It was another era, a time when a misguided father might do something like that for his son. Today, of course, this would be considered way over the top. I never could arrange something like that for my son, and although he is a grown man now, when he was 16 he was, in my eyes, still a child.
My father didn’t know any better, and he just wanted to do something nice for his son. The gift was extended, accepted, consumed, and is forever a part of me. Many years ago I was attending some State sponsored training for social case workers, and I relayed this story during that training. It is fair to say that everyone was horrified that a father would do that to a boy of 16. I didn’t feel abused, but I also understood their outrage. My father was piece of work, and I still think about Ruth.
time seasons the memories
and they become
they belong to no one else
and have a life all their own
it’s the reason that people
smile to themselves
they are recalling
they never cease
they just become
who we are
when there is nothing left
sustain and nourish
they baste our soul
give us air