...the story of an unusual love.
"Passion may erupt unforeseen, altering life's conventional boundaries, and transforming our hearts for eternity."
I'd not been to a librarian's convention in years. Being a male librarian in a high school library made me a little unique, after all, since most of my colleagues were female, a fact that made life rather interesting, of course, even though it could be a bit overwhelming at times.
With the coming of my marriage, and the inevitable family concerns and having to obtain extra jobs to make ends meet, life had prevented me from attending a convention for many years, more years, in fact, than I cared to count. Yet, my patience had rewarded me, the time had come, and here I was, attending the American Society of Librarians' annual convention, at long last. It was good to return, after all this time, book a room at the hotel, and attend all these new and exciting...well, exciting for a librarian...seminars and workshops, lectures, and testimonials. The people were very convivial, just as they had been forty years ago, when I attended my first such event.
People seem to assume that librarians are stuffy, geeky clerical types who have no taste for fun or adventure. That may be true in a certain sense, of course, but not when we are amongst our own kind, where the camaraderie is very cordial and when there is always something new to excite the imagination.
This particular week had been great fun, indeed.
The week's festivities were now coming to an end, however, and the last event of the week stirred deep memories for me, personally. A professor was giving a lecture on the "History of the Dewey Decimal System," to a rather distracted crowd who, of course, already knew the subject as if it were their daily bread. I was having a definite case of deja vu about this finale to our bookish gatherings.
My mind began day-dreaming, and making personal associations. I kept reliving scenes from my past. Once, my daughter had asked me, "Dad, would you answer a question that's been occurring to me? Tell me. What was the one event in your life that you believe best prepared you for marriage to Mom, when you decided to propose to her? I could hear her voice ask me that question several times, as she had done several years ago.
Thinking about her question, and how I tried to answer it truthfully, carried my mind back to this very same place, the convention I had attended forty years before. It may have seemed strange to my daughter, when she heard my answer, but the one thing that caused me to dedicate myself to being a decent husband and father, was an incident that happened at this very convention, all those years ago, long before I had met my wife...an incident of the hear...a rendezvous with a young woman whose name I only came to know as "Memory." In fact, it was by that same name that she, no doubt, remembered me I was convinced that those brief moments with Memory had nourished the deep recesses of my heart, exhorting me to find the courage to live life, and seek its fullest meaning.
How totally unexpected were the events of that afternoon. A large group of us were hearing this exact same lecture from another professor. "The History of the Dewey Decimal System," was being explained at the very last event of the week, oddly enough. Most of my fellow librarians were planning to catch trains, or make long journeys by auto, immediately after this final lecture. I must confess that boredom and fatigue created a huge sense of ennui amongst the crowd, myself included. The lecturer was preaching to the choir, as they say. At least, I had obtained a seat on the aisle, so I could make a quick escape if needed.
As the lecturer droned on and on, my mind became transfixed by a new atmosphere. The very air became excited by a different vibration. It was the kind of sensation one can only feel inside themselves, without any sensible external explanation. My surprised sixth sense began to arrive at the source of this excitement in the midst of the monotony. Eventually, my senses honed in on an aura, the aura of a young woman, seated three rows up from my own location. The sensations simply had to be coming from her, I thought. I could feel her presence so very strongly.
The woman was wearing a ladies business suit, seemingly made of blue-green wool, and, with her lavish red hair, she became my instant visual fixation. She, too, must have been sensing a strong beam of energy in the room, because she would glance around every few seconds, as if looking for someone's eyes to find her own, amidst the unnerving din of the proceedings.
Then came an epithermal moment. Our glances joined in a moment of personal truth, as if our souls had been searching for each other; scanning for any sign of personal simpatico, Normally, if I'd fancied a woman, and she turned her glance in my direction to register her annoyance, I'd turn my face away, and pretend to be attending to something else. The glance I now shared with this young woman, however, was unlike anything from my normal experience.
There was an honest energy in our eyes, that riveted my gaze to hers, my heart beating a little faster with each second of the clock. I stared squirming in my chair, as she began to look around the room nervously, as if seeking a way to exit the place.
