During my chat with Larry…

I knew what was coming, but I couldn’t look away. I did not stop it. I should have shown him the door. But instead I got up and poured a drink. I curled up on the chair, across from him, waiting for the inevitable collision.

Larry looked confused by my move, and by my body language. I took a stiff drink, to fortify myself,  before asking him to continue.

Instead of the brush-off I was expecting, he began to talk about his childhood.

Larry was one of six children, three boys and three girls-in fact, he had a twin sister. The kids had pretty much raised themselves after their father had died when Larry was three. The siblings were close, most of them still residing in California.

While growing up trouble seemed to be a regular visitor in their home. Nothing horrible, but with six children and little supervision, mischief was made.

At this point I was extremely confused…

This “break-up” conversation was totally different than any other that I had been given before. I was trying to pay attention, holding myself together by a thread, but was having a hard time following. Why was he telling me about his life, now?

As he became an adult, he continued, he had made some bad decisions. Decisions that had made it impossible to stay in California-so he moved here to be near his twin and her family. He had started over here. Turned his back on his past, determined to live a good life. To start over.

I happened to be a wrench, thrown into his life. One that he had not expected.

The week that he moved to Ohio from California, I had moved to California from Ohio. He moved here to get away from his secrets. I moved to be with my husband. Oddly, he was hired at the club, to take my vacant position. We had exchanged locales, exchanged lives.

He started over, made friends, hung out with his family. Began building the life that he wanted. At 28, Larry wiped the slate clean, leaving his destructive, illicit life behind.

Everything was going smoothly for him, until I moved back home.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” Rick Blaine, Casablanca.

At that point he knew.

We were alike, Larry and I. We both held our hurts and our heartbreak deep inside. My pain drew him to me, like a magnet. Or a moth to a flame.

He had never been in a relationship with someone who had understood him. Someone who also had secrets and pain. As he had helped me through my loss and disillusionment, he had seen my strength, my resilience. He recognized that the joy I had for life, the exuberance, came from knowing great pain. His did too.

He wanted to tell me the truth…

The nitty-gritty. He had not been open with me, he had secrets too. And he wanted me to know.

At this point, I had almost (but not really) forgotten that he was here to dump me. I was so wrapped up in his story, his life. I caught myself wanting to hug the little boy, that Larry had been, to let him know that things would be alright, to kiss it and make it better.  While I was growing up with my loving extended family, he was growing up without knowing he was loved.

I had tears running down my cheeks as he outlined his childhood, and the things that he did to survive. Everything that he told me made me love and understand him more. I was no longer aching for myself, I ached for him.

As he wound down…

It was nearing nightfall. I had poured each of us another drink as I listened. My heart was pounding. He would end it now. But, he surprised me, once again.

Not only had he been looking for a job the past few days, he had also sat down and had a heart to heart with Barb. Their conversation was shorter than ours, he hated to hurt either one of us, but it had to be resolved. Larry then let me know that he hoped our talk would end better than their talk had.

Now I was really perplexed. I had assumed that Larry chose Barb. It was the path of least resistance. With Barb there was no “husband” to deal with, or lost babies, or angry families, or broken hearts and lost dreams.  I knew that Barb loved him. And I could not get the vision out of my mind of the two of them seated on the couch together.

Larry then let me know that he chose me. HE CHOSE ME!

And he was hoping that after I knew the truth about who he was and what he had done, that I would choose him too. He could not come to me before he had found gainful employment and had let Barb go.

Once again, he cleaned the slate, making sure that when he came to me he was free of all entanglements.

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