!! Looking Back !! End of Love – How it Dies when not Nurtured !
We’ve all had romances in our lives that have either been star crossed or in some savage way unrequited. I’ve actually had more than a few. I can think back, especially in my childhood, to several young things that somehow with magical elixirs captured the devotion of my soul, or at least the lust of my flesh. Candy, comes to mind. I know, strange name for sure. But, she was an older woman to my young 12 and for the briefest of summers I spent infatuated with that beauty. Of course, love has a way of dissipating as youth churns ahead. There was also Melissa, my first and true love. A young goddess that destroyed my life and heart forever. Then there was Ruth, and also Joanna.
But, none of them were quite like Lavinna. She was an intoxicatingly strange brew, a mixture of demon and nymph. She stirred a craving deep within me, to want to hold her, to possess her completely.
Unlike the others that quickly faded into my rearview, Lavinna had a bizarre knack of hanging on through the entire duration of my childhood and even into the mayhem of adulthood. So close we came so many times, and yet, never once were we together. Never once in all these years.
This post is about a love that seems to have kind of in some strange way soured over the course of a lifetime. It started out as a kind of innocence like driven white snow and slowly, through the many impurities of the years, changed under its own weight and longing and instability. In the end it became like a supernova and collapsed in on itself, destroying any chance that it’s two orbiting moons would ever meet face to face, in the same space, in the same time, under the same sky.
All that’s left now is the memories I’ve manufactured in my head. Memories of a life that could have been, a romance that never will be. Because that life, that possibility is gone (or maybe never existed to begin with). Burned up in the wake of the fire that ignited two souls that will forever have unfinished business in this world and maybe in the next.
And in just fashion as I do for all my work on my Unschooled Master of Theology Program, let’s discuss what it means to love and lose by sheer immobility. Not betrayal or incompatibility. But simply because there was never quite the opportunity to see where it all might go.
So let’s talk about it…
I really don’t even remember how or where or when I met Lavinna or when she came into my life. I’m thinking it was in grade school, but I couldn’t be certain. I know in junior high I have a clear memory of attending a concert with her at the school, and I think I managed to make it to second base (though I’ve never really been too certain where those pesky bases lie anyway). I don’t remember when we had our first kiss. In fact, I honestly don’t have any memories of ever kissing her, though I’m certain I had at some point.
I do remember talking with her on the phone frequently during those middle years between preadolescence and teenage insanity. The only phone in the house at that time hung on the wall in the kitchen, and the extra long cord allowed me to reach around into the hallway and sit down across from my bedroom door. Luckily there was rarely anyone home during the day. Strangely. I’m not certain, though, where everyone actually went.
We had a close call of going all the way one hot August day when I convinced Lavinna to meet me at a local park near the grade school. It was a crazy world back then, at least in my mind. Full of outrage and protest and angst against the world for being born, for living under the rule of a megalomaniac. For peer pressure at school and, well, for school itself. To be quite honest, I pretty much hated my life, despite it being what I would describe, looking back now, as a picturesque west coast upbringing.
The reality is, I was brought up during a time when kids could leave home in the summer on their bikes and could go virtually anywhere without worry, as long as they were back by dark or dinner. I remember in grade school riding my bike or walking the two miles to and from school. Through a field, and a wooded park, too. It’s a miracle nothing terrible happened to me during those years. But it was a different time then, I suppose.
My close call with Lavinna in that park was just that. She, of course, got cold feet right before the deed commenced and she scurried back home and called me on the phone a few hours later to “talk about it.”
Distance Makes the Heart Grow Blurry
In the course of our child and teen years that was not the only attempt I made at trying to get into Lavinna’s pants. There was another incident where we were all, incidentally, vacationing in the same town on the coast. My family had a place on the lake and her parents were camping at the county campground.
While my parents were busy trying to construct a cabin that they would eventually sell because they could no longer make the trip up the three flights of stairs (people are kind of stupid that way when they build in their youth), I convinced my dad that it would be okay for my friends and I to take the boat out.
We did and despite the prohibitions to going to the county dock, my two friends and I set out at full speed to the boat dock to pick her up. Once we were underway, we found a deserted property where the two of us got out and my friends took the boat out.
Another close call, of course. She chickened out yet again at the last minute.
Sorries all around, of course. She didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel comfortable. Anxious. I don’t blame her. Of course, I did then.
This, I think, was the last attempt I made until I was an adult and I was actually out of the military and slowly taking my time returning home. I spent a week on a bus from an ill-fated visit at a commune in Chicago. I was, by then, a struggling Christian. Or, better put, a person struggling with Christianity.