Throwing restraint to the wind, I stood up, not knowing what to expect, or what, on earth, I was trying to do. She also rose from her seat, and walked around the end of her aisle towards me, as if we were beacons, led by our enchantment, heralding a reality which was only motivated by the dictates of the heart. As we approached each other I could sense poetry in her aura; a melodiousness which transcended all expectations from my past.
Instinctively, we acted out a little charade for our colleagues to witness, blurting out things like, "Sir, could you help me with my luggage for a few moments," or, "Miss, do you need some assistance?" Calmly we proceeded through the doorway, and, into the hotel lobby, where our joint mission became adamant. Our hands joined naturally, and, together, we searched furtively for a private place, a secure room, or a darkened corner, in which to...to...actually I didn't really know what. All I knew was that this compelling intimacy required my immediate attention. We had to somehow join our energies together, risking embarrassment, and casting caution aside, even if just for a short moment.
Finding an unlocked door at an office identified only as "Manager," we opened the door and entered. It was a small business office with several doors and the entrance to a storeroom near the manager's desk. Taking just a moment to realize if we were alone, our new-found infatuation grew more tender. She quickly became the object of each others curiosity and compassion; the very union of each others senses. We each reached for the other in a sweet, if furtive, ardor. Her heavy-lidded eyes dazzled my own, as our lips took their first sheepish kiss, followed by more and more convincing ones, and my mind recorded the warm, wet intoxication, that only lavish kisses can bring. Our hearts beat faster. My hands seemed to have a will of their own, and reverently explored inside her blue suit. One gently meandered through her silken blouse, and found its way underneath her bra, finding a home in the touching splendor of her warm breasts, sending an ambient feeling of peace and contentment up my arm, as I had never before know. The other hand strolled carefully down her backside, finding the most memorable bliss. I remember hoping that my actions would be received by her as the loving gesture of the moment's passion.
She held me firmly as our kisses continued, pausing only to refresh our senses momentarily. I buried my face in her hair with my eyes open and viewed the loveliness of her scented red waves, reminding me of strawberries and honey. At the same time, she ardently applied slow, we kisses to my ears, creating the most sublime sensation imaginable. We found the joy of kissing each other's eyes, that memorable sense of kissing the closed eyelid and the eyebrow at the same time. How I cherished the feel of our dancing noses, as they performed little pirouettes with each caress, bumping into each other in their sweet, comic courtship, while the scent of her perfume inspired me with ravishing clarity.
Our hearts seemed to join in a mutual glow, and each time our gazes met, I found eternity in the pupils of her eyes. Searching the sweet darkness for her spirit's glimmer, animated my soul, just as her ardent affection animated my grateful body. Breathless and excited, my mind played little games in the wake of these new pleasures. Had I ever loved before? Was this real? During one of our pauses she began to speak amidst the sighs. "I really don't know what's come over me," she whispered. I've never carried on like this before.."
"Oh, yes, of course...I would never suggest..."
"I felt an overwhelming need to find you, to have you."
"Yes, yes, I felt it so very strongly, too. It has to be real. It has to be now..."
Just at that moment, or private affections were suddenly challenged by the world at large. An intruder had entered the room, a waiter from the dining room, taking a shortcut on his way to the kitchen. My new love tried to compose herself, while I turned to face our nervous interloper, hoping to conceal my bulging trousers, though actually taking pride in their vulnerable appearance. I tried to engage his eyes, and be aggressive, in my demeanor as to turn the tables on the poor little man, who was only doing his job, after all.
"Well, may I help you, sir," he asked, sensing our temporary embarrassment.
"I'll say you can. Isn't this the Manager's office? We had an appointment with him fifteen minutes ago, and he's never arrived. Is he always late for his appointments? Does he always keep his customers waiting?"
"Gee, I'm sorry, sir. He's just out there in the kitchen. I can find him for you in no time at all."
"Good. See to it, then, and don't keep us waiting any longer,."
Upon his departure, we removed ourselves from the office and headed down the hall to the lobby. We were breathless and we surly must have been a curious sight to the harried bystanders. The lecture we had escaped was just ending, and the librarians were filing out of the nearby hall. We ran out of the building through the revolving doors, and found a moments solace and privacy in some bushes near the taxi stand. We were both trembling with joy, yet we knew our time was drawing nigh, and we didn't even know each others names.
