by Diane Buccheri

With a groan, I rolled over to pick up the phone. Who could be calling now? It sure seemed early after my late night date with Jack, the college grad, aspiring writer with a fine face, twinkling blue eyes, and rugged jeans. Oh he’s an exciting one. A whole new experience. A real thrill. We’d been out with a bunch of Jack’s friends to listen to live guitar music, drinking wine and eating cheese in a dark room at the water’s edge. The joke that night was John Cougar’s new hit song, “Jack and Diane”. The guys teased Jack, who had been out of college nearly a year and was dating me, nearly finished with my senior year of high school, a fresh innocent with wide eyes, taking it all in.

Hello? Oh hi. No, no. You didn’t wake me but I was dreaming. Of what? Oh, never mind. It’s not important. Oh – you can’t get anyone to go with you? Is that why you’re asking me? Well, yes. I’ll go! When is it? Okay. Where, this year? Who else will be going with us? Uh-huh. Yeah. Oh – those two? But I thought . . . oh. Okay. Bye.

Senior Prom
Oh my. Guess I’ll be going to the senior prom with Chris! Oh my. Why hasn’t he found someone else to go with him? I thought the girls would be all over him without me around.

Happy he wanted me as his senior prom date, I got dressed for the day, all in yellow, and sung my way to the kitchen for breakfast.

Not wanting to look like the other girls at the prom, I chose a dress never seen before and never to be seen again. It was silk and chiffon, swirly black and green and just like a dress I’d had on my Barbie doll a long time ago. Chris picked me up in his newly cleaned car and we stood outside under the blooming dogwood trees, pink and cream colored, in the lush green grass, smiling hesitantly, then valiantly, at Mom’s camera. My Dad walked us to the sparkling car, and shockingly uncharacteristically said, “have a good time. Enjoy yourselves. Don’t rush home.”

What?

I think that made Chris very nervous. He’s extraordinarily sensitive to the forces around him.

Dinner was fine. All of us kids-to-be-adults acted pretty well in a really fancy restaurant. The boys did their silly boy things but were gentlemen towards us girls. The girls were all polite ladies.

At the dance we sat around a round table in the dark with disco lights going. It took everyone a while to loosen up but they did eventually and had a great time moving to the music in all their odd fashions.

Except Chris. He never loosened up. He sat stiff as a board staring into space with nothing to say. Not a gesture to me and I was the dancer! With pain I sat there, constraining myself, watching the other couples dance with pleasure, without constraint. Weren’t we supposed to have fun? To break the oddness, I went to the ladies’ room. Oh the way in the dark confusion the man leading the band, who was also a chaperone, pulled me aside and said, “you are the most beautiful girl here.” I was astounded, thinking there were so many pretty girls there and they were all having such fun. Pretty preppy girls from New Canaan, Connecticut. I was a Stamford girl from the next town over, not an uppity town but a metropolis with lots of immigrants. My high school was called “the jungle” and white girls with long blonde hair were a small minority there. The New Canaan girls, with their field hockey-fresh, bounciness just said, “from where? Oh” and turned away. They didn’t know I had danced in the same room as the world’s most famous ballet stars.

Back at the table, Chris had to go. Home. Home I went. He dropped me off. I said thank you and into the house I went to see my mother’s astonished face at the kitchen table, reading. “I didn’t expect you so soon.” “I guess Chris doesn’t like these kind of events. He was very quiet so maybe he wanted to go home.” So much for Dad saying it’s okay to stay out late!

The next afternoon I called Chris to ask why he was so quiet the night before and dropped me off so abruptly. His dad answered the phone and told me Chris was still asleep from his late night out. (His late night out?) He didn’t get back from the after-prom until three or so.

Speechless, I hung up. The after-prom party was a spectacular party put on by the town at the local Parks Department building. It was at the former Arm & Hammer estate, a magnificent mansion with matching grounds, set high on a hill and Chris and I used to go there late at night to gaze at the New York City lights far in the distance and do the teenage thing.

So he went to the party without me.

Still Talking
He called quite often. Sometimes he spoke very enthusiastically and sometimes he was so quiet I didn’t know why he called. Seems he just needed contact with me. That was okay. I saw Jack once every week or two and sometimes, every few weeks, Chris and I would get together. He was more of a friend then, almost completely platonic, but now and then he’d grab my hand or put his arm around me and electric sparks flew. Did he feel them too?

