The plane to Kennedy was nearly full when Kathryn boarded. She’d never been out of town much, let alone making a life changing trip to New York City. She left the great experiment known as High School, determined to make her mark in the fashion world. She had one friend in New York, Rick. Off Kathryn went in an airplane full of strangers, charging forward in her life among faceless passengers. Her journey would certainly rid her of cruel memories of being molested as a youngster, and being raped, savaged while walking home from school. Bastards. She desperately wanted to escape jarring memories of forced sex, at the same time emboldened, knowing she would from here forward, be in charge of sex. Kathryn’s upbringing discouraged her from ever seeking counseling to help her deal with these angry crimes, her family terrified she would be perceived as “crazy”. The poor soul was left, with no support from loved ones, even unsure which of her family she could trust, to deal with inner rage in her own, crude way. She let snippets of events out to confidantes through the course of her life, never divulging the entire story of either atrocity for fear of unleashing long buried grief. Kathryn was certain now that moving to New York would help bury the past, even if she couldn’t literally bury the sons-of-bitches that forever clouded her dreams.
Kathryn took a cab from Kennedy to Rick’s condo in Brooklyn. He was the only person Kathryn knew in New York, and he offered a place to crash until she settled into her new surroundings. Kathryn was the sort to appreciate first impressions, and ingrain them. She was struck by the raw energy and people as she pointedly paid attention to her surroundings on the long taxi ride. Persistent horn honking and wailing sirens engulfed her senses, and she knew she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. By the time the cab pulled up to the condo, she had sensed enough excitement to already consider her decision to come a success. Rick was eagerly waiting as Kathryn paid the cabbie, retrieved her bags, and they went inside. She was relieved to be settled momentarily as she breathed in the enormity of the moment. The two friends reminisced, and Kathryn, tired after traveling all day, thanked Rick for his hospitality and went to bed.
1709 E.4thSt. in Brooklyn was about a 10 minute bicycle ride from Coney Island, and it was now home. Kathryn was fortunate to find a suitable apartment within two weeks of her arrival in New York. Coupled with her new job as the buyer for Village Arts, she was well on her way to achieving a measure of success here in the big city she would never have dreamed of in the dreary, god forsaken midwest. The loft style apartment and job suited Kathryn’s artistic nature and created positive energy she used to kick start her new life. She worked long hours and opened her mind to new, creative ideas when it came to things such as decorating her apartment, and clothing she wore. The City was hip, social light years ahead of her past home, and she was anxious to embrace the cool energy pervasive in the air. Her wardrobe evolved from Jeans and sneakers to stylish blouses with longish, bohemian style skirts with heels or sandals. Though rent was more than what she was accustomed to, it was rent controlled, so if she stayed, she was assured of stable living costs, whereas back home, the building owners saw fit to raise rent every time the wind blew wrongly.
Opportunities abounded for Kathryn, she now felt comfortable in virtually any artistic endeavor, and she followed her chic clothing tastes to fashion. She wasn’t bound any longer by the sight of men roaming midwestern streets as if they had just emerged from a duck blind or deer stand. Style was the name of the game here, and though Brooklyn was regarded sometimes as Manhattans poor cousin, the vibrancy of the entire city permeated every storefront, every home. Kathryn became suddenly aware that she felt as though she belonged here instantly, that Rockford was no longer home, and she liked it that way.
Kathryn began to dabble in Martial Arts; it would be a good idea to know a little self-defense. In spite of her warm feelings for the city, she knew of the ugliness that could happen at any time. After becoming a bit experienced, she wished she had known some karate when she was younger, she would have given those asshole boys a shot in the nether regions that would have rendered them incapable of using their penis’s forever.
