"I wonder how you survived living behind closed doors like this?" asked Anton gently. "You shared a house on many occasions, but not your touch. You were in love, but didn't dare to be honest about it. You introduced Heather to me as a dear friend, while you had rejected her love for all those years. You kept yourself isolated by force, knowing full well that Sylvia would thereby be obliged to isolate herself, too. But I don't blame you. We are all like that. This is what Nicolai has committed himself to get away from. He is certainly aware of the hypocrisy we have committed in the name of honor. Believe me, I speak from experience. I was the champion of it. I had rejected your love, and now I wonder why I did. Some of the blame I had put on Nicolai who always loved me. He wanted me for himself as some kind of possession, and I wanted him to be proud of me. My problem was, I didn't want to be anyone's possession. Not his, not yours. That's why I couldn't move. Now tell me your excuse, about Heather."
I shook my head. "There are no excuses. Being in love with Heather was a force that made one infinitely more sensitive to the loveliness of this world. We have always been in love, but this love had drifted away from the physical domain into something else. She is a catalyst for the sunshine. I love her for this, and that appeared to be quite enough for all those years when we were stuck in a rut towards one another and nothing was moving anymore.
I said to her that it appears that each one's love unfolds in a different form, and survives under the severest circumstances, and so fulfills its purpose to whatever degree we allow. "My love for Heather had drifted into this direction even before the impasse at the Sand Castle, so it continued afterwards the same way until a real foundation for it was built. It actually became stronger after Ross came unto the scene, even though we were moving apart physically. I'll never forget that afternoon when we went shopping for glass sculptures in Venice. Just seeing Heather there together with those sculptures, added something magical to the moment. There was a blending of something that belonged together, and all that was also linked to myself, and beyond myself to Ushi, Steve, Sylvia, Ross, and Tony. Her flowing dark hair, her radiant smile, her eyes, were all brought into focus by the magic of the crystal glass and its shape that transposed one and all into the larger frame in which we exist as one single undivided whole, made up of stars and rays of light that reflected our individuality. As for sexual intimacy, there were a precious few over the years; far too few."
Then I shook my head. "I suppose I should invite Heather once again, to come to Mexico with me for a two week tour. I should do it right when we get back, and this time not for business as in the past, but just for a private tour through the country? When I made this proposal once before, the foundation for it had not been fully established. She had turned me down," I said to Anton. "Maybe it will be different this time around. Heather loves Mexico. I think, this might still be the logical continuation of our love, a stepping stone for moving forward."
"Why wouldn't you do that?" Anton replied. "What would hinder you?"
"Nothing, really. Perhaps it never seemed really possible before, though she was like a dream come true in many other ways. We human beings have so my many different wants and needs, and the infinite unfolding of love that manifests itself in so many ways, satisfies all of them when we become sensitive to the riches that we share with one another," I replied. "Life and love have so many dimensions."
I told Anton that I had noticed an enriching satisfaction when Tony and I were invited to a strip joint, way back during the beach project days, when Tony served with the Air Show team in Vancouver. Right there, in the strip joint, over a beer, a specific need was satisfied that made me feel glad we had come. It was a satisfaction born out of a different kind of love and generosity. In the same manner, the love that you and I share here, between us, fulfills a different need again in a manner that nothing else in the world can satisfy. What we have here is unique and precious, there can be no duplicate of it, anywhere. And with Nicolai, it's all different again. Just being in the presence of this wonderful man makes me feel warm and secure. It is a real treat to be touched by his generosity and his love that encircles the whole world. We are so rich, Anton, to have found all of each other. In fact, every time we meet, the world becomes brighter. Isn't this a wonderful world in which to live?"
Anton had gone into the bedroom by then. Her voice sounded quieter now, and sweeter.
"Indeed it is," Anton agreed, speaking louder now, "our love has unfolded into something tremendously rich because of our commitment to it, and now the door has been opened still wider, and not just ours. In fact, I can see you becoming involved in a triple wedding with Heather and Ross, or all of us together, if this should become appropriate."
I shook my head. "Are you sure you are ready for that? You are moving too fast."
"No, I am moving too slowly. We have been moving too slowly for centuries, or haven't been moving at all. We are in a state of crisis in the world, because humanity has been moving too slowly for too long. This may be the real underlying reason why we are on this mission. Humanity has been moving too slow in embracing each other on a platform of enriching one another in love, on which we can build some form of universal unity. This hasn't happened. Now we must deal with the consequences, and those consequences appear grim, indeed. That's the price we now must pay for having moved too slowly, or not at all."
When I came to the bedroom Anton was almost fully dressed. I had to hurry to catch up.
"I know what you said is true, Anton," I confirmed. "Still, I feel there is something missing here that supports this universal unity, something without which universal unity will remain but a dream."
I knew what Anton had said made sense, but it didn't seem right. There was something we had both omitted. Her demand for unity, noble as it was, was still fundamentally a demand, and demands are not the outcome of love. Something was missing. Love can't be a demand. Something else was needed, something to resolve the paradox, but what is it?
"Name me one reason why the principle that enriched us should apply only to us and not universally," Anton answered, sitting on the bed, waiting for me. "What we discovered has the potential to enrich the world. It reflects a universal principle. Principle is universal by its very nature, isn't it?"
I shook my head again. "I know this," I said. "Still, we are missing a vital point, Anton. Perhaps we don't fully understand yet what the nature of the principle is."
She shook her head as if she was about to give up.
I sat down beside her and put my arm around her. "Would we be sitting here if I had made any further advances towards you when we first met during the conference in Moscow?" I asked her. "Remember, I had messed things up so terribly between us that it was a miracle we got back together again."
She became quiet after that. "It wasn't a miracle, Pete. What healed our situation was your integrity. Your integrity caused you to stay away from me. You stayed away from me contrary to everything you must have felt deep inside. Pete, this was the greatest offer of love any man has ever extended to me. I felt honored by it, though I couldn't respond. Afterwards I kept this love so deep in my heart and soul that it remained with me for all those years that followed. It nourished me. It made me feel worthy. It made me feel like someone precious. You must realize that for my entire life men have been attracted to me. It can become a curse to grow up as an attractive woman, did you know that? Men have fought relentlessly to possess me, or to use me for whatever purpose they may have had in mind, subjecting me to their crude and often despicable little games. It started in own family when I was still a young child. While no one ever touched me, I could feel the tensions that were there. I came to hate men, because of that, I feared them, even when I wanted to love them. I allowed myself to be touched by you, only because I felt that someone who is so deeply committed to the welfare of humanity would have the same commitment on the individual level. I didn't realize that you were struggling yourself to sort things out in this uncharted territory. I valued your honesty, however, when you shared with me the agonies of your own struggles and your deep concerns about my feelings. This was the greatest expression of love you could have offered, or anyone else for that matter. This is what the flower had signified that I gave you at the airport before your departure. I was sure you understood that."
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