A very vintage mandarin orange is flanked by a spicy, tea-like bergamot (Lucien Lelong 1936).   Green, slightly bitter galbanum meets a subtle tuberose, woody (and slightly funky) herbal jasmine, sugary ylang ylang, and rounded rose.  Indiscret is aptly named.  It’d be smoky but it’s too floral…  It is, however, fairly animalic and spicy.  It’s not an easy “day fragrance” although it is somewhat ladylike and soft.  

Top notes: mandarin orange, galbanum and bergamot.  Middle notes: tuberose, iris, african orange flower, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and geranium.  Base note: woodsy notes.

Nose: Jean Carles


Friends are important…   I love friends.  

The other day, let’s just say for the sake of privacy (I’m allowed to share this if I don’t use her name), that I had a conversation with a friend from childhood (leaves some anonymity) and we talked a bit about the troubles of defining social status after age 30.   She grew up in a middle class family in Wisconsin and has since become a very different sort of person than most people in her family.   

She’s had a hard time adjusting.  Being flung from a secure, slightly sheltered upbringing in a Wisconsin suburb to a life in urban Boston has been a shift.  She’s doing well she says, but she’s often felt a sort of identity crisis.  All those ideas about herself in relation to others that she painstakingly formed in childhood and adolescence (as we all do) are being challeged.   Constantly.   And is this a good thing or not?  It’s baffling.  

I can relate to her crisis, but in a very different way…  Frankly, in the last year I’ve realized how silly my view of myself has been my whole life…  I’m quite open about things on this blog and my confusion has emerged here and there in the angsty or thoughtful post, but I didn’t start nailing down my thoughts in my own mind until the last year. 

My parents are…  incredibly humble and demure about matters of class when it comes to themselves (as most people in their families are) but… for whatever reason they (bless their hearts) failed to fully divulge a clear understanding of our place socially speaking.  They meant well and they and many others like them in our family might not even know any better.  

Yes.  I’m going there on this blog.  No.  I don’t care who this leaves aghast or offended…   Because if you’re close to me you likely won’t find this horribly offensive anyway.  And if you do please discuss it with me in person.  

We were not the salt-of-the-earth, simplistically “Little House on the Prairie  family” I thought.  And while I heard things here and there, overall, my parent’s life choices to be hippies/semi hippies in some form totally obscured my understanding.  

My father did use to say, “oh those little girls were just being mean because they thought you were rich.”  And I never knew what he was talking about.  My parents weren’t “rich”.  We didn’t have the right clothes, etc.  I thought.

I used to argue with him out of confusion and a desire for accuracy and he’d say, “Well, sometimes when little girls are pretty some people just assume they’re well off.”  Of course, that’s not…  exactly correct…   to say the least.   But, as a child I took the compliment and let it go.  

It’s too complicated and frankly explosive to discuss on a forum even as public as this (not terribly public in all actuality).   But suffice it to say, I wish I had had a different  explanation (read correct) given to me about almost everyone and everything and who or what they are and were.  It would have explained so many petty jealousies and the occasional nonsense I’ve encountered in regard to others over the years and social norms and expectations, both inside our family and out, that I’ve internalized.  When you’re told you’re a duck your whole life but are actually a dove it can obviously be tremendously awkward.  You feel vague and confusing anger at people for interactions that are baffling for unknown reasons…  

I hate social climbers.  So does my father.  I hate pretension…   He did too.   Instead I value privacy intensely.  And at times I get confused about people’s true motivations.  

And all those friends who grew up like me, in my parent’s circles, with fathers who actually were professors (there were a few) and with travel in their blood who felt a similar confusion about their place…  they too deserved more self understanding.  A better explanation.   Actually, that’s not entirely true though.  A person like them, who I befriended in college (her father was a professor though too intriguingly) clued me in…  

“People always assume we’re poor” she said.  Supposedly it was because they lived in a small house in a nice neighborhood and it irritated her…   But in reality her extended family was quite established with a place on Lake Michigan for summer holidays and several of her relatives were doctors at Mayo Clinic (among other similar or more “alluring” and “prestigious” things).  “I don’t like telling people anything like that though.” she said in a sincere and vulnerable hushed voice.  “I don’t want people to think I’m a…  Well, yiu know: a rich bitch.”  She uncomfortably laughed and lowered her voice even further with the last word.  She wanted people to be at ease…   because she was empathetic.  

She wasn’t interested in living a false life…  Yet she was confused about many things and burdened by a conflict between what others perceived and what was reality.  

But what do you do with all the feelings of anxiety?  The silliness of class pretension from people determined to “make it” or “fit in?”   Not that I don’t sympathize but good grief!  If you keep your mouth shut around those sort of folks or never “explain anything” they assume you’re beneath them for anything they can perceive (and this has been my experience most of my life).  But if you start laying out your “true status” for some reason they feel the need to compete mindlessly to no avail and/or assume you’re the devil for being born who you are.  The worst of the two is the first because what do you do with pushy people with wildly determined egos?  

Yes this is offensive.  (If you’re one of those people) 🤓😏

It’s not a truly shameful thing to be born poor but of course it’s also not a crime to be born “rich” or “wealthy” (one way or another) either…  

*sigh* I need to figure so many things out. 

