During yesterday’s encounter in her apartment Adrianna and I shared a bottle of wine and we talked.
And we talked.
And we talked yet some more.
I have never talked to anyone for such a long period of time or about so many various, disparate, but nonetheless, in retrospect, startlingly related topics, ideas, feelings and events.
We came out of that span of hours having become some sort of unit. What sort of unit that might be has not yet been revealed. At least it hasn’t been revealed to me. As I have replayed those events again and again today, I have the feeling that Adrianna may have entered into what had appeared - from my viewpoint - to have been an encounter of happenstance with some degree of fore-knowledge. Whatever the case, a lot of time and a lot of talk passed that evening and I was certain that we both came out of the experience (I know that I have and either instinct or wishful thinking tells me she has as well) with the beginnings of an unstated, but into the first phases of creation, relationship. If I possessed the intellectual subtleties of an earthworm, several of the things that she said would have told me that she had already passed the entry point of such a thing. But I think that I was in a kind of daze at the outset of the evening and I hadn’t really heard some of the things that she said early on and hadn’t really hit my stride until well into the evening. That was a time long past her having said those things. They were things such as “but then, Jacques warned me to expect aberrations;” and “I have been watching you for months wondering if you were unconscious or just rude; I couldn’t have tried harder, short of showing up on your doorstep to get your attention; I am glad that that bridge has finally been crossed”.
Whatever the situation, as I was leaving her apartment the following morning, the morning after Frank’s first almost real crow, I stopped in the doorway.
“I don’t want this to be our last” I said.
“Our last what?”
“Our last – you fill in the blanks – but I don’t want it to be the, or our, last.” I sensed a sort of warmth rise in the room, not heat (god knows it is always hot in Saigon, so it would be unlikely to feel anything but an injection of heat from a blast furnace, and this wasn’t that) but something like feeling a glow when I said the word “our”.
“Nor do I” she said.
“So let’s not.”
“So let’s not.”
“So what’s next?”
“God you have an obtuse side when you want to!”
“OK. Let’s keep it mundane. Let’s meet at the Ton Son Nhut Officers Club.”
As a professional level civilian employee of a Defense Department contractor Adrianna is of a rank eligible for membership in the Ton Son Nhut Officers’ Club. For our first post-bottle-of-Bordeaux encounter, the Club seemed to me to be the most benign place to meet. We both know where it is; we know what its strengths are (few); we know what its weaknesses are (many). And it has the added advantage of being as safe as any place in Vietnam is safe. Neither of us - I know I am not, and I have gleaned from the hours that I have spent with her that evening and that night - that she isn’t, particularly safety conscious. Neither of us is cowed or frightened by being in a war zone. But for a first time together in public, not having to keep one eye cocked to the side seemed to be a desirable feature.
“That certainly is mundane. But I think I agree. First dates should be simple. And safe. And easy. ”
“Are you reading my mind?” I joked.
I looked at her wondering if I should say what it was that was in my throat, or in my heart on the way to my throat, or, if not either of those two possibilities, then it had to be whatever it is that creates a constriction in one’s soul that transfers to one’s emotions and immediately becomes a lump in one’s throat. I had been served that lump in the throat in a throbbingly, and surprisingly monumental portion.
“This is not a date. I don’t have a word profound enough to tell you what it is for me. But it is not a date.”
She moved closer, within whatever that area peripheral to one’s body it is that one is uncomfortable having others invade. She never let those green eyes drop from mine. And the “look” appeared for the second time.
Contrary to the way I had always heretofore recoiled from someone entering that inner space that belongs uniquely only to me, I was totally comfortable with Adrianna being there and would have been so – I thought I heard these exact words pass through my mind – “for all of eternity”.
And then there was an almost heard follow on: “believe it”.