I took an evening with my girlfriend at a dinner party, changed the setting and many details, and daydreamed what I thought would be a romantic love letter. She liked it. A lot.
I can’t sleep tonight: I‘ve too much on my mind. Yes, your kisses did calm me, and afterwards I did fall asleep like a baby in your arms, but I’m awake again. But what’s on my mind now is not this business trip; we’ve been through that. I lay there in our bed, thinking of you and how good you feel and how much you mean to me, and I just want to tell you again, and I don’t want to wake you. Too soon the red-eye flight will take me away from you for a long, long week, so tonight, while you sleep in the other room, I sit here in my underwear at the kitchen table and write about how I feel about you and our future. I want just to give you a good life, just to give you what you have given me.
. . .
In one of my daydreams about what our lives will be like, I see us at a party at an estate by the ocean. The house is high above the beach, and between the beach and house is a series of gentle hills covered with tall, blowing grass. It is late afternoon, and I am standing on the long, white stucco veranda in front of the house. I’m wearing a summer sport coat and a loose tie, and I’m sipping wine as I look out over the endless blue water to watch the soaring gulls.
I hear a car approaching, and I walk to the side of the house to wait for the car to be parked. The driveway curves away for a quarter mile or so, finally squeezing between two staggered hills, two overlapping hills carpeted in tall wild grass, and along its length the driveway is generously shaded by Spanish oaks. The first car parks near the house, and another enters the driveway.
This is our house; it is our home and our party, and our guests have begun to arrive. I greet them outside, and I bring them in to you.
Just as I’m ushering our first guests through the double doors, you come out into the foyer. You’ve been inside getting yourself ready, and this is the first time this evening that I see you. You’re wearing a slim white dress that we had made for you, and your blonde hair is done up in a French braid the way you sometimes do it, a few delicate strands trailing on the nape of your neck. You look beautiful, and immediately our friends tell you so. I cannot contain my smile because I cannot contain my enjoyment of you, and I decide that we will need privacy for me to tell you exactly how beautiful you are tonight. I am immediately filled with a desire to have you behind closed doors.
Soon the house is full, but it is not loud. Other nights were meant for wildness, but this night was meant for easy relaxation. We’ve hired a pair of gentlemen to take turns playing gentle classical music on your grand piano, and in the background of their music there is the lull of the distant surf wafting through our open house. There is the tinkling of glasses, the melody of blended voices, and, from other rooms, occasional choruses of mild laughter.
At one point in the evening I’m in my study, sitting with just one thigh on top of my huge cherrywood desk in the middle of the vaulted room. I’m talking with a friend, and he standing by the shelf that holds the wooden sculpture you gave to me this past Christmas. His back is to the floor-length and wall-wide paned window that faces the garden, and as I casually look past him through the window to the garden, without intention my eyes find you. There are other people out there admiring the roses and sitting by the fountain, but my eyes find you. You are at the end of the garden, back where the lawn begins, too far away for me to see your face clearly, but my eyes find you. You and my brother are strolling arm in arm along a bricked walkway, and as he raises his head in a triumphant chuckle I see you touch your head against his shoulder. I watch you and the way you move, and I think that you are like a brilliant actress in a movie: you are, in my eyes, the epitome of feminine grace.
My friend in my study with me suggests that we join the others, and when I stand to leave I move the tall crystal vase of irises on my desk about a quarter of inch to the right. That’s what you did that very morning, after we had made love on my desk.
In no hurry I meander from room to room, making sure our guests are comfortable. You’ve come in from the garden, and while I’m listening to a friend in the foyer you pass behind my back. You inconspicuously trace three fingertips just above my beltline; I recognize your touch.
Soon, near a potted palm we find ourselves beside each other, each of us engaged in separate conversations with others. We’re each holding a wine glass with one hand, and without a cue our free hand reaches for the other’s, and our warm fingers mesh comfortably. Neither of us misses a beat in our separate conversations, but through our hands we do secretly share an almost imperceptible squeeze of assurance.
Eventually I find myself again on the long veranda, this time in the company of most of our guests. We’ve informally gathered there to watch the sun set into the sea, and the sun’s rays slanting in under the veranda roof are painting everyone’s face in warm, buttery shades of light. I see you talking with a friend, and from where I stand your face is in three-quarter profile, part of your face shaded but not shadowed, most of your face lit by the warm setting sun. The gold dangling from your ears and laced around your neck is absorbing the sunlight, looking like beaded liquid lying on your tanned skin. The hairs loose from your braid and trailing on your neck are backlit: they’ve caught and diffused the light, so on the sunset side of your head there is just the slightest suggestion of a thin, golden blonde fog. Your face, your lusty hair, your elegant neck . . . you are such a vision, and like so many other times, I find myself looking at you the way I did when I first discovered you and every time after that when I discovered a new dimension to your personality. Once again I hear myself thinking, “What a wonderful woman I’ve found!” I find myself wishing that you were not my wife only so that I could court you all over again.
