A Tale of Love, Lust & Lizards

November 29 - December 7, 1996
Age 37

Here it is  ...  the infamous Bonaire Journal.

I've gone back and forth in my heart for years, trying to decide whether or not I should post this journal in the archives.  This is the journal, after all, that not only flagrantly chronicles my first fullblown marital infidelity  ...  it is also the journal that essentially ended my marriage (when my then-husband found it in a side pocket of my suitcase, a month or two after the trip.)  Today  --  nearly ten years after the fact  --  I've finally decided to go ahead and quietly slip it into the archives.  It is an integral piece of the lifestory puzzle, after all.  It was one of the biggest things that ever happened to me  ... flying to the Caribbean to meet a man I'd fallen in love with online.  It was one of the best weeks in my life: an adventure beyond compare.  

And it forever changed everything about my life, and the lives of a lot of people I love, and about the way I looked at love and sex and relationships.

On the beach at Bonaire

Sunday morning
December 1, 1996
10:30 a.m.

(Woke up to the sound of a songbird outside my window   ...  my "wake-up call" for most of the week.)

I am sitting in my hotel room of The Flamingo Resort in Bonaire ..  drinking a cup of coffee (brought to me by a thoughtful & attentive lover)  ...   nibbling on biscotti purchased at the Atlanta airport yesterday during our six hour flight delay.   Tris and I slept late  --  then he had to leave for a HUD orientation (he was an hour late)  --  I'm alone for awhile, and will spend my time showering and unpacking and setting up "our" room for the week.

We've only been together for 36 hours physically  --  in our hearts it's been longer --  but I already know that I have indeed quite miraculously met my soulmate.

Much to tell (about Friday & Saturday)  --  will get to that later today.

Those thirty seconds walking down the ramp from the plane to the Atlanta airport, where I knew he would waiting for me, were the thirty longest seconds of my life ...

...  but the instant I saw him standing there in his brown leather bomber jacket, smiling at me, my heart simply leapt with joy.   I involuntarily clamped one hand over my mouth, dropped my bags to the floor, fell into his arms, buried my face into his shoulder, inhaled his "Eternity For Men" and said "Oh my GOD  ..."

We just stood there and hugged, rocking back and forth, for what seemed like forever.  He said, "You are more gorgeous than I ever imagined."  (At that point, 99% of my terror and insecurity fled instantly  --  and permanently.)    And then we were kissing, again for what seemed like forever, right there in front of the ramp for all the world to see  ...

It was the first of what would prove to be one of the best moments of my life.


**   "Surprise Moment"  ...  that first night in Atlanta  ...   Tris nonchalantly putting Metallica on the boombox!!   (This after weeks of pretending he knew absolutely nothing about the kind of music I listen to.)

**   Him:  "The point of this trip is to make you fall soooo totally in love with me, you'll never want to let me go."   (I'm already THERE ...)

**   Amusing Moment:  his shocked reaction to my eyelash curler, the first morning I put on my makeup in front of him.

After we touched down in Bonaire on Saturday night, we got into a van to take us to the resort.  T. and I sat at the very back of the van, and he had his hands and mouth all over me absolutely every moment of the ride.   ("I want you sooooo bad," he crooned in my ear.)  By the time we got to our room at the resort, we were both in total HEAT  ...  

...  Welcome to Bonaire, Little Secra!


On Saturday (Nov. 30) we were stuck at the Atlanta Airport for an extra six hours, waiting for our delayed flight to Bonaire. Spent the time walking around the airport (ENDLESSLY, it seemed to me, as I lugged a bazillion lbs. worth of carry-ons)  ...  eating assorted meals (my GOD can he eat!!)*  ...   called Robbin & Steve ("Mr & MsB417) to let them know everything was great  ...  made love standing up in a hidden corner of an empty international terminal  ...

*  Remember him burning hell out of the roof of his mouth on a hot spoonful of soup??

Sunday 12/1/96
5:10 p.m.

I fucking hate myself sometimes.

In my never-ending quest to ruin anything good that ever EVER happens to me, I have managed to hurt his feelings and make him question whether or not I truly love him.

He was so excited when he came back from his dive at 4:30.  "Let's go for a walk," he said.   I've spent most of this day hibernating in the dim coolness of our air-conditioned room, mainly because I am still so wildly uncomfortable physically.   Bonaire is beautiful, but the heat and the humidity are like a giant hand, pressing me flat  ...  I can only stand to be outside for a few minutes at a time, unless I'm in a rare spot where there's some shade or a breeze.  (In fact, just now I was trying to write this on the covered porch outside our room, but after two or three minutes my hand started sticking to the pages of this notebook, and I could feel rivulets of sweat running down the sides of my face again.)   I feel hot and sick to my stomach and headachy and cranky  --  and on top of everything else (to use a really dumb analogy, considering where I am) VERY "fish out of water."   This isn't my world  ...  it's his  ...  and he's joyfully trying to share it with me, but it's so hard to relax and enjoy it when it makes me feel so rotten physically  ...

Anyway, he said "Let's go for a walk," and I readily agreed.   He's been gone most of the day, and I wanted to spend some time with him.  He strolled us down to the edge of the dock, right on the water  --  full Caribbean sun  --  pulled up a couple of armchairs and expected me to sit there and "sun" with him.   Gack.

I wrote him an e-mail almost three months ago, when this trip was still in the early planning stages, telling him that I "must really love him" if I was agreeing to go on a BEACH vacation with him.  So it should come as no huge surprise to him that oppressive heat and blinding sun are not going to contribute much to an already precarious mood.  I could have politely reminded him of that, of course, but instead I nastily snapped, "This is my idea of hell on earth."  He said something to the effect of, "Gee, aren't you FUN."   And I simply ...  got up and walked away.


A.)  I do NOT know my way around this place, and I couldn't figure out how to get back to our room.

B.)  He had the room key with him, anyway.

Another tear just splashed off the end of my nose and landed here ---->      X

I wound up sulking in a shady spot near the pool until he came out to find me later (to bring me a key to our room).  He was quiet and hurt.   "If you don't love me, I need you to tell me right now," he said.   My heart absolutely split in two at that moment.

I love him more than anything on earth.  I was pretty sure of it during the months leading up to this, when we were exchanging words on a computer screen and over the phone.  I knew it for certain the moment I got off that plane in Atlanta and saw him standing there smiling at me.