Arrangements had been made that her step-dad would pick me up at the bus station when I arrived in town. But, after a week on the road, a conviction overcame me and I abruptly got off at a camp ground along the gorge. I stayed there a few days, and, though I tried to explain it to Lavinna, she did not take my non-arrival nearly as well as I took her multiple back-outs when we were kids.
The problem was, of course, I was a different person by this point than I had been during those teen years. While in the military I had surrendered my life to Christ. I had taken on the role of the servant and now had a Lord who I served. The flesh was, of course, just as weak as ever. Maybe not as weak as before. But, it was still there. And I wrestled greatly between what I knew I should do and what I wanted to do.
If I had actually gone through the visit, I know I would have ended up in her bed. God only knows what would have transpired then.
Several years later, Lavinna had two kids of her own, fresh off of a divorce if I’m not mistaken, and she insisted on a face to face visit. By this point I was disillusioned with life, with Christianity (not with God or the Bible, but just with the people who claimed to be the Church and were anything but), and was living out on a ranch on the banks of the river. It was the beginning of my haphazard attempts to isolate myself, a natural inclination that I later would describe as a calling to the solitary life. At the time, though, I knew nothing of monasticism or hermitism. I just knew I was not comfortable around people and was drawn to deserted spaces, and the natural world.
She spent a few hours visiting. Surprisingly, nothing actually happened. I think she wanted it to, though, I’m not sure what she realistically expected with her kids just a few feet away playing in the dirt. She ultimately left unsettled and her affection toward me (whatever actually it was) unrequited.
I think it was then that whatever it was that was between us (call it love or lust or just chemical attraction) began to sour and slowly rot from within.
A few years later I would meet the woman I chose to be my wife. A few years after our marriage I received an email from Lavinna wanting to know about the marriage and my life. I quickly dispatched a reply stating that we could not rekindle our friendship or communication as it would not be fair to my wife.
The Ravages of Time
It took five long, miserable years for my marriage to implode and for me to become single again. But, of course, by this point I was no longer single – as in, available or open for a relationship with the opposite sex (or, really anyone for that matter). The little bit of desire that I might have for other people was seared out of me by my wife. It was not until some months after my divorce that I discovered a part of Christianity that is not spoken of at all in protestantism: the monastic call.
It was a breath of fresh air for me when I stumbled onto monasteries and the desert fathers. All these years I’d struggled within evangelicalism and not a single person ever told me about the first hermit monks of the Egyptian desert. Long before this bizarre confabulation of Amway and Capitalism that is American Christianity ever thought to exist, there were individual Christians who were drawn to the wild places, just like I was being called.
By this point I was moved to the coast and had a new job and a house in town and property on the lake, where I planned to build a hermitage where I could live out my remaining days in solitude and isolation from the world, from people, and from the materialist system that is hell bent on enslaving everyone.
Then one day I received an email while I was sitting in my car in the hospital parking lot on lunch. It was from Lavinna. She wanted to catch up and let me know she’d moved north and was working a different job and wanted to see me.
Of course I was tempted. Many are. There is an account of one of the desert hermits who struggled so much with his desires for the opposite sex that he was caught with a woman hiding in a basket in his cell!
Our emails went back and forth, but, in the end, I was able to resist the temptation Lavinna presented to the way of life I was trying to build. She, of course, did not understand. Why would she? How could she?
We parted ways once again with only hurt feelings between us, separated by distance and time and division.
The Making of a Monster
Several years later, I received another email from her. This one found me after a heart attack and trying to claw my way back to my plan of living in the wild. My job had changed its structure by then. It actually was now set up that I could (if I really wanted) visit Lavinna for a week. And the invitation came quickly and a little abruptly.
I can’t deny that I was suspicious almost immediately. She was single again. Her latest child (she had several years before) had been stolen off by the father to some unknown location (who knows why – I didn’t really ask). But, Lavinna was insistent that she wanted to just sit with me and hold my hand.
But, I’d spent the better part of 35 years pursuing this woman and my imagination immediately leaped to the limitless possibilities that could happen. We could spend the second half of our lives together, exploring the world, traveling, enjoying the simple things of life – together.
Was it possible?
I was still conflicted, of course. But I was not a young man anymore. Women do not typically show me interest like they used to when I was young and in my prime and full of promise and opportunity and earning potential.
But something just didn’t sit right.
I told her that it probably wasn’t a good idea, that she was a temptation for me that I should avoid. This, of course, was not well received. She quickly became short and testy, insisting that last time she came to me, so I was obligated this time to come to her.
What was it that just didn’t ring true? Was my imagined life with her clouding my mind from the reality of the situation? If my failed marriage had taught me anything it was that even the best sounding intentions rang hollow until the individual actually followed through.