Our deep conversations all about life continued deep into the night when his mood was into it. At summer’s end he went off to college in the most northern part of California – to Eureka, in the mountains on the edge of Oregon. I went to the southern part, more than a day’s drive away.

He talked about pushing over cows in the field during the dead of night for fun, to pass the time. And he said the girls were as big and dumb as the cows. You could push them over too, they’d gladly let you. I knew he wouldn’t like any of them.

For me, life was a whirl. I was thrilled with what I was learning at school. My mind raced. I had sun-shiny California school friends – really good kids who I truly liked. After school I rode my bike, hair flying, to Venice Beach and watched the break-dancers and then swam in the ocean waves before lying down to study my books in the hot sand.

Chris would call in the dorm room. Usually it was late at night and just like our sit-in-the-car-in-the-driveway conversations we talked until three or so. I didn’t miss him but I loved hearing his voice and having our conversations.

Back Together Again
At home on school vacation we got together in the snow and walked and talked, bitterly cold, as with our first winter of dating. Then, before we knew it, we were together again as a couple and going off to our far-spread California schools, we talked more and more on the phone and sent letters. I found it quite a comfort and went about to my classes within the crowd with a smile on my face thinking someone loves me, I don’t need all you people. I can concentrate on studying and going to the beach.

Oh well. In the midst of planning a trip to far away snowy Eureka, Chris called and, typically, out of the blue, said, don’t come. I don’t have money to take you skiing. Well, I was paying my own way anyway! What was he talking about?

So that was truly the end. He had someone else. Since then he has gone to every extent to get me back.

No Longer Together
I was terribly hurt when he broke up with the seventeen year old innocent me. No one who had ever exclaimed love for me at that time in my life took back their love. My mother, my father, my brother, my relatives, never said go away, I can’t love you now. For a long time I was deeply hurt. I was confused about love.

Chris persisted. At home in Connecticut that summer I was in a community theater production, dancing (!). During our nightly rehearsals, I’d catch a glimpse of his face through the outside window, then in the audience from the stage, or through the costume door window.

The same thing happened the next summer. And he would call and call. My family would say, “Diane, Chris is on the phone.” Oh no. Not again.

Next thing I knew, I was getting married! Aged twenty-two and life had changed dramatically. Who called over and over, begging me to meet with him in the park? Who did I find sitting at the bench by the grocery store looking in at me shopping with my fiancé? He’s weird, he said. No, he’s not! He loves me. Oh, oh, oh.

I got married and all was fine for awhile then terribly, awfully not fine. Just horrible. Chris called casually through the whole four year event, telling me of his California adventures and his loneliness. About two weeks before I got divorced, he asked, for the five hundredth time but for the first time in about six years, would I marry him? No, I laughed.

Just as I got divorced, he wrote to me about a girl he’d met and thought he was instantly in love. Oh good – maybe he won’t call so much and keep me awake so late. But, could he really love someone else?

He’s Letting Me Know About Our Long Relationship
Through the years, I received mysterious packages in the mail. Brown paper covered packages of books, all regarding spirituality and reincarnation. The first book I received, I was doubtful about but read it non-stop deep into the night, breathlessly. It was about couples who fell in love, recognizing each other from past lives, and who needed to either be together through this life or to be together temporarily in this life to work things out from their past relationship. The books explained chemistry between people and that being so comfortable with someone you just met or being drawn unexplainably to someone means you have a past history of soul meeting in other lives. It is a recognizing of souls, long love meeting long love.

The idea of reincarnation appeals to me because after all the hard work I do and all the caring I put into my life and those I love, I don’t just want it all to die. I want to see everyone again. These books said relationships change but the same souls keep connecting. For instance, in one life, the relationship may be brother and sister, and the next life, it may be husband and wife with the sexes changed. You do meet new souls but most of your important love relationships are souls you’ve known a long, long time. So we are always connected and never lose a loved one.

Before I knew it, Chris got married. We still, through his whole courtship with his wife, had lots of late night conversations and, often, much strife over what exactly our relationship was. Souls that have loved for a long time, I believed. And souls that would love for a long time to come, I hoped. He hoped too and asked if we would always stay in touch and be friends.

Conclusion
He said maybe we weren’t meant to be together in this life but there are always more to come.

Always.

And that’s not The End.

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