Tempest(uous) Love

storm, San Francisco Bay, romance,Maureen looked out the window again.  She had lived for 37 years in four different states and never seen rain like this.  The tall pine and eucalyptus trees danced to rumba music turned crazy.  Below them, the Bay waters were rocking and rolling to a different beat, crashing against the beach two streets below her apartment built on a hill.  The wind screeched as if blown out of the mouth of an angry giant.

Maureen shivered. Why had she ever moved to this bohemian state, thousands of miles away from her home base on the East Coast?  California, her friends had warned her, was uncontrollable and wild and bizarre.  The weather was proving them right.mohamed_hassan, Pixabay, mirror

She looked at her watch and walked to the mirror in the hallway, perusing her face anxiously.  Six months earlier, unsatisfied with her job and bored with her social life, she joined a chat group on the web.  Within a month she had three job offers and two marriage proposals. 

One of the jobs was perfect for her: an assistant to the editor of a major “city living” type of magazine.  Neither of the marriage proposals was taken seriously, but one of the chatters sounded familiar when discussing his childhood, his education, and his college experiences.  On a whim, Maureen typed a message to him one late evening: Green Grocer – are you by any chance R. H.?  R. H. responded immediately: Multi-MediaM – e-mail me at rhanson@gmail.com.

Maureen and Robert, college sweethearts from their sophomore to senior years, had rediscovered each other.  He lived in Santa Cruz, California and was a Marketing VP for a successful small chain of grocery stores.  Her new job placed her near San Francisco.

The doorbell rang, and with the rain raging outside, the bell sounded as if it was 40 leagues under the sea.  Maureen checked herself in the mirror once more – short, curly hair still mousy brown, now with a few added highlights, yellow-brown eyes still lively with some added crow’s feet to add interest, chin still too pointy and cheeks too round, but overall, she looked like the 20-year-old she had once been.  She opened the door.Golden Gate Bridge, SF, city of love

There was Rob, 16 years older, looking at her sheepishly.  She wouldn’t have recognized him on a city street: he seemed taller, but stouter; his blue eyes were less troubled than the boy she had known; and he wore nicely pressed clothes.  He had obviously parked his car on the street below and walked up the stairs to her front door, because his thinning sandy-brown hair was plastered on his head like wet cement.

 “I look a fool,” were his first words.  Can you believe I’m this nervous about seeing an old girlfriend?”

 “Watch the term “old,” fella,” Maureen replied, laughing.

 “Well, are you going to invite me in?”  Maureen noticed that Rob had that same wicked grin.  She looked at him thoughtfully, then slowly took her shoes off, inhaled, and ran out the front door.

sourabhkrishna806 , https://pixabay.com/photos/drops-rain-rain-drops-water-liquid-2404441/ “What are you doing?”  Rob shouted above the wind, howling in its own appreciation of her craziness.

 “It’s only fair that we start off equally,” she responded, as the rain ran rivulets down her head onto her face.  She was soaked in a matter of seconds.

Rob walked over to her. “Maureen?”

 “Wild and crazy California, here I am!”  Maureen laughed.

Rob placed his arm around her.  “I think I like the California Maureen,” he said softly into her wet ear.  She noticed a neighbor lift a curtain and then let it drop.

“So do I!” she said, allowing the wind to push her further into Rob.  “So do I.”

San Francisco, San Francisco bay, I left my heart in San Francisco


Canned Love

canned goods, love storyAs I placed my head on the pillow to sleep, I suddenly thought about Artie. My heart choked up as if something was squeezing it, hard.

The pain pushed the blood, salt, and tears out of my soul.

I rose out of bed, realizing that sleep was impossible, and walked quietly, almost hypnotically, over to the master bath. What I needed was a good long soak in the tub . . . Continue reading

What’s in a Name? (Part I)

name, love, relationshipFinally my son wanted his grandmother, my mom Marcia, to meet his “friend.”

“Hey, since Nanny is visiting you, want to bring her to meet Shara and me for dinner?” was how he put it.

Most of us in the family had not yet met Shara, who had been named by us over the past months as “the girlfriend-we-are-not-allowed-to-call-his-girlfriend.”

The reasons for the nomenclature were complicated: she didn’t want to commit after a previous unsuccessful relationship; he didn’t want her to think he wanted to commit; she was worried he didn’t want to commit so she was adamant about not committing.

In other words, a typical 20-something relationship.

Mom, always excited to be with her well-loved grandson, was thrilled that she, “the grandmother,” would get to meet Shara, “the secret girlfriend.”

“It’s a sign,” my mom sighed dreamily. I just shook my head.

“No,” I answered, “Sean sees a chance for a free dinner for him and his date.”

We met, tired and a bit out of sorts, at a restaurant halfway between my suburban home and Sean’s tiny hip city loft. The starless sky wore as blank an expression as the uninterested waitress, who seated the four of us at a table for six.

Within three minutes my mom demanded that we be moved to a smaller booth.

“More cozy,” she said. I’d never seen this romantic side in her before.

Sean ordered the Chianti, and Shara sat demurely quiet. I knew she was extremely intelligent, but she looked like Ali McGraw in Love Story: long slender black coat that covered tight jeans and a soft curvy cashmereAlly McGraw, hat, love story pink top, long blonde hair capped with a jaunty flat hat, the kind that only really cute, really slim women can wear. It took her 10 minutes and a glass of wine to lose the coat and hat. It took my mom 10 more minutes to loosen her up.

“So, Shannon, what do you do?” Marcia asked.

Shara looked up at Sean as if he was to answer, so he did. “She’s an investment analyst for a competitor of my company.”

Shara jumped in, explaining a bit about her position, but only Sean understood her world in high finances. We Wight women believe in words, not numbers.

Somehow the conversation turned to words, and their importance. My mom told a story about a friend calling her by the wrong name, pronouncing it Marsha instead of Marceea. “Maybe it’s spelled the same,” she said, sipping her second glass of wine, “but it’s totally different. Do I look like a Marsha? No. I’m a Marcie, or a Marcia, never a Marsha.”

We ate our pasta, our shrimp, our salads, and drank our Chianti. The conversation relaxed, the laughs got louder, the restaurant suddenly glowed in a golden light, and Marcia continued to try to draw out Sean’s girlfriend, ur, friend.

“Cher, where does your dad live? Near here?” Mom asked after hearing Shara talk affectionately about her father.

Shara looked at Sean. I think she kicked him under the table. Sean cleared his throat. “Uh, Nanny. Shara’s name is Shara. Not Shannon or Cher or Sherry. Shara.”

Silence suddenly permeated the table.

Mom looked stupefied. “Oh, well, how do I remember that? Shar? Shar A? I don’t know if I’ll get it right. Okay if I just remember Char? That sounds close to Cher, so I should be able to do that.”

Shara smiled sweetly at my mom. “I don’t mind at all….. Marsha.”

Silence for one sparkling second, and then the table burst into cheers, my mom’s the loudest.

A week later Sean called me on the phone for no particular reason, until I asked how his friend, Shara, was. “Well, uh, it’s okay. You can call her my girlfriend,” he responded.

I could feel his deep pink blush over the phone lines.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”