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  • "You're gonna make me lonesome when you go."

    -Bob Dylan

    On my first date with a photographer, he took this photo of me. He spotted a round of sunlight on an oak and asked me to pose. There are times when I feel so invisible I could fly if it weren't so heavy. It was a welcome respite from one of those times when he came along to find me in a photo.

    I dated another photographer years ago. The thing about having a record of relationship is you can see how images combine to create significance.

    The taker of the photo brought me a jar of honey from bees he keeps, a wilting bouquet of Kentucky wildflowers. It's a kind of wine to savor and milk romance from the dandelion of the everyday.

    Lately I have been thinking about time. I come up for tenure in January--a position that a recent article in the Writer's Chronicle assures me is the unhappiest position in academe. For many Associate Professors, the realization of this goal is when the wheel that they have been peddling stops. The oblivion of pursuit no longer numbs, and one is given pause to reflect on the rewards she has long been promising herself.

    I wonder about the promise of love, how it makes none. Something else assures us, for awhile--the push and pull of the old slipknot--wedding bands and daisy chains. I have never been married or divorced, as he has. I can now see that, although I've taken some, there's no especial pride in not risking that mistake. I've made others.

    What I worry about this morning, after the third date with this man who was not swept off his feet and into my story, is how even parting with this near stranger can, at thirty-six, make me lonely. As if it was not him I was meeting but another wall of my own need, which I neither cracked nor climbed. Though there may be something--notice the smile flowering--within reach, not by scaling but by leaning back.

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