Author's Note: Links have been put into this w/u (finally) thanks to some helpful prodding of friends.

Being in love with someone is probably one of the most exhilirating and wonderful experiences a person can possibly have on this planet, next to Slip-N-Slide. There was this woman, once, who had the audacity to claim my heart in a way that I hadn't even expected or imagined. I got a summer job as a radio DJ in South Carolina- the town: Hemmingway; the station: WLGI 90.9 FM, Radio Baha'i. It was a service gig for my religion and it was something I desperately needed. You see, I'd just come out of a rather horrible engagement with a psycho-hose-beast and my sense of spirituality was ass at the time. Me and God were, at best, on mumbling terms, but talking was kinda outta the question. I needed to get back in touch, ya know? So I figured that religious service would be a good start in the right direction. I submitted my application for a Youth Year of Service to the National Spiritual Assembly of U.S. Baha'is and WLGI came up first pick. It worked out great for me because I had a fantastic "radio DJ voice" and had been considering going into radio as a career. What better place to earn my chops than at a Baha'i radio station where the people wouldn't backstab me?

So I drove all the way from Nashville, TN to Hemmingway, SC in my little, blue Geo Spectrum with $400 cash in my pocket and relatively little else but clothes and knick-knacks. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what kind of radio station WLGI was, what its demographic was... nothing. I was going in blind. About 9 hours after I left my parents' house I was just coming into the Hemmingway city limits and decided to turn on the radio- you know, to get some insight. A light jazz tune was just ending and this really breathy, sexy Australian woman's voice came over the airwaves.

"That was Candy Dulfer's 'Man in the Desert' off her second CD, Sax-A-Go-Go. Next we have some John Coltrane, a personal favorite of mine, and after that we'll have a public service announcement from WLGI, Radio Baha'i."

I was hooked immediately. She went on and talked for a few seconds more and then Coltrane took over the airwaves and let her pipes take a rest. Whoever this woman was, she sounded smart, witty and interesting (a woman who likes Coltrane already gets my vote). I needed to meet this woman, if for no other reason than to shake her hand and make friends with her (a woman who likes Coltrane is not an enemy to be made).

So I pulled into the Louis Gregory Institute's main driveway and saw two women sitting on a bench, each of them smoking cigarettes. This was somewhat unusual, you see, because while smoking is not forbidden in the Baha'i Faith, it is something of a rarity to see in the open because it's "frowned upon." Chalk it up to a holdover of Christian guilt, where people don't like to be seen openly doing something "naughty" but not altogether sinful- like catching middle-aged men looking at some nubile 18-year-old-girl when their wives aren't looking. So anyway, these two women were outside smoking. One was in her early 40's with skin that was ebony black- beautiful and stately-looking. The other was short, had pale white skin, wore glasses and had mousey-brown hair and looked about as energetic as a 6-year-old... bouncy. Neither woman is what I would call outrageously gorgeous, but something about the shorter woman simply looked smart to me. Upon seeing her, I simply knew that I had to meet her- if for no other reason than to shake her hand and congratulate her on having the cojones to break a small cultural taboo.

I walked up to the two women and introduced myself. The older woman with ebony skin called herself Jenny Greene and the younger woman called herself-
"Karen?" I asked.
"No," she replied in a thick Aussie accent. "CORE-INN."
I'd never heard the name pronounced quite that way, but when I realized that she was the same Australian woman I'd heard on the radio just moments before, my mind kicked into high gear and I realized that she wasn't familiar with the American version of her name. "Ah," I said. "Corinne (cor-rinne)."
"I know how the bloody Americans say it," she said curtly, "and I don't care if I AM outnumbered 350 million to one, I like it pronounced CORE-INN."
I smiled my best smile and said, "Got it. So noted. Core-inn."

I fell in love with Corinne immediately. I knew it, she knew it, hell even Jenny Greene knew it- the sparks flew the second our eyes met and we smiled at each other. I thought the Fourth of July had come early when our hands touched to shake! It was everything I could do to keep from stumbling over my words just to carry on a coherent conversation with the two women as I tried to figure out where I should park my car and what my living quarters would be like. Of course, Corinne was the one who led me to my residence (on campus) because Mrs. Greene was the LGI administrator and she had too many other important things to do.