Disenchanted with Catholicism, Kathryn began to pursue Eckankar as a spiritual alternative. The art world practically begged for a spiritual component, and Kathryn’s awareness of her soul and spirit were important to her. She was attracted by Eckankars belief in the self-discovery of soul, and the belief in reincarnation. She had long felt she was reborn, that she had worked toiled in slave-like conditions in a cocoa field in what is now the Ivory Coast. Kathryn also knew she was destined to find her love in this life, her soulmate, but hadn’t found him or her yet. She hadn’t discounted the idea of a lesbian relationship, though she doubted it. There was nothing wrong with Kathryn’s libido, her sex-drive overwhelming at times, all the while dismissive until she felt that the right person had come along. At 23, she was young and very attractive, she knew it, and knew she wouldn’t have any trouble finding a date. Though their friendship was platonic up to this point, she and Rick seemed to have a little chemistry; maybe her Mr. Right was right under her nose. And Rick DID seem interested in Kathryn. She was determined to put her tortured past behind her and renew her love for whomever her destined lover was on its’ own merits. But the New York experience was engrossing, and she had little time as it was to pursue any romantic interest. The thought, though, did leave her feeling a bit lonely for the first time since she had arrived.
Trying to fill a few extra hours of time each week, Kathryn enrolled at the Versace School for Fashion. Her classes were filled with gay and lesbian students as she supposed would be the case, she found her classes daunting in the sense she had always perceived gays as being uber-talented in artistic vocations. She wasn’t xenophobic, simply following the lessons from childhood that manifested themselves here. She hadn’t realized until living in New York just how puritanical the social views surrounding her youth were. She likened it to the way her childhood friends and acquaintances viewed the Amish. If nothing else, Eck had further opened her vision to spiritual alternatives to the rigid dogma of Roman Catholicism, and she felt at home. Kathryn was aware of the belief that many thought Eck was cult-like, appropriately concerned given the massacre in Jonestown a few years ago. Even if she wasn’t faithful following it’s’ tenets, it shaped her spiritually for years.
Kathryn visited Rockford after having been in New York for 3 years. Family had been persistent trying to get her to return for holidays and such, and she finally acceded at Christmas of 1988. She made plans with her store for the time off, surprised to get the time off around the holiday. Back in Rockford, she stayed with mom at the small Cape Cod house where childhood dealt some crushing blows. Beulah, Kathryn’s mother, remarried after divorcing for the 2nd time, had lived in the quaint home on the west side of town since marrying her 1st husband. 26 years later, not much had changed physically in the home, the emotional energy, however, had evolved enormously. The emotional scars associated with sexual abuse returned doubly when Kathryn returned. She had been touched in the worst ways in this house, and the memories were painful. She assumed logically, and correctly, that hers were not the only painful memories here. Her sisters Katia and Beth, 5 and 8 years younger respectively had their own issues with their father, and no one was sad to see him leave for good. There is a special place in hell for men like that.
While home for Christmas, Kathryn ran into Skip at one of the family holiday celebrations. He was Kathryn’s age, and a family friend. There was chemistry between them, and Skip invited her to spend the night at his ramshackle, threadbare apartment. Kathryn thought he may be her destined man, though she did harbor doubt. It seemed like he drank a lot and the rumors among the family about his drug use were rampant. She gave it a chance however, thinking perhaps her interpretation of her destiny was skewed. Besides, she was only here for 10 days, and she was lonely. Her dalliance with Rick was short and sweet. They only went out a few times, and nothing serious developed. She had a few other first dates, but that was all since she had moved. So she figured what the hell, what’s the worst that could happen?
Kathryn loved working at the art store. Working there whet her artistic streak, she also got to know several influential clients. She had refined her talent attending schools, and had become an accomplished abstract painter. She felt as though she had found her passion, and it was art. Gallery operators occasionally inquired whether she may be interested in a show. Katherine didn’t think the time was right. She didn’t feel her talent was show-worthy, besides she had her hands full with work, she had found her place in the New York art world, and she was flattered to be noticed.
Skip corresponded from time to time, keeping his iron in the fire so to speak in terms of their social life. 800 miles was a sizable void to manipulate, and boys being boys, he was anxious to spend more time with Kathryn. For her part, Kathryn thought their tryst had served its’ purpose, though she thought about Skippy, and was definitely curious about how their relationship may play out. She was satisfied for the time being though, trying to maneuver about a long-distance romance.
