Memoir Relationships

The Compromise

image from Bob Magill Photography

We took his motorcycle and drove for two days straight never stopping to shower, only to refuel and refuel and refuel at small convenience stores in quaint little towns where even the fat counter girls looked beautiful to me. Somehow we ended up tip-toeing in the middle of some farmer’s field where the corn stretched tall and sweet to the sky and roots spread underneath our feet, and I felt safe and believed in magic when he clapped his hands once and — without even having to say abracadabra — thousands of crows lit and seeded the sky like a million dark winged moons.

As he held me, they squawked our names, and he taught me how to decipher the screechings of birds, and I was so sure that love like that could never fly away.

But it does and it has dozens of times since then.

But before the pecking and the clawing there were kisses behind a crumbling wall, flowers sent with secret messages, green turtlenecks and green chairs  and the whole fucking world was green with possibility and if I died in an hour no one would know that still I hold these memories, hoard them like chocolates I won’t share, sweet and delicious caramels oozing with my youth fluttering daily away from me on bird’s wings, and I can’t bear to part with a single one; they are all my favorites.

I need only breathe and we are there, his feathers… feathers flickering radiance.

And no one need ever know I sacrificed that kind of love, chose the warmth of a yellow comforter and a rye bagel each morning over the chill of late September rain on my shoulders, something less dangerous than a motorcycle and the uncertainty of a thousand crows screaming our passion overhead.

This week we were asked write about a relationship we knew was doomed from the start in under 400 words. Click on the button above to read other stories about love and loss.

Tell me about one of your doomed relationships: with a lover, a friend, a parent, a child, a celebrity.

43 thoughts on “The Compromise

  1. I know this is probably not what you were going for, but your story immediately made me think of Springsteen’s Born to Run lyrics:

    Wendy (Renee) let me in I wanna be your friend
    I want to guard your dreams and visions
    Just wrap your legs ’round these velvet rims
    and strap your hands ‘cross my engines
    Together we could break this trap
    We’ll run till we drop, baby we’ll never go back
    Oh, Will you walk with me out on the wire
    `Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
    But I gotta know how it feels
    I want to know if love is wild
    Babe I want to know if love is real

    Spill it. It was Bruce, wasn’t it? ;o)

  2. Excellent and sad. Love your phrases.
    But you’re not getting a story from me on this subject just at the moment.

    1. Hi Nancy:

      Some of my most favorite people are named Nancy. I think I must go and find this Nancy C. who thinks my “voice is perfection” and my images are “razor-focused.” I think I really like her.

      Already. 😉

  3. I love your way with words. I love love love the way you wrote about crows. I could see the picture you painted. Lovely work. 9.5/10 {as a fellow teacher, I can not give full marks, hope you understand}.

    I meandered here from RemembeRED….

    1. Thanks, Carl. I haven’t been commenting much. It’s that time of the semester, but I’ve been looking at your stuff on my iPhone. Thanks for staying with me.

      I’m glad you are reading.

      Maybe you’ll read something of mine. 😉

  4. I could relate to the details even though, of course, my own are different.

    Still, there’s something universal here despite the specifics; an emotion that overrides logic (and showering). Oh yes. I can relate.

    But here’s where we differ:

    I never knew these relationships were doomed.

    And I’m not sure I got it until several years after I’d already chosen the bagel and the comforter.

    I get it now.
    Thankfully. Gratefully.

    I do.

    1. I knew it was over because we were too alike.

      Also a good clue was the cheating.

      I nearly died when he married someone six months after we broke up.

      But I knew he was going to do that.

      And it was all for the best.

      It really was.

  5. I know that feeling and the hoarding of those memories, though I had absolutely no idea in those moments I was in the midst of something that couldn’t last. Or maybe I did, and that’s why I was able to live with such abandon.

    I could go on and on about how beautifully written this is or how you have done a perfect job of evoking feelings with images, but my favorite part is the contrast between the crazy love with the so simple yellow comforter and the rye bagel. One little line, so simple; it could almost seem like an afterthought, yet your happiness with your choice somehow seeps through those few words.


    1. Angela:

      Thank you for getting *it*. Yes, that was a mad, crazy, passionate love. But it was not compassionate. It was all high-highs and low-lows.

      We were both young.

      And damaged.

      I am so happy to have landed in that yellow comforter. 😉

  6. Fabulous. Fucking fabulous, actually!

    When I was a senior in college, I dated an older man who would tell no one we were dating. I’d seen him do the same with his ex, who was a friend of mine, so part of me knew from the beginning it would never last. I needed something fuller and more joyous than a secret.

    Part of me wanted to dream it would, that I could do something magical and change him.

    Now I look back on that “forbidden” thrill and wonder what the hell I was thinking. But I did get something beautiful from it that I would never have had otherwise (in the form of a video), so . . . in the end, it was still worth it.

    1. Deb! I knew that you would get this. Part of it is that dream thing. The magical thinking.

      I hoped he’d change for me.

      And like you, I have those (mostly) beautiful memories.

      Are you admitting to having a “naughty” video in your possession? 😉

      1. While I can neither confirm nor deny such a video was made, I can say that this video was altogether sweet. Despite a huge argument we had right before my college graduation, he showed up with his videocamera and recorded the whole thing.

        I hadn’t thought much on the video for years, until a friend asked to see it and I realized: My mom was there! Healthy! Happy! Whole! It was such a beautiful gift to watch that video a few months ago and hear her say, “I’m proud of you!”

        I wouldn’t have had that tape without that bozo, so it’s all good, IMO. 😉

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