Winona proved to be incapable of intimacy on any level.
By most evenings she was tucked into bed with her prescription pain pills, a glass of wine, the remote, and a dog or two.
If I could make a call while facing potential paralysis, surely Dena could send a message about running late. Getting no response, I bought myself a slice of cake and left. “Well,” I said, “there was one woman who showed up over an hour and a half late and wondered why I wasn’t still there waiting for her.” “Is her name Dena? I sat there for three hours at a time, three days a week, feeling devastated.
An hour and thirty-seven minutes after our agreed-upon meeting time, I received a text: “Where are you? She claimed she’d gotten stuck in traffic and sent several pleading texts. Dena later called and offered a generic apology, like a child who had been scolded by a parent. A month or two after that, I met another woman online, Maxine, who is one of my closest friends to this day. Michael often sat across from me in his own blue chair.
It took me a few weeks to realize I’d made a colossal mistake.A colleague in my department, who broke up with me almost immediately because — get this — we were “too much alike.” By my late twenties the number of weeks I had spent in relationships, in total, barely broke double digits. So I started answering personal ads in the newspaper. We went to a Mexican restaurant and talked about movies and music.I told him he needed to listen to the Dire Straits album to really appreciate it.We found we had a lot in common and decided to meet outside of dialysis, outside of our chairs. I spent my sixteenth birthday puking into a bucket — not due to the aftereffects of a wild party, but because I had a stomach virus.Things started to look up that summer when I got a job at a fast-food restaurant.
(He holds the record for sheer unavailability in someone I was pursuing.) I called J. and I continued to go out on practice dates until the night he whispered, “I love you.” This past fall we celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary. Before long we were exchanging daily phone calls and text messages peppered with hearts and flowers.