Welcome back to “Our Love is Here to Stay”. I hope you are enjoying the story of Patty and Matthew. Now that we know their secret, how can they arrange to be together? Read on…
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After two weeks out of town, Matthew was anxious to see Patty again. He appreciated the irony of feeling desperate. Usually he was thrilled for an opportunity to return to California, but when you can see the woman you love for only four hours a week, every minute with her matters.
The woman he loved. He admitted that to himself months ago. It hadn’t been hard to fess up. He counted the days and hours until he could see her each week and thought about her constantly. He saved up anecdotes and stories from their days apart, longing to share them with Patty, to see her reactions, to hear her stories in return.
Matthew couldn’t rein in his emotions. He found himself bragging about her with colleagues and friends.“ You would love her,” he might say. “Patty is the perfect combination of smarts and sex appeal.”
“Great,” his friends would respond, “when can we meet her?” Matthew would mumble a lame excuse and realize again that he should not mention Patty. Once, he caught himself starting to repeat a tale she had shared, one that had made him laugh and laugh, only to realize that it would make no sense to his friends. They would wonder if he had lost his marbles, discussing a secretary whose typewriter had jammed.
Only weeks ago, he too would have believed he was crazy. Sometimes he still questioned his sanity in the wee hours of the morning, laying awake, thinking of Patty. But she was very real to him, and so was his love for her.
“She completely believes in me,” he told Jonah while he was home. “She is certain our business will be a success in no time. I love how supportive she is,” Matthew gushed, failing to add that Patty couldn’t follow a thing he said when he described his job. He couldn’t confide that information to Jonah. Even his own brother would think he was delusional. He bit his tongue, preventing himself from blurting out his next thought. How could a woman who took shorthand and used a typewriter understand computers let alone the industry that would spring up to prevent hackers from succeeding?
“I can’t wait to meet this paragon,” Jonah responded. “Bring her along with you next time you come home. But in the interim, can you please try to focus on the business. The meeting with those VC guys is in less than a week and we need our ducks in a row if we want their money.”
“Sorry.” Matthew tried to concentrate on the details of the start-up, knowing that this presentation was make it or break it for the brothers. Still, he would catch himself searching for emails and text messages from a woman who would be over sixty before they became ubiquitous.
Phone calls, text messaging, email. He had struggled to explain all of these to Patty. They laughed when she finally admitted that her understanding of security; when he first described his job, had been to envision guards and guns.
The couple had advanced since those first days, when the wonder and disbelief of their time warp was all consuming. Now they almost took it for granted. They would cling to each other for the first five minutes, grateful to find each other at The Green Mill for another week, always fearful that the magic would end. Then, they would slip into a comfortable routine with each other, as if they had been a couple for years.
Matthew spent his free nights at the library, researching Chicago in the 1950s, the culture, the politics, technology – such as it was. He wanted to understand Patty’s world, to speak her language, and relate to the immediacy of her days. He would ask about the movies that were opening around town, what she thought of a new song or band.
“I don’t want to talk about them now.” She dismissed his questions repeatedly, begging like a spoiled child for more information about the future.
“It’s a big responsibility, Patty, sharing the future with you.” Matthew was teasing the first time he told her that, but he came to fear that he might alter the future if he revealed too much. While he might give her useful information, he might also cause her to change her behavior, not be at The Green Mill that one magic February night, never meet him. He didn’t want to risk that.
From his constant research at the library, Matthew was on a first name basis with many of the staff at the Harold Washington Library. They offered him old magazines and newspapers, books on Chicago history. Matthew devoured every article, but tempted as he was, he resisted looking up anything specific regarding Patty’s future. Fortunately for him, there was plenty to share without those details.
Patty hung on his every word, asked probing questions, especially about the women’s movement, which had caught her imagination. “Tell me more,” she begged. “About the bra-burning and the summer of love. I can’t believe women are going to rebel. It’s inconceivable when we are so grateful to be working at all. How can everything change so fast?”
“What do you want to know now?” Matthew would indulge her, answering some questions in encyclopedic detail, admitting ignorance in others. She had asked about fashions, for example, garnering a laugh from her partner. “I have no idea. I guess everyone wears jeans.”
“Levis. And designer jeans. They wear them for everything, men and women.”
“You must be wrong about that,” she scolded, leaning close to his face to ascertain if he might be lying. “What designer in their right mind would design dungarees? And who would wear them for anything other than gardening or hard labor? That would be disrespectful.”
