Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name Elizabeth Rose. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.
I woke up not knowing my faithfulness to Jason would be tested that day…
“How’s the weather at your house?”
I take a picture of blue skies and sunshine over my private wood-fenced yard and text my friend the photo.
It’s Saturday and we have plans to tan our bums on the beach – but in Summerland, CA, where my friend lives, the marine layer takes over and diverts our plans a bit.
We decide instead on a beach stroll from Summerland to Carpinteria, so I layer up, grab my gear, and made the five-minute drive to her home.
Once I arrive, we make sure to bring the essentials: sunscreen, snacks, a joint, and plenty of water.
Locked and soon-to-be loaded, we wind down the hill, make our way to the sand, and head south.
The beach is deserted, except for one family picnic and a few locals on horseback.
The waves crash onto the shore, the water creeps toward our Converse sneakers, and sea glass keeps our eyes focused on the sand.
We pause to admire nature and stretch our limbs to embody the cool, damp breeze.
We walk for about a mile then stop for a smoke break and a few munchies.
I admit how hard it’s been now that Jason is working on a boat in Alaska – for three months with unreliable cell service – and how random encounters with good-looking men have become more apparent.
The fact that I am a woman with needs is more apparent than ever, and there’s only so much I can do for myself.
I confess my eye has wandered just a little bit.
She assures me it’s only natural.
I’m in the prime of my life, after all.
We walk, talk, finish the joint, and round the bluffs onto Padaro Beach.
A wedding is taking place just beyond and to avoid the ceremony, we reroute to walk on Santa Claus Lane.
And that’s when I see him.
A lover from my past.
The one I wrote about in the “How to Keep a Lover” column.
The same column I was writing when Jason walked into my office the day we met.
It’s surreal to lay eyes on this man again.
With the combination of rolling fog and strong marijuana, he seems like a mirage.
I glance out of the corner of my trucker hat to be sure it’s him.
It is, of course, and he looks good.
A handful of thoughts come up, more than half fueled by libido.
He doesn’t see me, thank God.
He is too pre-occupied tucking in his shirt in to notice.
I barely allow myself a second glance.
I don’t want to engage any more than I already have.
In truth, it’s my fault.
I manifested this situation that morning.
Over breakfast, I wrote a journal entry on sexuality and how challenging it is to be sexually satisfied while Jason is away.
At this moment, it seems the Universe (or the Devil?) is testing me:
“You sure you can resist? Look over here, I’ve got a shiny object to entertain you! And you’ll like this one. Guaranteed!”
The thought of “what if” lingers for a few minutes, just enough time for a mental examination of single vs. relationship.
It would be easy to take a bite of the single life again.
After all, the apple is right in front of me.
To give up true love in return for a little “somethin’ somethin’” is just not worth it to me.
Seeing my former lover makes me feel even stronger in my decision to disengage with the men of the past.
Jason, no matter how many miles away, has my heart.
We cross the street and are safely out of sight.
We scoot out of the way of an oncoming car, and I recognize a voice on the radio.
It’s James Brown singing, “Stoned to the Bone”:
“I got a good thing, I ain’t gonna give it up”.
I smile, nod, and keep walking down the street.