I walk over to you, reach for your empty wine glass, and kiss you on the cheek. You understand that I am on my way to bring you more wine, and you look at me briefly, eye to eye, and casually say, Thank you, Honey.” I know that always your thanks are more than habit and politeness, and that is why I serve you your wine. You are my friend.
Later, we’re inside the house, and I see you on the other side of the parlor, listening to our friends. I’m involved in a conversation on my side of the room, but I continue to glance your way. You say something, and our friends smile, and one of the women gives you a hug. They’re all so fond of you.
So, from across the room, unknown to you, I watch you as you speak. Your eyes, the curve of your cheek, your perfect lips, your familiar expressions . . . if ever I were blinded, these are the sights I would miss the most. I love, I enjoy your face.
Later, we and several of our guests return to the veranda to lounge in the ocean’s cool evening air. Beneath a window of partially turned thin blinds I am sitting beside you on an overstuffed rattan sofa. I have my arm around your shoulder, and your hand is resting on my leg just above my knee. In the interplay between slats of light streaming through the window blinds, shadows cast by people moving inside the window, and the soft glow of the veranda’s dim gas lamps, you’re feeding a few hors d’oeuvres to our dogs, two Russian wolfhounds – big but narrow dogs, like greyhounds but with very long and dazzling-white wavy hair. I glance up at the faces of our friends around us: the women are smiling and watching the dogs; most of the men are holding slightly stiff smiles while looking at your long fingers being licked, at your amused, playful face and the line of your jawbone, at your exposed collarbones, at the curve of your hip pressed against mine, at your calves, and at your slender feet in your pretty white shoes. One man glances at me, and after he and I share one of those fleeting moments of unspoken recognition, although I smile slightly at him, his eyes hurry away to someplace socially safe.
At midnight the caterers leave, and at one a.m. I dismiss the pianists. Most of our guests leave also, but the party is not meant to be over, and our closest friends know that. You put some of our favorite old- time saxophone jazz on the stereo, Coltrane ballads, and soon all of our lingering friends have been magnetized into one room.
In the parlor, we’ve sunk into our leather couches, and the comfortable conversation ebbs and flows as people began to gaze longer and longer into the flames behind the etched glass fireplace. You’re sitting beside me, your body touching mine, and we’re holding hands again, your thumb absently waving back and fort in a small arc on the back of my hand.
Around two a.m. our friends thank us for the very easy evening. We stand near the cars, receiving thank-you’s and wishing our friends safe trips home. Both the men and the women give you tiny kisses good night, and when they hug you I watch your white dress be pulled tight and I can’t help but imagine your body nude under your dress and lingerie. Suddenly I want everyone to leave very soon, and I make my good night’s as short as possible. Finally everyone is gone, and we stand together by the driveway, holding hands and watching the last taillights flash down the curving aisle of oaks. Finally I have you to myself.
I turn to you, and you turn to me. We kiss lightly, and then you lay your head on my shoulder. You step out of your shoes into the night grass, so your face slides down on my shoulder, just a little bit. We stand and hold each other, taking a few steps of a slow dance, and we begin to talk quietly about the party. You want to compare notes about whether or not all the guests enjoyed themselves, but I have something else on my mind.
I begin to kiss you, and then you begin to kiss me. I tell you how I’ve been feeling about you all evening, how eight hours earlier I was overcome by your beauty exactly as I was on the day we met, how for eight hours I watched you and rediscovered your sensuality, how for eight hours I was distracted from everything and everybody in a house full of partying people by a hunger for your tender caress, how for eight hours I wished that we were alone so that we could kiss and kiss and kiss. In the distance is the sound of the surf rhythmically pounding the beach, and in my ear is the sound of your whispering breath, to me an empowering incantation. I half-step to your side, slide my arm behind your thighs, and with your arms cradled loosely about my neck, I pick you up. I do not even consider taking you into the house or our bedroom: I pick you up so that I can lower you to the lawn. I cannot wait.
. . .
Yes, Honey, I know that the seaside mansion and party is quite a daydream, but it is not so unrealistic. In our tiny apartment I have to imagine only the sea: the luxury and elegance I already have, because I have you. You have been, you are, and you will always be my heroine and the object of my desire. Your charms are the kind that never fade, and you will always have what it takes to incite my passion and to intrigue me. You are my woman, my friend, my lady, my wife.
Your husband and your lover
PS – I’ll see you next week. Pick up the dry cleaning, will ya?