A chilly Brooklyn January day, business as usual. Kathryn hadn’t been feeling well, and scheduled an appointment with her doctor for this afternoon. She left work after lunch, closing the shop early. Gwen, the manager of Village Art, said it would be fine to close for a couple of hours, and she would return later to re-open. Kathryn didn’t want to be rushed, between nausea and New York traffic, she couldn’t be counted on to be back at a particular time. She made it to her one o’clock appointment just under the wire, and retreated to the lab for the usual litany of blood and urine tests. The traffic had been heavy, and the leaden gray skies threatened snow, so she was grateful to Gwen for giving her the rest of the day off. Forty-Five minutes later, Kathryn arrived back home, and vomited everything she had eaten all day.
“I’m WHAT???” Kathryn’s voice was shrieky and marbly as she replied to Dr. Greens’ nurse. “It looks like you’re about to become a proud mom. You’re pregnant. Congratulations.” Kathryn knew there was no sense in protesting or asking for explanation. She meekly replied “Thank You” and ended the call. Was it only yesterday she had her plan for life all lined up? She had just had head shots taken in preparation for a soap opera audition, and had a client say that he would grease the skids for a modeling gig, and now'”pregnant. Kathryn hadn’t given the thought of having children much thought, much less getting married. Married? Shit, she was going to have to call Skippy. What a stupid name for a grown man. His mother must have been delusional when naming him. She was a matronly women, forever ensconced in the 50s, and thought the name fit with her addled vision of one big happy family. Lord, she couldn’t have chosen Chip or Henry or Mack or something a little more manly. Kathryn guessed Skip wouldn’t be too happy receiving the news. She was certainly none too happy delivering it.
“YOU’RE WHAT?’ His voice was angry and panicked. “It’s not my kid.” Skippy’s slurred speech detracted a little from the message he was receiving, but his response was enough to enrage Kathryn. She hadn’t been intimate with any other man, and resented his implication that she must have been. Additionally, what kind of man doesn’t want to take ownership of his own son? After pondering her circumstance overnight, Kathryn came to terms with the idea of being called Mom, and she began to embrace it. Maternal instinct was gaining a toehold within her, and regardless of Skippys protestations, she would be ready for motherhood by the time her child was ready to face the world. If destiny were to consign Kathryn and baby to single parenthood, she was ready for the daunting challenge. Skippy presented every alternative theory he could muster in his besotted state, concocting nefarious conspiratorial plans to cramp his style. Kathryn asked herself what had ever compelled her to spend even an evening with this jerk, let alone entertain the notion that he was the one. She hung up on him after telling him to never contact her again, and called the OB-GYN her doctor had referred her to. Then she ran to the bathroom and threw up.
By New York standards, the summer had been brutally hot; several daytime high temperatures were in the 100’s. By the time autumn approached, it had cooled somewhat, and by the third week of September, 60 degree temperatures were common. Kathryn had begun labor pains the night before, and when they became more frequent, she called her friend Cath from down the street and told her it was time. She had befriended Cath not long after arriving in New York, they became fast friends. Cath had taken Lamaze classes with Kathryn, and Kathryn was thankful for her friend, that Cath cared enough for her to help thru her pregnancy and birth. The two friends got a cab, and motored to Lutheran Medical Center. Kathryn gave birth six hours later to her beautiful son Henry, and she was right where she wanted to be. Kathryn’s sentimental aura wrapped itself around her for a moment as she considered the notion of Henry having his father there, to witness the miracle of birth, to bond instantly with his son the traditional way fathers’ did. Not one to allow herself too much reflection, the feeling soon passed. She held Henry in her arms, looked into his dark eyes, and smiled.