How does this post strike you?  Does it make you angry?  Why?  Or is it something better you’re feeling?  I wonder…  


I can’t figure some people out.  Go figure.  It’s not like people are all very complicated and unique or something.  (Note sarcasm) 

Anyway, I’m tired of being misunderstood too.  Very misunderstood…   And, of course, it’s not like this is an original feeling either.  *sigh*

I’m pragmatic and analytical with a lot of feelings I keep very much in the back room of my soul.   And I’m oddly not particularly typically “American” for some reason (even though I was raised here).  And that combination, with a strong natural reserve and a dry sense of humor (also slightly slapstick) added…  confuses people, I think.

And I’m good, I suppose.  I’m a Christian.  I’m moral…  But I do do occasionally shocking things according to some folks, I guess.   And I’m usually almost too honest.   I offend people’s egos almost daily.  I’m bad at faking reality. 

And then…  there’s…  Prince Charming.  That’s what I’m going to call him.  And I’m sure if he reads this (he might) that he could find that name totally…  annoying.  And maybe that’s why I just picked it.  I kind of want to annoy him because he seems just a bit too oblivious to how much and how deeply he affects me…  And I know that name will affect him (not entirely positively).  

He seems to think I’m not “smitten enough” with him or that my feelings aren’t authentic.  For added difficulty, some people close to him seem to have encouraged this view.  

But I do care about him as much as is sane, which is basically a whole hell of a lot.   I’m just not obvious, crass or pushy about it.  I don’t openly swoon and draw cute little hearts on the letter i or smile with my teeth and giggle.  

When I’ve tried to do the “sexy girl who likes you act” in the past to make my feelings clearer to past romantic interests no one ever seems to think I actually mean it anyway.  So what’s the point?  Furthermore, I hate myself much too much afterward to continue with that fake parade of silliness.   But apparently if I don’t act cutesy and over-the-top in a saccharine girly way I’m not feminine enough somehow?  Or I’m cold?  Too…  complicated? 


So…  my “Tom” or a.k.a Prince Charming…  The man who currently entertains my affections…  doesn’t stand much of a chance for too much longer.  That is, he doesn’t unless if he becomes beautifully stubborn and sincere in his feelings and intentions toward me.  He needs to outsmart it all…  Oherwise the prognosis for our romance isn’t good. 

And really, I think this is the most odd time of my life.  Truly.  

For one thing, the ethics of it all is mind twisting.  I have a husband (Mark) in an eerie, techinical and yet strangely genuine way who understands our separation but insists on not calling it that necessarily until its finalized and frankly he’ll have hope until I remarry.   He did the opposite, of course, when we were first dating (refusing to call us a couple for a very long time).  Ha! 

I think, really, Mark’s astronomically stubborn.  And frankly…  it’s no coincidence in any way that I married him years ago despite it all.  He’s so subtle and subversive at times it’s amazing…   He often claims that he didn’t know what real romantic love was (or love in general) as a particular label until we dated.  I believe him.  

I still maintain that he could find someone to love more than me eventually and…  that I’ll love him forever regardless because I adore his soul.  We will.  We’re good for each other in some way, even if it’s as friends.  We give each other a sort of safe place emotionally…  We’re allies. 

And you can’t redo people.  Again, we’re all profoundly original.  There’s only one soul that is my Mark.  There’s only one me.   Some people might be similar but nobody is ever anyone but themselves.  Ever.  And why is that a bad thing?  Of course, it never is. 

I just wish Prince Charming would see that I don’t want anything but beauty.   And his teeth…  His chin.  His…  voice.  They’re the only things about him as a sort of…  persona…  that aren’t basically perfect.  Truly.  

He seems in need of a sort of…  perfection.  At least in my eyes.  And I, on the other hand, passionately want beauty.  

My first serious boyfriend had large front teeth and a rather cocky sense of humor.  He fashioned himself after that character on “How I Met Your Mother” who told everyone to, “suit up!”   Now he, with his  front teeth (he referenced them more than once), was definitely not a good match for me.   I loved him slightly but definitely not enough…  and he didn’t love me at all (he literally told me he was simply incapable of it).   His “flaws” were truly…  awkward.  Because the beauty we had or were able to have between us wasn’t present almost at all.   

Sorry if this is becoming cheesy… 

Prince Charming, however, is very manly.  He’s not a little boy who needs to play dress-up with his dad’s suits.   He’s brilliant…  Eloquent.  Quick minded and clever.  Fervent and aware.  Extremely handsome.  Dashing really…   

But I don’t mend fences that refuse to be fences.  If the wind blows too hard I just plant trees and let the roots sink in.   And furthermore I don’t let people give me hell that I don’t deserve.  So…  basically I refuse to break his heart because either a. I’ll just break my own more severely for no good end or b. he’ll never understand how I see him so what’s the use in trying particularly hard?   This paragraph might only make sense to me…   Possibly.  

He’s truly gorgeous.  Truly…   I don’t know what else to say about it.  


So my romance with the older gentleman is basically finished.  He was and is a very charming man but we don’t have any business being together really it seems.  There are occasionally some personality traits and differences in upbringing that can’t be overcome.  I guess.  And anyway, I’m a young looking 33 and I think he felt…  too old.  

There is someone else.  He’s a gorgeous man.  Very intelligent.  Eloquent.  And I could fall flat on my face, madly, passionately in love in less than a microscopic moment.  BUT he might be a bit of a Tom Buchanan type.  

