An Honest Woman -

© 2022 Raymond Cannefax

   We have been together, off and on, a little more than fifteen years. Other than acts of stupidity for which I am responsible, I don’t know what kept pulling us apart, but it happened over and over. And we let it happen. Is it fear? Is it inability to commit? Is it some odd behavioral thing? Is it a need for independence? Is it pressure from outside forces? Hell, it’s a combination of all those factors. And then there is the stubbornness of which we both are guilty, along with the need for control.

   I could never get to where I did not love that woman, even though I have tried. She remained a constant in my memories. In my heart, in my soul. I do believe a big part of what pulled us apart was my arrogant, self-centered, egotistical attitude I developed after I retired; just way to full of myself. I’d been the big dog for more than a decade. But that is no excuse.

   Ginny, as she is known to her friends, had attached herself to my heart more than a decade ago. Even back then I knew, but didn’t want to believe, my attachment to her was permanent. We married in 2009, on a Hawaii trip, and due to unpleasant circumstances, family issues, my insecurities and out-of-control ego, her stubbornness, our need to be in control, we ended up not staying together.  

   The last time we united, 2015, I failed to deliver what she expected and needed, and it impacted her adversely. We separated again. At that time, I was fighting demons; demons that, had I not fucked-up big time, would have never existed. I needed to deal with them but didn’t know how. I did know I needed to slay that dragon. We came together again in the autumn of 2017, but even after that split, I have memories of a Dead & Co. concert we attended together. Even though we went separate ways, I never could let her go, and we stayed in touch. She spent her last night with me in 2018. 

   I tried to date, thinking it was what I needed to do. During my first attempt I realized I was not sufficiently interested in anyone else except a woman I met forty-three years earlier but had only seen a couple time since and had never been on a date with, an artist who remained in my memory as a result of seeing her paintings out and about.  I messed up that date with a little overconsumption of wine and out of embarrassment, did not go back for a second date.  There was no third date. I isolated myself at first, and then I ran. I had no idea of where to run to, but I knew that I needed to get away from all of it, the emotional and the physical.  I knew I had fallen out of favor with that special woman who had been intertwined in my life for fifteen years. Along with stepping away from it all, I lost my social network due to my checking out.  Suddenly, I was strictly flying solo.  

   After going our separate ways, except for haircuts and dinners, I retired from retirement and returned to work as a teacher in the Granite school district where I ended up tearing my left shoulder rotator cuff. I had surgery in December 2019, and some rehab, and continued to run, running to the deserts of southern Utah. I was away. I camped, did a lot of hiking, and excelled in my photography. Most of all, I did a lot of thinking. I continued to live in Holladay and drove south regularly to escape. I continued to try to understand what I needed to do to reconnect but wasn’t sure what I could do to make that happen. There seemed to be no animosity, and we enjoyed dinner after each haircut. In 2020 I did the biggest run and made the move to Moab. During all this time, Ginny continued to agree to cut my hair. After the cuts, we would usually go to Per Noi, a great Italian place on Highland Drive; light and pleasant chatter and then we’d go our way.

     I made it a point to stay in touch since she continued to be kind enough to cut my hair and dine with me. During those haircuts and dinners, she simultaneously continued reminding me of my faults and guiding me to be a better person. Who travels 500 miles, round trip, to get a haircut? It was not the haircut that had me make that three-plus-hour drive from Moab to Salt Lake City, to get my ears lowered. I have never been able to put a finger on it, but there is some mysterious driving force that keeps me enjoying her company and her input. I do believe that, though harsh at times, her input continued to make me a better person; she addresses my faults of which I was often unaware.

   During one of the dinners, I learned that she had sold the wedding ring I designed and had built for her – the main stone, a 2.5 carat square diamond, with four small square diamonds, two on each side, representing her four children. I think, like me, she lost confidence in me getting my shit together. It angered me to learn she had received a fraction of the ring’s value, and it impacted me for quite a while. Naturally, I brought it up several times. Why did I bring it up over and over? I had felt a loss of being able to control something I had created. I neglected the fact, the reality, that I had given it as a gift tied to our marriage. We were no longer married, and she had the right to do with it anything she wanted. It was hers. Ginny’s honesty prevailed. She easily could have lied to me about it, said she’d lost it, or said nothing at all about it. Her honesty prevailed.  

