We would always pull up a chair when Ron began to
tell a story. It wasn’t so much because
he knew how to weave words together in a way that held us in breathless
anticipation; nor was it because he was a master of the surprise ending. It was more because we wanted to be
comfortable while he rambled, often losing sight of the story’s point. After a good amount of time, he would reach
the end of the story and invariably end it with his signature dismissive phrase
“And all that kind of stuff.” Story
Ron was a tall, thin man with a large nose, big heart and a warm smile. You couldn’t really mention Ron without adding “and Dean”. The two were inseparable. When Paul first introduced them to me, he referred to them as his gay fathers. They were not, in fact, related to him by blood, but they were by heart. After I met them the first time Ron issued an uncharacteristic short reply when Paul asked him what he thought of me. “He’s a keeper.”
If you are looking for love, do not build a house in
Do not sit on a wide sandy beach under a blue sky painted with wispy white clouds and listen to the romantic sounds of distant bell buoys and laughing gulls. Do not drive along Route one with the car windows down, salty sea air in your hair and marvel at rolling green lawns, craggy ocean side cliffs and white clapboard homes. Do not sip from a glass of wine in a harbor side restaurant at sunset while watching a sailboat’s brilliant white sail bend against the wind.
Above all, do not wander into an open house and talk to a builder about upgrades. You will fall in love and when he ultimately becomes unavailable? Your heart will be broken.
Our affair began as all affairs do. We coveted. We desired. We had to have it at any cost.
His words were too hard to resist. “This view? It’s the best in the development” our builder, Mark said as he winked at us. He was a burly man with a gruff voice, but he knew exactly what to say. “You want a shower with two heads? I can give it to you.” He whispered.
Paul looked at me and he knew in that instant, I was smitten.
The affair continued in a whirl wind of expensive gifts: upgrades and options. Nothing was too dear for our Maine cottage. Yes, we must have custom audio visual, anything less than hardwoods, granite, stainless steel and custom tile would cheapen our love, our precious.
We would visit on weekends, intoxicated by the heady elixir of a new romance. We watched our love grow. The bare bones of the frame became smooth walls, the glint of the hardwood floors in the afternoon sun flirted with us.
Then one day Mark casually asked “Have you seen the shower?”
It was a thing of beauty. Smooth glass and marble tile stretched from wall to wall. Two shower heads on either side beckoned to us. “Go ahead, step in!” Mark jokingly ordered us.
There we stood, two men fully clothed standing in a shower looking slightly embarrassed. Mark laughed at us and said “You are too cute.” It was the pinnacle of our relationship.
But on the day of consummation, the closing, the love began to sour. Others were introduced into the relationship. “This is Hank; he’s going to finish your tile.” Mark said casually as he hopped into his Corvette and disappeared, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.
“But today is the closing, will it be completed? And what about the stove, shouldn’t it be in the kitchen instead of on the front deck?” I asked Hank, trying not to sound jilted.
“Oh, yeah, yeah, I’ll be here all next week to finish up that stuff, but I have a court appearance that I’m late for. I’ll see you in five to ten.” He laughed manically as he stepped into his truck and drove away.
“He was joking, right?” I asked, searching Paul’s face for answers.
“About going to prison or finishing up our cottage?” Paul answered my question with a question. I didn’t know which was more alarming.
We began to find telltale signs of infidelity. The tile in the shower was unfinished. There was no refrigerator and the dishwasher was merely for show. Our home was only a shell. A pretty shell, but a shell nonetheless.
Over the following days, our time with Mark and Hank began to dwindle. It was clear they were spending time at other cottages.
“What did we do wrong?” I asked Paul.
“They’ll be back. They always come back.” He tried to sound re-assuring.
Week after week we would receive empty promises. “I’ll be by in the morning.” Hank would say. I would stand by the window trying not to appear too eager. Hank would show up sometime late in the afternoon, reeking with the smell of construction materials from another cottage.
“You’ve been working at someone else’s cottage haven’t you?” I demanded answers. Little things would get done, but his heart wasn’t in it anymore.
Eventually, we found a support group. Other cottage owners came forward for a “Get to know you” cook out. We met Renee and Roger first. We poured our hearts out as we sipped vodka tonics from our green and blue tumblers.
“Oh honey, we’ve been here for three years. You’re nothing special.” Renee said as she took a long sip and peered over her sunglasses.
“Are you a top or a bottom?” She quizzed me.
“Excuse me?” I thought I misunderstood.
“A top or bottom unit?” She asked, slightly annoyed.
“Oh, we’re tops.” I answered.
“Then the dust from the unpaved street shouldn’t bother you too much. Do you know how long we have been waiting for this road to be paved? Don’t worry, it will get done. But, you’re on Maine time now. Everything is a little s-l-o-w-e-r here.” She took another long sip and then barked “Roger, I’m empty!”
Sometimes, I will see Hank’s truck and Mark’s Corvette parked in the development and experience a little thrill. But, I won’t let myself think about those early days when they couldn’t keep their tools off of our cottage. I’m in it for the long haul.
But I idolized my big brother and continued to do everything he did, always one year behind. He got married, I got married, he had children, and I had children. When he ended his marriage he told me that he just wanted to be happy. After all those years of following in his footsteps I never looked up to see where I was going.
Please click here to read the full post on The Huffington Post