FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Second Chance—25 Years Later

by

A “Second Chance,” after 25 years of absence and silence, was recently offered Shepherd by Assumpta. Her email arrived from Europe to his farm. We had met in Barcelona in l988 and have had no contact during the last quarter of a century. I answered her email within 15 minutes of its sending, without thinking, but with a deep feeling of connection.

“Where are you staying?” this cinnamon-shaded woman inquired in Spanish back in 1988, after I presented at an international conference. I used to speak Spanish well, but not for about 15 years, because of war trauma in Chile during the early l970s. “You could stay at my home,” she invited. I appreciated her Catalan hospitality, but declined, not wanting to be unprofessional. “How about dinner, then?” she continued, which I did accept.

I eventually extended my stay and moved in with Assumpta for a few days. My Spanish, the language of my deepest love feelings, began returning. Assumpta later visited me in the Boston area. She then moved to Montreal for graduate studies, where I visited her.

Those first connections with Assumpta were so important in my life that I wrote about them in an essay entitled “Making Love in Spanish Differs,” which was published in two books. She remembers our beginning as “an irrational, intuitive, impulsive, deep experience.” She felt “an immediate affection when I saw your eyes locked on mine. I was a free woman. I felt loved and understood in my whole person. I felt alive and energetic.” Our early encounters were primal and embodied.

We explored sharing a life together. She wanted a child, but I did not. Many things that differ can be both/and. Having a child is either/or. I was afraid. Given all my military genes–including the fort named after our Southern fighting family, Ft. Bliss, Texas–I was unwilling to take the risk. Having served in the Army during the Vietnam Era, I did not want to sire yet another Bliss boy who might go to war and kill people.

Assumpta eventually had a son, though her relationship with his father dissolved. I have been careful and never gotten a woman pregnant. I am now childless in my 60’s and without a life partner.

This year Assumpta again took the initiative to connect. Then she invited me to Barcelona; I plan to go in July. This re-connection, which she calls a “golden opportunity,” has ignited me with energy. We email every day, usually many times. She asked me to install skype, so we have been able to speak and see each other. As Assumpta, a nurse, says. “Such dreams cause endorphins that positively influence the nervous system.” We exchange photos. We discuss our long-long-distant relationship with friends. Across the miles, she feels “accompanied by you,” as I feel by her.

We’ve already had our first conflict. She said something that bothered me. I responded promptly and took the risk of telling her that I felt hurt. It was quickly resolved and drew us closer. I want to open the door widely to Assumpta. I seem to have more boundaries than she.

I began writing this in an all-day circle among military veterans and our allies in our Veterans Writing Group, who have gathered regularly to write for over two decades. “There’s nothing new about late-life romance,” our over-80 World War II Navy vet Bill Boytin said, as he tenderly touched his long-time, beautiful wife Marg Starbuck.

A year before Assumpta’s return, I came to love another creature, who opened my heart. A 12-week-old puppy came toward me at the Sebastopol Farmer’s Market. I reached down and she jumped into my arms. I noted a liter of half a dozen dogs. “May I walk her around?” I asked. “Sure,” they responded enthusiastically. I came back later to return her. “She’s adopted you,” they said. “Oh, no, I am not looking for a dog,” I replied. “You should take her home,” they responded. So I did.

Winnie has been the love of my life for slightly over a year. Last semester one of my college students noted, “Now that Shepherd has a dog, he is a better teacher, and even a better person.” Winnie was the mid-wife to my relationship with Assumpta. The four-footed to which I am a two-footed companion helps heal me. Both Assumpta and Winnie are more primal than I and help connect me to the primitive.

On our one-month anniversary of re-connection, Assumpta sent me the gift of her “Love History.” It began with her mother and father; he spent time in a concentration camp, which he never talked about. My father fought during World War II and became a career military officer. He also did not talk about his war experiences. Both of our fathers were somewhat absent, though Assumpta eventually got closer to her father than I did. Fortunately, I felt very close to my mother.

Assumpta and I have some important differences in our cultures and languages. A salient similarity is that we have both been touched directly by fascism—she by the Spanish Civil War, which was before her birth, and myself by “the other 9/11,” when the dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet toppled the democratic government of Chilean President Salvador Allende. He initiated a reign of terror throughout Latin America’s Southern Cone, which took the lives of thousands, including my friends.

We both carry what Assumpta describes as “the suffering and cruelty of war.”  We have the “genetic information of torture and isolation. I do not think that it is possible to reach the depth of feelings without the extreme experiences. The same capacity that makes us sensitive to pain can make us sensitive to love. Some dream of a deep love but live on the surface.”

Assumpta writes about the indispensable elements of love being “empathy, solidarity, communication, friendship, altruism, intimacy.” I have been reading the excellent book “Undefended Love,” by Jett Psari and Marlena Lyons, and sending her quotes from it. I have been pretty defended in my own giving and receiving. I now seek to be less defended.

This second time around, we are experiencing what Assumpta describes as “a direct, spontaneous, and irrational experience unhindered by the repressive mind.” She also voices her “doubts and fears” and writes that “we need to harmonize. We express our feelings continuously. We are compatible in mental, spiritual, and emotional levels. But we are on earth in a physical plane and yet have no physical contact yet.” We need to “avoid idealization,” she adds, and I agree. She writes about what she describes as “mature love,” which is what it feels that we are attempting.

Fortunately, our goals are now compatible, which they were not in l988. We each want what she describes as a “life partner” with whom we can “become who we are” and “express the self.” Assumpta wants a man “to support my head resting on his shoulder.” She “wants to feel a man’s hand wrapped around my hand. I want to feel the gaze of a man penetrating my eyes. I yearn for sensual dancing.” That is also what I want from this woman in our “Second Chance.” We cry the tears of joy often.

My response to Assumpta’s anniversary statement of love included the following: “Yes, love ‘requires time and availability.’ I am available to you and have time for our relationship. We communicate each day with each other. You are very present in my life; I think and feel often about you. My life also feels incomplete without a woman to love and be loved by. I want us to be that person for each other. Yes, it is a risk for us to go toward each other and be together. Though many miles, different cultures, languages, and histories separate us, we are deeply connected in other ways.”

I hope that my friends and community might welcome Assumpta with open hearts when she comes to visit here. Having a village can help keep couples and families together.

Shepherd Bliss teaches college part time, farms, and has contributed to two-dozen books. He can be reached at: 3sb@comcast.net.

More articles by:

Shepherd Bliss teaches college part time, farms, and has contributed to two-dozen books. He can be reached at: 3sb@comcast.net.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail