The Miami Herald, Tropic Sunday Magazine
“Can’t Live Without ‘Em” column
February 13, 1994, Valentines Day Edition

It was a relationship that began and ended with disaster.  I mean real disaster with fatalities, upheaval and the police.  Even the president got involved.

I met him — my lover, not the president — hours before Andrew, and as the storm’s fury pulsated, raged and stormed against my roof, I lay in a hallway dreaming about him.  One year later, in the end, there was only smoke as fires raged outside his picture window in L.A.

Our second date required a chain saw.  He had to cut through brush that was blocking the driveway where he was staying.  To get that far had taken me three hours — one to find gas and two to navigate the tree-strewn streets.   When the roar of the saw motor fell silent, he stepped into my Pontiac and we escaped to South Beach.

It felt like prohibition at the cafes, sipping white wine from tea cups, complaining about the quality of the food when we should have been thankful for any, peeling our clothes off in front of a hotel air conditioner that hummed with priceless power.

Roaming the streets after curfew, the whole city seemed vacant, evacuated, empty.  I felt like we owned it.  Police cars cruised by — once in a while a military helicopter flew over.  We were completely alone.  As we walked back to our hotel on Ocean Drive, he pulled me in an alley and pinned me against a wall.  He kissed me like it was the beginning of time.

We sat on the beach and talked for 12 hours straight about wonder, architecture, sexual obsession, his inventions, my grandmother.  I’d never found a man so intelligent and sexy at once, purebred genes in tight Calvin Kleins.  What a mouth, what a brain, what hands.  They said he played piano like a God, but even with my new found survivor-resourcefulness, I couldn’t find a baby grand anywhere.

When we finally fell asleep, he whispered “pure peace” in my ear.  And it was.

He delayed his flight day after day, I didn’t return calls to my clients.  “It’s a hurricane,” I said.  “There is no Fed Ex, I have no electricity in my office, I can’t work.”  I carried my Rolodex and cappuccino machine around with me, and Eric and I devoured each other with an urgency you don’t feel after a 9-to-5 day at the office.  “I’m stranded,” he told his office.  “I’ve been swept away,” I told my friends.

Long distance love never works, nor should it.  Intimacy and area codes don’t mix.  But when you meet someone during a hurricane, love becomes a precious escape from the destruction.   Passion feels like fate — the elements have brought you together for a reason.

But one year later, we stumbled onto our own personal disaster, and realized that L.A. is as far away from Miami as the moon.  So we just stopped, on a day when the moon was full, and fires raged and presidents again made promises and appearances.

The other day I saw something that reminded me of him; two rainbows, side by side — a double rainbow, a show in the sky . . . and then they were gone, leaving the sky perfectly blank, as if nothing had ever happened.


Illustration by Joan Swan  (Reprinted with the  permission of The Miami Herald)