512 Words

Romantically Handicapped

Thomas Sennett

I have lived an interesting life, albeit not an entirely successful one. I have given speeches to Saudi princes while an economist at Texaco, have met many senators and representatives, have worked as an investment banker on Wall Street, graduated from Harvard University, and once played a leading role in a stage production with Vanessa Williams. Despite these successes, my life has been overshadowed by illness. In my case, manic depressive illness.

The illness first hit me when I was a graduate student at Harvard. I found myself working for three or four days in a row without sleep, as if the laws of nature had suddenly been changed for me. After my sleepless periods I would usually grow depressed, sometimes even suicidal. I tired to commit suicide twice. In 1993, after my second and very serious attempt, I called up an old girl friend from high school by the name of Marie.

I hadn't seen Marie in ten years when we met for dinner in Manhattan. She was still beautiful, though she filled out as she had become more womanly. For years I had thought often of her, wondering what had become of her, and wondering if she ever thought of our adolescent love. She was intelligent, kind, and thoroughly able to understand what I had been through. I didn't have to pretend with her. I didn't have to be a Wall Street executive with the hidden secret of mental illness. And after dinner, she came back to my apartment and we made love in a way I had never known, nor ever shall again. Indeed, it was as if she was a window in my illness, a place where happiness lurked, a happiness that no other woman except Marie could give me. She was separated from her husband and speculated that we should get together. She told me how she had missed me through the years, and how glad she was that we were together again, with a good future ahead of us. She would leave her husband and she would be with me.

The next day we took the AMTRAK train to Washington, which is where she lived. On the way I sat next to her, my head on her shoulder, her arm draped around me. I felt incredible happiness. Still, we were just two amidst the rows of oblivious passengers, the train clattering rhythmically as it shot down the tracks. I didn't realize it then, couldn't possible have realized it, but sitting next to her there would be the happiest moment of my life...

Once we reached Washington, I realized what I had to do, although it was painful. I suggested that she go back to her husband. With my manic depression I would just cause her agony over the long run. Indeed, my illness made me romantically handicapped.

"There is no future for us Marie," I said. "Though I love you more than you know."

I kissed her right there in Union station--a long, somber, sweet kiss. A kiss that would have to last a lifetime.

Copyright ©1998 Thomas Sennett. All Rights Reserved.

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June, 1998
Issue #20

512 Words