Tom Buchanan…  You know the kind of man I mean.   Husband of Daisy…    The well educated, well connected, well-bred monster who rode beautifully and had sexy broad shoulders?  That one.  

I’m not sure.  He could also be a charming throwback to a better time when I was in love with a truly attractive and daring soul who was genuinely amazing…  A long time ago.  

He could be a combination of both men.  Matter-of-fact, that’d make sense.  

I just don’t particularly want to bother with a “Tom” sort.   They’re soo boring.  Soo predicatable.  Once you’ve met one you’ve met them all.   Even if they’re sometimes lovely fathers and can humor you wonderfully when you most need and want it, it’s not worth it.   I’d rather be “lonely” or at least searching.  

He’s so handsome though.  And we have excellent chemistry (or so it seems).  And, it’s not like I haven’t “broken in” a Tom before.  Men like that break easily in regard to me for some reason.  The problem is, of course, that I want to be the “broken” one this time.  

No crying…  No horrible suffering.  Just…  warmly, and sweetly broken.  I want and simply have to have the sort of thing that happens when you find someone who reads your heart and honestly loves you regardless.  

I’m really just tired of being bored.  Yes.  BORED.  I’ve realized that a lot of my romantic pain stems from a sort of strained, ugly boredom.  

You see, I’m a writer, maybe and that’s a definite personality type (in my opinion).   We tend to see people for who they actually are.  And in that mess there’s not a lot that surprises us.  We hope for a real shock.  A good one.  But often, it’s just the pits.  A letdown.  And it’s tragic, and draining and… infinitely tedious

You come back from the sadness and malaise.  But you’re less tolerant.  Less patient…  Or at least I am.  So far.  

You give less of yourself the next time because there’s less hope.  You feel less pain but you also miss what you once had long ago or you dream about something better that you know very easily might never be.  At least in this life.  

It gets redundant.  Horribly redundant…  

You just keep wondering why the “boys” (of all ages) don’t get it.  They’re not that special with they’re tired lines and crass sentiments.  Why should you swoon for them?  You could fake it, but why bother?   That’s actually quite mean anyway. 

If he’s sincere about a word he’s saying you hope he also has enough maturity, wisdom and thought to actually lift a trembling pinky to pursue you like a man.   You hope he realizes that he needs to have courage because otherwise…  what’s the damn point?!   

I’m not a “contemporary woman” I guess.  I don’t want to be bullied and refuse it.  Vehemently.  Yet, I like a man who remembers what it’s like to have both emotions and manliness.  Remember?  The sort of feeling men had before they were told that not crying meant that they were repressed and outdated.  I’ve known a lot of men who didn’t cry easily and often they were deeper and more emotionally available than today’s weeping willows or the business minded “tough guy” who masquerades as the old sort.  

No.  I don’t hate men.  I just feel disillusioned.  A least for now…  At least here in the US.  

More later. 


So, it seems that my romance with the man I called Handsome and then eventually Mr. Blue has ended…  Seemingly.

I’m happily at peace right now for two reasons.  First, I firmly believe that no man should be cried over for too long.  Period.  You see, if something doesn’t work out it’s either for something better to come along or it isn’t the end (as corny as that sounds) and eventually there will be an answer.  Of course, there might be some tragedy involved but I’ve come to believe that nothing rests and festers for eternity.   There is always some sort of resolution.    God is too just for that.  I have faith that God is too majestic and knowing to be so disillusioned with us…

My other reason involves well…  other men – men from my distant past and men I currently favor.   One man in particular, who is very manly in particular, is quite a lovely distraction.  However, I like to think I’m still fairly chaste and careful (more on that in a second).  My divorce is far from final and Mark still would like things to work out between us, although I don’t see that being likely, sadly.

I do wonder sometimes though why no one tries harder to demand my full attention.   Perhaps they’re unsure about their feelings?    I don’t know…    But at any rate, the one man I have the deepest feelings for right now gave the impression tonight that he was experiencing a bit of jealousy.

To be honest, I adored the jealousy.  The way he handled it was hurtful.  But the fact that he felt it was tantalizing and gorgeous.  Yes.  Tantalizing and gorgeous.

Jealousy is a lovely emotion coming from a man who wants you and can be faithful.   Well, as long as it is expressed as passion and intensity and not…  cruelty.   Or, at least, as long as they eventually fess up and express their wild desire it’s delectable.

I did feel horrible for him though.  I really did.  But little does he know how wonderfully confusing and hidden away I am?  

I give very, indeed precious little, of myself away.  It takes years to find your way inside my heart.   I’m truly a very careful person by nature.  I’m very…  hidden.  It’s complicated.  Yet if I love someone, no matter how difficult the situation, it lasts…  

And on that note, only recently I’ve come to truly suspect that reincarnation is extremely likely.  I am a devout Christian, but I don’t know that we aren’t reincarnated at least…  sometimes.   And I suspect I may have been.  Yes, that might sound a bit flaky to my more conservative followers but for many years I’ve had memories and known things that it didn’t make sense to know or have.  And I’ve come to realize that I’ve even written stories based on the life I may have lived.  It’s a rather odd way that I figured it out, but I believe I may know who I was.   All that to say that I am indeed hidden…  Very lost to time.   Matter of fact, the lovers I had long ago still haunt my heart it sometimes seems…    

I suspect I know the sort of man I fell for passionately long ago and it makes sense why I have never found anyone like him since then.   (And no – for my more astute followers – I don’t suspect I’m Zelda Fitzgerald although given my adoration for F. Scott Fitzgerald and other Lost Generation authors I could see thinking that instantly upon reading my last sentence.).  And, intriguingly to me at least, the gentleman I have the strongest feelings for right now may have “a very old history” with me too.   