"I...I don't even know your name," at last I remarked. Then she began to speak to me in soothing words, though mysterious ones.
"Dear friend, I guess we've experienced a powerful love that swept over us without regard to reason," she said. "There is no explaining it. It's just a matter of the heart some powerful flame that arose in us."
"Yes...I know what you mean, though I'm completely uninitiated." "Please tell me your name, though, that I may remember you."
"I really think our feelings are beyond names. Just think of me as "Memory." Perhaps we'll meet again, or in any event, we'll be each others "Memory" forever. It's probably true that our lives will never be joined in this world, as our hearts have been, today."
We hugged tenderly as the moment of departure approached, both of us knowing that it would be time to re-enter the actual world very soon, departing for our various destinations, just as everyone else would do.
"Menory...yes...We'll be each others sweet memory. I'll never forget you, no matter what," I sighed.
"Nor, I, you, my sweet one"
We cooed and exchanged hugs for as long as we could before the final moments came. Then we blew kisses and traded sweet glances for the reaming few moments. It was the last time I ever saw her again, though my mind had tarried over this lovely event ever since. This defining moment would never leave me, and I would cherish "Memory," in my heart, as I lived a relatively normal life the real world. I never had any problem understand other peoples love problems, or their inconsistencies, or their incongruities, after learning about the meaning of extreme passion.
Suddenly, I found myself back in the here and now, and it occurred to me that I had daydreamed through the entire lecture, I quickly came to my senses, as the crowd of librarians began to depart, just as they had all those years ago. The convention was finally completed for another year, but there was one more little tableau to be performed. This one was almost as magical as my memory of Menory.
As the festivities came to a close, a bright looking young woman, half my age, walked up to me and began to speak.
"Sir," she began. "My name is Emily, and, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask you a few questions about a personal matter."
"Yes, of course, Emily. What did you want to know?"
"Well, I'll start at the very beginning, and I hope I'm not wasting your time. You see, my mother was a school librarian for many years, and I eventually joined the profession myself. Mom would often speak of attending these conventions, and, one day, out of the blue, she spoke of a man she had met at one of these gatherings, many years ago. I hope I'm not boring you?"
"No, not at all. Pease,.. please continue."
"Well, I hope this doesn't sound too crazy, but she asked me to search for a certain older man at my next convention, so here I am. Believe it or not she told me that I'd just have to use my instinct for people to find him, and I'm wondering if you might be the one I'm looking for. She gave me a letter to give to the man she had in mind."
"Oh, really?" Well, I did make a friendship here, many years ago, but, odd as itseems, I never learned the lady's name."
"Well sir, my Mom told me that whoever the right man is that he would know the special name that each gave the other on that day in the past. If you know the name, you must be the right person."
A sense of renewed mystery rolled over me, as I contemplated this new twist in the story. "Is there a reason why your Mother isn't here today in person?," I asked with growing concern.
"Yes, she passed away last year. It came rather suddenly, but she was able to write this letter before...before..."
"Yes, I understand. Did she say that our names were...Memory?"
"Yes, that's it," she said, and we both began to weep together, trying to console one another, as if we'd known each other all our lives. Finally, we extracted ourselves from our shared consolation, and she presented me with the letter. I stared at the envelope as she wished me well, and left the room, leaving me virtually alone with the letter. After staring at the envelope for what seemed like an eternity, I finally opened it, and began reading, my tears falling upon the page with each line.
Since you are reading this letter, my daughter must have fulfilled her mission, which was to seek you and find you, providing me with the hope of a moments solace, though shared, inevitably, from afar.
You have been in my heart ever since that day, that elusive, yet memorable day, when we held fast to each other in such sublime affection. Though I was called to a normal life, as I hope you were, also, my soul, in a sense, never strayed from our loving embraces.
It is my sincere wish to find you when this life has ended, and I know in my heart that you will desire the same path. I hope to meet all my loved ones in the light of our future destiny, but I watch for you with the most ardent anticipation. Keep hope alive, dearest. Keep hope alive.