Friday, October 3, 2008

Opening The Vault: Part Nine

When you’re falling in love, even the most crowded destinations suddenly feel like they belong to only you and the object of your affections. I experienced this curious phenomenon for the first time 14 years ago, during my week in London with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

England’s capital, with all of its majesty and magic, provided the perfect setting for Sparky and me to continue getting to know one another. Having met just one month before, we still had plenty to learn about each other. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of ‘94...

April 28, 1994
London, England

Dear Diary,

With maps and cameras in hand, Sparky and I headed to Regent’s Park, where the conversation eventually turned to sex.

I felt uncomfortable discussing sex with Sparky. I reiterated the fact that, given the 3,000 miles separating us, I can’t guarantee we’ll be together long enough for me to feel ready to lose my virginity with him.

Sparky said all the right things, professing once again his desire to have a future with me. Cynical little me, however, wasn’t convinced his romantic declarations weren’t at least partly a ploy to get me into bed.

Later, while we were waiting for the tube at Embankment Station, Sparky pulled me toward him as he murmured--

“I just want more and more of you.”

Noticing that I didn’t melt on cue, Sparky clarified he wasn’t referring to “that,” i.e., sex.

“Mmhm,” I said coolly. Still, despite my reservations, I couldn’t deny it -- he was getting to me.

* * *

After touring the Tower of London and viewing the Crown Jewels, Sparky and I headed over to the Tower Thistle Hotel for a late lunch.

The majestic view from London's Tower Thistle Hotel

We had a table by the window, which afforded a perfect view of the Thames and Tower Bridge. As the sun disappeared and the sky turned to gray, Sparky began opening up about his past, including his bouts with cancer.

For some reason, a warning bell went off inside me and I asked Sparky if he was okay. He paused before admitting that, only five days ago, he had a tumor removed from his colon.

I was shocked and scared. I reminded Sparky I’m all too familiar with the disease -- my parents, my aunt and uncle have all battled it.

“The cancer is part of the reason I want to hold on to you and enjoy whatever time we have together,” he said.

It took me a little while to get my bearings after Sparky's revelation. Still, I wanted -- and needed -- him to tell me more about his condition and what he was facing. He hesitated.

“You’re young, the last thing you need is some old man with all these problems.”

“Oh Sparky, please. You are far from old and you are ten times more of a man than anyone I’ve ever dated.”

Taking an almost childlike delight in my reassuring words, Sparky put his arms around me and gave me a big kiss.

* * *

Our week in London had its fair share of intense moments -- moments that Sparky and I would cling to as our relationship progressed and geography and our 16-year age difference became formidable foes.

Coming up…a tribute to U2 in SoHo and a 40th anniversary celebration.

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