I was Sabrina in Sabrina Fair. It was my dream role. I was the ingenue, the lead and for once I got to wear the incredible costumes.
He was the male lead, the Harrison Ford of the play. He was dark and dashing and mysterious. The role wasn’t his to begin with-which added to the mystic of it all. He used to vividly tell the story of the first time he saw me at auditions–how he saw my profile and his heart skipped a beat. I didn’t even know who he was, not then. As the play progressed we became friends. As friends we flirted and danced around this real life fairy tale love story that we were rehearsing.
The play was a success. The friendship grew and grew and soon there were 4 us that were inseparable. We played cards, took road trips, hung out between classes and generally gave each other hell. It was wonderful. I fit. We fit. It was the summer of my senior year in college and it was the wonderful…everything college was supposed to be.
The four of us were the very, very best of friends. There was a spark between he and I but it was complicated and not always easy. I needed a friend more then I needed a boy friend at that time in my life so I kept him at arms length. He persisted. I like that he persisted.
We parted ways. Years went by. There were occasional calls but there were always notes. Letters, cards, notes of any kind. Always. That is how I signed my letters.
I married first. I invited him but he didn’t come. The letters didn’t stop but there was more time between them. He was my friend, my buddy, my very best memories were tied up in him. It was innocent.
He married next. I’d call on his birthday, send cards at Christmas-I called him on 9-11 because planes were rumored to be headed to LA where he lived. Again, he was my buddy, my friend and my very best memories were tied up in him.
At some point I sent an e-mail, “would anyone like to meet?” It went out to all 4 of the original gang. They all responded with resounding yes’s. Reunion plans began. Somewhere in all the “where” and “when” e-mails we picked up right where we left off. He was funny and charming and made me feel 20 again. The more we wrote, the more I smiled. As the reunion grew closer and closer my heart started beating faster and faster. My heart was happy.
The reunion was everything I wanted it to be. There were all night scrabble games, more laughs then I’d had in years and a weekend of belonging. And falling…falling right in love with my leading man.
He flew home to LA, I drove home to GA but not before he whispered, “I got married when I couldn’t have you and I got divorced because she wasn’t you.” That was it. I let myself fall in love.
Over months we returned to our letters. Love letters now. Long letters full of hopes and dreams. Letters introducing our lives to the other. Letters talking of the future and reminiscing of the past. Not a night went by that there wasn’t a call. In the late hours between CA and GA we told each other every secret and shared every dream.
Soon he came South and we courted. Old-fashioned courting. One night a week he came and dated me and my babies. When he wasn’t here we wrote. How I loved those letters.
We eloped under a vibrant, beautiful tree in New Hampshire. My favorite ‘wedding’ picture is off me leaning on his back while both of us laughed. It was happy.
He became Poppy to my babies and soon he became Daddy to one of his own.
My fairy tale, my love story came true. I was married to my leading man and I got to be the leading lady. I got to marry the person who knew me best in the world. It was safe and special and I loved the story of us. And that’s how I thought the story would end. Happily ever after.
I was wrong.
There is no happily ever after. There is no grand kiss as the curtain falls and the crowd applauds.
I am still not sure which hurts worse…the loss of my leading man or the loss of my friend. I’ve had my friend for over 20 years. Letter after letter kept all these years testifies to our friendship. But it’s gone. The man I liked, the man I loved turned out to be as pretend as the man on the stage playing opposite my Sabrina. Now the future is gone it’s taken the past right along with it and I am left with a huge aching hole. All these years my past has been my comfort, those precious memories reminded of what it was like to belong and to be loved. Even when I wrote to Phil-my friend-there was that assurance once upon a time I belonged and was loved.
I signed my letters Always because that is what I believed. Once upon a time…..