You can’t always explain desire | AspenTimes.com

You can’t always explain desire

Tony Vagneur
Aspen CO, Colorado

She was a good-looking woman, not really what you would call beautiful unless, of course, you happened to be in love with her. The long, dark hair and full lips were enticing, but there was a serious, inquisitive intensity behind her eyes that was reliably irresistible. For a delicious period of time, I believed her to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing creatures to ever grace the earth.

We had a good thing going, she and I, even though nearly 20 winters separated us. But infatuated fun is one thing and the future another ” she wanted a family, to be part of the nucleus of a caring group, which was something more than I was willing to give ” and we parted ways.

When does it begin, this thing that makes fools of men and keeps the world off-kilter, no matter the best intentions of all involved? We were sitting in the living room of a huge house, nestled on a sprawling estate in New Jersey, waiting for lunch to be served, and the talk was of women and money ” drinks all around and fat cigars, as yet unlit, whetting the appetite ” what else is there?

“I spent a million bucks on that broad and still she stayed with her husband.”

I mumbled something about wondering “if it was worth it.”

“Damned right! She was so fine, I’d do it again tomorrow, without a second thought. Let her break my heart over and over.”

Was it the way she absentmindedly removed an earring during casual conversation or gave you a sidelong glance from across the room, a doorway to the soul gently opening? Maybe your lips brushed, innocently enough, but, in that instant, passion rose like a roman candle and now your view of the world has changed, all for the better. That crazy feeling, the deep desire for someone, seemingly comes from nowhere, but almost immediately your thoughts are transformed into the unmistakable throes of ” what is it? ” this unfolding of the rose blossom’s perfect petals.

Back in my idealistic college days, I made an ill-advised stop on Larimer Street in Denver, looking for the bottom of the world on the worn and cracked concrete sidewalks of the then-famous skid row of the Rockies. One grizzled, middle-aged man, ripe with the smell of cheap whiskey and dried urine, didn’t rebuff me quickly enough and somehow I got him talking about the road that led to his predicament. He talked in short, slurred sentences, but when he got to thinking about the woman he’d once loved, the same woman who had deserted him for another man and forever broke his heart, his speech rolled with a poetic fluidity that belied his self-absorbed drunkenness. He died tragically, I’m sure, her name rolling off his last breath, but the eloquence with which he spoke about the love of his life will forever remain with me.

She tugged at my sleeve, hoping I might decide to stay and warm her soul a little. Loneliness is a terrible thing, particularly on a windswept prairie ” the homestead dream of a lifetime ” that once was so full of promise for the now and the future.

Heart attacks are indiscriminate bastards that can hit without reason, leaving widows of women still young enough to not fully understand, who still have time for full, affectionate lives. But it’s different for her now, you can tell. It’s not so much about the future as it is about just getting the day’s chores done, secretly wondering if the shimmering gold of life’s sunshine will once again play on her spirit. That same captivating look is still in her eyes, diluted but not defeated, and she’ll find her way in a new role. She’s a handsome woman, not really what you would call beautiful, unless of course you happened to be in love with her.


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