The course we choose to study doesn’t begin in school; it begins the moment we recognize that life is our teacher.  I chose the course of love between a man and a woman.  Yet all I’ve learned from Anais Nin, Joan Didion, and Lawrence Durrell, about love isn’t guiding me.   I   have to start over, and develop wisdom based on my own experiences.

The morning is crisp as iceberg lettuce, a day of clarity and stillness. Outside my bedroom window, the light illuminates portions of the pine tree, and the walls of our neighbor’s home. On my side of the glass, there are shadows and dissonance.  It feels like months since the last column, and unwinding what events took place since, is going to be as piercing as the southwest sun when it shines in my eyes.
A few days before Christmas, I was in the kitchen with two friends, visiting from Boulder.   Aaron, whom I’ve not seen in four years, and Lilith, whom I’ve just met.  Aaron was the subject of one of my columns, the lone man standing on a mountain top, climbing the rocks of life and nature, as he ascends to the distant and dangerous vistas of life.  Lilith, an angelic petite woman, with eyes wide as moons, and uncontrollable affection for what is reachable. I am preparing dinner, and our discussion is about love, about me and John, and about Rudy, whom Aaron has rendered  a mentor since we all met in Saratoga Springs, 2000. We celebrated Aaron’s twenty-first birthday with him.  He was ignited by individual far from conventional thinking even back then.
          “Remember the time you and Rudy moved the farm table outside the window, over the second story roof, and down to the porch. How did you do that?” I said.
          “Ropes. I couldn’t believe this guy– half my size and he’s carrying this eight foot wooden farm table over one shoulder. “
          “ Yea, and now he’s carrying a Dragon. Oh Aaron, those were innocent days weren’t they? ”
          “ Yea.  Was that really eleven years ago; it feels more like a century.”
          “ That’s because you live without any boundaries.”
Lilith picked up the camera and started shooting  a video. I put on a hat and sunglasses for the camera, and began using the pots as instruments.  They frivolity reached a high note, just as the phone rang.
          “ Hi, it’s me. I’m coming back. It’s over.”
          “ I’ve heard that before Rudy. “
          “ I’m almost in Flagstaff, I’ll be there tomorrow.”
 I sat down on the stool, and looked to Aaron for something wise and assuring to settle my  spoon-stirring anxiety.
          He was expressionless. The intervention of  Rudy, who moments ago I was raking with hopelessness was on his way here, arriving the first night of Chanukah, which had a similar mystical tune to it.
          “ John’s coming in on Friday — Oh God! I don’t know, this sounds too much like a Hallmark movie. I don’t believe this. When is it going to end?”
         “ Lue, you amaze me. “
         “ I wish I’d stop amazing people.”
Lilith and Aaron took off the next day and I busied myself with brooms and sponges; the activity most relied upon when life is messy.  I did not want to shell-shock John with the news, because he was in the final stages of his script, and Rudy was on the road, where at any point, the Dragon might reappear, and whisk his tail back to her nest.  Until he drove up, there was still a screen of fuzzy details.
I’d just come from Luminara Lounge where I’d met Jewels, my confidante and baby-sitter through the last four months of Dragonfaire.
    “ Is he here?” She said breathless from rushing.
    “ I saw him pull in the driveway.  I left earlier and drove around until I could reach you. I don’t want to be in the house when he arrives.”
    “How are you going to handle things with Rudy?”
   “ Beats me.  I know I  have to suppress my anger; that’s like suppressing my appetite after a week of starvation.”
   “ Which reminds me, are you eating?”
   “  More or less?”
   ” LouLou. You have to eat! How do you think he’ll feel?”
   “ Like a turkey on Thanksgiving.”
    “What do you think John will say?
    “ He’ll be speechless.”
Jewels lifted her thirty pound life jacket that a mother of two children, wife, business owner, and adventurer swings with the ease of  a dancer and  wrapped her arms around me.
I returned to the garden path at La Posada and in the moonlight, paced the icy walkway waiting for John to answer the phone. “ Hi baby.”
   “ Hi sweetheart–how are you?”
   “ I’m still working.. but it’s going really good.  I got the latest storm report, and it looks like I’ll have to drive out Christmas Eve day.”
   “  I made reservations for five, is that too early?”
“ I’ll be there way before that. Got to get up early and load up the car with presents.”
I grinned, and kicked the stones in the pathway.
    “ John… Rudy’s here. I didn’t want to tell you until he actually arrived.”
    ” John. Are you there?”

How do I word his laughter, a long winded guttural explosion without pause, that struck my humor and I joined him, and our laughter sort collapsed into one, like making love or something, and it felt so good, I didn’t want to stop.

 “ Never a dull moment at Gallery LouLou.”
 “ I haven’t seen him yet, he’s in the house. “
 “ Call me later, I need a drink.”
 You couldn’t cut the tension with a semi-truck head on, as Rudy and I stood feet away in the Staab House at La Posada. I was leaning against the bar, observing his new leather Puma’s.
    “ Well, I’m here.” His crooked smile faded when I didn’t step forward or greet him with a smile.
   “ Yes, you are.”
Then the staff engulfed him in warmth and greetings and I just about threw my head back and howled from the absurdity, and the bedazzlement I felt lifted me out of myself, because I couldn’t really stand there and be a part of the abstraction of life.
    “ Can we have dinner together?” He uttered.
    “ I’ll be here.”
I got through half the dinner, and then suddenly felt the drum beating in my rage cage and dashed out.   The next few days were like waiting for a frozen chicken to thaw out.  I poked at him, and he was solid, I poked a day later, asking questions, and he released a mumble of words, “ I can’t open up yet.  I will in a few days. Just tell me what we need to do.”
    “ John’s not coming out. He changed his mind.”
    “ Why?”
I glared at him with blade sharp eyes.
   “ Because of me. That’s not what I want to hear. I’ll call him.”
   “ NO. Do not call him.  You have no idea what your … dragon episode did to us. Are you sorry Rudy? Are you truly sorry or are you still pining for the Bird. And I would like to know the chances of you going back before I get any ideas about smiling or laughing. ”
   “Yes, of course I’m sorry.  I don’t think I’ll go back.. but I have to be honest.”
I turned my back and kept walking. The next turn came from John, “I’m coming out; I just pray that we’ll have a chance to be together, and have a peaceful Christmas.”
To be continued.


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