God.  I have cried ALL DAY TODAY.  I just looked at myself in the mirror, and my eyes are as red as the felt pen I'm writing this with.  He's diving (again) and I imagine that when he gets back he's not going to be thrilled to discover that I've been holed up in the room again, crying like the great big brain-dead baby that I AM  ...

I asked him today if I'm a "disappointment" to him, and he emphatically said that I'm not ... but I know I must be.  I sent him all the autobio stuff, in the hopes of gently preparing him for the idea that "Secra," in reality, is Terri  ...  a quiet, unadventurous loner  ...  the antithesis of my onscreen persona  ...  that a roomful of "real life" people makes me distinctly uncomfortable  ...  that I more an observer & chronicler than participant & innovator.   (He's irritated with me, for instance, because he thinks I'm being overtly rude to this other couple in the group.  OK, I don't really like them much  ...  but pretty darned quick he's going to discover that I'm quiet around everybody.  Then what??)  

I still think that he fell in love with "Secra"  ...  not "Terri."

(Note:  He read this and said, "I did not fall in love w/Secra.")

I remember on a couple of occasions he said that one of the big problems in his marriage is that his wife 'never wants to do anything.'   So I sit here in my hotel room  ...  doing nothing.   (Except crying, I mean.   If they gave awards for crying, I'd be holding a TROPHY right now ..)

I'm so happy when we're together.  I do not want to fuck up these precious days we have together, and yet I seem helpless to stop myself.

6 p.m.

Well, I'm back out on the porch again.   I am not kidding  --  you walk out of the hotel room and it (the air) just HITS you like a brick wall.   The air is so thick and heavy, you can taste it.

Still crying.  Huge headache.  Went through his bag of medicines hoping for a Tylenol or something, but there's nothing but a bunch of weird shit I can't identify.

There's some sort of official "thing" we're supposed to go to tonight (note:  WE BLEW IT OFF), and I hope I can pull myself together enough not to thoroughly disgrace him  ..  although I suspect that's going to be pretty near impossible.

(Pulling in another swallow of thick hot ocean air  ...  the leaves in the trees are rustling constantly, but if there's any sort of "breeze" it's pretty darned useless.)

When we were planning this trip, he warned me that he would have a lot of things to do that wouldn't include me  ...  doctor stuff, diving stuff  ...  and I blithely assured him that that was "fine"  ...  I would have plenty of things to do to keep myself occupied.   At the time, I had visions of me borrowing his laptop and catching up on all the half-written projects in my Idea Book  ...  maybe outlining some short stories.  Or getting into the rental car and driving around. Or, if worse came to worst, just walking around the island.

What I hadn't counted on was the battery in his laptop dying today, the very first time I used it ...  Tris renting us a car with manual transmission (my dad STILL gives me shit about the light pole in the Albertson's parking lot)  ...  the heat, which makes the idea of "walking around" as unappealing as the idea of going home at the end of the week  ...

...  or most especially the fact that I did not expect to love him (in person) quite as much as I do, and that I very selfishly crave every moment of his time & attention during the short amount of time we have together.

              (My pen is melting.)

              (He just got back  ...  more later ..)

              (6:15 p.m.  ...  dark out here.)

Monday morning
Dec. 2, 1996

Crying again  ...  but this time, tears of happiness.

Tris had a 7:30 a.m. meeting  ...  after he left, I got up and took a shower (the hot water lasts forever here)  ...  just as I got out, he was walking in with a cup of coffee and a piece of banana bread for my "breakfast."  Quick kiss, and then he was gone again.  I wandered over to the bureau and sat down with my coffee  --  still wrapped in the green hotel towel  --  and on a whim I turned on the radio, curious to see what kind of music they play on a Bonairian radio station.  One of the most gorgeous songs I have ever heard in my life was playing  ...  all in Spanish (something about *fuego* and *gasoline*) ...  I sat here and listened to it and wept, knowing that I would never hear this song ever again  ...   which made the listening all that much more precious  --

Eleven years later, my amazing husband David will help me track down the 'mystery song' I never thought I'd hear again   ... "Cuando Se Acaba El Amor" by Guillermo Davila.

I'm sorry I was such a baby yesterday.   Interestingly enough, last night turned out to be the singularly most incredible, intimate, erotic, loving, sexual, "connected" night of my entire life  ...

*    Dinner  -  alone!  -  at the buffet.  (Dean & Valerie mercifully decided to "give us some time alone.") I haven't had much of an appetite during this trip, but I picked at some jerked chicken, salad and carrots, while Tris (as usual) devoured everything in sight with complete gusto.

*    A hand-in-hand walk into town, where we listened to a Caribbean band (don't know what kind of music you would call it  --  calypso, maybe?) performing live in the park  ...  peered into the closed shop windows  ...      snuck to the upper level of the Galleria for a quick sneaky **** in a dark corner (shades of the Atlanta airport!!)  ...  sat on a concrete overhang off the street for awhile, talking and throwing little white rocks into the ocean, lapping at our feet.

*    Came back to the resort  -  and went swimming!   First time I have been in a swimming pool, in a BATHING SUIT, since 1978.  (I can't believe some of the stuff I'm doing on this trip.)   It was late, and we had the pool to ourselves. The water was deliciously cold  ..  the first time since we'd arrived in Bonaire that I actually felt chilled.  At one point he scooped me up in his arms and     floated us under a little wooden bridge, which he dubbed "The Kissing Bridge," and we proceeded to neck for a few lovely soggy minutes.

*    When I was too cold to stay in the pool another moment longer, we came back upstairs to our room.   While I got out of my wet bathing suit and dried off, he went around the room lighting votive candles   ...  and then, with strong, practiced hands, he proceeded to give me the most complete head-to-toe full body massage of my life (all the while explaining each step of the procedure in his best doctorly voice).  He used the almond oil I'd bought just for this purpose, and there was soft Enya playing on the stereo  ...  it was a total sensual experience. 

10:30 a.m.

