Louise, 52

"Do you know the dollar dance? You pay a dollar to dance with the groom ... And you just dance for a minute. Heartbreaking. And after that we didn't have contact for 15 years."

Published January 26, 2009 11:45AM (EST)

In 1972 the Catholic high school I was going to merged with the Catholic boys' school because of money. The boys came over. And so this guy, Brian, walks into homeroom, and when I saw him come in, it was like love at first sight. I don't know how I knew, I just knew. He was tall, he was thin, he had long, light brown hair. He was looking kind of lost. He would always do things like close my locker when I was trying to get stuff out of it. Eventually we started going out, and I fell head over heels in love. But I was all of 15. 

This is in Massachusetts, and in the summertime his parents would go down to Cape Cod. So we had to not see each other, and I was still madly in love. I was ridiculous. I was sending these love letters every day. I was really smothering the kid. When we came back to school in the fall, he broke up with me. 

And then I met another guy, Gary. He was three and a half years older than I was. He was 19 and I wasn't even 16. And that didn't go over real good with the parents, I can tell ya. We started dating pretty heavy and steady. But it was such a tempestuous relationship. We would break up often. And Brian and I would kind of pick up where we had left off. Then Gary asked me to marry him. 

I had a horrible life at home. Didn't get along with my mother at all. She didn't trust me. I couldn't do anything. I'm sure that had I had a more stable life at home that I would have probably gone on to college and gotten married later on, when maybe I was a little more mature, a little smarter. Brian and I had dated and broken up and gotten back together, and blah blah blah. I told him Gary had proposed, and he asked me to marry him. But I knew he wasn't ready, and he was doing it so I wouldn't marry Gary. So I ended up marrying Gary when I was 18. 

I saw Brian once within the first couple years of marriage. We went and got together for a cup of coffee or something. And then, you know, life went on. I didn't invite him to my wedding because it ended kind of badly when I said I wouldn't marry him. He got married three years later. I ended up going to his wedding. And I don't remember anything about it, but I could tell you exactly what he looked like that day. He looked beautiful. 

When they say, "If anyone knows any reason why you shouldn't get married," I wanted to stand up and say, "Me! Me! I'll divorce Gary! I made a mistake." But I didn't, of course. I danced with Brian. Do you know the dollar dance? You pay a dollar to dance with the groom, and boys pay a dollar to dance with the bride. And you just dance for a minute. And I don't know. Heartbreaking. And after that we didn't have contact for 15 years. 

I was married 29 years. I cheated throughout the marriage. Fairly often. I felt like something must be wrong with me because Gary's a good man. He's a great provider, great father, loves me to death, treated me like a queen. And it wasn't for sex. We had really great sex. But. Um ... wasn't happy, you know. Wasn't fulfilled. I think I just wasn't in love. I don't think that I was ever really in love. 

I mean, I would rather be with my friends anytime than be with my husband. The few times that he would go out with me it was like, it kinda put a real damper on things. You know? Like, if he wasn't my husband I wouldn't have hung out with him. I didn't like him. He just wasn't my type of person. It's not like it was a horrible marriage. We made money, we spent money, we built a house, we had nice furniture, we bought a boat, spent a lot of time on that. I think I just knew in my heart Brian was the one I should be with. 

After 15 years of not seeing each other, Brian stopped into where I worked, 'cause I've worked at the same place for like 20 years -- a bank. I was a banker, which really didn't fit with the way I felt, either. We went out for coffee. I still felt exactly the same way. But I didn't say anything, of course. We kissed goodbye -- like, a friend's kiss. 

Probably for the first five years of my marriage, I hadn't thought about him that often, but after that, I started to think about him all the time. Like at least once a week. I would wonder how he is, I miss him, what if ... blah blah blah. Couple of times I'd get drunk and I'd call. I'd get his wife or a kid would answer -- he had three kids -- and I would say, "Oops, wrong number!" I did the drunk dial maybe three times.



The last 10 years of my marriage, I really started to think about him a lot. Like all the time. To the point I was really quite sick of it. I didn't want to be thinking about him. I was holding myself back from calling. I would dream about him sometimes too. He was just in my head all the time. You know, still life was going along. I had my son when I was 28. 

But I had a late adolescence. Jeez, it's embarrassing to say, but in my 30s, into my early 40s, I was going out to clubs and partying and just doing things I really shouldn't have been doing. I used to live in an area of Massachusetts that was only like 45 minutes from Boston and 20 minutes from Providence so I was always going out without my husband and getting into trouble, doing drugs, coke and ecstasy, which is kind of embarrassing, but there just was a lot of that going on. I have a lot of gay friends, and Gary thought that going to gay clubs was a safe thing. If you've been, you know it's really not. It's always straight guys or bi guys at these clubs and it's, you know, it is a pretty drugged-up atmosphere. 