Henry was 7 months old, and Kathryn had attended to his every need twenty four hours a day, each day during that crucial time. She had managed her time well during Henry’s first month, thereby eluding the perils associated with new motherhood. Kathryn never suffered post-partum depression, or any other malady associated with raising your first born. She was thoughtful, diligent, and fully embraced the challenges as they presented. Kathryn however, was due a night out. She loved, obsessed over Henry, but Cath, who had been a great help to her friend, was insistent that Kathryn take some Kathryn time. Cath would stay with Henry, there were no worries. Kathryn trusted her friend implicitly, and was comfortable leaving Henry with her. On this Wednesday, they decided together that Friday would be the night. Kathryn was a Chicago Cubs baseball fan, and here in New York had virtually no opportunity to follow them on television or radio, but it so happened the New York Mets were entertaining the Cubs in a 3 game weekend series at Shea Stadium.
Malachi Roman had worked at the Post Office for 7 1/2 years without going on a vacation. Oh, he had time off, valued it in fact, but had never had a “real” vacation. For the first time, he was able to get vacation time around Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer. Winter had come and gone once again, but this 1987 season seemed to wear on longer than previous years. Mack, his nickname since childhood, sensed that would continue to be the case as long as he was delivering the mail. Day after cold and snowy day spent traipsing through the Haight Village section on the near east side of Rockford. The work days began at 6 a.m. Office time filled his morning sorting the mail and otherwise preparing for the long walk ahead each day. An ordinary day without occupants, the ad fliers delivered to all homes called that because of “Occupant, 123 Any St.” They made his day at least an hour longer than normal because most of the addresses on his route didn’t receive mail daily, due to the depressed nature of the area where his route was. Architectural Digest wasn’t a big subscription draw in the neighborhood. So the day on the street began around 9 a.m., and he would leave the old South Main office and walk across the Chestnut Bridge to the first stop on the route.
Today was a good day. It was Mack’s turn to choose his vacation time for the next year, and he was going to escape the god-forsaken, dirty gray post winter of Rockford, Illinois. His preferences were a Mexico resort, or New York and New England. Mack didn’t have to decide just yet, the first order of business was to select the 4 weeks he was allotted for vacation. Seeing the updated chart, Memorial Day week was open, along with the week after, and he chose those weeks. That would be when he would break the shackles of this town, and get out for the first time since he had been discharged and flew back from West Germany.
He had been divorced over the previous winter, and coupled with the difficult work conditions, it had been taxing, physically and emotionally. The divorce was his second, and it began to occur to Mack he wasn’t the marrying kind. Robin was a snob, but he knew that going in and thought he could live with it. Additionally, he was drinking heavily, and smoking a little pot. After only a year and a half being married, it was easy to see the couple wouldn’t endure two years, mind you til death do us part. His first failure was even faster, the result of returning from the honeymoon, to find out his wife Lynn was sleeping with her parents’ next door neighbor, she was 19, and he was 55. Isn’t that referred to as a May-December affair? Anyway, Mack wasn’t about to linger in this mess any longer than necessary, and the divorce was final within 2 months of the wedding. Fortunately, no children were born of either union, though Mack wanted children. He knew though, that now wasn’t the time. He had things he wanted to do and see before being grounded by the responsibilities of being a father. He was certain there was pure, divine love meant for him. It was a nearly unexplainable feeling, but Mack was sure of its existence. And Mack was nothing if not patient.
Mack decided to go to New York City for vacation, he was curious about the people and the energy there. Friends had described their impressions of New York, and while a relaxing beach vacation sounded great and good for the soul, Mack would go to New York. He was interested in new experiences, plus his love of live music could be quenched there. He was anxious to check out the storied clubs that had produced legends such as Dylan and the Ramones. Mack was grateful he had the opportunity and the means to explore and experience things others could only hope to. His interests ranged from most music genres to fanatic sports fan. The major Chicago teams counted Mack as a fan, especially the Cubs and Bears. The Bulls were also approaching championship caliber with Michael Jordan climbing the ranks on his way to being the greatest NBA player ever. Mack had been to Chicago Stadium twice to see Jordan and the Bulls play, first when Jordan was a rookie and you could still buy a cheap seat and sneak into the better ones. Later on Jordan had established himself as a superstar, the Stadium sold out every game, and you needed a co-signer to get tickets. But the Cubs and Bears were his first loves. Mack knew all the players past and present. And coincidentally, the Cubs would be in New York to play the Mets when he would be there. The Mets were arch-enemies to Cub fans after the historic late season swoon in 1969, the year Mack fell in love with baseball, fell in love with the Cubs, and the year the Cubs squandered a seven and a half game lead in August, to lose the newly created Eastern Division to those bastard Mets. New York should feel fortunate Mack decided to even vacation there, he would never go to San Diego after the stinking Padres unceremoniously dispatched the Cubs in 1984, depriving the team and fans of their richly deserved National League Pennant, and trip to the World Series.
