Kissing Frogs: Two Nights Ago

This is the third of the Kissing Frogs letters that reflect the downs and downs and downs of dating and searching.  There’s a saying, I saw it on a greeting card once, I don’t know who said it:  “If you don’t go in, you’ll never know…..”

The writer’s life is a public one, our lives splashed on the page, naked.  Someone must tell the truth and be the mirror.  I believe there is also a responsibility to kindness.
The names of all “the frogs” have been changed to protect their privacy.  It is one thing for me to decide to tell my own story.  The telling of the stories of other people requires discretion or at least, permission.

Emma Rosenthal


May 27, 2003

Dearest Marco,

Two nights ago you admonished me:  “Have no regrets?” you said, when I began to revisit my past.  Then you told me you wished you had never fallen in love with alcohol.

You asked me what I loved most about being with you and I said, how present you were.  How easy it was to be with you because I knew you would call.  I knew you were there.  You invited me to call, you didn’t hold back, didn’t shy away from closeness, didn’t run.

The next night you called me at the exact moment, not a moment early, not a moment late, the exact moment that I was to meet you at your home, just as I had parked the car and was on the way up to your apartment, to tell me that you weren’t home, that you were drinking, that you wanted to be alone.

You, who know how to be present, know how to connect, pretended that there was some innocence in your decision.  You didn’t call me earlier to break the date.  You waited until I would be at your home and then you admonished me, that I should have stayed home, having called to tell you I was on my way, not having found you at home, I should have stayed home.  Either way I would have been waiting.  Either way I would have been stood up.  I choose to trust you and drive to your home.  Maybe you were in the shower, maybe you had gone to the store, or were on your way home.  We had said eight o’clock.  I would trust you, and I would be trustworthy and go to your home.  That was the decision I made when I left my house, nervous that you hadn’t answered, hoping it was the distrust earned by other men, hoping that it wasn’t what it was, a relapse into the fog of alcohol, a return to this past love and all the promises she made to you.

Your drunken choice to stand me up would have been a perfect match to my pathologies once upon a time.   I would have felt desperate, abandoned, ashamed of how close we had become in so short a time, as if, in the moment of your abandonment I was some how lost, my value diminished.  I would have begged you, fought with you, tried to save you. Selfishly.  We could have played that sick alcoholic dance.

Relationships either heal and transform or they compound old wounds, reinforce old sick patterns.  I used to seek out matching pathologies.  I didn’t mean to, I just didn’t know better.  Today I seek out transformation.

I cannot date your alcoholism.  I cannot talk to it, fight with it, make love to it.  I cannot embrace it.  It is sad that you love alcohol so deeply.  That you chose to, were compelled to wake up with a hangover instead of with me should hurt me deeply.  I should be angry, offended.  But she promises you what I cannot. She tells you she will be with you always. She tells you that you are wonderful when you do yourself the greatest injury.  She tells you to forsake your self, your love, your friends, your family, your work, your cause, your mission and your calling and that she will be all that all of that could never be.

She lies to you.

If I chose to continue dating you it would be unkind.  It would be as if I were digging your grave. I cannot pretend that you are not killing yourself and I cannot nurse your death. .It would not heal you; it would send you deeper into your death, causing you to think that you could exist in both worlds successfully.

You are a wonderful man, one of the wisest and brightest people I have ever known.  That you have not experienced collaboration, creation, the victory of brilliance, saddens me so deeply, more deeply than the disappointment of the significance of your choices, more deeply than the sense of loss I felt in the moment that the phone rang as I stood on the street by your home and you told me that you would not see me that evening.

I do not regret anything that happened between us. You treated me wonderfully, gently, kindly, attentively. I do not regret my choices.    I do regret, am deeply saddened that you would choose to drink me out of your life, or attempt to bring me into a life of alcoholic fog. But I will always hold the grace that this window of time we shared bestowed upon me.

I suppose I should be angry, and perhaps I am, somewhere, deep inside, but more I am saddened, disappointed. Perhaps if you had chosen to wake up with another woman, to spend the night with another woman instead of me I might have cause to anger, or cause for self reflection, self-deprecation, I might start to question; Were her breast firmer, her stomach flatter, her skin smother, her nights wilder, calmer, her brain quicker, slower?  Was I too much? Not enough?

But you chose to wake up with a hangover instead of waking up with me, and even on my worst day I am better than a hangover, and we did not have bad days.  We only had few days.  And they were very good days, good nights, and good mornings.

For me relationships last as long as they sustain transformation, renovation, rejuvenation.  I do not measure their success in years, or rings, or vows.  I measure them in the quiet moments encapsulated in the breath between two hands, the promise of touch, the aspiration of intention, the sound of breath and pulse, the combination of ideas and visions, the integrity of passion, the potential that births new possibilities.

I wish you so much.  I wish you health, and work and brilliance, collaboration, the depth of class struggle, grace, happiness and




About emmarosenthal

Emma Rosenthal is an artist, writer, educator, reiki practitioner, farmer and human rights activist, living in Southern California, whose work combines art, activism, education and grassroots mobilization. As a person with a disability she is confined, not by her disability but by the narrow and marginalizing attitudes and structures of the society at large. She is the founder and co-director of The WE Empowerment Center and Café Intifada, and she lives and works at Dragonflyhill Urban Farm. As an educator her emphasis has been in the areas of bilingual and multicultural education. Her experience as a grassroots organizer, political essayist and speaker has been life long and has included many progressive causes. Her work seeks to combine art, activism, education and grassroots mobilization. Her poetry and prose is impassioned, sensual, political, life affirming and powerful. In her writing she explores the use of art and literary expression to elicit an ethos more compelling than dogma and ideological discourse, providing new paradigms for community, communion, connection and human transformation. She has been a featured poet and speaker throughout Southern California at a variety of venues and programs including; The Arab-American Festival, Highways Performance Space, The Autry Museum, Barnes and Nobel, Poetic License, Borders/Pasadena, Beyond Baroque, Freedom Fries Follies (a fundraiser for The Center for the Study of Political Graphics), KPFK, Arts in Action, Chafey College, UC Irvine and Hyperpoets. Her work has appeared in several publications including Lilith Magazine, The Pasadena Star News, The San Gabriel Tribune, The San Gabriel Valley Quarterly, LoudMouth Magazine (CSLA), Coloring Book; An Eclectic Anthology of Multicultural Writers (Rattlecat Press 2003), Muse Apprentice Guild and the Anthology, Shifting Sands, Jewish-American Women Speak Out Against the Occupation, Spring 2010. Her work has shown in several galleries in the Southern California area, including the Galleries at Whittier College, and Pasadena City College, as well as Beans and Leaves Coffeehouse in Covina, CA.

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