Reincarnation is fascinating.   Truly.   However, for me, it’s very new to potentially think of it as a practical concept and consideration in everyday life.  I’m still working out how it all fits… 

I suspect I was in England in my last life (if they exist).  Surprise, surprise…  I know.  It’s so obvious it hurts…  I’m still passionately in love with England.

And the gentleman I prefer as of late –  I’ll call him Mr. Bright because he needs a name (as cheesy as that is) – Mr. Bright might have been in England too.   As I said, I think we at least fancied each other a lot…   But we didn’t become a serious item I don’t suspect.  I question why.

Anyway, it’s entirely possible none of these gentleman will seriously pursue.  More than possible I suppose…  Matter of fact, I expect it.   And for the very nosy reader, I haven’t actually even kissed any of them yet.  We’ve offered our feelings to each other on things, but that’s different than spending good time with someone and making it “real.”   

As much as people don’t seem to value reality these days, I’m afraid I still do.   I love it.  I love reality.   I love the way things used to be so solid and tangible and meaningful as they still could and should be.  It’s the way we were created to live:  deeply, beautifully connected.

However, I do have something to consider finally with some seriousness.  Do I date older men?  I suspect my rule will shift about based on the individual because it really does seem to matter based on the person…

Mr. Bright is older.  But I adore him for it.  The creases in his face are incredibly attractive…  and I can’t say that about every man who has…  creases.  I think it’s likely just him and his personality.  Those wrinkles merely reflect who he is or…  might be.  They’re like beams of light that accentuate the facets of his personality come into vision on his rather perfect face.   

Mr Bright is a very good looking man and age has done him favors and in no small part because he gives the impression that he’s unaware of that fact.  Entirely.  Matter of fact, his beautiful lack of conceit leaves me questioning often if he’ll decide to never pursue me because he’s worried some might think I’m a bit young for him or if he’ll avoid making himself clear in his feelings because he’s worried he’s just an old wrinkled man…  And, of course, he is wrinkled, but…  I think his wrinkles are like freckles.  On the right face they can be utterly charming…   Again, he has a wonderful face.

But I suppose I’m too daring about such things.  If something isn’t immoral I tend to leap…   I am a person who likes to take well calculated risks.   They engage my interest because in order to move forward you sometimes have push beyond and break something.  The trick seems to be finding the right sort of thing to break…

I just hope some man realizes someday how much I care and how warm I actually am beyond just being polite (and possibly chatty) despite what they often seem to suspect.  Or, I hope I realize how little men care even though they pretend to be vulnerable (in respect to me) to manipulate me?   One or the other seems to be the case.

Either way, I’m falling for a man…   Not a boy.  Or a guy…   I hope.   And in the best case, that’s the trouble.   Am I a 33 year old who is enough of a grown lady for a true man?  Again, I hope… 




I still think about Mad Men occasionally.  The other morning I was half dreaming and half awake, processing through something rather painful and I thought about a character I haven’t considered in some time: Rachel Menken.  She was never one of my favorite characters, although out of all Don Draper’s many flings and flirtations she was one of the women I liked the most.   I thought she symbolized something and apparently was I mumbling about it so to speak.   They thought I was talking about Rachel Maddow and were worried I was having some sort of nightmare based on the current state of everything going on in the world.  But no…  I was thinking about love.

And frankly I was thinking mostly about Don Draper’s ignorance.  He was such a tragic figure, especially in regard to Rachel.   He was the sort of person who didn’t know how to recognize love…   So when he fell it didn’t register in his mind as anything he knew how to handle well.  He shuffled Rachel off once he completely lost himself in the sea of feelings he had for her.  Instead of building a ship and floating to safety he sank…  Instead of swimming he tried to breathe under water.  He was a love heretic.  

It made her life less…  potentially?  But it certainly seemed to affect him more profoundly than he even started to recognize by the end of the series.  The whole thing intrigues me…   How did this truly affect everyone?  

At any rate, he’s a road map of exactly what not do to do…  But what is she?  Too bad we don’t entirely know.  Or do we?  I should watch the episode again… 

Prada Candy L’Eau 

Prada Candy L’Eau (Prada 2013) opens with sugary, ephemeral citrus beauty lacing a delicate but definite sweet pea. The base is plush and vanillic with gourmand, musky notes. But, to be certain, this is the sharpest and perhaps even most melancholy of these bubbly and bright fragrances. 

Prada Candy Kiss 

A study in elegant, sweet musk, Prada Candy Kiss (Prada 2016) is remiscent of a gourmet confection but it’s also fresh and surprisingly delicate. And the orange flower and vanilla are anything but generic. I don’t usually favor new fragrances as much as old but this may be one of a few exceptions. 