I've had a pleasant morning, mainly sitting here listening to the Venezuelan radio station (which I find oddly mesmerizing) and jotting things down in this notebook.  T.  --   notice how "Tris" (his AOL screen name) is gradually being replaced by his real name? I still alternate between the screen name and the real name, but more & more he's T., at least here)  --  has come back to the room to "visit" me twice this morning  --  once to go pick up the rental car, then just to "snug" for a few minutes.  We're supposed to do something together at 11:30  --  I'm not sure what  --  but then he'll be out on a boat for four hrs. this afternoon.  Yesterday that would have sent me into paroxysms of self-pity, but today I'm feeling better & determined not to do anything else to hurt him or spoil his fun.  I know how to get to town now, ad he gave me a couple hundred dollars' spending money ...  I could walk to town and buy some postcards, maybe some stuff for our (empty) kitchen.   The heat still bothers me a little, but I'm getting slightly more acclimated.

1:30 p.m.

Just spent a very cute couple of hours with my baby  --  he had some free time between the morning lectures and his afternoon dive, so we drove around the island a little in the Sidekick, stopping occasionally to take pictures of landmarks, gorgeous beaches, each other, etc.

(Funny moment:  Venezuelan radio station began playing the Macarena while we were driving.  We looked at each other, ROARED in delight and CRANKED it.)

Came back to the resort and grabbed some quick lunch (my "usual"  ...  half a roast beef & tomato sandwich, plus two Pepsi's from the bar.  For some reason, the Pepsi here at the resort  -  NOT the crappy bottled stuff we bought in town last night  -  tastes better than I ever remember Pepsi tasting, and it leaves me feeling marvelous afterwards.  "It probably has cocaine in it," T. remarked as I finished Glass #3  ...  and he was serious.)

Came back to our room so he could get ready for his dive, but the next thing I knew, we were fooling around on the bed  ...  one thing led to another  ...  you can probably guess the rest.   

Remark #1: "The sex has been great  ...  but the companionship has been even better."  (Is it any wonder I adore this man??)

Remark #2 (between kisses): "I want to be everything to you  ..."
"Chauffer  ...   tour guide  ... "
(some other stuff I don't recall)
"Physician  ..."
Me:  "Masseuse."
"Boyfriend ..."

OK.  I'm off to town to buy stuff.  Back later.

4 p.m.

Geeeeez.  So much for "Terri P., International SHOPPER."

I set off from the hotel at 2 p.m., feeling perky and confident and ready to buy every postcard in the whole damned town  ...   plus some drinks and snacks for our hotel room.

Half an hour later  ...  can you say "heat exhaustion??"    I quite honestly thought I was going to drop dead right there on the sidewalk.   Suddenly my very white, very EXPOSED face and arms and legs began to turn alarmingly hot and red.   Then of course I had to compound things by getting LOST.  The one and only grocery store I found was closed   ...  finally I said, "That's enough for today, thanks."  Stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall deli and bought two of those horrible salty Pepsi's (accepting my change in guilders)  ..  walked back to the resort  ...  stripped out of my clothes, took my third shower within 18 hours, turned on the AC full blast, and lay naked and wet on the bed until I felt "normal" again  ...  SHEEEEESH  ...

4:17 p.m.

He'll be back in awhile, so I'm trying to prepare a little.   Took a very satisfying one hour nap.  (Even in the middle of the sunniest afternoon, if I turn off all the lights and draw the curtains it is PITCH DARK in here.  I love it.)   Washed some clothes in the kitchen sink, using T.'s shampoo (?) and then spread them out on the balcony patio chairs to dry.   (It's only been half an hour or so, yet my blouse is nearly dry ALREADY.)

Sometimes I think about the kids, and wonder what's going on at home.  I miss them.  Haven't been able to call home since the Atlanta airport on Saturday night (I made T. get on the phone & say hi to Jamie)  --  there are no phones here in our room, and it costs an arm and a leg to call from the front desk, I'm told  --  so I'm just going to have to trust that all is well, and now allow worry to creep into my thoughts.   Just like that beautiful Spanish song I heard this morning on the radio, my time here in Bonaire with T. may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I need to savor it fully while I'm experiencing it  ...  without intrusive, pointless emotions like worry or guilt or fear.

Some more about our first night together (in Atlanta):

*    Riding the train in the Atlanta airport, sharing one pole, standing up, clinging to each other more than to the pole, necking openly & feverishly ... so delighted (and secretly relieved, no doubt) to discover that the physical chemistry was as pleasing as the soul-to-soul connection  ...

*    He sang to me in bed that first night.  Held me in his arms  ...  and sang to me.   A first in my life.

*    I had a ridiculous nightmare that night (I dreamed I insulted the Queen of England  ...  ????), and I was SO surprised  -  and filled with joy  -  when I woke up and realized that he was laying there beside me.

I just love everything about him  ...

*    The easy way he talks to everybody  ...  never condescendingly, always with underlying respect, humor, tolerance.

*    The way his gorgeous face lights up when he talks about something for which he feels great passion:  medicine, his children, scuba diving ...  and me.

*    His crooked bottom tooth.

*    His insatiable appetite(s).

*    The guiless expression on his face when he sleeps.

*    His eyes.  They are huge and brown and bottomless.  I'm going to wander into them someday and never come out  ...  and it will be by choice.

*    His zest for life.

*    His almost-fanatical NEATNESS.  I just opened a cupboard here in the hotel room, and there are all his T-shirts, folded into neat little piles.  It's positively adorable.  (And yet I just noticed that he has once again left his underwear laying on the floor  ...   hmmmmmmmmm.)

*    The way he's constantly singing out loud  ...  with a most eclectic "repertoire."  (I remember him breaking into a spontaneous rendition of "Inna Godda Da Vida" as we were riding the escalator at the Atlanta airport.)

*    The way he seems to know a little bit about nearly everything  ...  but never flaunts his knowledge in any kind of "show-offy" way.   He is a natural-born teacher.   I am in awe of his brain, frankly.

8 p.m.

Quick scribble.

Another long drive this afternoon  -   just ate dinner in the open air cafe.

Right now he's calling home from the main office. Why does this make me feel so  ...   sad and illogically left-out?


Dec. 3, 1996
7:30 a.m.

Woke up earlier than usual.  T. crawled into the other bed in the middle of the night  --  we were both tired and sweaty -- (I wept a little when he "left," but that was exhaustion & emotion talking, and I kept it to myself)  --  I woke up at 6 a.m. craving him, politely requested that I be allowed to "come aboard"  --  he seemed quite willing to accomodate me  ...

