Love(s) of My Life

Someone who I am quite fond of was musing recently, “What if you turn a corner and bump into the love of your life?”  I quickly answered, “Which one?”  I don’t believe in the single love of my life–I know that this is a controversial issue, but hear me out. I have irrefutable evidence that there is just not one single “Love of your Life” but rather,  a life “well loved” would consist of a string of loves that are appropriate and necessary to that one stage of your life. 

The First Love of My Life

I would have to say, without being creepy, that my father was the love of my life as a small child. I adored him, hung on his every word, and thought that no man could rival him. He was moderately demonstrative, encouraged intellectual curiosity and thought I was great. Until I hit adolescence.

The Second Love of My Life

Without a doubt, I could tell you that David Cassidy was the second love of my life. And lest you think that a popular figure, who I didn’t personally know, couldn’t possibly fit the bill, I present to you the following evidence. 

I adored him–everything about him, his looks, his personality (if you read TigerBeat regularly you really got a feel for what a great guy he was!) the way he treated his mother. I would lay on my floor with a record playing on my boxed turntable and listen to David singing to me–validating his love for me through song. I mean, wasn’t “I Think I Love You” inspired by my devotion? As part of our love, I regularly pictured the life we would lead when his bus would break down in the middle of our suburban town and I would just happen to be there with a bright smile and a winning personality. I could carry a tune and thought I could probably join the family business. 

(Side note–Now, I can’t hear that song without hearing him sing “I Think I Love You, DON’T TOUCH ME!!!” A lyric change that resulted from 100 or so middle-aged mom/fans who stormed the stage at the Count Basie and tried to pull him into the crowd. It was a frightening moment for a man in his late sixties!) 

Getting Real Now-Third Love of My Life, but First Flesh and Blood

My first, “flesh and blood” “Love of My Life” would be none other than David Russell. He was a 15 year-old beefy blond football player with a sweet disposition and a funny sense of humor. I officially “went out” with him the summer I was 14, but I had been “in love” with him from the age of 12. (Forgive me David Casssidy for my  two-timing treachery). 

He was the first to tell me he loved me at the tender age of 14. We swam together, we made out in the rafters of our yacht clubs’ bathhouse, we skirted the inquisitive collective gazes of our sunbathing mothers on the lookout for teen debauchery. We were made for eachother. 

Chicago’s “Color my World” was playing during our first ever slow dance on the patio of the Club. To this day, I can’t hear it without thinking of him.  It was the “Eight to 80 Dance” and we swayed under the summer stars and the eyes of parent chaperones, many who thought it was cute that we were together. The Carpenters song “We’ve Only Just Begun” was going to be our wedding song, although I have to admit, he was less involved in that choice. He was very indulgent of my romantic fancies. 

A loose diary and my mother’s obsessive tidying brought our young affair to a screeching and messy halt. And there ended that  “Love of My Life”. Years later, we were to attend Syracuse University together, and with the exception of some drunk, dance floor kissing on my 19th birthday, we were never together again. 

A few years ago, he passed away suddenly. I hadn’t seen him in over 35 years, but I wept like a baby for the smiling, blond boy that I remembered and loved.

#4-The Real Deal

It would be a decade later, when the next “Love of my Life” revealed himself in the form of a 22 soon to be 23-year old bartender at a new restaurant across 33rd St. from my office in Manhattan. The owner encouraged a bunch of us “20 Somethings” to come in for Margaritas “on the house” during opening week, and we just never left. 

The bartender was completely oblivious and dealt with me and my friends with the right combo of efficiency, flirtation and impatience. One of my friends had a crush on him, while I turned my eye towards a waiter from Poland, who was attending NYU. 

The bartender turned out to be funny, obnoxious and smart, but I was not charmed. The turning point came when we all went down to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. He led the group like a Roman tour guide, providing quips and jokes–while I secretly wondered how this big mouth was allowed to take control of our outing.  It wasn’t until we stopped at some restaurant and I had a splitting headache, that everything changed. He asked the bartender for a glass of water told me to drink it, stood behind me and gave me the best temple massage I have ever had, all the while whispering funny stories about all the people we were with. 

He was beefy (yes this is a sought-after physical trait for me)  and bald, and when he asked me how old I thought he was, I tried to be diplomatic. Logic told me that if he was bald he was over a certain age, but his core group of friends were younger. “Thirty five!” I answered, thinking I was giving him the best compliment ever. “Thanks, I’m 22!” What can I say, I didn’t take into consideration his baby face. He had just finished school and was starting a company, he told me, working nights to pay the bills.

Our first date was the night of my twenty-third birthday, when he hijacked my party by contacting my friends and telling them that he was taking me out. I got to the bar, looked for my friends and saw only him with my drink and a birthday cupcake-I was hooked. 

It was the night Hurricane Gloria hit New York, a fact that I always thought appropriate. I got a 1 am train to Long Island and my mother and sister were not amused. It would be 14 days without telephone or electricity before I heard from him again. One of the first calls that came through once utilities were restored was Michael calling to see how I was and when we could see each other again. 

That began what would be both a tumultuous courtship, and to some extent marriage. We were both suckers for a sad story (would cry at TV commercials), we could fight with the best of them, we were ten days apart and born at the same hospital in NYC, neither one of us could make a decision unless really under the gun (Astrologers would say it is the Libran couple), and for both of us, family was not only everything, many times it was the only thing. We were made for eachother. We loved each other and our four kids with a fierce devotion that spanned our 30 years together and that didn’t end on the day he died. So there is that “Love of My Life.”

The Caveat

There is a caveat to my “many” “Loves of My Life” theory, and that is a love that spans a virtual lifetime. For those that are fortunate enough to have a love that runs the gamut of life–from couple, young family, to grown family, empty nesters, grandparents, I concede that that is truly “The Love of Your Life”. 

I am fortunate to have witnessed that kind of love in my own family–my sister in law’s parents, and I will say there is no better example of the ONE love of a life than theirs. It has spanned decades and included overarching joy, unspeakable heartbreak, faith and deep devotion. I know that this exists, I have seen it with my own eyes, and the knowledge of that makes me happy. But that can never be mine.  

What’s Next?

It would be horribly sad, and it would be difficult to live with the same optimism, if I believed that Michael was THE Love of My Life and that I would never have another. How could I enter into any relationship if I did not believe it had the potential to be miraculous?

Michael himself would be cheering from the rafters if I found someone whom I was crazy about and with whom I could live out the next few decades.  I can swear on my life right now there would not be a smidge of begrudging on his part. I believe looking for, and maybe finding that person, would be the highest compliment and honor I could give Michael. He provided me with something that I would want to have again. The next great “Love of My Life” won’t have all the craziness of child-rearing and early career drama, but it will probably have the equal craziness of weddings and grandchildren. I won’t settle for a mere companion, I want the whole thing.

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