I was elated just to be in Corinne's company. She was perfectly marvelous. Bright, witty, kind, spiritually motivated, wise... oh, her virtues went on for days. Three problems became quickly apparent to me, though, as I began to really understand that I was falling in love with this woman:
1) She's an Australian journalist with pre-planned plane tickets for London next year, so she's likely not interested in a relationship of any kind.
2) She's significantly older than me (I was 21, she was 26), so she's probably thinking of me as some "love-sick kid with better things to do with his time than dote over me, dammit".
3) We're BOTH here to do service for our religion, not our love lives. Keep that fact straight and don't forget it. God helps those who help themselves, but don't be greedy. Love is a mighty big helping when you're woking on His timeclock.

So we became fast friends instead, and that was perfectly okay by me. I was just happy to be near her. It wasn't until about 2 months after I got there that she nailed me with, "Jay, are you in love with me?"
"Hmm..." I hedged.
"C'mon, mate. Give. And don't bloody lie to me, either. I'm a journo and I can smell a lie a mile away. You're in love with me, aren't you?"
I hung my head low and admitted that it was so. "Yeah... I guess I am. I'm just too chicken shit to say it."
She stared at me for a long time and then said, "Well, all right, I can accept that. But that doesn't mean you can pursue me, Jay. We're here for service to God. When we're done... maybe we can talk about it then."
"Right," I snorted. "While you're in London and I'm back in Nashville, we'll just call each other up on the phone and say, 'So how 'bout it, luv? Wanna give it a go?' Corinne, let's just not talk about it, okay? Not pursue it, but definitely not talk about it. I'm happy being friends since I know that's all I'll likely get here, but that's enough torture for one year."
At that she was quiet for a long, long time and then said, "Good enough." Then she proceeded to hand my ass to me at pool (we were playing billiards at a local pub in town, me showing her how to play and her catching on far too quickly).

A month later we went on a trip to Myrtle Beach, a one-day get-away from the campus. A Monday, as I recall. It was around August and the moon was high, the wind was blowing and... Aw, geez.. imagine the most romantic, beautiful night on a public beach and you've aced it. Nothing sexual or kinky, mind you. We were just talking about our youth and families, harmless stuff. I'd just gotten done telling her about the attrocities committed by my mother and how I'd come to terms with them when a sullen silence came over us. I glanced at her and saw her shiver.
"You cold?" I asked. "Wanna go back?"
She nodded. "Yeah, I'm a little cold. Nothing a warm jacket wouldn't fix, hint-hint." She nodded at the thin jacket I was wearing, which I immediately tore off and put around her.
When I put my jacket around her shoulders, it was like a hug, ya know? We were standing there, under a full moon and the wind was blowing and... I shoulda kissed her. GOD I wanted to.
But I didn't.
Like an idiot, I flinched. "Wanna watch the waves from that pier over there?" I asked.
She blinked, almost caught up in the moment herself, and then glanced at the pier. "Sure," she agreed distantly. "Why not?"

We continued to talk about... everything we could think of, trying to put that blissful moment of "almost" behind us and concentrate on other things. I looked at my watch and groaned about the time, citing the fact that she had a morning radio shift the next day and we needed to get back to the campus soon. Begrudgingly, she agreed.

About halfway back (it was a 40-mile trip), she said, "Jay, pull over. Now."
Immediately concerned and worried, I began to slow down. "What? What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Just... pull over, dammit." I did so and when the engine was quiet I stared at her expectantly. "Kiss me," she ordered. "Just get it out of our systems and do it, okay? I want it, you want it... let's just get it over with and move on fer Chrissake. I'm tired of not knowing."
I needed no more encouragement.

