Dave and Breen become true ‘oneness.’
We were approaching the exit before the one for Breen’s Aunt Margaret’s home, “Dave, take this exit.” I raised a questioning eyebrow, but Breen just smiled and sat back, listening to the radio.
The town was called Warren’s Tavern and there was not much to it but a few stores and a spattering of old single family homes. Breen wanted to stop at the Gas-‘n-Go. We went inside and bought RC Colas and a Moon Pie for Breen, “Don’t tell Aunt Margaret I got this, okay, cause she’ll be mad at me for ruining my dessert appetite; that sort of thing.” Outside again, she took my hand and we walked over to some chairs on the store’s porch.
Now sitting, and definitely enjoying her Moon Pie, Breen looked at me with a schoolgirl grin, “Why didn’t you get one?” “My diet routine, watch the carbs…sooo, even though I love Moon Pies, I want to spend my carbs on the homemade stuff you said your aunt is making for us.” In an amused voice, Breen asks, “Stuff?” “I said that in a nice way.” “David, my aunt does not make stuff. She bakes pies and cakes.” “OK, I am holding out for the wonderful pies and cakes that your aunt has lovingly, tirelessly, carefully baked for us to enjoy.” “BS, BS, BS!”
I notice she had been looking across the street, “Dave, when Donna and I first met, she said that the two of you maintained your privacy, yet could still be so close.” She looks at me with a questioning look. “We are close, but yes we have our privet lives. Then, my relationship with Donna is not what I want with you. I…Breen, I want to be open with you, but we still need some privacy…it’s the balance.” I could tell she understood and agreed. So I volunteered, “I overheard Donna say that she had no idea where I went soon after my divorce, and the possible sex with swans part also.”
Breen giggled, “Is it a secret? I mean why is it so important to keep it from Donna?” “I never intended it to be a secret. She never asked and I guess, eventually, as time passed, it became a ‘secret.’ I did not tell her right out because she would not have approved of the trip. I had planned a cruise, then I said hell, do something totally stupid. So first I went to New York, bought some strawberry cheesecake and ate it while I walked around SoHo. Bought some orange and stuffed it in my mouth as I took a tour of Chinatown.” Breen is staring at me open-mouthed, not wanting to believe what I was telling her. “I flew to Monterey, California for some key lime cheesecake with mango sauce and watched the sea lions. Albuquerque was next. Went to Dee’s Cheesecake Factory on Menaul Boulevard for amaretto cheesecake; I think it was chocolate amaretto. Strange city to have cheesecake worthy of a special trip; that’s cause you need to experience it fresh served in the small shop next to the bakery. Flew to Del Ray, Florida for some really good, diner-style cheesecake; the kind you used to be able to buy at diners from Baltimore to New Jersey. Now you have to go to where the great diner cheesecake chefs have retired. Then, back home…cheesecaked out, if I might say, but my mind was clear.”
Breen had that look of ‘should I laugh or cry,’ “Your mind? No wonder you kept this to yourself. I think sex with swans in Switzerland may have been easier for Donna to understand.”
Moon Pie finished, she put out her hand to stop me from getting up.
Her mood took a sudden change; it became serious, deep in thought. Not knowing why, I waited. She is looking, staring at something across the street, “See that house over there, the yellow one?” I nodded. “I was in the upstairs bedroom, the one to the right of the door, when I decided to get married the first time. My friend Trish lived there at the time. We had just walked back from this store. I remember the day so vividly.” Breen was now looking off into the distance, not at the house, but through it. “I missed the Moon Pies when we lived overseas. Funny how little things like that stay in your mind. I was here for a visit and Trish and I just talked and shoved Moon Pies in our faces for three days. Well, it seemed like a lot of them; guess I was making up for the one’s I had missed and those I would miss when I left.” I had no idea what Moon Pies and marriage had in common. Nor did I have words to respond, so as to help Breen grasp what she was reaching for.
“Trish laughed at me over all the Moon Pies and made a comment about it was a good thing I was not into guys the way I was feeding myself on junk food. It was meant as a joke, but how would she know about my life in the ‘big world,’ as she called life outside Warren’s Tavern.” Breen looked at me, studied my face, “I had an instant vision of marriage as the answer to my life’s problems. Marriage was the obvious step because he had been urging me to marry him. I could tell you words like ‘teenage love’ and ‘teenage immaturity,’ but Dave I never fully understood why I got married the first time.”
She had stopped speaking, but her eyes told me that she was continuing the story silently to herself. In a soft, almost whisper, “I tried to be a good wife, I really did try. Maybe the cards were stacked against me from the very start because I chose someone who was so selfish he wanted to share nothing with me, just take.” She paused. I nodded, reached out and took her hand. Almost to herself, “That part we have gone over before, haven’t we?” I gave her hand a gentle squeeze in reply.
Breen quickly got up and looked at the house for a second or two, then turned around and looked at me again. “Maybe it was to be an adult, maybe a way to leave one’s childhood home…who knows, it’s past history. But the guilt of your past never really leaves…” she looks straight into my eyes…”and it rears its ugly head when you truly fall in love with someone.” She paused, then, “Dave, I’m far from perfect. Don’t ever think I am perfect, because I can selfishly take just as good as anyone.” She is looking at me and telling me that she loves me. I keep the words forming silently in my mind; I just nod understanding. Understanding of the commitment her openness had just brought to the table.
As I stood, Breen looped her arm through mine and we walked to the car. She hesitated letting go so she could get in. This was real hesitation; hesitation of not wanting to lose me. Suddenly the table was turned. The commitment Breen’s openness brought to the table was what I had always dreamed about, but this was not a game; now I had to choose to commit or walk away. I wanted to stay.
When I got in, Breen leaned over and kissed me. With seatbelt buckled, Breen leaned against me, placing her head on my shoulder. I started to place the car in gear, but she took my right hand off the gear shift, raised it to her lips, and kissed the back of my hand. “Dave, please stop thinking I am perfect. I can read your mind.” Still having no words to say, I just squeezed her hand and pressed the side of my head against hers. Breen reached out and turned the radio on, knowing the mood had to lighten up, “Music time.”
We completed the trip to her aunt’s house in a peaceful, oneness.
(Cheesecake, RC Colas and a Moon Pie is adapted from Through a Stranger’s Eyes, a work of fiction, copyright Steven S. Walsky, 2005, all rights reserved. Dee’s Cheesecake Factory on Menaul Boulevard is a real, fine, cheesecake establishment.)