Monday, November 06, 2006
“Yes goddammit, it has been. That’s right, Adam, I walk away, and I’ve done it really well in the past!” I was yelling at him now and tears of hurt and outrage started to run slowly down my cheeks. I sat there staring at him across the table, defiant and not flinching away from what I was sure would happen, that Adam would walk away, instead of me being the one to do it.
This is my chance—just get out now my head was screaming.
I cast a quick look at Adam and saw something that changed everything—I saw him hastily wipe away a tear. His eyes were scared and sad and it all hit me then, how much he cares about me. And then it all sort of fell away; the carefully constructed wall I have built around myself. I saw myself as I had been in the past, feeling good that I got out before I cared, wiping my brow figuratively and telling myself that I had done the best thing, the easiest thing.
“I don’t want to do that this time Adam,” I told him, looking down at my hands that were clenched together on the table. “I don’t...”
Before I realized what was happening, Adam was around the table and was on his knees before me, pulling me into his arms. “Do you mean that?” he asked me. “Are you sure?” I couldn’t help but notice that his voice cracked, ever so slightly and that sent shards of regret slicing through me, for what I had almost done.
“Yes, I’m sure,” I whispered. “But I’m so scared Adam. Not of you, but of myself and how I react to everything. Of getting past this part now, the caring about you part.” As I sat there, I was shaking like a leaf. I felt panic rising within me, screaming for attention.
I don’t know how to do this. Why can’t I be like other women, ready to leap eagerly in and take a chance? I do want to do this, but I don’t even know how to get started on the path.
“Sarah, I think I’m falling in love with you. It’s not an emotion I’m all that familiar with myself and it’s only been a few days, it seems quite... ridiculous you know? And yet, its how I feel. I was scared to death that I might lose you before I even really had a chance to win you.”
I liked how he had said that—‘win you’. That’s a rather old-fashioned phrase, but it made me ridiculously happy. I was worth winning, I thought with a smile. I hugged him and held him tight for a moment and I thought about the future. I wanted to believe there would be a future for us. And I knew that every day I will be fighting that urge to get out and I didn’t know if Adam had it in him to hang in there with me. How can I know that when I don’t even know if I do?
I pulled back from his embrace and looked at him, searching his face; the face that was already so dear to me, handsome and caring, and those chocolate brown eyes that melt me just by a mere look. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but what I found was acceptance and tenderness.
“Adam, I’m serious when I tell you that I’m scared. I’m venturing into territory that is very unfamiliar to me,” I paused as I tried to think of how I needed to say the next thing. I didn’t want to scare him more than I had already, but this wasn’t going to be easy. I owed it to him to tell him up front what to expect. “Let’s go sit on the couch,” I told him, thinking it might be more comfortable than him leaning on his knees through all this.
We walked over to the couch and he pulled me down onto his lap. I scooted off of it as gracefully as I could—I needed to be able to look at him when we talked. My hands were together and I was rubbing the knuckles on my left hand with the thumb on the right. It was a gesture I did sometimes when I’m lost in thought.
“Adam, I’ve never really made it past this point, do you understand that?”
“Well, surely in your marriage you got past this point?”
“No,” I began, thinking about that. “I never really even got to this point. I was young, and fell into lust with him. I mean, I didn’t really recognize that was what it was at the time. I thought it was love, life was exciting, we were busy seeing different places in the world. After a couple of years, all that was left really was a couple of kids—the lust was gone and I finally understood that love had never been there to begin with. But still, when you are in a marriage, you try to make it work, you know? You have kids to think about and family and a life. And it might not be what you wanted, but you slide into so slowly that you often don’t even realize where you are, where your life is until it’s too late.”
He nodded and was quiet, watching my face as I talked. “You felt nothing for him then?”
“I wouldn’t say that, I mean, you can’t live with someone for a dozen years and not care about them. I grew to love him, but I was never in love with him, do you understand that?”
“Yes, I do,” he answered. “But surely since then...”
“No, Adam. I have walked away every time. Every single time I started to feel something for those men, I told myself it wouldn’t work, it couldn’t possibly work and I left. I never gave any of them a chance. Not one of them. They were all good men Adam, not the right ones for me, but good men.”
“What about Jason?” he questioned. He reached over and took my hand in his, the one that was rubbing my knuckle. I wondered vaguely if that nervous gesture made him uncomfortable. Maybe it just irritated him, I wasn’t sure.
“I told myself the whole time we were together that it was different, that I was making progress, that we could make it together. But in the end Adam, I couldn’t do it. The truth is that the whole time I was with him, I knew that I was only placating myself, treading water. I knew that I had no intention of making it work. I decided that it was better for him if he had me in any way, not really thinking about the fact that he understood the difference.”
“And now Sarah,” he asked, looking at me with all the questions in his eyes that were going to be hard for me to talk with him about. But it was better that we do it now. I was afraid that he wouldn’t want to try after I told him. “What about now?”
“I’ve worked hard Adam, to understand why I did this all these years and I do understand it now. I had to shut myself off so much to stay in that marriage that I sort of forgot how to feel again. I forgot the joy and the happiness, so when I started to care about someone and I started to feel those things, I didn’t trust them, my feelings I mean. I shut them down, thinking, telling myself that they weren’t real; and that even if they were real, I’d only get hurt or hurt someone. I did that anyway by walking away.”
I had been looking down at his hand, holding mine so tenderly and thinking that I probably didn’t deserve this chance. He is such a good man, tender and caring and he not only believed in me, he believed in us.
“For the first time, I honestly want to take the chance. I want to know what this is, this feeling inside me that makes me feel like crying and laughing at the same time and that made me feel miserable when I thought I wouldn’t see you again after we left here.”
He smiled at me then, for the first time in a while and reached up and moved a strand of my hair that had fallen down over my face. He stroked my cheek tenderly with his finger and I reached up and placed my hand over his and squeezed it.
“I do understand, maybe more than you realize,” he told me. “Do you have any idea why I married so late, and stayed mostly away from dating most of my life?”
“If you are looking for some reason that has been published in the Enquirer, then no, I don’t have an answer. From personal experience I’d say that somewhere along the way you were hurt or betrayed. It can’t be easy trying to date someone when your life is constantly being scrutinized by the media.”
“True, it’s not. I hate having someone I’m involved with being constantly thrust into all the publicity that is involved when you are with someone who is well-known in the public. And Sarah, as hard as we try to avoid that, it will happen to you, do you understand that? There will be paparazzi with cameras, stories in magazines about our relationship that have nothing to do with what is really happening between us,” he said quietly. When he saw my nod of assent he continued, “It never gets easier, never. All we can try to do is avoid it all as much as is possible, but there are always going to be times when we can’t. There are events that I must participate in; they are just a part of my job. But that’s only a small part of why I don’t often have women in my life. Do you have any idea how many women want to ‘be’ with me just because I’m a celebrity? They don’t care who I am as a person, whether I’m good or bad, if I have feelings, a – a heart? It doesn’t matter and let me tell you, they come at me from all sides. I’m sorry about the remark I made about you just fucking me and leaving. I am overly sensitive about it, but Sarah, I care about you and I want to find a way that we can make this work.”
He was quiet for a minute and sat there on the couch, staring blindly out of unfocused eyes and it was apparent that he was struggling to get something out and I sat there, feeling happy to be near him and trying to give him the time he needed to tell me what was bothering him. He was holding my hand and I squeezed his gently, tracing his long finger with my thumb. He sat there for a moment more, lost in the past, possibly searching for words maybe? I didn’t know.
“Twenty-one years ago, when I was 25 I met a woman and I was positive that she was the one, you know? I admit that I was still young and idealistic, but it all seemed real. She was smart and funny and wasn’t afraid of anything. My parents called her a ‘wild child’ and laughed because we were so different. I was working hard on my career, trying to build stability into my personal world because the acting part of it seemed so out of control. I mean, you go out on audition after audition, occasionally getting a job and then you work odd job after odd job and try to squeeze your dreams in between all the running around. Sometimes, often really you don’t even know where you’re going to get the money for rent.”