Then it suddenly hit me. Was this a trap? Was she this time out for blood? My blood? What is the adage: nothing like a woman scorned? Was she trying to lure me up to her town, into her apartment to then accuse me of something? Maybe claim I raped her? Maybe she was trying to trick me there, knowing we would have sex, so she could get pregnant. Maybe she was going to murder me for all the times I rejected her over the years.
As the thoughts ran through my mind, I remember opening a new browser window on my laptop and looking up her Facebook account. And, there it was. A long conversation displayed with the world about this guy she was talking to by email, and how he was claiming she was a temptation and how much of a jerk he was.
It’s always surprising to me how disparate reality is from how we often perceive it. We give people the benefit of the doubt, expect too much of them, that they will rise to the occasion, fulfill our expectations, when most of the time they will let us down.
It was pretty clear this woman was not working out of a place of anything that could be construed as love. And, let’s face it, neither was I. I had never been. I realized that not only had I never loved Lavinna, I didn’t even really know her. Not the real her. Not the her that she’d been hiding from me all of our lives.
It’s too bad. The life we had together that I imagined was a pretty great one. Simple, of course. Unrealistic. But how great it could have been if she’d only conformed to exactly what I thought she should be like – that was every bit different than what she was actually like in real life. That imagined reality was not real, though. It was a figment of my own desires and had no input from her at all.
It’s too bad that I’ve often found the fantasy to be better than the reality of the real thing.
I didn’t go visit Lavinna in the end. I left things as they were, and never emailed her back. I can’t imagine I will hear from her again. I’m sure she’s moved on to better opportunities out there. To men who are willing to or need relationships – something I’ve thankfully never been cursed with. So often people criticize me for claiming that I’m drawn to, called to the solitary life. They say, “oh, you just haven’t met the right person yet” or “you’re not giving people a chance.”
That may be true. But, in my experience, people overall are pretty horrible to each other most of the time. I’m not really interested in subjecting myself to that. Why would I if I’ve started a relationship with someone who claims they truly care for me, care for my well being, for my desires and my aspirations? This is the relationship I really want to foster, that I want to invest in. He’s the one I’m interested in finding out more about. How to draw closer to him. Find answers about him that I seek. It will most likely take what is left of my life, and even then I’m certain I will go to the grave with many more questions than I have answers for. But I have hope he will keep the promises that he’s made to me. If nothing else I accomplish in this life, may I foster and deepen my relationship with my God and Christ.
Until my next post…
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Excerpt from Sacred the Circle:
There was a knock at the door.
Campbell got up from the chair and crossed the small distance so he could open it.
A young man stood in the doorway, probably in his early twenties.
Campbell could tell he looked a little disheveled.
He had deep rings around his eyes, as if he hadn’t been sleeping much, and he kept checking the hallway in both directions, as if half expecting someone to be stalking him.
“Hey,” Campbell said.
The kid was stumbling over his own words.
Campbell leaned out into the hallway, checking to make sure there was no one else listening.
This guy wasn’t the only one who was becoming paranoid.
There were two students hanging out at the foyer, near the stairs, but the rest of the floor was clear.
“I’m sorry,” the kid said. “Must be the wrong place. I’m mistaken.”
He started to leave.
“Wait,” Campbell said, putting a hand out. “Hold on a second.”
The kid paused.
“What’s your name?”
He fidgeted with his collar.
“I know it sounds crazy, but – ”
“You’re not crazy, Lloyd,” Campbell said, grinning.
“Did you – ? ”
The kid paused, as if unsure if he should continue.
He looked back toward the stairs, then at Campbell.
“Did you know I was coming?” he finally asked. “I mean, that’s not possible, but, were you expecting me?”
Campbell chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Lloyd asked.
“Well – ”
Campbell pushed the door open all the way so Lloyd could see inside his dorm room.
The entire room was full of them, students, non-students, ranging from what looked like eighteen to even a few middle-aged men, scattered about the room, sitting wherever they could find a comfortable spot.
Lloyd’s mouth dropped open.
“I wasn’t really expecting them, either,” Campbell said. “So, I hope you don’t hold it against me when I tell you, I had no idea you’d be showing up here. Do you care to join us, anyway?”
Buy my book Sacred the Circle to find out what these men are hearing from the supernatural realm. Will they answer the questions tugging at them? What are the visions saying? Who are the Multitude? Why are all these men being brought together? By whom? And why, above all else, are they being convicted….to pray?
Get your copy of Sacred the Circle today! Get the upcoming sequel, Sacred the Sent as well so the story never ends !
But, trust me when I say, you’ll be white knuckling this one with every turn of the page!