Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the tradewinds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover
– Mark Twain
It bugs me to say my husband, Fred, enjoyed the theater more than me. But he did.
It meant he appreciated theater more than my joy of riding the one perfectly placed note in an outstanding symphony.
Either shortens my breath and affects my heart beat.
Fred and I married in 1967 and divorced in 1970. Both of us still loved one another, but we divorced. If that confuses you, think of the effect it had on this young bride of three years!
Fred made me promise I would believe him, “I am not able to tell you what the problem is. But it has nothing to do with you. I love you. Because I do love you, I cannot stay married to you. It would not be fair.”
The heartache caused me to throw my fist into the air as I swore, “I will never allow anyone to hurt me to this degree again. I will love no man to this depth again.”
That mystery lasted for over 25 years. It unraveled with an amazing phone call in 1998. When I trust that no one can be hurt by my disclosing the details, I will do so. Though not from Fred himself, the phone call made good his promise to me.
Though this could be viewed as a tease, it explains why Fred and I stayed in touch with one another for many years after the divorce. Both of us ended up in Ontario where we each flourished in our lives apart. When my London-based career took me to Toronto, Fred and I enjoyed a line-up of fascinating social engagements and dining experiences. His position with a Travel Airline, Wardair Canada, meant his growing circle of friends came from around the world.
We’d been raised in “European-settled” Western Canada. Therefore, we thrived on the cosmopolitan offerings in this exciting city with its various cultures.
In the early 1970s, I called Fred from London to say I’d be able to spend the weekend in Toronto. As soon as I came through his front door, brushing off a day’s dust, he said, “I’ve prepared a very simple dinner. We have tickets to see Hal H………. tonight.”
“I’ll tell you while we eat. Just freshen up a bit…you look great…no time for a shower!”
As we rushed through dinner, raced to his car and sped to the theater, we quickly caught up on mutual friends and the whereabouts of family. In the 1970s, even a long distance phone call was rare enough that seeing someone in person meant a major thrust to become current with each other.
When I was with Fred, I reveled in not being responsible. He took care of routes, parking spots and which tickets provided the best seats. In fact, I didn’t even see this night’s tickets. Our conversation held a topic span shorter than a Sesame Street show running at high speed. I never had a chance to ask about Hal.
We just squeaked through the door when the curtain rose to a minimalist’s dream. In the middle of the stage, at a peculiar angle, sat one dressing table with lights around the mirror. A flimsy chair pushed partway under the table was surely borrowed from under the stage of a lesser theater.
The actor came out, positioned himself on the chair, switched on a flood of lights, stared into the make-up mirror and began talking. A reverent hush held the theater in spotless silence.
He reached for a make-up pot. ‘This is cute’, I thought. ‘Fred’s brought me to some avant garde production as a big surprise.’ The actor was vaguely familiar, but the respectful silence denied me access to Fred’s ear.
The humour borne of exquisite lines put the audience into explosions of laughter. Distant familiarity wafted through lines, but I found the application of make-up and transformation into an older man fascinatingly disruptive.
“Ah…Huckleberry Finn…”, Fred whispered well into the performance as the actor was finishing his ablutions.
How could I have been so uninformed and ignorant? I decided it was my turn to keep a secret from Fred.