May 23, 1987 was a typically crappy day weather-wise near Chicago. As Mack rode the shuttle bus on the way to O’Hare Airport for his flight to New York, the temperature was cold, only about 50 degrees. The New York forecast called for a high temperature of 79 degrees that day, and the warmth engulfed him as he rode to the airport. Though he preferred HOT weather, 90 or higher, 80 would feel like desert heat compared to what had gripped Rockford for what seemed like forever. Three short hours, he would be there. Arriving at O’Hare, Mack proceeded quickly through a cursory security check, and headed to the gate. Half full flights were common into large cities, particularly those with multiple airports, so Mack was hopeful of getting a row to himself on the 737, and once aboard, found he was right.
Mack enjoyed travelling alone, unencumbered by the lazy pace of travel partners whose agendas were different from his. Alone was best, he could move at his own pace, free of concern for who he was with, how fast they were moving, and he could move about as he pleased. A Times Square hotel waited, and he was anxious to arrive. Malachi Roman was in New York City for the first time, and was eager to begin the experience he sensed would be life-changing. The hotel was a converted flop house, the front desk occupying the bulk of the lobby, with cubby holes behind the counter holding room keys and messages. The building itself was a three story brick with no elevators. Mack registered, got his room key, and hauled himself and his suitcase up a narrow dark stairway to the second floor room. His room was little more than a closet, rather spartan he thought for a big city hotel, but he needed nothing more. A double bed and lamp were the only amenities, along with a small bathroom and shower. Mack cleaned up, and headed out to Times Square. He had spent a lot of time in Chicago, so crowds and noise were not intimidating, and knew not to look up at the high rise buildings. Doing so would reveal himself as a tourist, not to mention a rube. He was determined to, for at least a week; shed the shackles of midwest hick attitudes. He may not be a New Yorker, but was anxious to see if he could be. The Cub game was a highlight of the trip, but that wasn’t until the following Friday, so Mack had a week to leisurely take in New York, its’ legend, and its’ people. He longed for a cosmopolitan environment; he’d long wished that Rockford didn’t suffer such an inferiority complex as Chicago’s little sister city, Peoria was similar size and had a much more urban feel to it; Rockford’s leaders were never terribly interested in advancing a cultural agenda. They had turned away from the opportunity to house a major university, Northern Illinois, and had the incredibly bad judgment to have I-90, the only major highway serving the area, skirt the extreme east side of town. It’s always had a backward feeling to it, and would stay that way until progressive leadership authored a more exciting vision. Old money and religious conservatives wouldn’t allow that to happen. It was difficult for a man of Mack’s eclectic taste to tolerate this lack of forward thinking. But in New York, he could enjoy the height of cultural endeavor.
Mack enjoyed the obligatory NYC tours to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, took a trip on the Staten Island Ferry. A highlight of the trip was visiting Atlantic Recording Studios where Springsteen, AC/DC, The Ramones and Talking Heads recorded. His appreciation of music history was piqued while taking the tour, and he wished he had been in the city when all this music was being made. He knew it would have had a dramatic influence on his life. Mack took a day to explore the famous sports arenas in town, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and a special trip to drive by the sites where the Polo Grounds and Ebbetts Field once stood. What an extraordinary, historical perspective on some of sports greatest moments. He was fortunate to have attended many baseball games at Wrigley Field, and even went to Comiskey Park for a game, though he wasn’t a fan of the White Sox. He thought of traveling across the Hudson to the Meadowlands, but his impression of the stadium was that of an antiseptic experience, and didn’t enjoy nearly the history of the other legendary arenas he had visited. Shea Stadium where the Mets played, while certainly not historic, WAS the destination he looked forward to next for the game against his beloved Cubs tomorrow night, May 29th.