Took a shower (sort of "together"  ...  more like passing ships, but it was still sweet) and then went down and had breakfast (scrambled eggs, croissant, coffee; sandpipers scurrying along the rock ledge beside our table, begging for scraps).

I'm sitting here on our balcony, getting ready to put on a little makeup and do my hair while he's at his morning lectures, which should be over by 11:30.

Yesterday was an intense day for the two of us, in ways that are difficult to pinpoint.

I think at the heart of it lies the fact that we both hear the clock ticking  ...  and that before we know it we'll be forced to part, for how long, neither of us knows.

("Do we have a future?" I asked him, point-blank. 

"Would I be planning our next trip already if we didn't?" he replied  ...  but there was an edge of despair in his voice.)

I think that he still has doubts about the depth and sincerity of my love for him, also.  We had several serious conversations throughout the course of the afternoon/evening.  I don't know if anything has been resolved, but I do know that, speaking purely for myself, I cannot imagine a future without him in it.   Period.

For months now, I've believed that coming to Bonaire would be the most courageous act of my life; I know now that it will actually be going home from Bonaire.

Yesterday afternoon, when he was through with his dive, we went on another "road trip"  --  this time we went to Washington Park, on the north side of the island.   Saw everything from 1,000 yr. old Indian inscriptions on a cliff wall, to a goat skeleton laying in the bushes (geez, you shoulda seen his reaction to THAT), to an unexpected bunch of pink flamingos.   Actually there's a lot more I would like to write about the things we saw  -  it deserves a more thoughtful and descriptive account than I can give it here  --  but I think we're going to go back and take some pictures, and I'll write about it after that.


*    Laying in bed, taking the Cosmo "Is He The Right Man For You?" quiz

*    Walking to town for ice cream

*    Coming back to our room, where he "treated" my backache and brushed my hair before  ..  well  ..  YOU know.

Listening to "Lightning Crashes," from the tape MrBo sent me the day before I left for Bonaire.


How can I be feeling "nostalgic" already for things that happened less than a WEEK ago?

(I would give almost anything to go back in time and re-live our first night together.)

Slipping into profound Melancholy Mode again, dammit.

Lightning crashes
A new mother cries
Her placenta falls to the floor.
The angel opens her eyes
The confusion sets in before the doctor can
even close the door.
Lightning crashes
An old mother dies.
Her intentions fall to the floor.
The angel closes her eyes
The confusion that was hers belongs now
to the baby down the hall


Listening to Spanish Christmas carols on the Venezuelan radio station this morning (whilst sitting on a balcony overlooking a swimming pool in the CARIBBEAN) ...


Realizing that I have absolutely ZERO idea what is going on in the U.S.  -  or the rest of the world, for that matter  -  at the moment.

9:45 a.m.


Crap crap crap crap crap crap.

I should never have listened to "Lightning Crashes" this morning.

It has always affected me profoundly, simply because it's such a powerful song  ...  but now I will forever associate it with sitting at my computer on Thanksgiving night, the night before I left for Bonaire, and feeling so scared and excited  ...   not knowing what was in store for me.   It will always make me cry from now on.

T. came back to the room between lectures and found me a weepy mess, yet again.  How to explain the illogical knot of emotions I was feeling at that moment??   I wrote it off to "boredom."  (Which isn't completely far from the truth, some of the time.)   He left, clearly not pleased with me, so of course I IMMEDIATELY strapped on the headphones, cranked the damn song and attempted to patch my running eye makeup while listening to it three times in a row and sobbing uncontrollably.  (Which is about as logical as washing down a can of SlimFast with a nice big FRIED CHICKEN DINNER  ...  but there you go.  I'm in love.  Logic has nothing to do with it anymore.)

No offense, Journal  ...  but basically I am sick to fucking death of the sight of you at the moment.

(Not to mention this goddamned red felt pen.)

Another very bumpy, emotional day, exacerbated by heat, hormones, something T. would later diagnose as "honeymoon cystitis" (and for which he had the forethought to bring antibiotics), boredom, and  --  more than anything else  --  my wild, despairing, wonderful-yet-painful love for this man to whom I will soon have to say goodbye.

By 1:30 p.m. I was a wreck, emotionally.  We'd gone out to buy groceries and postcards during one of his breaks  --  I planned to cheer myself by spending the afternoon writing to the Guerrillas & to the kids  --  but I lost the bag of postcards.   Came back to the room and they were nowhere to be found: guess we accidentally left them behind at the grocery store. This just felt like the LAST STRAW.   Wound up taking one of the Xanax he'd prescribed for me before the trip, just to calm down, putting a cold wet washcloth on my forehead and sleeping the afternoon away while he was scuba diving.

HUGE argument when he got back to the room   --  basically him telling me to get off my butt and quit feeling sorry for myself.   He's right, of course.


So last night we decided to try something different for dinner (once we'd talked our problems out)  ...  went to Chibi Chibi's, on the water  --  got a little bit "dressed up," even  (God!!  he looked great!!)  --  it was like a "real date."

His dreams:  (Yeah, I had to put them in the Journal, Honey)

Dream #1:   That our trip to Bonaire was as wonderful as we both hoped it would be.

Dream #2:   That we were married and had two children.

Dream #3:    That he left Pittsburgh and I left Seattle and we wound up "somewhere south."

(He read this after I wrote it and said, "No, it was all the same dream.")

He was stung by an anenome (sp?) when he went night-diving with Dennis, and by midnight or so his arm was really sore  --  he climbed out of our bed again and into the spare bed, without a word.   (This morning he told me he doesn't even remember doing that.)   I decided not to make  fuss  ...   I knew he was in pain and needed his sleep.   So I grabbed an extra pillow and hugged it all night, pretending it was him.

(Something tells me I'll be doing this a LOT in the future.)

At 5 a.m. I was awakened by gentle hands pulling the pillow from my arms, and a loving voice saying, "Here  ...  let me replace that pillow with ME."

T.:  "What day is this?   Wednesday?"

Terri (arranging the contents of the fridge for a photo):  "Yep."

T: "Why did I just get this feeling of foreboding?"

Terri (quietly):  "Yeah, I know."

He came back from his lecture today at 11:30.   I heard his familiar knock at the door, flew to open it, said "Hi"  ...

