Chapter Fifteen: Love is Harder Than I Thought
(1996 ~~ 25 years)
‘It is with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
Antoine De Saint-Exupery ~ The Little Prince
One evening in late January, Leon arrived at my front door. We had discovered through conversation at work on the phone that he rode passed my street to his job, and I asked him to drop by sometime. Because he looked wild and rugged with his long, brown dreadlocks and South African accent, I also asked if he would like to stop by for a smoke with Cory and me. But Cory wasn’t home the night Leon came, he was in Kalgoorlie two evenings for work. As much as it could remain innocent here, it can’t. Cory was absent when I suggested he visit, but I truly didn’t speculate on the potential dynamism of our meeting, and made no effort to beautify myself in ways one might do when meeting a person of interest. On a conscious level, I saw him as just another friend.
I greeted him with a kiss on the cheek—the normal way I greet guests—and he stepped through the door with a warm smile. He brought a bottle of red wine, and so we drank. We talked and talked until I finally revealed my secret ‘problem’. Immediately his compassion was obvious. He showed me so much empathy that I felt blessed to be in this unexpected company of confidence. His way was so strong, yet gentle, and soft.
He offered to massage my right foot, and of course, I readily accepted. My pleadings to Cory for massages were long exhausted, having at last understood he was not a touchy person, growing bored once started. I would often say to him I wouldn’t refuse a massage if anyone offered me one. So, I felt quite entitled to this treat!
The massage felt exceedingly wonderful, exhilarated further by every pressure point Leon penetrated on my foot. My feelings soon incited beyond the MS cry. With a body and mind vibrating to the tune of wine, marijuana, and touch, my sensations sensationalised, and my mind ran out the window… Leon stayed longer than he should and I was in bliss in his embrace.
Next night when Leon arrived, we decided to have dinner in Fremantle, entailing a twenty-minute ride on Rosy—his hot, red 750c Honda motorbike. Careless, fearless youth had me dress in a short-suit and boots, recklessly leaving my arms and legs exposed. The ride was exciting, and as we sped along the coastline in the chilly wind, I sensed a shift in my consciousness. My world was widening all of a sudden… my experience with Leon was opening me, invoking me to feel like a woman (he was such a manly man) and a woman of the world at that, because of his cultured European background. His South African accent was melodious and softer than the general South African intonation, and his ways too were softer than I’d seen on any man; his entire body moved and vibrated eloquent love.
On reaching Fremantle, we parked Rosy in the motorbike section, and walked along an old cobbled street to choose a restaurant. We ordered pasta, I barely touched, preferring to absorb the atmosphere, the company, and red wine n’ ciggies! Later, we headed back to Perth and while riding in the wind, I felt rebellious and childlike, a grown woman at one with the elements.
Once home, I asked Leon not to stay long. Cory was returning the next day and I still loved and respected him enough not to let my feelings run too far away to disregard him completely. Leon respected this and offered me a back massage before leaving. Following the healing massage, and true to my request he quietly departed, locking the door behind him.
The next morning at work, we were on the phone. For reasons beyond guilty feelings to Cory, I cried and cried and cried. My heart ached due to unfinished commitments to Cory; commitments I needed to fulfil before starting a relationship with someone else.
A week later Leon met me for lunch, wanting to celebrate a week since meeting. I felt uneasy in his presence after what had happened, and didn’t know what he expected from me, but trusted myself enough not to have an affair.
What occurred highlighted the rift between Cory and me (the general result of such measures), and I became more fragmented in my thoughts, which fragmented my energies, confusing Cory by my silent moments. Smoking marijuana numbed the reality of it all, and assisted our times together. We really enjoyed making dinner and dining on the bed while watching TV—our nightly special, and if that was all life contained, then we may have been the perfect couple. But, life contains more! Marijuana was an effective but impermanent Band-Aid counterproductive to truth discussion. Even without it, I couldn’t imagine bearing the reality of letting him down … telling him I had met the promise I made him make in London. Now, I couldn’t find the courage to be honest, thinking that telling him would be worse than not telling him at that moment, for both of us. It wasn’t time, and my heart was both happy and sad.
