While visiting my sister in Costa Mesa, California, last summer, I saw a woman in a Safeway parking lot, putting her groceries onto the passenger seat of her yellow MG. One small bag, a pink box from the bakery and a bouquet of flowers. Was she on her way to a party? A willowy blonde, she was dressed in black with expensive leather boots and just a flash of gold jewelry. Understated, but dressed to kill, she was ready to entice. A beautiful woman, stunning really, I was surprised when she turned around and I saw that she looked to be in her late fifties, early sixties. With her cell phone pinned up against her ear, she was having an abbreviated conversation.
“Why can’t I see you today?”
“But Moreno, that was months ago. You said we would spend my birthday together.”
I caught the ribbon of her sadness as I passed her shiny, looked-like-new, vintage sports car, pushing my loaded shopping cart to my beaten-up rental. Although I tried not to, I couldn’t help turning toward her for one stolen glance. I saw the shine of the one that escaped beyond her dark glasses, as the single wayward tear traveled down her cheek. Her call over, she threw the pink bakery box in the trash. She was about to throw the flowers in after it, but hesitated. She just couldn’t toss her sexy red tiger lilies. Walking back to her car she saw me shoving my cart toward the hatchback. My back to her now, she startled me.
“Would you like some flowers?”
She slid them into my cart and walked away as I said thank you to her back.
Her words to Moreno stayed with me all day. By the time I got back to my sister’s house, I was so engrossed in this woman’s story that I had to write it down as it unfolded in front of me. But the scene was too brief for the embellishments I would have had to use to make it into a story. That didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem fair to manipulate her details and take that much from her when she’d lost so much already.
I miss you.
Plain and simple.
I wish I didn’t, but there it is. I do.
You no longer think of me with the hunger you once did.
That was long ago, ten years maybe?
But also an eternity.
And now I’ve had the incredible temerity
to grow old.
I didn’t mean to.
I didn’t even realize I had until I saw it in your eyes.
So here I am.
Alone, but not lonely.
You are aging too,
but for me, you are just as spectacular
as that first day.
Even now, when I see you my heart still skips a beat.
Men don’t wait to watch as a woman loses her magnetic pull –
I still feel like the strong sensual goddess
that I was at my peak…
on a good day.
Yet, when I think of you that day,
that last day I saw you
I think of the look in your eyes
The distance in your voice,
And all I can feel is melancholy.
The dejection of a dry rose
who used to make you hunger
for my fragrance.