“But you did make those dreams happen Adam. I guess the relationship didn’t work though”.
“No, it didn’t. I wasn’t spontaneous enough she told me, often in fact,” he said with a flat, humorless laugh. “I wasn’t willing to just drop everything to head off to Seattle at a moments notice or go visit the Redwoods and listen to what nature had to tell me. I came home one day and she was just gone. No note, she had just packed up her things and left. I never saw her again. I kind of imagine her as a butterfly—we were together for a year and she sort of flitted around, never truly coming to rest on anything for long. It was like she was running from something, and I always had a suspicion that it was herself.”
“But you loved her?” I asked, trying to understand what had affected him so for all these years.
“I think I maybe did. It was the love of youth though, before you really know who you are and what you want or need to make you happy. I don’t honestly know if we could have made it together in the long run. I strongly suspect not, I couldn’t be what she thought she needed, and after she was gone, I realized she couldn’t be what I needed. So, I sort of tucked my heart away and went on pursuing my career. By the time that I met Tamara, I was lonely and she was such a good friend that I thought it would be okay,” he finished with a wry smile. His eyes were full of sorrow and they looked suspiciously bright.
“Adam, why do you hide away sometimes?”
“What do you mean by hide away?”
“I mean that whenever someone approaches you looking for Adam the celebrity, it’s like you don a totally different persona. You are completely charming and captivating, but it’s a mask Adam, I know it.”
“It is probably a protective thing I suppose. And in some ways, it’s just my job. I have fans, and when they see me, I want them to feel like they met a nice guy, not some self-centered egotistical celebrity who has no time for the very people that made him famous.” He was quiet for a moment and then asked, “Don’t you act somewhat differently at work? Don’t most of the people at your job think of you differently than your friends do?”
I thought about it for a minute and decided that he had a point. I nodded my head and smiled for the first time in a while. “I guess that’s true, but I never paid too much attention to it until I saw you doing it and it made me wonder why. I didn’t think about it being a part of your ‘job’, you know?”
“We have a lot to learn about one another. I’m so sorry for my careless comments today Sarah, I know I hurt you,” he told me. His face was so sincere that I couldn’t help but to forgive him.
“Adam, I’m sorry too, but when I feel panicked about a relationship, I withdraw. I promise I will do my best to not do that with you, but it will be a struggle. The reason for that is because I do care for you and I want to make this work. I would have been miserable if I never saw you again.”
“So you where worried that we wouldn’t see one another again,” he said and I could tell how happy that made him.
“Worried? No not really. I had convinced myself that we wouldn’t though and I hated that thought.”
“Now, I feel better that we have talked, that you understand where I am coming from. But that doesn’t make me any less scared Adam and even the fact that I want to do this with all my heart, that doesn’t mean it will be easy or will even work. Do you understand that?”
Adam looked at me, chewing on his lower lip pensively before he answered. “Yes, I do understand, even if I would rather not,” he said, nodding his head.
“Look,” he told me, “We’ll just do one day at a time and figure things out as we go. Sarah, I realize there are no guarantees, but I feel more hopeful about us than any other relationship I have ever been in. You are so easy to care for, your playfulness, the way you speak so lovingly of your family, the way you embrace the time we have together—I want to go on exploring life with you. I have the idea that you are easy to love as well, you know.”
“I’m not so sure about that, but thank you for saying so,” I said, crawling back onto his lap now and wrapping my arms around his neck. I leaned my head against his and sighed.
We held each other tightly then and Adam grinned at me, a huge grin. “We just had our first fight!” he told me and it struck me as extremely odd that he sounded excited.
“I’m not sure I feel like laughing about that,” I told him.
“Hm, you see, we get to have make-up sex now!” he exclaimed.
And we did!