...  wordlessly he stepped into the kitchen, drew me into his arms and began kissing me passionately  ...  then picked me up in his arms and carried me off to bed for a "nooner."

Had lunch and went for a drive after  --  took a fabulous picture of him standing on a rocky shore with ocean spray jetting up behind him.  

(Remember Kenny Rogers singing Xmas songs on the car radio as we ran over lizards?)

7:45 a.m.

He just left for his lecture, which should be over by 9:30 today  --  then we're going to go on a "road trip."

Skipped breakfast in favor of fooling around this morning  ...  now my empty stomach is giving me holy hell for it, but some things are just more IMPORTANT than food.

As he held me in his arms this morning, he said, once again, that he was feeling that sense of "foreboding."

"Talk to me about it," I murmured in his ear, and he pulled me closer and said, "I'm scared of saying goodbye to you  ...  afraid that you're going to forget about me."  This appears to be a theme with him  ...  one of his biggest fears. How do I convince him that I would walk away from EVERYTHING I've ever known, right this very moment, if he simply said the word??  That my love for him is so huge, so electric, so powerful that a small town  (Rincon, for instance) could harness it and keep their appliances running for a good hundred years or so ...  ???

Last night he had a class until 6:30  ...  had dinner (prime rib), then hopped into the car and went for a long night drive, to the Marine Park.

Parked alongside the sea on a deserted stretch of road and stood, topless and entwined beneath a canopy of tropical stars   ...  one of the more romantic nights of my life.


Came back to the resort and threw away some money at the Casino (more fun than I thought it would be), then back to our room (his Elmer Fudd impression had us both HOWLING as we walked through the door). 

We sat in bed for a long time.   I finished my book ("Gerald's Game") while he caught up on HUD paperwork and made some entries in his scuba journal.  After awhile I started getting very sleepy, and I thought we were going to have to skip making love, which, considering how little time we have left together, seemed like a shameful waste of opportunity  ...

Amusing Moment #1,789,324
(A couple of nights ago)

T.'s ribald, "bump & grind" version of "Chains," using a green beach towel and appropriate gestures.

3 p.m.


So many sweet/funny/poignant moments during our "road trip" this morning   ....  most of them related to music, since I brought along some tapes with me:

*    Sudden amazing infusion of good feeling, driving in Caribbean sunshine as Alanis kicked into "All I Really Want"

*    T. pulling off to the side of the road, taking me into his arms and singing Marc Cohn's "True Companion" directly to my soul.   "You don't know how long I've wanted to sing that to you," he said afterward.  I was too teary and too emotional to tell him how very long I have wanted him to sing it to me.

*    Signed the Guest Register at Washington Park:

    "Dr. TMC. Pittsburgh, PA USA and TP, Seattle, WA, USA -  Secra & Tris."

*    Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" causing him to weep, and he explaining that it had more to do with the emotions he was feeling about our parting than anything else.  I said, "This is only the beginning, Doc," but I don't know if that was of any comfort to him.   We are clearly both very shaken by the impending separation but trying our best not to let it kill us.

Came back to our room before lunch.  "I really need to make love right now," he said quietly.  So we did  ...   slowly, tenderly, achingly.  I felt his love flowing into every molecule of my being.

Afterwards I said "What are you going to do with me?"

He looked at me with those soulful brown eyes and a look of quiet despair and said, "What am I going to do without you?"

Journal, I am fighting so hard not to sink into complete emotional quicksand here  ...  we have tonight, and some of tomorrow, and tomorrow night together (altho we'll have to turn in early tomorrow night  -  we must be ready to leave by 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning), and I don't want to spoil it by looking at him with big wet puddles for eyes all the time.  But dammit  ...   that's how I feel.

And I know it's how he feels, too.

Today he said (only partially in jest, I have a feeling), "It would have been so much easier if it had turned out that we didn't get along."   I know what he means.  I know EXACTLY what he means, in fact.  That moment in Atlanta went I walked off the ramp and our eyes locked for the first time  --  in addition to the instantaneous, overwhelming joy, relief, love and desire I felt, was this teeny-tiny voice in the back of my head that whispered, "Uh oh."

As in, "We're in BIG trouble now, Momma  ..."


(Listening to that first snarky track on MrB's "Live" tape  ...)

...  He said "You know what scares me the most?"

(I thought to myself  -  "His kids.")

He said, "My kids."

He went on to say that although the older kids are old enough to handle it OK ("it" being his decision to leave his wife for me, should he ever eventually arrive at that "decision")  ...  "but I'm worried about the three little ones."  Then he looked off into the distance, and with a heavy sigh he said, "I'm damned."

"How so?" I asked. Suddenly I felt very vulnerable and frightened.   Afraid that what I was witnessing was the victory of "conscience" and "duty" over destiny and promise.  At this point, if he were to decide to walk away, I'm not sure I would want to go on, frankly.  I certainly would never love again.  I would fold up my heart, permanently, and put it in the attic forever, along with all the other dusty, abandoned dreams of my youth.  This is The Big One  -  the one I have spent a lifetime waiting for  -  the one that counts  -  everything before this was merely the orchestra warming up.   And if I do anything to screw it up (which isn't as likely as it might have been once  --  I seem to be evolving here, ever-so-slightly), or  -  the more likely and terrifying scenario  -  he decides that familial obligations must take precedence and he walks away  -  I'm afraid I will be shattered beyond repair.

So when I asked him why he thinks he's "damned," my heart was firmly lodged in my throat  ...  not knowing what kind of reply I would receive.

He sighed again, and looked at me.  "Because I've found the great love of my life," he said.

OK.  This was and wasn't an answer  ..  at least, not an answer I can decipher  ..  but it'll have to do for now.

I'm going to miss our little hotel room.

(Lord knows I've spent enough time in it!)

It's been out little "love nest" this week, and I've grown very fond of it  ...

Yesterday I reached up into a very far top corner of the closet and scribbled our initials.  No one will ever see them, probably, until they tear this building down in forty years (and even then, "T.C. & T.P. 1996" isn't going to mean a whole heck of a lot to the Bonairian wrecking crew who sees it)  ...  but *I* will know that the inscription is there.  When I am sitting half a world from Bonaire next week, I'm going to know that on a small island in the Caribbean I have left a quiet, secret testament of my love for T., for all the world to not-see.  It's sort of like leaving a tiny piece of myself here, in a place where I have been very, very happy.