Mack got to the ballpark about an hour before the scheduled 7 p.m. start. It was a hot day, and as dusk approached, the humidity hung over Shea Stadium like a fog machine at a concert. After the brutal Illinois winter, it was right up Mack’s alley. The stadium lights shone brightly down onto the field, illuminating the ball diamond and fans in the stands as if it were high noon. Having played Pony and American Legion ball under the lights, Mack knew the there was a perceptible difference in the way the baseball was seen at night, versus day. The top hemisphere of the ball was illuminated, giving a fielder the impression of a ball in flight similar to the shape of a grapefruit sliced in half on its axis. Mack settled into his seat in the lower bowl of the antiquated ballpark. It didn’t seem to be kept up well for a stadium only about 25 years old. It was pretty cool to be in the same arena where the Beatles played in the 1960’s. The historic music connection hadn’t occurred to him when scheduling the game or even when thinking about it. But he was here for baseball on this hot muggy night, and the first pitch was only a few minutes away. Shea was a big ballpark, it held about 57,000 for baseball, 19,000 more than Wrigley. It was little more than half full tonight though. The Cubs were awful against the Mets that night, but Mack was having fun despite the score.
Between the 4thand 5th inning, Mack went for a hot dog and soda. He found the concession closest to his seat and fell into line behind an attractive young strawberry blonde woman. The line was only 4 deep, so it wouldn’t take too long. The woman in front of him was completing her business and Mack pulled out his wallet to retrieve a twenty dollar bill. The young lady in front took her order, and turned quickly away from the counter, running headlong into Mack as he inched forward in line. Her Coke lurched forward from its container, the contents emptying onto Mack’s shirt and shorts, dripping from his front to the floor. The woman gushed apologetically hurriedly leaving her food on the floor, while reaching for napkins to swab Mack’s shirt, but being careful around the front of his shorts. Mack was laughing at the girls’ klutziness, and assured her he was fine. She explained she hadn’t been out for a while, being a new mom, and her social grace was a bit rusty. She introduced herself as Kathryn, and Mack expressed his happiness meeting her under less than ideal circumstances. Mack introduced himself as Malachi Roman, Mack for short. Kathryn liked his unusual first name, but wondered about its’ origin. Malachi was the name of the protagonist in a Kurt Vonnegut book “The Sirens of Titan” published in 1959, one of his fathers favorites. He took on Mack as a nickname to avoid certain confusion at school and other situations where he would need to be identified, though he liked the formal version of his name. He explained to Kathryn he was in New York on vacation, and was leaving Sunday. His attraction to her was immediate, the connection electric, and knew their serendipitous meeting would profoundly change his life. He knew all this in an instant, in the time it takes a beating heart to race at twice normal pace. His breathing was shallow, his speech clipped from the absence of spit to lubricate his mouth. Noticing her beautiful smile and storytelling expressions, he wondered whether similar thoughts rang true in her mind. After a few minutes small talking, he asked if they might spend some time together before he left. He gave Kathryn the number for the hotel, and asked that she call him later in the evening, he knew she wouldn’t give him her phone number without some assurance he was who he said he was. Mack understood, and the certainty of her call led him back to the hotel immediately after the game.
Kathryn raced home from the game as well, hopeful her clumsy misstep would lead where she felt in her very soul that it should. She quickly explained to Cath the chance meeting she had at the game, and Cath giggled her excitement. She hadn’t had this other worldly excitement in her life, ever. The only time close was the first time she held Henry in her arms and looked into his eyes. This was love at its purest. Kathryn instinctively knew Mack was the one, please let the hotel phone number be real. She called the number and the front desk clerk answered. She asked for Malachi Roman, and for the first time in her life, was happy to be put on hold. Mack answered, and they talked for an hour, reflecting on the comedy of their meeting, each knowing without saying so their fates were tied together. They arranged to spend the day together tomorrow, Saturday. Cath volunteered to help with Henry, and Kathryn was appreciative. In her minds eye, she wouldn’t need the help at all, but agreed to update Cath with details.