And Gary was pretty cool for a husband in that he would let me -- and I hate to use that word "let" me -- but he wouldn't give me a hard time about going away for the weekend to see my friends. Or even when I started going to these clubs all the time he would even help me pick out my dresses. He didn't know about the drug stuff -- well, the sex stuff obviously -- but I kept the drug stuff away from him. And sometimes it blew me away that he didn't know because I would come home so fucked up. But either he chose not to see it or I was a really good actress. And I'm not. 

It got to the point where I was doing too many drugs, and I told Gary. I really kind of cleaned up. I had been seeing a therapist to talk about this. She thought I was crazy. Of course. When you're talking about your problems, what therapist is gonna say, "Oh, gee, you should put your 30-year marriage on the cutting board and call this guy that you haven't seen in forever and" -- you know? The therapist tried to discourage me. "It's all in your head. He's not thinking of you." That kind of stuff. 

So somewhere around that I went on to Classmates.com. Not looking for him because I knew he would never be on there. He didn't go to any of the reunions and that kind of stuff -- which I did. I just went to see who was on. And there's Brian. His bio, the only thing it said was "divorced," and it had a smiley face. 

Well, my heart stopped -- I thought, "Oh my God he did that for me. He's trying to get a hold of me. Oh my God Oh my God." But my mind said, "Oh, for godsakes, Louise. If he was trying to get a hold of you he would pick up the goddamn phone." You know. Not knowing that he actually was trying to contact me, had been searching on the Internet trying to find my e-mail. I mean my name was in the phone book. The same phone book his mother had. But he didn't wanna call. His mother had told him, "You should call Louise! You should call Louise!" But he didn't want to disrupt things. 

I didn't know what to do. I was scared. And, um, so thinking about him, thinking about him, thinking about him. It kinda came to a head one day. This is like a year later. I could not stand it anymore. I was freaking sick of thinking of him. So I called. And he answered the phone. That was July 19 of 2003. I just poured out my soul. I said, "This is Louise and I think you're the love of my life. I can't stop thinking about you. I know you probably think I'm out of my mind but I just have to say because I can't take thinking about you anymore." And I kind of blabbered on and on like that for a little while. We talked for like an hour and a half. And we exchanged e-mail addresses and I was in heaven. 

I remember now: It was a beautiful day. Sunny and hot. I was down at the beach. I was sitting in the sand, and as we talked on the phone, I kept digging and digging and digging a hole. By the time we were done talking I was in this freaking crater. And after we talked I got up and I ran five miles like it was a block. That was my most I ever ran. I stopped and it was like I could turn around and do it again. You know. Just a feeling of floating. Just not being real. 

We started e-mailing back and forth, and then he pulled back and said, "You should try to work things out with Gary," and nah nah nah nah and we didn't e-mail for like two weeks and then we started again. It was about a month before we talked again on the phone. 

There was some sexual flirtation. And just like a lot of remembering the way we felt about each other way back when and he admitting that he did think about me while he'd been married but he just -- he's very conservative as far as like he would never have cheated on his wife even if a woman had thrown herself naked in front of him. He just -- that's not the way he is.


So that went on for about a month. I pretty much lived on my boat in the summer but my husband lived in the house because of his work. He was in business for himself so he needed to be around the phone and the fax and the computer and all that. And I wasn't working at this time. I had quit working in '98. Brian worked nights so he would get home at like 1:30 in the morning and we'd talk for hours. 

And then on Sept. 6 of '03, we decided to meet. Physically meet. I was waiting for him down at a beach that we used to go to as kids. It has an old building on it, like a fort. When we were kids we used to climb up inside. So I was waiting for him and um -- there's like a causeway between the mainland and the beach. And I was standing there and he stopped the car, all these cars are behind him, and he jumped out of the car and grabbed me and gave me a big hug. He lifted me right off the ground. And then he parked the car and we walked around holding hands and lying on the blanket on the beach and kissing. We kissed and that type of thing but we didn't have sex. I went back to my life and he went back to stay at his mother's and I saw him again the next day. And then after the next day, we had seen each other that whole weekend, and I went home and I told Gary. I said, "I saw Brian. We've been communicating and I think I want to try things with him, and I'm leaving." 