Wretched (Part III)

The seniors of 1942 were planning a spring soirée that was to be held two weeks from this Saturday at the armory building.  Block ice cream and lemonade would be served prior to an evening of dancing.

I was a member of the planning committee for the soirée so for a half an hour after the end of the day’s classes I sat with two of my friends, Mary and Lorna, and we came up with a few ideas about how to make the event a great one.  Mary thought we should have the theme “I Dream” and Lorna invented a way to make streamers look like big puffy clouds to match the theme.  I knew the Robins brothers and their sister, Glenda, would be perfect to hire as a band.  Glenda had a wonderful singing voice.

Mary and her steady boyfriend, Alan, were going together as a double date to the dance with Lorna and her steady Ronald.  I didn’t have a date.

As Lorna and Mary discussed their plans I sat there watching.  My mind wandered.  It had to.  Finally, I stood up and announced to my friends that I needed to go back to the motel.

“But of course!”  Mary smiled sweetly.  Her bright yellow sweater and single strand of simple pearls matched the light in her face.  Tight curls hung flawlessly at her cheeks and temples.

“Sure thing, kid!” Lorna added as she snapped her chewing gum.  My Aggie once told me that the only acceptable places to chew gum were in the dark of a movie theater or alone in a car.   But, I found Lorna’s bold defiance of this suggestion quite youthful.

Holding my books, I meandered toward home.  I told myself not to be too excited about the night before.   He hadn’t really kissed me and there was somebody else for him anyway.

When I finally reached home I was half relieved to find nobody there.  It gave me time to reflect and collect my thoughts.

I sat down on the sofa in the living room and stared out the window at the rolling hills beyond.  It had been a sunny day and now there were many big, puffy white clouds bouncing along the green slopes in the distance.  I knew I had to go upstairs and do my homework soon, but it was nice to just sit here and watch.   Just for a moment.

A tear fell down my face, but it wasn’t the good sort of crying.  No, it wasn’t due to the beauty I saw before me.  It was because I didn’t really feel a part of any of it.   And I often felt like I was merely observing so much of life as it seemed to pass by me.  It was miserable.

The tears fell harder and suddenly I couldn’t stop them at all.  They just kept falling.

Then the front door opened and in walked my Aggie.  I bit my bottom lip hard to stop crying.  I couldn’t be sad around her.  Not anymore.

When I was little I cried and she would hold me, but now she sometimes seemed burdened and a little bit chilly when I cried.  And yet at other times she would comfort me.  Still, I never knew which reaction I would receive so I kept most moments of sadness silent.

Agatha waltzed into the living room and with a breezy gait she threw her hat on the honey colored wooden table near the window.  She appeared ebullient.   And now I felt silly for feeling so down.  Nobody else around here ever really was down except for me it seemed.

Then there was a knock at the front door.  I was sure it was probably Andrew and his mother.  They were supposed to come over again for supper tonight.  Papa was going to join us too.

“Come in, Bertha.”  Aggie almost crooned, as she welcomed the visitors into the hallway by the front door.  I adjusted the way I was sitting so that I looked more presentable in case they came in the room.  Then I brushed back my hair from my face and opened my eyes wide.

“I just knew we would have nothing but wonderful things to say about this place the minute I got here.”  Bertha said in a very sugary, but still stately and mannered voice.  She often managed to seem both aloof and yet kind and courteous at the same time.  I had yet to figure out what exactly she thought of any of us.

“We’ve had the nicest time staying here, Agatha.”  She now sounded as if she was smiling.  “We really have, dear.”  They were all still standing in the hallway.

“Oh, you’re too kind.”  Agatha said, as she was likely guiding everyone into the kitchen.  I could hear their footsteps on the hardwood floor that led to there.  “We’ve been honored to have you stay with us.”  Agatha’s voice could be heard from the kitchen now.

“And, as much as I absolutely loathe to say it, tonight after dinner, Andrew and I will be leaving to stay with my brother.  He has room for us now, and I think going and staying there is best.”  A silence was created suddenly.  I guessed that Agatha was a little disappointed to hear this and it wasn’t because we would lose their business.

Agatha just loved that they were here.  The Thompson’s were one of the nicest families in the community and having Bertha and Andrew here gave the motel a new sort of glamor or something similar to glamor.  It made us appear frugal and not just like the cheapest motel in the area.  It gave us an air of respectability.

“Oh, I’m very sorry to hear that you’re leaving us so soon.   It’s been just lovely.”  Agatha managed to sound endearing and communicate just a tiny bit of the disappointment she must have been feeling.  I was impressed by her.  She always knew what to say.

“Now you’re being too kind, dear.”  Bertha sounded like she was being genuine with her affection this time.  She must have started to sincerely like either the motel or my Aggie, I surmised.

“Well, I’m positive that we’ll miss both of you.”  Agatha said a little dreamily.  Then it occurred to me that this part of the conversation might have something to do with the romance they had been trying to concoct between Andrew and me.

I quickly, and quite passionately, stoop up from the sofa.  I felt angry.  It was as if they had invented another world in their minds where I was someone quite different from who I actually was.  It was also a world where Andrew was without any attachments to a girl named Susanne.  It was a world where I was someone who Andrew wanted.  And as much as that world sounded maybe a little bit nicer than this one, it wasn’t real.  But I was real and existed here, standing sadly beside the sofa in the living room.

