On This Winter’s Night With You by
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(131 Stories)

Prompted By Dangerous Deeds

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It seems to me that a dangerous deed, as opposed to a situation, is one that you walk into voluntarily, that you have the option of skipping. It is self-imposed. I’ve done that a few times, mostly when I was diving onto shipwrecks, but being young and cocky, I didn’t think of these as dangerous. I can only think of one time that I deliberately did something avoidable that really scared me, although the danger was primarily emotional.

Early in the relationship, back when we were both freshman college students, back in New Jersey, my First Love’s parents decided, for various reasons, to hate me. Virulently.

Early in the relationship, back when we were both freshman college students, back in New Jersey, my First Love’s parents decided, for various reasons, to hate me. Virulently. They threatened to pull their financial support for her education if she continued to see me.

So we broke up, but the pull was strong and that didn’t last long. I was a resident but she lived at home. So, for nearly two years, we saw each other behind their backs. Stole minutes and kisses when we could. Walked the campus between classes, telling each other that it would be different soon, someday. In retrospect it was not the best way we could have handled it, but for whatever reasons, it was what we did.

Finally in the fall of 1976, we decided that we could not stand to spend another Holidays apart. We would confront her parents, come out of our personal closet.

One night in mid-November of 1976, I drove up to her home in Bergen County, NJ. I was terrified to the point of nausea. So much bad could happen. There could be violence; her family had threatened it before, and I’d likely be outnumbered…there was no telling who they might have invited to this little affair. There would certainly be anger and shouting. For conflict-averse me, it was a nightmare of anticipation that grew worse with every mile I covered on my way north.

It was, indeed, unpleasant. There was anger. There were accusations. There was shouting and tears. I even told one huge lie to attempt to placate her parents to some extent. But in the end, we prevailed. They would, grudgingly, with no grace whatsoever, accept my presence in their daughter’s life.

We spent that Thanksgiving with my family. On Christmas night in 1976, I drove up to see her. The atmosphere in the house was tense and unfriendly, so eventually we went for a long walk.

I remember little of that long ago night. It was cold. It wasn’t snowing but there was a bit of snow on the sidewalks and front yards, clinging to the bare trees and frosting the parked cars. We walked the empty suburban streets of her neighborhood, holding hands, stopping to kiss, delighting in the sensation of merely being together, of feeling young and free and in love. I do remember the way that the dim, widely-spaced streetlights cast our long shadows on ahead of us, elongated and distorted against the whiteness of the snow. I remember that the headlamps of passing vehicles made diamond glints in the piles of white left by plows and shovels. I remember how the Christmas lights blinked in windows and on porches as we passed, and I remember that, for just a little while, we were so very happy.

Before Spring arrived we were done forever.

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.


Tags: danger, love, anger, loss
Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your descriptions are stunning, Dave. You evoke the threat of real danger going into the house to confront her parents on Thanksgiving that first evening, but I particularly liked all the descriptors along the cold walk on Christmas with the blinking lights, the touch of her hand, the occasional kiss. The pure joy that you evoked from being in her presence was palpable. But it was clearly doomed and we were there with you all along the way.

  2. Jim Willis says:

    Dave,
    Your story reminded me that sometimes the most dangerous outings are, indeed, emotional ones. I can readily recall two times of emotional disasters when I would have rather gone into war-zone combat than live through them. Kudos to you for having the courage to face the family and have it out. In the long run, that proved more important to you, I’m sure, than the fact the relationship ended shortly thereafter.

    • Dave Ventre says:

      One of my major worries in that period was actually my father. Had I came home all beat to crap, I likely would not have been able to keep him from taking some sort of revenge. The young lady’s suburban well-off family threatened violence, which I found sort of amusing, knowing how and where my dad grew up, and what he was capable of if properly inspired. I really was concerned that he’d wind up in jail for assault and battery.

  3. Jim Willis says:

    P.S., Dave: The title of your retrospective happens to be one of my favorite of Gordo’s ballads. I was listening to the late Lightfoot last night as he described writing that cozy and placid snowing night whilst bedding down in a Cleveland hotel room in the midst of a rainstorm. It was, I thought, a strange inspiration and a testament to his creative talents!

  4. Thanx for your very personal and moving story Dave., and for baring your soul to your Retro friends.
    As Jim said the emotional risks we take can feel as dangerous as the physical ones.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    you juxtapose the beauty of love and danger of relationships in such a clear and moving way. What a difficult time. It would great to think that love always wins out, but I know this story didn’t end in a fairy tale.

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