By Ellen Magee
Thirteen years ago, during the Willy Street Fair, I was collecting signatures on a petition standing on the corner of Willy Street and Ingersoll Street. My son’s childhood karate teacher, Master Fields, walked over and said, “Weeell, hello! Where have you been keeping yourself?” He walked over close, and put his arm around me for a sensual hug. Master Fields is an attractive, muscular African-American man. His skin is a radiant mahogany and he puts a lot into his dress; always a hat, jewelry, a cane and ethnic touches.
Hugging him, I flashed back to first meeting Master Fields. My six-year-old son Max and I entered Fields Self Defense School. At that time it was a storefront near the corner of Few and Willy Street. Master Fields was very welcoming to Max and, it seemed, almost as eager to meet me. I filled out the registration form and paid his dues. I was still rebounding from a painful divorce and had recently moved to that neighborhood. Master Fields noticed our address was nearby and I soon found myself receiving visits from Master Fields, (Guy). He came over usually when Max was at his dad’s and always late at night. We became sexual, but more important to me, I found I could express my fear and grief about my family situation and being single again, to this sensitive, kind, and patient man. He was able to comfort me through many tearful nights.
I knew that Guy had been seeing quite a bit of Max’s after-school teacher and that she was involved at the karate studio as well. At first I overlooked this because my emotional needs were being met. But it wasn’t long before I could not tolerate knowing I was sharing this special man with someone else. There was a tearful breakup and no further evening visits.
Almost twenty years later, at the Willy Street Fair, Guy’s obvious joy and excitement about seeing me stirred up the old feelings. I had always loved him and wanted a relationship with him. I just needed him to be monogamous. These feelings reminded me of the second attempt at a relationship I had made with Guy.
About five years after our first breakup, I invited Guy back into my life. He had just started teaching at Memorial High School and his karate school had relocated only a couple of blocks from our home at that time. He was as attractive as ever and seemed more confident, having a good teaching job. I had been dating during that time but found myself comparing subsequent partners with Guy. No one measured up–not even close. I thought we might try it again. Late night visits resumed. He said he was “staying with a family helping the mother with her kids”.
One day I received a phone message from Guy. He was all excited about closing on a house. I never responded. I was furious. My hopes of a wedding, a monogamous marriage, and home together were shattered. I had not been part of his plan- only an afterthought. I was in the process of moving across town, and refused any further contact.
Now here Guy was, at the Fair, after all those years, trying to pick me up again, wanting me to come for dinner in his home. Against my better judgement, I accepted his invitation. His house was roomy but definitely had not had a woman’s touch for a long while. It was his dark man-cave. He made a masterful stir-fry dinner and as soon as we got up from the table, his hands began to clearly signal his intentions.
“Wait right there!” I said, raising my hands to push him away. “Don’t even touch me unless you are willing to be monogamous and marry me. I have always loved you, but I want it all or nothing.” He sat, looking surprised. “Wow! That’s a lot to think about!”
I left, feeling sad because I expected that to be the end of it. I also felt proud that I was finally successful in communicating my wishes and my boundaries. I didn’t think much about Guy for the next couple of weeks. Then he asked if we could talk, and said he would agree to marry me. “I’m getting to the age I feel ready to settle down,” he said. I was shocked but overjoyed.
That was thirteen years ago. We had been on-again off-again for twenty years before we got married in 2007. We are both sharing “his” house now. There were quite a few years before it would feel like “our home”. There are still days there are too many guitars and amps cluttering up the living room, but I have recently carved out a “room of my own”, where I can sit in a clutter-free space and not be disturbed. We just celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary in June, 2019, and all indications are that we are going to make it work this time.
© 2019 Ellen Magee
This photo of my husband, Guy and me is a fairly recent one with our dog, Snowball, (on the left). We were married 12 years ago after a 20-year courtship. We are both animal lovers and Guy usually carries a couple of dog biscuits in his pockets just in case.