Feeling miles away from everyone else, I walked into the kitchen now through the large sliding wood door we always left open.  Actually, I often wondered why there was a door there at all, but then I found my thoughts distracted from analyzing it further just as they were now.

I sat down at the table and noticed right away that Andrew was completely ignoring me.  Somehow, I knew he would.  This was exactly what I had expected.

Then Bertha looked at me.  It was a look I had never had anyone give me, although I’d seen it before.  Her eyes radiated an enormous amount of compassion.   And I almost wondered if she knew that I had been crying, but I couldn’t figure out how she would have known or guessed.  She had just barely met me.

“You darling girl.”  She said and I knew she understood so much more in that moment than I had ever told almost anyone.    I was terrified by it and yet, I no longer felt nearly as sad as I had before.

I looked at Andrew and he looked away.  Then I guessed that she may have forced him to confess at least some part of our failed romance.   But even so, it wasn’t a look of pity that she gave me and it was about more than just Andrew and me.  I looked at her and felt a new sort of angst.

Agatha did most of the talking during supper.  She seemed to sense the heaviness in the room and insisted on cheering everyone up, especially me.  I felt bad for her.  She must have been taking responsibility for all of it, just as she so often took responsibility for almost, well, everything.

I looked at Andrew and grew a tiny amount of rage.  This dour mood was at least partially his fault, I reasoned, however poorly.   Somehow it was his fault.  Somehow.  But even if it wasn’t really his fault, his current sullen, haughty and distant attitude was as obnoxious as anything.

He just sat there smugly eating his peas.  I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, but it was just the way he lifted that spoon with such precision maybe.  Or perhaps it was the way he held himself with a kind of superiority there in that chair across the table from me.  Whatever it was, every little thing about him made me angry right now, even his freckles annoyed me.

“I never even thought you were that great, you little stuck up monster.”  I yelled in my head at him.  And I’m sure the look on my face said the words in my head a million times over.  But he just kept sitting there with that same look on his face despite the way I stared at him.  He didn’t even look up at me.

He was ignoring me intentionally I decided.  I looked over at Aggie now as she was telling some long story involving someone’s niece wining a spelling bee two years ago.  

I couldn’t recall this story.  I listened for a moment to see if I had heard it before but as the tale continued I realized it was one I hadn’t heard.   Apparently the little girl had chicken pox and was scratching every few minutes to the point where the judges began to wonder if she was cheating and getting secret clues from some member of the audience.  It was only after she became very ill the next day that anyone believed her and she was awarded a prize.

Anyway, I lost interest eventually after the little girl got well, and it I suddenly felt a need to be quite silly.  It was a sort of protest silliness.  It was a protest against this ridiculous gloom.  All of it.  And it was much more nice than just sitting there feeling a mixture of boredom and anger.

I covered my face partially with my hand so my Aggie and Bertha couldn’t see me.  Then I looked at Andrew intensely.  I stuck out my tongue first.  Then I added crossed eyes.  And then I even wiggled my tongue around.

Nope.  He was truly ignoring me or he was completely lost in thought.

But, I felt persistent.  So, I moved my foot across the floor and kicked his leg underneath table.  It wasn’t a hard kick mind you, but I’m sure he could feel it.

He suddenly glanced up, but surprisingly it wasn’t at me.  Instead he looked everywhere else with a lot of confusion.  He even looked under the table.

I paused for a moment to make another plan.  Then I picked up a pea, placed it on my spoon and being careful to avoid anyone’s detection I flung it at him.  But he didn’t notice until I launched the third pea, which flew across the table and hit him in the face.

Then with a look of real anger and some sort of vague fear he exclaimed out loud, “Hey!  What’s with you!?”

“What do you mean?”  I asked.  I looked at him blankly.  Then Bertha and Aggie ceased their conversation and studied us, bewildered.

“You know what I mean.”  He glared at me and then stood up and asked Aggie politely, “May I please be excused for a moment?”  Then he walked toward the front door, “I’m suddenly not feeling so well, I’m sorry.”

My Aggie was shocked, but she turned slightly in her seat to face him and then responded sweetly as ever, “Of course, honey.”

He walked out the door and I felt terrible.  Bertha shook her head and rested it on her chin.  A strange smile crossed her face and then a look of some sadness came over her entirely.  I wondered how my Aggie would respond.

Right on cue Aggie rose from the table and grabbed the coconut cream pie she had made earlier in the day and then announced, “I think it’s as good a time as any to have dessert.  You folks need to go soon anyway, I reckon.”

“I’m going to go check on him, I think.”  I said meekly.  Nobody said anything in response, but I continued out the door and then into the darkness.

I looked around and first thought to check their motel room, but the moment I looked in that direction I could see that nobody was there.  Beside the darkness in the room there was a feeling of emptiness.  I just knew somehow that it was vacant.   Then I decided to take a walk down to the creek and check there.

I walked across the big lawn and when I found myself nearing the creek I finally caught sight of him.  But, he was standing by the side of the road.  He appeared to be hitch hiking. 

I was very curious.  And, I could either go back home and mind my own business or go find out what was happening.  I couldn’t resist so I ran quickly toward him.

He had sat down when I got there, so I sat down and joined him.  He pretended not to notice me at first.  The pitch black of the night was only broken up by the dark blue sky near the moon and a porch light on at the neighbor’s house across the street.  It was a bright moon.