It was the most exquisite 30 minutes of my life. Some light groping and steamy windows... and looooots of kissing. I was in Heaven. If there is a Heaven, if it's an actual place of our choosing, it'd be those 30 minutes on a continuous loop forever. For that brief moment in time, I was a complete, mature, loving, caring, attentive, wise man with a woman who possessed the same qualities and more. We were as one.
Our lips parted. "Never again, Jay," she said breathlessly.
"That bad?" I quipped.
"No, you dolt! That good! If we ever do that again I'm not sure I'll have the self-control to not start a relationship with you, against my better judgement."
"Oh," I answered weakly. "Right. Okay... I promise. Never again."

The next night I caught her in the radio station's editing room, preparing the next day's news reel, and guess what? It happened again. I only thank my lucky stars that she was the one who started it. I'll say this till the day I die, I did not break my promise. She kissed me first. So what if I kissed back?

Fast forward about a year later. I'm back in Nashville again and Corinne is just leaving WLGI. She has two weeks of "vacation" time before she has to hop onto the plane for London and she wants to spend those two weeks with me. Of course, I'm elated and make sure she has lodgings while she's here (not at my place- we still hadn't taken the "big step" and her virtue was intact). Two weeks later, I put her on the plane for New York, which would meet up with the plane to London and I'd likely never see her again. When she was gone and I was back in my car at the airport's parking garage, I cried my eyes out with a broken heart. It felt like someone had taken a refrigerator and smashed into little bits. That, my friends is heart break.

Six months later my mom calls me up. "Jay, how much money have you got saved up?"
"Not much, Mom. About $200. Why?"
"Do you think you can save about $700 in three months?"
"Uh... what's wrong? You and Dad in a bind?"
"What? Oh, no! Your dad's gotten a European Tour that's going to be sponsored by Swiss Air. They're offering to take the entire family through Europe. One of the stops is London, England. You and Corinne are still... together, right?"
"What??? Yes, we're still together. Mom, what is this?"
"Hang on, honey, but I think I might be able to convince Swiss Air to send you straight to London for the entire month we're there. Can you save the money?"
"Hell yes! Call me back as soon as you get an answer from them, please! Corinne'll flip out when she hears this!"

Thirty minutes later Corinne was squealing like a little girl over the phone all the way in London. That summer I was seeing the woman I was hopelessly in love with face-to-face once again. I couldn't have been happier if I was a puppy with two peters.

I was sick as a dog for the first few days (I have a stomach condition- gastritis- and the British food, with all that curry, took some getting used to), but I was absolutely happy. London was beautiful and Corinne was incredible, as always. Being so far apart, we were going through some hard times trying to keep the flames alive, but the trip to London was just what the doctor ordered. We spent a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland and South Wales... I'd have to say that I've never been happier. If I'd had the means, I think I would have stayed with her there and proposed.
But all good things must come to an end. The month came to a close and I once again found myself staring at the plane tickets home. Corinne "gave herself" to me the night before I left. Never has anyone bestowed such a miraculous gift to me- something she was saving for marriage. I asked her three times if she was sure.
"I am," she said solemnly. "I love you. And I always will."

When I left London, Corinne was officially a woman. More lovely to me than all the goddesses of Eden and Mount Olympus- she was the woman I would marry, come hell or high water. I was going home with the express intent of making myself "ready" for supporting a wife and kids and whatever else may come.

A month after I got home, Corinne called me.
"Jay," she said quietly, "I can't do it anymore. I just can't. I've come to realize... I'm not in love with you anymore. It's just too hard for me. Being without you... after... it's just too tough. I miss you, mate, GOD I miss you, because you're my best friend, but..."

You get the picture.
I was devastated. Heart broken? How about "heart obliterated"?

It's been 5 years now, since the day she broke up with me on September 4, 1996. She's involved with another man, a good chap who's been known to cheat on her from time to time. She's working as a jouralist in London, which is exactly where she wanted to be all her life. I miss her something terribly and I will always, I think, compare women to her in some small way. I've come close to being with a few women that made me feel the way Corinne did, but not a one of them actually took me to those heights. Once, recently, I thought I'd found love again, but that turned out to be a red herring after all and more trouble than it was worth to fight over.

If you're reading this and you've been in love with someone- hold onto that as long as you can. You never know what might happen in life. It could happen again, but if it doesn't... it's those precious memories of the past that carry us through tomorrow. Sappy and trite, but true.

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