But Cory couldn’t put a foot right on my 25th birthday. As I was still at an expectant stage in life, thinking it was up to others to display expressions of happiness on birthdays, to show how they really felt: I felt let down and upset by him. Next day, I relayed this woe in a fax to Stephen, which says more about me than Cory:
‘Cory apologised in bed saying sorry that he appeared crappy all day…! Said he wanted to make this one extra special for me! Sure has a wonderful way of showing it to me hey…? Anyway, signed and sealed we DO NOT belong together, I don’t care what the future brings for me without him…because I’m going to try…and pray I’m looked after upstairs…because I’m sick of Loveless relationships! First with Ben, now with Cory! I do deserve more don’t I darling…I know you’ve been saying this to me for such a long time; I just haven’t truly believed it UNTIL NOW! Yes Je Suis malade of it! I know I’ll be okay, anything’s better than the stress I brew being with Mr Hee Haw (Cory’s nickname), he not such a nice fellow to me… is to everyone else though, and I’m over being Suzie Loveless! I want the whole world to see I’m in love, and I’m going to find Love! I have to or I’ll just wither away, as I am right now…I only need a little bit, and that little bit still escapes me… How and Why I do not know! Do you? Noy, Noy, Noy to that question I say!’
* * *
I saw Leon again the following week when he attended a four-day training program at my workplace. On each of those days, we shared cigarette breaks, and he returned early from lunch to sit in my office. Even though nervous energy encompassed us from across my desk, I enjoyed his company and felt aglow in the warmth of his loving vibrations.
Initially, it did seem feasible we could be together sooner rather than later, but I imagined this for an outlet of my mixed up feelings, and for the benefit of Leon’s wishes. The fact was I simply could not leave Cory so quickly and dramatically! I spoke with Mum through this bewildering time, telling her of Leon’s desire for me to move in with him, and although he wasn’t placing pressure on me, I felt his weight! Soon after, I told Cory about Leon, revealing that we had kissed and cuddled. You can say it was more than a white lie, but Mum had convinced me that the full truth would unnecessarily hurt him. I gratefully took her wise advice! Cory valiantly understood and allowed me space to work out what I should do.
One afternoon, Cory asked what it was about Leon that made me want to be with him. With tears running down my face, ‘He treats me like a princess’, I replied. Cory well knew of my longing for affectionate tenderness and expressive love. Almost a year into our relationship, I would say: ‘If you don’t start giving me affection, then eventually I’m going to stop!’
The lack of affection reciprocation was the only real cause of our upsets in our initial years, because I’d often assume he wasn’t proud of me etc and become more insecure (especially in the beginning when I carried extra weight). Demonstrative affection would have been hard for Cory, particularly because he wasn’t a very cuddly person with a partner, having grown up without seeing his mum and dad display tenderness, although they loved each other immensely. I realised this first hand when I lived with them. So, with understanding and love Cory said, ‘Darling you deserve to be treated like a princess! Please let me treat you like one. Give me a go Suz’. We cryingly agreed to give us a go! From thereon I was less available to Leon’s phone calls at work, and was slow to answer his emails.
Leon soon realised I wasn’t going to leave Cory. Secretly, I understood that meeting him confirmed my mounting fears and feelings over the past two years, but I was still saddened and confused and couldn’t suddenly leave Cory. He and I had our own special, loving bond, more than warranting a slow and loving separation. Our oneness needed gently carving back into two!
My heart still yearned…
* * *
Throughout the next 23 pages of this chapter:
Ultimatum love letter and poem from Leon.
My best friend Lindy tragically leaves the world.
Begin slow walk along the path to mind-liberation.
Brief comfort in Leon’s arms.
Karla comes to live with Cory and me. Inevitably assists real beginning of our break-up.
Time of hic-ups: MS; Leon; and Cory.
Decide to return to Sydney to live at year’s end.
Live by myself: independent.
Fall in love with Leon in romantic Pemberton.
Leon can’t forgive me for not leaving Cory when we met. Breaks-up with me.
Get my driver’s license: sprout rubber wings…. Experience worse MS episode.
Return to Sydney.