Ted called me every night I was gone. At the hotel. I was at the show for three days. Wait. Maybe he called only once. I remember that for sure, because we talked for about two hours. Still, though, even once on a three-day trip is good, I thought.
On my way back into town, I ran into him in the airport. I was arriving in Springfield from California, he was leaving, on his way to Big Southern City for the reunion. We stood, almost nose to nose, breathing in each other's air. Noted lightly that we would see each other in Big Southern City. (He went early to visit friends.)
When I got to the Saturday night reunion party, I scanned the room. I didn't see him. Rats.
Suddenly, he was standing next to me.
"You look gorgeous," he said.
Well, I did. But to hear him say it - my knees weakened. He didn't look too bad himself.
We sat together at supper.
We sat at the same table with Sam and his wife, Sam being Primo's best friend and a friend of mine from our college days working at the faculty club and eating the "badly cut and not worthy of being served to a professor" piece of pecan pie inch by inch as we went in and out of the faculty club kitchen.
According to Primo, he was at the table as well.
I don't remember him.
Probably because 1. I was in lust with Ted and 2. Primo was still married at the time. Ring on the finger meant invisible to me. I don't mess with married men. I did that once (kissed one who had been flirting with me by phone for months and didn't bother to tell me he was married until we started kissing, which was in person, naturally, but he was so mortified and ashamed that I suspect he never did anything like that again) and vowed to avoid such in the future. I didn't want to be That Woman.
Which is a (small) shame, because Primo was already trying to figure out how to leave Isabel and maybe if he'd had a little nudge (not kissing, but maybe some light flirtation? an awareness of what was out there and what he was missing? except he probably knew that already and actually, yes he did, because the decision to finally leave Isabel came when he realized he was about to have an affair and he didn't want to be That Man), he might have moved more quickly and we wouldn't have gone through all that divorce drama. But then I would have felt guilty for breaking up a marriage and I sure wouldn't want that on my conscience. I have enough there already.
Ted and I talked almost exclusively to each other. When I got up to leave, he said he would walk me to my car. We stood outside the car until he finally kissed me. We kissed and kissed and kissed, then moved to the back seat of the car, where we kissed some more.
No clothes were removed in this endeavor and fortunately, the campus police did not come by with a flashlight, because even if you are fully clothed, having the campus police shine a flashlight in the back seat when you are 37 years old would be a bit embarrassing.
Kiss, talk, kiss, talk. He Opened Up To Me (women love that) and told me about his Bad Childhood and his parents' Bad Marriage and how he didn't want (another - he was divorced) marriage like that and how he Just Wasn't Heard as a child.
"What did you want to say?" I asked, genuinely puzzled, for I had not been through therapy yet (thanks to Ted, though, I would have my chance) and did not know the language.
Just To Be Heard, he insisted.
He finally returned to the party and I left, swooning.
A few days later, Sam emailed me. "What's going on with the chaplain?" he asked. "He sure took a long time to walk you to your car."
"Oh nothing," I answered airily.
And nothing seemed to be the proper answer, for I did not hear from Ted again for a while. But I was not going to call him. I had learned that lesson. I was vigilant! I would wait for him. Oh would that I had stuck with that.