Mack and Kathryn met Saturday morning at the Black and Darker coffee shop near her apartment in Brooklyn. Henry tagged along; he was now 7 months old. The temperature was once again hot, the expected high for the day above 90. Henry was a little ornery this morning, fussy to the point Kathryn didn’t feel all that comfortable with him in a public setting. She had always thought it rude for parents of infants to foist their crying children upon the public trying to enjoy for example, a movie, an airplane trip, or coffee at the Black and Darker. The couple finished their coffee and went for a walk in a nearby park. Mack pushed Henry’s stroller as they ambled about the parks concrete trails, there was an odor of imminent rain in the air. Other families and a few joggers also frequented the park. Mack and Kathryn barely noticed any other traffic as they talked and cooed with Henry. Mack told her he was here from Illinois, not far from Chicago, and had worked at the Post Office for 7 years. Mack always described Rockford’s location as “near Chicago”. It was simpler than trying to describe Rockford to the uninitiated. It seemed to him that it also sounded more citified, which suited him. Kathryn responded, saying that she came to New York from Rockford in 1983. Mack stared in stunned silence. Kathryn worried she might have a pimple on her nose, or said something to annoy him Mack was also from Rockford, and the coincidence was ethereal. They talked for 2 more hours before Kathryn had to return home. They spoke of the near misses over the years where they narrowly missed each other. They lived in a parallel universe for years, naturally unaware of the other, but so close to meeting on many occasions. They were the same age; in fact their birthdays were less than 2 weeks apart. Both attended west side high schools, his West High, hers Auburn. Both schools used the same football field for games, so their paths surely crossed there. Both enjoyed partying some in high school, and they had common friends. And in a coincidence defiant of explanation, Mack was Kathryn’s mailman at her first apartment after moving from her home in 1981. Mack jokingly pointed out that she owed 2 years of Christmas tips, and in their first acknowledgement of a sexual chemistry, she suggested that if the two continued to see each other, even long distance, she could make it up to him.
By now, Mack was pushing Henrys’ stroller, and walked Kathryn to her apartment. She noticed while walking by, that the curtain on Caths’ living room window facing E. Fourth St. in Brooklyn New York, was pulled aside and Cath was smiling from inside. They looked for all intents and purposes like a happy family enjoying a Saturday afternoon stroll. They all went to Kathryns’ apartment. She made Mack a cup of instant coffee, they talked a few minutes more, and Mack asked if he could see her tomorrow before he left. It suddenly occurred to Kathryn that Mack was only in New York until tomorrow. She became misty eyed as she said that of course he could. He gave Henry a kiss and said something cooish in baby talk. They walked to the door, and embraced. They hugged for longer than a hug should last, separated, when Kathryn whispered “I want to kiss you”. She leaned up to his lips, and he to hers, their lips met, and kissed for the first time as fireworks exploded nearby in honor of Memorial Day. They held their embrace until neither could comfortably breathe. They gazed into one anothers eyes, each knowing it was the first of many times they would have to say goodbye, but knew it would never be for long or forever. Mack returned to his temporary home, his heart fluttering and his mouth whistling as he enjoyed the taxi ride back to the hotel.
Sunday morning arrived sooner than Mack would have wanted, sort of opposite of a kids Christmas when the wait for Santa is interminable. He showered quickly and called Kathryn. They arranged to meet in an hour at her apartment, and she would take him to the airport. Cath would watch Henry, Kathryn had already made the arrangements Mack and Kathryn had pondered ways to continue their relationship long distance, but truthfully, each knew it would work out on its’ own. Theirs is the type of romance that transcends miles and time. Simply standing aside was the best way to carry on. Mack arrived at Kathryns where they talked until it came time to leave for Macks five p.m. flight. Once they arrived at Kennedy, they said their sad goodbye, and Mack disappeared inside the terminal. They note the ease with which they interact, as though they had known each other for three years instead of three days.