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the water is wide
Blogging for Books entry.

Liza’s divorce from Nick had been done quickly but not painlessly. When Babygirl approached the home stretch of senior year, Liza realized that the marriage was a sham and its’ reason for being was about to leave the nest. She had always had a thing for Jerry, their mutual friend. Suddenly it dawned on her that it was now or never time for true love. Claiming her feelings through a handwritten letter to Jerry Lee, she mailed it to him and waited for a response.

Hey Dog…….

I learned in my days in therapy that sometimes the only way to get something out from under your skin is to write a letter if the person you want to talk to isn’t around anymore. Since I can’t find you and know that Pammy checks your e-mail,I guess this is my only means to let you know what’s on my mind. I think that until I woke up on New Year’s Day I was a pretty sensible person, like I tend to be. I had convinced myself that it was okay that me and Nick don’t really have a marriage and that some things you just endure. After all, I was the one who hounded him until he came back. But nobody’s been happy since then, and on that day when I laid on the couch and watched you sleep it kind of came home to me what I’d missed. We’ve been through a bunch of shit together through the years and that’s what friendship is about. You are so much like me it ain’t even funny……like the crying jags we both get on and the sentimental and family stuff. I guess maybe that’s why I first fell for you a long time ago. Not because you’re a “pretty boy” or because you’re generous or all the other stuff……but because I see the best of me in you and recognize my dark side there as well. I went to Cool Springs cemetary to talk to your Mom about all this the other day looking for answers. I thought I heard her tell me to go after you, but when I got there you were already gone back to Pammy. That’s the story of my life……I sit and listen to guys that I love cry over other women just like a good “buddy”. Been doing it all my life. Guess I’m a slow learner, huh?
Your sis asked me if you knew how I felt about you. Said I should tell you. Only you’re “invisible” again so I guess this will have to do. I hope that things work out for you the way that you want, whatever that is. I love you enough to want you to be happy because life is very short and we spend too much time chasing dreams when we don’t know if we’ll be alive long enough to enjoy them. I will always be there for you and I hope you will remember that. If being with Pammy is what makes you happy I hope that she’s good to you, because if not I’LL KICK HER ASS! Keep the faith baby……………………Love ya, Liza

A silent week after mailing that letter, she went to find him. It was late January and he came to the door in sweats,with apprehension clouding his normally sunny smile. “Did you get my letter?” she asked. Jerry looked at the floor uncomfortably and back into his friend’s eyes. “Yes” he said. Tears began to fill his own eyes as he fought to maintain control. “I don’t feel the same way about you. I’ve never thought of you as anything but a friend”. Now Liza began to cry too. When she first met him, it was while she was divorced the first time from Nick and pining away for him to come back. Jerry Lee had listened to her pain and pumped up her spirits during those bad times. She had held his hand during the worst parts of his life that had included his girlfriend's abortion and his mother's death. Their friendship was never the same after the truth of that letter, and she crossed that river slowly and painfully to the other side hoping that the land of promise would appear.

The water is wide
I can’t cross over
And neither have
I wings to fly
Build me a boat
That can carry two
And both shall row
My love and i

As virtual realities go, YaHell dating is about as close to “relationship” as China is to New York. Early in her single days, Liza had discovered the world of chat. It was a cheap and cowardly alternative to bar hopping in search of men. It was also very addictive. One of the very first men she met was Rvrguy.

Rvrguy: i’m a musician in Memphis.

Eliza_jane: What kind of musician

Rvrguy: damn good one

Eliza_jane: Smartass

Rvrguy: yep, I’ve been told that before. I think I’m horny.

Eliza_jane: hmmmm

He was a divorced father of 3 grown kids. Catholic. Wrote music for “jingles” and for the Air Force band. The friendship developed slowly, as true friendships do. Since his work was mainly done on computer, he was always online. Seven years after a divorce he was stuck in the same relationship that had gotten him that way, and not happy with it at all.

Eliza_jane: DING! Hey smartass….whatcha doin?

Rvrguy: headstands in bullshit…arggghhh

Eliza_jane: I’ve been out for a walk with the dogs. Weather’s great!

Rvrguy: so umm…how are you in bed? I’m usually sleepy.

Eliza_jane: I don’t remember. It’s been awhile. Are you married?

Rvrguy: i was once….now THAT was scary

Eliza_jane: I’ve been divorced for 6 months

Rvrguy: hmmm….not long

And so it went for weeks. Matt tired quickly of Liza’s “wordiness”. She pounded him daily with the longings of her soul by email. He rarely responded, though he was enchanted with her naïvete and honesty. They were both fans of James Taylor and he made her some CDs of a couple of albums that she had missed first time around. In spite of her fears that she would be visited by an axe murderer, she gave him her address so that he could mail the gift. She spent hours enjoying the music, but one particular song became her anthem. The last tune on "Copperline" is JT's rendition of the old hymn and folk song The Water is Wide. Liza found herself, time and again, comforted by the soothing effect that song had for her pain. Her healing had begun in earnest. About six months later, Liza was cooking dinner and the phone rang. She rarely got phone calls except from bill collectors so she checked the caller ID. It was Matt! "Liza..it's Matt". She was ecstatic to hear his voice after a six month absence. " I have a story for you" he said. He then proceeded to tell Liza that he had met the love of his life on the other side of the country in a freaky sort of way, also involving chat. He would be moving to California soon to marry her. Liza broke into tears of happiness for Matt as he told the tale of how he had met Joni and how much in love they were.

There is a ship
And she sails the sea
She’s loaded deep
As deep can be
But not so deep
As the love I’m in
I know not how
I sink or swim

There were other YaHell men...many of them. Most were either married or looking for a one time fling, and while that was okay now and then, Liza yearned for the kind of love that she had always imagined and never found. The next "Riverguy" she met was a fellow whose dedication to the Lewis and Clark expedition led to his performance at the local college book festival. The newspaper featured a picture of him in costume accompanied by an article about the journey. He and his partner had floated the Mississippi River in canoes as part of their passion for the explorations of the famous duo. They began a correspondence, with Liza sending him a copy of the newspaper piece that featured him. Also a musician and an artist, Jim seemed to be just her kind of guy. She even put down a deposit for a guided river trip, but it never happened. Poring through his online journals from the long trip on the Big Muddy, she found that he was engaged. She sighed to herself, and pushed away from that shore as well.

Oh love is handsome
And love is fine
The sweetest flower
When first it’s new
But love grows old
And waxes cold
And fades away
Like summer dew

Liza is a now a strong woman content with her healing and growth. There is no true love there yet, but she has faith that it will come when the time is right. There are reasons for every river she has crossed and she knows the journey by heart now. Sure, there has been pain and sorrow and loss. But there are also blessings at every curve in the river and at every port.

Build me a boat
That can carry two
And both shall row
My love and i
And both shall row
My love and i
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