*    The maid just walked by, and it reminded me of a merry little incident from a couple of nights ago. T. and I were in the throes of passion   ...  (yeah, I know what you're thinking: "So when AREN'T you two 'in the throes of passion??') ... when outside our door I could hear the cleaning crew trundling up and down the walkway, performing their evening turning-down-of-the-beds ritual.  I knew it would only be a matter of minutes before they either knocked on the door, or (assuming we weren't here) barged right in  ...   disturbing us either way  ..  so I whispered to T., "Honey, you should hang up the 'Do Not Disturb' sign."   He quickly did so, and we resumed our unholy activities with much glee and thrashing about.

Moments later we heard the sound of a key in the door  ..  a male voice with a heavy Bonairian accent hissing "KNOCK!"  ...  a couple of sharp raps on the door ... and in walks THE WHOLE FUCKING CLEANING CREW. T. leapt out of bed, stood there in the candlelight (buck naked) and said in a voice that was strain (but nonetheless COURTEOUS, of course), "NO THANK YOU."   The astonished cleaning crew left immediately, and it was at that point that we realized he had hung the sign up the wrong way  --  with "Please Make Up Our Room" showing, instead of "Do Not Disturb."

*    I have not had a single drop of alcohol the entire trip. I've had maybe four cups of coffee, altogether. I've had NO computer (or AOL) whatsoever.And the 18,432 showers I've taken have been "Strictly Business."  [ahem] In other words  ...  I have exchanged all my favorite vices for SEX this week.  (When I get home, might even cut back and/or eliminate one or two of them altogether ...)

*    Remember the goddamned BARKING DOGS outside our hotel room every night???   ("Sparky" & Co.)

*    Something I am going to miss HORRIBLY when I get home (besides sex): T. singing to me constantly, ceaselessly, mindlessly, endlessly, endearingly.

*    Something else I am going to miss HORRIBLY when I get home (besides sex): walking around HOLDING HANDS.  God, that's been so nice  ...  having him just reach out for my hand, whenever we're walking together.

Listening to "Lightning Crashes" again.

One week ago right now, I was making Thanksgiving dinner  ...

(Don't think about it/don't think about it/don't think about it)

Bought a Dean Koontz paperback ("Intensity") in the resort gift shop  ..  for TWELVE BUCKS.

Friday morning

Dec. 6, 1996

A Gerry Rafferty song is going through my head this morning; the one about lovers vacationing on a tropical island  ...

This is our last day
We're gonna make sweet love before
We sail away  ...


Just finished breakfast (ham & cheese omelet, English muffin, o.j., half a cup of bitter island coffee).  T.
has a full morning of lectures and testing, and then of course he dives again all afternoon  --  tonight is the official going-away dinner, and then we'll probably have to go to bed fairly early in order to catch our 6:45 a.m. ride to the airport  --  so basically I have very little time with him left.   A ten minute break here ...  a 90 minute lunch there   ...

I don't care.  I'll TAKE it.  I'll take ANY little snippets of together-time we can manage.

Sitting on the balcony  ...  dappled morning sunlight on the pages of this book  ...


I have never in my life loved someone so wholly and so honestly and so purely.

This morning he woke me up around 5:30 a.m.   ....  suddenly I was being pulled into his arms ("Where you belong," he murmured).  My "honeymoon cystitis," for which he has had me taking antibiotics for the past three or four days, has morphed now into one doozy of a yeast infection   -   the first I can remember ever having  -   and although it doesn't exactly hurt, it is itchy and tender as hell.  (Last night in bed he actually gave me a sort of "mini pelvic-exam"  ...  such is the amazing level of intimacy the two of us have achieved.  "You are very swollen," he said with doctorly concern, and then he proceeded to advise me on how to treat it.)   Anyway, he very gingerly made love to me this morning, in the darkness of pre-dawn, as songbirds and morning doves serenaded us from outside our room  ...

...  when we were through, I slipped into the shower and he curled up for another fifteen minutes of sleep.   (He says that during those fifteen minutes he had a dream about me  ...  that I gave him a palm tree as a birthday present.)

Last night (Thursday) was yet another lovely, intimate, silly, pleasurable "honeymoon" evening.  I can't even remember whether we made love before dinner or not  (did we, Honey?) ...   

His response, written in the journal: Yes  ...  how soon they forget ...

... frankly, it's all begun to blur together, like a movie shot with a soft-focus lens  ...  the two of us, joined at the hips and mouth and heart, tangled in blankets  ... 

I do know that we wound up at The Chibi Chibi for dinner at 6:30.   We didn't have reservations, but T. managed to shmooze us in with his usual finesse.  ("See that line right there?" he said, pointing to a blank spot in the reservations book as the hapless maitre'd looked on in bewildered amusement. "That's us.").  We sat upstairs in the open-air restaurant, directly over the water, and had a fabulous dinner.   I wasn't wild about my Mexican Shrimp  ...  "sautéed in garlic butter and flamed in tequila"  ...  but T. courteously managed to polish them off for me (THANK YOU, T.) but the Steak Dijonnaise was the second-best thing I've eaten all week.

[She smiles sweetly.]

OH WAIT!   I remember now  ...  actually, after he changed into his shorts, he joyously (and needlessly, frankly) announced that he was going to have a "nice big bowel movement."   Which, apparently, he did  ...   singing the entire time.


I saved it for you ...  but you didn't want to see it ...

We then drove to another remote, darkened part of the island (southern tip) for more star-gazing.  For some reason he seemed bound and determined that I see a shooting star on this trip: hence, the second night of sky-watching.  (At least, that's the EXCUSE he gave me.   Personally, I think he just wanted to get me topless in the open night air again.)   We parked beside the water, put a romantic tape in the Sidekick's tape deck, and then stood outside for the longest time  ...   mostly with him leaning back against the car and me standing directly in front of him, leaning against him with my head resting on his chest, his arms wrapped around my waist  ...  both of us looking skyward ...

YO!!  T!!!!!  This one's for YOU, Baby!  
                yeah yeah yeah ...