That didn't go over too well. He was very upset. He kind of screamed with like, a shocked scream, not a loud, yelling scream. He went to the living room and started crying. It was horrible. Oh, I felt terrible. I felt guilty. But I couldn't -- I just couldn't not do it. On one side there was this great excitement and this great happiness and fulfillment, and on the other side was guilt and dread. I was so excited about the fact that Brian had felt the same way that I was always hoping he felt that that basically took everything over. That overshadowed anything else. 

I left that night. I went to live on my boat for a couple weeks, and it started to get cold so I moved in with my friend in Warwick, R.I. And then I officially moved in with Brian in the middle of November of '03. And now we live in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire. 

I would certainly hate for anyone reading these stories to think that it was an easy thing to do. That it was easy, that it was pleasant. Or that it's something that you should think about doing 'cause you're unhappy. Because I wish I had gone about it a different way. The grown-up thing would have been to leave Gary and then start a relationship with Brian. That would have been the nice, clean grown-up way to do things. But I don't know if things can ever really be clean and nice and tidy with those kind of things. 

Especially when we first got divorced. Lot of guilt. There were many days when I didn't like what I was doing. I felt icky about it. When I first got divorced I was very -- you know. "Are you sure you love me?" you know. "You're not just with me because I left Gary, are you?" That kind of thing. You go through that horrible period of first feeling so guilty about what you've done to someone who really did love you. But I just -- I had to. I mean I just had to. Like, I only have one time. You know? I only get one time around. 

I almost went back with Gary a couple times. The guilt really overcame me. I think twice, maybe, six or eight months apart. Gary and I tried a reconciliation, like, going out to dinner. And I would realize I was nuts and come flying back up here, you know. I think it hurt Brian. But he'd been through a divorce, too. I think he understood a lot of the feelings that you have. 

We went through a period of adjustment, because I'm the one with the money. Not that I have a ton left after the divorce! We had a very fair divorce because I was guilty as all hell. But Brian's a janitor, which like, you know, gave my ex lots of giggles and laughs, "Oh, you left me for a janitor." Which was very uncool. 

He hasn't done a lot. Didn't go beyond high school. He's always been strapped for cash. He and his wife both worked. They always worked. Didn't make a lot of money. You know. Brian often worked two and three jobs at a time. They had three kids. I think it was hard for him just because, you know -- a man thing. And for me it was maybe a little difficult because I'm one of those people that needs the security of having some money. 

I've been with Brian now for five years. He asked me to marry him in February in 2005 on Antigua. We had gone for dinner on the beach in one of the restaurants at the resort and we were walking along the beach and he grabbed me and said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and that I was the love of his life. And I married him. 

I'm as happy as I can be. I'm very happy. Very relaxed in my life now. I can't even imagine cheating on him. Brian has told me that if I tried any of that shit with him [laughs] when we had been married that he would have kicked my ass out the door. You know. And I wonder if I would have gone through that if I had been with someone who I liked. In the beginning, I would say I wish we had been together these past 30 years. And he would say, "No, you know I think it happens for a reason." You know. I wouldn't have my son. And I love my son. 

I think I wanted to be with someone that I wanted to be with every minute. And that's how it is. I want to be with him all the time. I still go out, but yeah, no, I don't go down to Massachusetts very often anymore. I'm going down next weekend for a party, but it'll be low key. I might smoke a little pot. And even if I did do a little coke or something, it wouldn't be like, "Oh now I'm gonna go out and get in trouble," you know what I mean? Like, I'm looking forward to going to Massachusetts next weekend, because I haven't seen my friends in a long time. But I won't want to do it again two weeks later. 

Brian isn't into going out. It's not his thing. He hates to get dressed up to go out to eat or anything. I mean, getting dressed up for him is a clean pair of jeans and a clean T-shirt. But that's just the way he is, and it's OK. That stuff just doesn't matter. Because I just love him for the way he is. He's silly. He's like a little kid. His sense of humor. The way he sees the world. He sees all the good. Very optimistic. Hardly ever down in the dumps. Although just after summer ends he has a bit of a period. But he's fun. Very laid back. Very affectionate. Although my ex was very affectionate too. Which I need. I need a lot of reassurance all the time. 

How do you describe the person that you have found -- he's my best friend. Which was a new concept for me. Not just loving the person you're with but liking them. You know, you've probably heard people say, "You should be friends first." It's so true. He's the love of my life. It doesn't depend on whether he has been nice to me that day or did he buy me some nice Lindt chocolate or jewelry. Or did we have good sex last night. It's because -- just because I want to be with him. I'm like a little puppy. I just want to be with him all the time.


By Edited by John Bowe

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Americans Talk About Love