Was She Just Another Nicely Packaged Pain Delivery System?

“Sara, who would you say has been the love of your life?”

“Why,” she said with a slight drawl, “I guess I would have to say my cat, Bo.” She scrunched up her eyes, this time to stifle a laugh.

I wanted to say, “Try me!” But I didn’t dare.

Inwardly, I churned. Outwardly, I obsessed. I asked friends with whom we socialized if they thought Sara might have a romantic interest in me. No one could find any sign of her feelings toward me, positive or negative. Of course. Sara was also channeling Mr. Knightley.

We were at an impasse. Sharing my frustration with my very best friend, who had heard it all before, many times, I provoked her into venting. “One of you,” she announced, “is going to have to do something. It’s getting boring. Butch up, baby, and tell her how you feel.”

I began to write a letter to Sara. I told her of my admiration for her, of my attraction to her, of my interest in exploring a romantic relationship with her. I asked if she might share that interest. I wrote and rewrote, and friends read and reread, and then I wrote some more.

I wanted to be clear about my feelings, but I had to give her a graceful way to refuse my invitation. Finally, more than a year and a half after that evening in the red wine class, I put the letter in the mail, drove to the airport and flew to Milwaukee to visit my brother.

“Jangled” did not begin to describe the state of my nerves as I contemplated the possible consequences of having spoken. Doing some simple yoga stretches the first morning of my visit in an effort to manage my stress, I heard a pop in my lower back. I was flooded with pain, then realized I couldn’t get up without help. The local urgent care center provided oxycodone and the advice to get an MRI as soon I got home.

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