(...  and yes, I finally saw a shooting star, and yes, I wound up topless again  ...  for several long moments I stood in the middle of the deserted Bonaire highway, letting the strong Caribbean breeze blow through my hair and my clothes, arms outstretched, head tipped back, while from the car behind me blasted "I Need Your Love"  ...   it was another of the finer, more personal moments of my life  ...  I was thinking, "This is what 'happy' feels like" ...)

The Milky Way.  We saw the Milky Way.

His response: Oh yeah!  We saw THE MILKY WAY & stuff.

After our long night drive, we stopped in town so he could get one of his beloved lemon sherbets or sorbets or whatever the heck they were from the ice cream stand in "the mall" (right next to the KFC stand).  We sat on a bench overlooking the water and talked for a few minutes  ...   I don't recall what about  ...  our conversations, like everything else about this week, have blurred together into one long lovely continuous exchange.

***** NEWSFLASH *****

Just interrupted by a surprise half-hour visit with the world's sexiest, cutest, most incredible man!!!!

(And then when Alfred The Gardener Guy left, T. came by the room for awhile ...)  hahahaha

We sat on the balcony together, where he read the last few pages I'd written in this journal, adding a few comments of his own  ...  then I climbed onto his lap and we necked and giggled like a couple of love-struck teenagers for a long time.   Kissing this man is the greatest, btw.  He is sooooo very delicious.  I LOVE to run just the tip of my tongue back and forth across his upper lip  ...   [shiver]

Anyway anyway anyway.

After we went for T.'s ice cream, we came back to the resort and (as he put it) "contributed to the island's financial infrastructure" by throwing away some money in the Casino's slot machines  ...   then went to the front office and called home.   I talked to Jamie  ...  it was around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m., Seattle time  ...   she didn't even recognize my voice at first ("This is your MOTHER!"), and I don't know why but it seemed to me that she sounded tense & guarded  ...  like she was deliberately concealing bad news.  ?   I said, "You sound funny," and she said, "Well, that's because you're halfway around the WORLD from me."  I walked away and tried not to listen to T.'s conversation with his wife, but I couldn't help but overhear parts of it (he said "Love you too") and it left me feeling momentarily ablaze with pure, irrational jealousy.
Managed to counter it internally by reminding myself that I am the keeper of his heart, possessor of his love, guardian of his soul. The other stuff will be mine, in time.

You know, it's funny.

In spite of the fact that

1.)  We're both married  --  to OTHER PEOPLE


2.)  He hasn't actually asked  ...

...  I still consider us more or less engaged.

Or maybe "promised" is the word  ...   or "committed."

It all means the same thing, anyway:  someday we will belong to each other in ALL ways.

For always.

When we got back to our room for the evening, I slipped into the little green nightgown I'd bought specifically for our first night together  ...  

...  and then the good Doctor C. proceeded to romantically CUT THE SKIN TAGS OFF MY NECK for me.   (How's THAT for foreplay??)

Actually, this was something we had discussed before the trip.  I mentioned that I had a few of them on my neck, and that I had quite stupidly tried to "burn" them off a few weeks ago with Compound W.  He said, "I can remove them for you, if you'd like," and although it sounded like one hell of a bizarre way to spend a Caribbean vacation, I said OK.  I don't know how many he took off altogether  -  how many was it, Honey?  -  but it was more painful than I had expected, and after awhile I started crying and begged him to please stop, which he did, finally.

This morning I have little sores all over my neck, which he says will be gone in about a week  ...  but the biggest, ugliest of the "tags" are gone, and I'm glad I let him do it.

(Thank you, Baby.)

It was at this point in the evening's festivities that he gave me my "mini pelvic exam," to see how swollen and sore I am.  It was  ..  an interesting sensation, having my lover examine me in this way. Not erotic, particularly, but very, very  ...  intimate.  Very loving and natural, not at all embarrassing.  Amazing how in one week I have gone from wanting to sheath a body I have long viewed as grotesque in as many layers of clothing and insecurity as possible  --   to someone who would stand topless beside the Caribbean and reach her arms to the sky  ...   make love with all the lights on and her eyes wide open  ...  or allow the man she loves to clinically (yet tenderly) examine the MOST private parts of herself  ...

(After 39 years, she blossoms into the sexual being she always aspired to be/occasionally pretended to be/secretly felt she could be  ...)

Of course, we concluded our evening in the usual way.   (Can't remember any of the "details" though, she says manipulatively)

Interesting Snippets of Conversation:

*    T. to Terri:  "I LIKE you.  You know what I mean?  I love you, but I also just     LIKE you."

*   T. (talking about where we are & where we're going in our relationship)  "It's going to be a long, circuitous path."

Terri (pausing for a heartbeat or two):  "Not too long, please."

T. (gazing out to sea):  "No.  Not too long."

*    T.:  "I like talking about sex with you."

At 11:10 p.m. tonight, we will have been in each others' arms for one full week.

11:45 a.m.

Packing, a little.  Not sure how I'm going to get everything home  -  especially if I ever get around to buying souvenirs, which at this late date is looking less & less likely   -  but I'll manage somehow.    And yes, it's kinda sad, getting ready for the trip home.  I remember how nervous and excited I was, packing to come here.  (As it turns out, I brought WAY too many clothes  ...  I wound up wearing the same three or four basic "outfits," usually shorts & a big blouse, over and over again, washing them in the kitchen sink with my $4.00 bottle of Woolite in the afternoons ..)

1:35 p.m.

My last long afternoon here in the hotel room. T. and I ran around for an hour or so  -  putting gas into the rental car, trying (unsuccessfully) to get it washed & to find me some medicine for my yeast infection  -  had some lunch, here at the resort  -   came upstairs, where he "treated" my infection with an ages-old "remedy."

Oh yeah    Oh yeah    Oh yeah    Oh baby

We talked a little bit about tomorrow, when we part at the airport in Atlanta.  "We'll both be crying," I ventured, but he said, "NO.  Maybe when we get to our separate terminals, but not while we're together."  And then he said something that is going to sustain me through the next few hours/days/weeks/months/years  ...  he said, "This won't be 'goodbye.'  It'll be, 'See you later.' "

(ALREADY fantasizing about flying into his arms at another airport in February or March.)

3:45 p.m.