“Why did you leave?”  I asked.

He turned to me and I noticed that he had been crying.  He didn’t even try to hide it.

“Why are you crying?”  I questioned him now with a new sort of empathy and wonder.

He glanced to the right and away from me.  Down the street in that direction in the distance there were several houses lined up next to one another on each side.  Trees and lots of lights made that section of town look warm and inviting.  It was a much more happy view than looking almost anywhere else.  Well, unless you were in a romantic sort of mood, and then I suppose the moon would have been much better.

“My mother knows about Susanne now.  My Aunt Mable told her about us.  She has a friend who works in the beauty parlor in the town where Susanne lives and she overheard Susanne telling her friends about me.”  He shrugged.  “I guess I knew it would happen eventually, but gee.  Why did it have to be now?”  He laid back on the grass behind us.

“Where are you trying to go tonight?”  I questioned him further.

“I’m going to see Susanne.”  With tightly clenched teeth, he appeared very sure of this plan.

“Why don’t I just drive you there?”  I volunteered.

He seemed baffled by me now.  “Why would you help me?”  I guessed that he thought I was feeling rejected by him.

“Because I want to, I guess.”  I shrugged.

“That’s silly, but awfully sweet.”  He got up and brushed off his pants.  “If you’re not kidding around I’d like to go now.”

“Why are you going right now?”  I was still confused.

“Because my mother needs to know that she can’t push me around and because I need to tell Susanne to shut up about us, and-“He broke off and the look that was on his face when he was crying returned momentarily.  “I just want to right now, is all.”  He shrugged.

I pushed myself up and off the ground and began walking to the car.  He slowly followed me and we meandered together but separately until we reached the driveway near the fence.

“Just wait here.  I’m going to go tell my Aggie that I’m going with you into town.   Who knows, maybe they’ll be excited that we’re going somewhere alone together.”  I shrugged and he opened the car door and got inside silently.

I felt I was about to be dishonest, but at least it was for a good cause, or so I told myself.  I wanted to be helpful.

Just like he told me that I was a nice girl, I felt that he was also a very nice boy.  For one thing I had never watched a boy my age cry that way.  He seemed to feel so passionately about Susanne.   I thought it was quite touching.  Now it was just a matter of figuring out what to say to the two ladies in the kitchen.

The door opened and I felt a burst of warmth, the smell of our wood floor and Agatha’s cooking.  I walked into the kitchen through the swinging white painted wood door and stood by the sink facing the women who still sat at the table.   Their plates were empty now and only crumbs were left.  Two coffee cups sat cradled in their hands as they softly chatted.

“Mother,”  I said out loud.  I didn’t even realize what I had said but continued talking as if I hadn’t said anything even remotely unusual.  I would only later realize what I had just uttered.  The particular reason it came out of my mouth at that moment would intrigue and puzzle me for years afterwards.

Both of the women stopped talking and turned to look at me with surprise.  Then I continued, “I’m taking our car and driving to Main Street with Andrew.  Is that alright?”

“It is late, but I suppose so.”  Agatha answered tentatively and with a look of some sort of vague shock still registering on her face.

I looked at Bertha and she quickly turned her face away from me and covered her mouth with her hand.  I wondered why.

“You should have Andrew drive the car.”  Aggie suggested.

“Ok.  I will.”  I practically bounced out the door and then walked quickly to the car.  

I opened the door and sat down in the driver’s seat.  “Do you want to drive?” I asked Andrew even though I was already sitting in front of the steering wheel.

He moved his head and gave me a look that needed no words attached to it.  I put the key in the ignition and started to drive.

We quietly drove down the twisting paths that were between us and his Susanne.  After learning where exactly we were headed, I focused carefully on the road before me and noticed that Andrew had fallen asleep a few miles into our journey.  I wondered if he had slept well the night before.  I felt bad for him now.

Susanne’s town was called Edenberg.  It was located in a valley and approaching it on this route you first viewed it from a large bluff, so the lights in the houses below looked a little bit like stars.  It was beautiful.

I smiled.  “Now, this is romance.” I whispered to myself.   Then I breathed deeply and opened the window a bit to smell the scent of the alfalfa fields and hear the sound of the crickets.  Andrew moved a bit and partially woke up.  He glanced at me and smiled.  It was the first time I had seen him look so happy.

“We’re almost there aren’t we?”  He noticed the lights below us too now.   I nodded to him in response.

Finally the car descended and we drove past the first indications that we were approaching a town.  Then we drove past a little house near the side of the road with a man walking out of it, and as he sat on the final step near his front door he lit a cigarette in his mouth.

I quickly fixed my gaze back on the road.  This already seemed like such a lovely town.  I was intrigued.

“Say, what’s the population of Edenberg?”  I asked.  It was an unimportant question, but I wanted to know.

“Oh, it’s not a very big town I guess.”  He shrugged.  Then he sat up and a huge grin lit his face.  “There!  Turn there.”  He sounded very excited.

I turned the car down a narrow street and we passed a few houses before we reached the end of the block.  “Now where do I go?”  I asked.

“Turn to the left.”  He said, practically flying in some sort of happiness.

I turned the car to the left and then saw him grab the car door out of the corner of my eye.  

