He walked through the doorway. I was sure it was he. The light from the street silhouetted his form, but yes, it was Sam. I was dining with my husband. How should I react? I glanced again. Yes, it was the man who had played such an important part in my life. The man I left. The man who cried when I left. He shouldn't see me now. My husband glanced at me. My stomach tightened. The yearning, yes, the desire, it was still there. I began to sweat. Don't recall, I begged my body. Breathing slowly, I struggled to restrain the emotions that were venting out of control.
Sam sat down at a table far enough away that I could sneak a glance and he wouldn't know. Or would he? What if he did? Would he come over? Did I want him to?
"Are you alright?" my husband asked.
"Yes," I lied. "I think I swallowed too much." I looked down at the bowl of soup almost untouched. After all these years, why am I feeling this way? My insides were melting. I was reliving our times entwined in each other's arms. My heart was beating rapidly. Too rapidly. I needed to excuse myself, but I couldn't speak. I couldn't get up. My past was taking over my body. My mind couldn't reel in the flow of emotions.
"Really, dear," you don't look right."
Should I explain? I snuck a glance. Sam was facing me! I tried to swing back around, but I couldn't. Our eyes met. He didn't move. I didn't move. I knew my husband would follow my stare. Still I could not keep my eyes off Sam. Now what was going to happen? Sam and I had shared so much time, so many adventures, and so much loving. How could I explain any or all of this to the man I married over ten years ago?
"Who is that?"
I bounced back to reality. But what could I say? My lips quivered as I was about to attempt some response.
"He is coming over. Who is this man?"
With only seconds to explain, I condensed nights and days of passion into one sentence.
"That is Sam, a friend I used to sail with..."
Suddenly he was standing beside me. Sam. Standing and smiling and staring into my eyes. My husband disappeared. The restaurant disappeared. I was locked into a visual embrace. I couldn't speak. But he was more brave. Introducing himself to my husband, he sought to open the door to civility.
It was my turn. So, breathing rapidly with short spurts of sound, I said, "This is my husband, Ted Lowe," looking not at Sam or my husband but at my soup.
They made an exchange of words. I understood nothing. Invited to sit down at our table, Sam took my hand instead, squeezed my fingers, and spoke about getting together. Would we be coming to Annapolis again in the near future? Perhaps we would like to go sailing on a balmy afternoon? I choked at the thought. My husband on that boat? The sailboat of my dreams? The life from which I had walked away?
Snuggling in my cot in the aft stateroom, I was secure and comfortable knowing Sam was at the helm. We were in high seas, sailing from Bermuda to Sint Maarten, out of sight of land. Now fully awake, I decided to join my captain and listen while he explained the constellations. The stars were bright against the black sky. The air was cool and damp. With Sam, I was in another world. Away from civilization, alone on his boat, listening to the surf, smelling the salty air, so comfortable with the man I loved. The dawn breaks slowly. The bright constellations grow dim. Now I am at the helm, steering by the bright light of Venus two points ahead of the beam on the port side. We are not sailing. No wind. The sails flap. I look west: no more stars. Light has pervaded the vista of the universe. The light began as a pale blue and yellow strip on the western horizon, but as I turn now, the horizon has become a spectacle: orange lashes out violently, clawing with its long, skinny, gnarled fingers any clouds that might have been lazily dancing by. As I stare in wonder, a tiny sparkle like a fourth of July sparkler comes up, ever so small, peeping over the horizon, waiting for just the right moment. And when that moment comes, at the zenith of brilliant orange, out pops the sun, whole, yellow, and bright. The orange disappears and suddenly it is daytime.
These were the moments I remembered as Sam stood next to my chair, still holding my hand. Then, all too soon, he was gone. I was left wondering how to describe...what? My relationship? My sailing experiences? With a trembling hand, the one Sam had held, I picked up my spoon and tried to taste my soup, now cool. Then, without thinking, I turned. Sam was back at his table. But he was not alone. A lovely, young lady sat next to him. She was smiling. They were close. Sam put his arm around her. I wanted to cry.
"Maybe some day we could join them for a sail," suggested my husband.
How could I explain? No, it was past, my past. Another time, another me, another world. I need to focus on the present. This moment. This time with the man I married. But it is so hard!