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intro...long and mostly unrequited story

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Just joined here, and probably older than pretty much anyone else...plus, I don't have anything like a really juicy story, but it's been long enough, and has, on and off, colored so much of the way I define myself that I just felt as though sharing would be a good thing.

Where to start? I suppose I could go way back to a period of my life when relationships of any kind were just a glimmer in a pre-teen mind...But to give this any sort of structure, let's go back a bit further...

I was born in England, and lived there until the age of 9, though I barely knew my cousins after we moved from London to a village outside of Bristol when I was 3. As an only child, I guess the whole idea of relatives was almost alien to me; there were people we saw once or twice a year who I knew were aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, but they were not part of my life in any meaningful way.  After we moved to the USA, I didn't see them at all for a further 4 years, when we went back to visit one Christmas.

Honestly, though I had been fairly close to the one of my female cousins of the same age, and the two of us still found we got along very well despite not having seen one another in a few years, I don't much recall any interactions with any of the others. But something must have made an impression. Something I didn't remember until years later...

This same cousin (both of us age 17), her mother, and one of her brothers (age 21) came to visit us during the summer before I started my senior year of high school. The three of us kids were crammed in the back seat of the car on the way back from the airport, and, going around a sharp turn, I was thrown against M (who, I admit, had totally captured my attention ever since he got off the plane), and suddenly I had a totally clear, sudden flashback to a dream I'd had and forgotten some 5 years earlier. A fledgling, 12-year-old's first taste of something with the glimmers of future erotic dreams around the edges...I remembered a dream where, just as in the current situation, I was in a car, and finding all sorts of new and delicious feelings in being thrown against that masculine body while going round a sharp curve...The whole aspect of feeling like a premonition coupled with the very real feelings being close to him elicited hit me like a ton of bricks, and I could think of nothing but him from that point forward throughout the visit.

There were hints that the attraction was not entirely unrequieted...As the visit continued, we found lots of times that we would talk and talk, or listen to music, and it seemed as though he found more and more excuses to touch me under the guise of playful punches and pokes, and, occasionally, it seemed that our hands would intertwine without any real rhyme or reason. I recall a couple of instances where he "nonchalantly" laid his head in my lap watching TV on the couch, and a couple of other car trips where we ended up rather snuggled together (still, the 3 of us cousins in the back seat)...One, in particular, when I'd been bolder than usual (I was painfully shy as a child and teen, and had never, up until this time, had anything like actual contact with guys, so it was a completely new feeling, not even knowing whether I even HAD any feminine wiles at my disposal), that he ended up tracing the lines of my face, gently, with his fingers, which while it was bliss, also startled me to the point that I felt I had to snap us out of the mood (which is one of the single moments I regret in my life ever since) with a harder than necessary nip at the finger tracing my mouth. The next day was their last, and he did say he wanted to continue a correspondence with me after the visit was over, but after the first letter or two (back in the days of snail-mail) that kind of fizzled out.

About 2 years later, I went to visit England with a friend from High School, and stayed at their house, though he had a job with an airline by then which kept him away from home a fair amount of the time, so I didn't get to see him much. But I did get the feeling that there was still a connection of some sort there. Moments that we seemed to be speaking the same language which everyone else was oblivious to. Maybe that's just fantasy, though...

After that, I didn't see him for quite a number of years, until I was already married with 2 kids and pregnant with the third. He got married a couple of years after that, but his marriage only lasted two or three years. I saw him next while he was still married, and my 3 kids were between 2-7 years old. Nothing of note to report there except a couple of instances, in passing, where I felt that he stopped to look at me with a certain intensity which I suppose might well have been all in my mind. Though it sure didn't feel like it.

Skip on a few more years...I had never been able to forget him. Even though I was married, I always felt that he was the one love I measured everyone else against. I hadn't even been all that anxious to marry my husband. He was persistent enough to wear me down, and while he is in many ways (kind, generous, hard-working, incredibly intelligent, totally loyal) an ideal man, we also don't have a whole heck of a lot in common, and he is very impatient, snippy and snappish at the slightest things, and turned out to be not in the least affectionate once the first few years had gone by. I can't say I'm exactly unhappy with him; he does spoil me, I'll give him that...but I can't say I've ever really been what one might call "in love" with him either. That being said, we are about 3 months away from our 30th anniversary, and that's not something to sneeze at.

In the meantime...I went to visit England some years ago with my daughter just before she turned 13. At that point, I was still bound really hard with feelings for M, and had written a poem which I felt I needed to give him as a sort of closure. I thought that if I had a couple of questions answered, I could put them behind me and move on, and it summed up, pretty well, I thought, some of those feelings. My daughter & I were staying at his house during that visit, so giving him the poem was easily accomplished. I put it in amongst his mail and went back to my room. He came up shortly afterwards, and we did have a very good, very cleansing discussion. He acknowledged that there had been feelings there, and that he might have thought about pursuing them further at the time, but didn't feel that there would be any family support for our relationship, not to mention the problem of living on separate continents, so he fought the feelings down and carried on. Then, too was the fact that I was married, although his own marriage had ended by then, and he was still hurt enough by that to never want anything to do with jeopardizing someone else's marriage, and he told me there was nothing we could do. And ended the conversation with one, very short, very sweet, very chaste kiss and a long, long hug.

I thought I'd be OK after that, I really thought so...but it ended up being one of the worst points in my marriage, which went on for a further four years or so. I couldn't put him out of my mind at all.

At that point, I made another trip to England as it was his mother's 80th birthday, and a bit of a family reunion. It was devastating. He put such a distance between us that he seemed barely able to be in the same room, and went to great lengths not to touch me. Though it was painful, it also turned out to be a bit of a cure for my own marriage, as his attitude brought the harsh reality that I was living in a fantasy world to the forefront, and I felt as though I was finally able to breathe without him being my first thought on waking in the morning and the last before I fell asleep at night. He may have still haunted the occasional dream, but I was able to live my life in reality and focus on the here and now.

Several cousins came back to visit the USA some 6 years ago for my parents' 50th anniversary, M among them. Things were better this time around; we still didn't hang out and chat as we once had, but were able to be on pretty comfortable terms, though he still avoided touching me if at all possible. My real regret, at this point, was that I'd ruined what could probably have been a very good, very close, if totally innocent relationship with my need to confront him with my feelings in the previous years.

Just a couple of months ago, M and his sister came to visit as my father had suffered a stroke (thankfully fairly minor), and they wanted to make sure they managed to see him again, not knowing what the future might bring. They stayed at our house, and things finally seemed to be back to an even keel. M and I spent quite a few evenings up late, talking, after everyone else had gone to bed. I'm 55 now, and he is nearing 60 (still single)...our best years are far behind us, and we are not in a stage of life to be concerned with foolishness, I guess...But, still, the couple of times he gave me a hug, it was coupled with a kiss on the cheek, and a lingering feeling of holding onto each other. I still feel as though I melt into him like a coming home...I think we both recognize that the time to worry about what might happen has passed. I truly get the sense that there are still feelings there which, while they will never again be spoken of, are as precious to him as they are to me, and now that he trusts me not to let them run away with me again, he really does understand, and treasure the fact that I will always love him so very, very much.

ps....I see there is a section for poetry on the forum, so I'll make a quick detour over there to post my poem, in case anyone cares...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Navywife,

I loved reading your recollection throughout, as if I went through the journey with you.

No matter what has happened, you two still managed to keep an open line of communication (or at least, as of late when you spoke during the evenings). Even if nothing came to fruition, you will have memories to hold onto.

I wish you the best of luck in the future. Your cousin is lucky to have someone love him as effortlessly and deeply as you.

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