I slowed the car for fear that he would jump out.  He did.  He opened the door, quickly shut it behind him and then practically raced up to the house on our right.

It was nice home.  It appeared to be a dark red house with white shutters.  There was a big oak tree in the front near the road and several other trees in the back that towered over the roof.

I watched as he knocked on the door.  He stood there patiently for a second before a man opened it.  I guessed it was likely Susanne’s father.

I couldn’t see her father’s face entirely, but he seemed surprisingly pleasant considering and then he moved away for a moment before a girl stood there instead.  She was a gorgeous girl, from what I could see of her.  It was easily understandable why Andrew was so smitten.  Her frame was smaller than his and only a few breaths were exchanged between them until he held her tightly.  

I was enthralled.  They looked so very happy.  I had seen this sort of scene in movies, but never in real life.  It was mesmerizing.

Then I steered to the side of the street and parked.  I got out and stood beside the car watching.

She backed away, grabbed his hand and pulled him inside of their house.  Then the door shut behind them.

It was unclear what exactly I was supposed to do at this point, but I figured that sitting here in this car was a rather boring, lonely and dreary idea.  It made much more sense to explore.

Down the street I walked until I found myself at a park near a schoolyard.  There was a swing set and it seemed like the perfect moment to use it.

I sat down and began flying back and forth.   Then the frame of a young man walking down the street came into view.  He had one hand in his pocket and was smoking a cigarette with the other.  He didn’t seem to notice me at first, but then I saw him glancing in my direction.  He froze.  I wondered why.

I kept swinging until he opened the gate to the park and seemed to be walking toward me.  Who was he and what interest did he have in me?

I slowed the swing completely and watched as he approached.  My hands gripped the sides of the swing as I sat there.

He came into view now and I could see his face.  It was Adam.

“What are you doing here?”  He looked just as amazed as me.

“I don’t know.”  I responded.

“What do you mean, by ‘I don’t know?’  How did you get here?”  He asked, his breathing quickened.

“I mean, I do know.  I do actually.”  I captured my own breath and blinked my eyes in an attempt to find my lost thoughts.

“Good, cause I’d really like to hear it.”  He answered, sitting next to me now on the swing to my left.

“I drove here, I guess.”  I still felt slightly foggy.

“That sounds right.”  He nodded.  “I’m glad you got your car fixed.  But why did you drive here?”

I blinked again many times before I could find it in my head to say, “I had to.  I mean, I wanted to.” I rubbed my forehead and closed my eyes then continued slowly, “A friend of mine has a girl here in town and needed a lift.  I offered to give him one.  Here I am.”  It was a terrible explanation.

“Fine. Fine.”  He pursed his lips and nodded again, then looked ahead of us.  “Well, this town is where I live too.  Imagine that.”  He laughed and smiled to himself.

“Really?”  I asked, sounding much more dumbfounded than I was by that fact.

“Yes.”  He smiled at me now and began looking gently into my eyes.  I felt a little bashful.  Heat rose to my cheeks and I closed my eyes and looked down at my shoes.

“I live right over there.”  He pointed to the right.

“I see.” Then, I bit my lip and looked in that direction.  I felt like smiling and my face kept trying to form a perfect grin, but I wanted to seem composed.

“Well, I’ll be.”  He laughed again.  “Say, you should come meet my family.  I think they’re all still awake.”  He stood up and looked quite pleased.  “That is,”  he grabbed his chin and added, “unless you need to go find your friend and go home.  It is a bit late.”

“No.  I’m sure he’s still busy with her.”  It then occurred to me how tawdry those words potentially sounded, but I hoped Adam would assume the best.  I didn’t want him to think I was keeping fast company, even if he himself was as fast as Aggie had insinuated.

I moved off the swing and he placed his hand at my back for a moment to guide me in the direction of his house.  We walked there slowly and he placed his hands back in his pockets.

The grass beneath us was chilled by a sort of dew.  I could smell a rainy sweetness in the quiet breeze that floated around us.

When we found the front door of his house, which was rather pretty.  I was surprised when he suddenly stopped at the door.  He leaned in closer.

“Hey you.”  He whispered in my ear.  Our eyes met for a moment and then he went on, “I won’t be able to say this once we go inside so I’ll say it now.”  I turned my body to face his. “I would have tried to call on you already, but I didn’t think your mother would approve.  I found out from my aunt that you’re not Catholic.  We are Catholics, you see, and I knew that would likely be a problem for your mother.”  He looked down and shuffled his feet, but then lifted his face and said, “But it doesn’t matter to me one bit.  Do you mind at all?”

“No.  No.”  I smiled and shook my head to confirm a no.  I really didn’t think much of it.

“Well then.”  He grinned and his eyes flickered.  “Just don’t tell my parents enough about yourself for them to figure out where you’re from just yet, if you know what I mean.”  I agreed.  “I’ll do the rest of the talking.  Don’t worry.”  He winked and then moved his head over to mine and reaching his hand around the back of my head he landed his lips on me and kissed me fervently.  It was a supple sort of kiss on the mouth.   Our lips and mouths moved slowly but with a tangible force that seemed nearly separate from our beings and yet very intimately connected to us.  It was breathtaking.  Then he reached over and opened the door, our lips still together.

We stopped only when we heard footsteps approaching and he turned his head to see who it was.