The band played two nights in Iowa City, then onto Des Moines for two nights. I contacted my parents and asked if I could come and see them. My mother said it would be best if I didn’t since my father still had not gotten over my divorce and subsequent three year relationship with a woman. I was both disappointed and a little relieved. I did manage to convince my mother to meet me for lunch. She was stiff and uncomfortable which made me feel the same. We parted on awkward terms promising to ‘keep in touch’.
After their gigs in Des Moines, we moved on to Omaha, Denver, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and then Durango, Colorado. I had called my office and extended my leave. I had settled into the rhythm of the road and was having the time of my life. My four companions were good to be with. They all knew of my situation and were sympathetic and supportive. However, my two weeks of freedom sadly came to an end and I had to get back. After tearful good-byes, I flew out of Durango to Denver, then Chicago.
Back in Chicago, I reluctantly went from the airport to the condo and when I walked in, I got sick to my stomach. Thankfully, my stomach was empty an all I did was retch into the commode. I felt like a stupid fool, used by that two timing deceitful woman. I couldn’t bear to stay there and went to a hotel. The next day I went into my office and tendered my resignation. I committed to two weeks to get my caseloads and affairs in order and I was free without a clue as to what I would do or where I would go. I knew Chicago was history.
One year later
I walked out of my rented old adobe house, my home for the last nine months, two blocks off the plaza into the dazzling bright New Mexico morning sunlight. I put on my sunglasses which I learned early on to always have with me. I love living here in this amazing magical place. The sky was more blue than any I could ever remember seeing. The deserts and mountains offered spectacular colorful canyons and vistas. Sunsets were most always as spectacular as Fourth of July fireworks.
During my trip with the Movers, I couldn’t stop thinking of Santa Fe. The two nights and one day when I was there with them was enough, I was smitten. During my two weeks finishing up at the Chicago office, I had done inquiries into some firms down there. Several expressed interest, impressed by my resume, and one in particular sounded like a good fit. I flew to Albuquerque and took the commuter train up to Santa Fe for an interview with the man who started the firm and two others, a men and a woman, both close to my age, a paralegal and an office manager/receptionist.
The interview went well. All of us seemed to fit together well. I left the interview thinking of these people as old friends. After passing the New Mexico Bar exam, I was in full swing. I loved the work, everyone was laid back, normal dress being jeans and open collar shirts, comfortable dresses and slacks, unless we were in court, then it went more business like. We had a mixed group of clients. I was usually delegated to family and divorce cases which was my expertise and my first love.
I again felt free and alive. I had nobody in my life other than my colleagues who all became close friends. I kept in touch with Russell, Hannah, and Karen. It was like I had a rebirth. Everything was new and exciting. Santa Fe had so much to offer in culture, restaurants, and beautiful places to explore.
I had not heard anything from Jess since I left a little over a year ago. Then one day to my surprise I received a letter from her, with a Paris postmark. I left it unopened, sitting on my desk staring at me for over a week. Over lunch on a Friday, I told my female colleague, Susan about it. She was the only one in the firm who knew about my past which I spilled out one night over dinner and too much wine.
Susan insisted , “When we get back to the office, open it. At least I want to know what she might have to say.”
“You’re just so incredibly nosy, so all right, I’ll do it, but I may need a drink afterwards,” I responded, chuckling as we walked back the single block to the office.
I sat down at my desk with Susanne sitting across fro me, took a breath, cut it open and pulled out the single handwritten sheet of paper.
My Dearest Dana,
I have finally gotten the nerve to write this. I want you to know that I was truly in love with you. I wanted to tell you about Rémy and little Isabella many times, but lacked the courage. I am ashamed of the way all this happened. I can only ask that you forgive me for my deceit for which I am truly sorry.
I have sold my business and moved permanently to Paris to be with my husband and child. He is an important and respected financier and my absence was becoming a problem for him. I do love him and my daughter very much and am happy I made the decision to leave Chicago and my mid-west roots for good.
I am working for a gallery here in Paris in Montmartre that specializes in rare prints so I am fortunate to be in my element. It’s not the same as running my own business but in many ways it is so much easier and less stressful. My French improves every day now. I am working on getting rid of my Chicago accent.
I think of you often and wonder where you are, how you are, if you are okay. I pray you are doing well. If you can find it in your heart, I would love to hear from you. Please forgive me.
With love and regret,
I kept staring it for a moment, finally letting it slip from my hands onto my desk. So many memories flooded my head, so many good and now this. I was so naive and vulnerable those few years ago. Never again.
“Are you okay?” Susanne asked, interrupting my revery.
“I don’t know. I feel like such a fool. This letter . . . this letter is just her bullshit, wanting forgiveness, wanting . . . wanting? ‘Love and regret?’ What does that mean? I have no idea. I’m so done with her . . . forever!” I was starting to choke up with anger, sadness and regret.
“It’s okay,” Susanne said, trying weakly to reassure me. “It’s okay. You’re here. This is now. And you’re amazing. You’ve moved on and are continuing to move on. You have friends here. Good friends.”
“I know, I know. I hear you. It’s just . . . just hard.”
“I can only imagine all you have told me. It’s weird for me to comprehend, I know. I don’t know what else to say.”
“Say nothing. I know. Everything you say is true. It’ll be okay. I was getting over all this and then she had to write this bullshit.”
“It is bullshit. Total bullshit. So let it go.”
“Thanks. Let’s go out and have dinner and celebrate tonight. Celebrate freedom. Yeah!”
“It’s a date. Let’s do some lawyer shit. Okay?”
“Hell yeah. Let’s do some law.”