Time is passing so slowly this afternoon  ...  the minutes feel thick and swollen.  This is blessing AND curse: on the one hand I want everything to come to a standstill  -  to stay here in Bonaire with T. forever  -  on the other hand, it is excruciatingly painful, waiting for him to come "home" from this last afternoon of diving.  I want him in my arms right now. 

I keep trying to write a poem, but my brain is as "thick and swollen" as time is, this afternoon.  All I can come up with is the ending:

The last stone shifts:
The destination of the river, changed.

(Which means that now that I've actually been with him  -  touched him  -  held him  -  kissed him  -  tasted him  -  made love with him  -  "learned" him  -  there is no longer ANY going back for me.   Ever.)

Went and took back the keys to the rental car.   (Geez, we had fun in that car.  We must have driven over every square inch of this island.)

Bought T-shirts for the kids at the Dive Shop downstairs.   Mostly identical in size and color, so they can haggle over who gets what.

Sent postcards to the kids, Ray, Mom, Deb & T., George, Edmund and the Bobos.

God damn it.  Listening to "Lightning Crashes" again  ..   Terri the Masochist  ..  looked at my watch and realized that exactly one week ago this very minute, I was just getting on that first plane  ...

(She certainly ENJOYS her PAIN, does she not?)


Saturday 10:30 a.m.
December 7, 1996

27,000 feet in the air, and halfway to Atlanta.

T. is sitting in the seat next to me, doing doctor stuff on his laptop  ...  I am  wedged against the window, peering occasionally outside at an endless expanse of blue  ...  clouds below, clouds above, clouds sailing alongside our plane  ...

Very tired, and I still have so very far to go.   From Atlanta, I take a very long flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth, and from there finally to Sea Tac  -  and home.  Mixed feelings about that, which I'll go into later.

We went and walked around Kralendijk one final time, late yesterday afternoon.  Bought some Caribbean Christmas ornaments in a tacky little gift shop;  I'm going to stash them away and save them for the first Christmas tree T. and I share.   Then we came back to the resort and sat on the dock behind the dive shack, watching the sunset and "smooching" (that's how he described it just now, when I asked him what we did after going to town).

There was a HUB farewell dinner in the evening: T. and I generally tried to be as quietly disruptive and engrossed in each other as possible.  Sat at the dinner table and amused ourselves by sticking little foil fish to our water glasses.  (He had lobster  -  I had a couple of bites, and OK, it did not completely suck  -  while I did battle with a plate of chicken primavera  -  noodles at LEAST eight feet long.)

Came back to our room after dinner and finished packing.  Had a minor argument, believe it or not:  I was impatient for him to come to bed, but he was moving in a very methodical fashion, taking his time folding his clothes, looking through papers, scraping melted candle wax from the hotel cutting board  ...   finally I just snapped something about how I was "going to sleep," and he said something about how he would "appreciate a little help"   ...  looking back, I think it was due more to the raw emotion we were both feeling than anything else, because it was over in a heartbeat.   

He went around and lit a bunch of votive candles and joined me in bed finally, with the bottle of almond oil.  My favorite moment of the evening  -  indeed, of the whole trip  -  was when, during a moment of pause, he looked down at me and said, "Terri.  I want you to be my wife."   

Oh god.  Yes.  Please.  Someday soon.  

Woke up this morning around 4 a.m. and made love quietly  -  I watched his face above me and his expression was one of concentration and ecstasy  -  back to sleep briefly, then I had to get up and set our luggage outside for pick-up  -  back into bed for one last "round"   -  then into the shower.  Dressed and did my hair and makeup as hurridly as possible.  A button popped off my blouse at the very last minute:  my luggage was gone already, so T. wound up loaning me an extra shirt he had in his carry-on.   ("That's my favorite polo shirt," he said mournfully.  "I'll bring it back to you in February," I reassured him.   Of course, this will be AFTER I wash it with a load of red towels  ...)

Cried a little as we locked up the hotel room and walked, hand in hand, through the resort one last time.  T. kept saying goodbye to stuff ("Goodbye, little songbird  ...  goodbye, swimming pool  ...   goodbye, stinky smell"), which had me alternately laughing and crying.

Our flight left Bonaire @ 7:30 a.m.   (We watched out the airplane window and marvelled at how much of this beautiful island we saw this week.) 

We'll be in Atlanta in ninety minutes, and then we'll have to wrangle with Customs and baggage and crap like that, so I think I'll take advantage of these next quiet moments and lean my head on the shoulder of the man I love, while I still have the chance.

On my way to Dallas/Ft. Worth

My flight out of Atlanta was almost an hour late, so I have no idea what's going to happen when I get to Texas  ...  I will have undoubtedly missed my Seattle connection  ...  a complication like this is precisely what I do not need, right now  ...

Oh my god, Journal.  Parting from him was a million times more painful than I had thought it would be.  After we went through Customs and re-checked our baggage, we rode the same airport train we'd ridden in a week previously: I stood there and held onto him for dear life, never EVER wanting to let go.   We went and got some pizza at the airport Domino's, but I was crying too hard to manage more than a few bites. (I so wanted to be strong for him, but just looking at his sad beautiful face, I came undone  ..  he said, "Terri, you're breaking my heart"  ... )

When we got to my terminal, he took one look at the unsual number of people waiting for the flight and urged me to check in immediately. "I think your flight might be overbooked," he said ominously.  He went to his terminal to check in, and then he came back.  We stood and kissed for a moment, then he broke off, pulled off his backpack and laptop and put them on the floor, and took me into his arms, long and hard and passionately.  It was as exquisitely beautiful and poignant a moment as I have ever known  ...  particularly when he whispered, "My flight is boarding now.  I've gotta go. I love you"  ... 

...  and then he walked away.

I watched him disappear into the crowds, and then I sat down, buried my face in my hands, and cried my heart out.

It's over  ...  and yet, a piece of me knows that it's actually just beginning.

December 19, 1996


It's been very interesting transcribing this journal for you  ...  amazing to me how "long ago" it seems to me now, when in fact it's only been a couple of weeks.

We went through so much together on this trip.   Such a complex "stew" of emotions and experiences and exchanges, all compressed into one short week.   It's no wonder that it's taken me all this time just to get back to normal  ...

...  and yet I know that a part of me will never be "normal" again  -  or at least, not the way I was before you came into my life.   

You have changed me forever. 


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