   Honesty is the one quality, above all the others, that stands out. Ginny’s honesty is a standard not seen much these days. She holds herself to the highest level of integrity and I had to recognize that this was one of the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place. 

   Time, I believe, is the one factor that has allowed for our potential reunion. Time has passed and other than that three-year gig when I was in a vodka induced coma, I have had no committed relationships. I have had no other relationships at all since our 2015 reunion. Throughout all those years, beginning in 2009, Ginny has been a constant on my mind, implanted in my brain. I can say, with honesty and integrity that her implant in my brain may be permanent.  

   During our after-haircut dinners, I suggest going to get a cocktail. She always politely refused my offer, saying she was tired from a long day of doing hair. I accepted that and never pushed.

   After our November 13, 2021, Per Noi dinner, when I made the standard cocktail suggestion, Ginny invited me to her home to chat and share a whiskey, an after-dinner drink, on her beloved back porch. I was surprised and elated. Perhaps I had impressed upon her the feelings that I continued to have for her.  

   We spoke about numerous things. She mentioned the friendship she had had with Rick. I had come to accept the fact that the ring thing was as it was. I’d given it to her, and it was hers to do with as she pleased. I did apologize for being overly possessive over that incident. I also apologized for an outburst I had earlier that summer where I inappropriately blamed her for what I had often perceived as a “hatred of men” based on the death of her mother being blamed on her father. I was completely inappropriate and out of line. Was I reaching out and saying her negative feelings for men could be set aside if other factors than her father’s announcement that night, were given consideration? I wish I had said it that kindly when I reached out trying to get her to understand my pain. My apology was accepted with an explanation of her feelings and clarification that she did not hate men as I had said so often in the past. She continued to have a loving relationship with her father, John, but also declared that she never stopped hating the woman who tore her mother and her father apart and who her father married after her mother’s passing. We had deep conversation, a couple of whiskeys straight. The bond we had once had, when we were together, seemed to still exist within her as it did within me. But she is much more guarded than me. I was amazed how the time we were apart seemed to vanish.  

    I also came to the realization that I had become an alcoholic.  Most my evenings were spent hanging out with an old friend who I knew had been an alcoholic as long as I had been acquainted with him.  We spent enough time in local drinking establishments that we came to know the owners and the serves quite well.  All the years of drinking gin or vodka through the course of each day, my body adapted to the alcohol and though I was intoxicated, my body stopped sending me that signal, I had developed tolerance and the body adapted to the alcohol flowing through my veins.  

   One can lie to everyone for years, decades, or never ever admit the truth. One cannot continue lying to oneself when the topics one is lying about encroach that person’s mind. I disregarded the obvious signals and rolled along as though all was in order, but throughout that period I knew I was longing for a vodka tonic or a gin and tonic, or a vodka and cranberry or orange juice, or any drink like that, In the desert, 40 miles down a dirt road plus 70 miles to a town, was my wakeup call. I’d run out of gin, and it was late, and as it is in the desert on a moonless night, it was pitch dark. I wanted that gin or vodka but knew the next morning I’d be hiking 800 feet down into a deep canyon and hiking within the canyon for hours; finally sleep took over.  

   During our conversation that night, only a brief segment of the honest lifestyle that she had led throughout her life was discussed. Not that there were things not disclosed during our time together, but it was done to protect her, her kids, her prior partner. I so appreciated that evening and appreciated even more that the door had been opened. It will be work for both of us, but I am confident we can prevail.  There will be obstacles, some big ones which we dealt with in the past I must learn to deal with in a positive fashion and work on overcoming the obstacles. It will be work. Thus, in total honesty, I will say that I am willing to endure what I must to have this woman at my side, again. 

   We are at a juncture in our lives where companionship is as important, perhaps even more important than career moves were twenty years ago. Let us allow honesty to prevail as we move into our future.