“I swear,” he told her, crossing his heart with his index finger in a gesture that was common to their conversations. “And trainers.”
Once she understood what ‘trainers’ were – Keds was the common link – she got excited. “Comfortable shoes and no garter belts or girdles? That will be amazing. Soon, right? That happens soon?” He assured her that it was coming, then crushed her joy by confessing that stilettos were also still in style.
Matthew wasn’t certain if she studiously avoided questions about herself, or if she understood that he was reluctant to answer them. Eventually she did begin asking him specific questions about his life in the future.
Their Thursday’s fell into a routine, that was anything but. He would step into The Green Mill early, when it was still quiet and attendance was sparse. Patty might already be waiting, in a booth as far from the music as possible. Initially he slid in across from her, staring into her lovely face, captured in her sky-blue gaze. Now they beside each other, holding hands, touching from shoulder to knee, craving more.
Around 8:30 she would suggest they dance a bit, a better method for touching and holding each other. The band leader knew to play a few extra slow tunes like ““Stardust” and “Begin the Beguine”. but Matthew’s swing moves had improved dramatically, he could Lindy Hop like a pro. They stayed on the floor non-stop for about an hour, then return to their booth, breathless and laughing, where she would pick his brain some more.
“I know you’re holding back” Patty whined, her pouty lower lip completely captivating him. “Tell me more about your life now.” Her face was alight with excitement, an apt pupil, paying careful attention and digging for details on every subject. Especially about him.
Matthew and Patty had established their own language . “Soon” meant in the next twenty years, the time when she would still be young enough to enjoy the things he could only describe from his research. , He would not yet be born. Wrapping their heads around that concept had been challenging.
“I can only tell you what I’ve read,” he would admit to her, voice rising in the frustration of repetition. “I’ve explained that to you before. I am not born until the 1980’s, remember?”
“I’m not an idiot, Matthew. You don’t have to shout,” she would scold in return. “You have to concede, this is a tough topic to understand – to wrap my head around, as you like to say.” She loved using phrases that weren’t popular yet. These phrases were slipping into her everyday conversation, by mistake at first, now more conscientiously. “I tell my friends that they are California slang,” she confessed to him. “It makes them think I’m neat.”
Patty was incessantly curious, battering him with questions about small things and large. When he told her about the Korean War, she struggled to hide her tears in such a public place. “Not another war,” she had all but shouted. “When? Will my friends all have to fight, or their sons?” Her tears increased when he shared the future bloody incursions, Viet Nam and Afghanistan, with their less successful outcomes, until she needed to excuse herself to hide in the bathroom while she regained her composure, and covered her very pink, runny nose.
She had cried again when he told her the assassination of President Kennedy. “Is all the news bad? Can’t you share something better with me? Is the world heading for disaster?”
“Sorry.” Matthew stopped sharing big political events like these and focused instead on cultural events. She was an avid absorber of anything to do with fashion – his weak spot – but they found common excitement in upcoming movies and Patty was wowed by the future of television. Matthew tried explaining Netflix and other companies streaming movies but it proved a concept too far in the future for her to grasp. She loved his descriptions and his sketches of the tall buildings that would make Chicago architecture famous.
She oohed and ahhed a lot. She slapped his shoulder and threw her head back with laughter, calling him a liar when he told her everyone would carry a computer in their pockets. He wanted desperately to show her his phone, which – surprise – had not been invented. He explained GPS and a contacts list, closing the gap from their first two meetings.
Patty asked about music, books and films. She was astonished by the future of television and came back to the subject repeatedly. “I’ll own a television?” she asked in awe, “What on earth will I watch on it?” Matthew told her about “Gunsmoke” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”, both of which he had learned about from library videos. She hugged him when he sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” never complaining about his inability to carry a tune. He tried to bring her reviews of programs, or plays, and of course copies of fashions from magazines, but they would mysteriously disappear from his pockets when he entered the club, then miraculously reappear when he stepped back outside.
“I keep forgetting,” he confessed to her, his hands gesturing in front of his face in frustration, ”that if it doesn’t exist now, I can’t share it with you.”
“I can’t wait for the future,” she would tell him, “and I appreciate your attempt to bring me pictures. But I love your stories, I love hearing you describe what‘s going to come. And your sketches are wonderful.” The passion in her expression, drew him toward her until, a few weeks ago, he ignored the surroundings and pulled her close for a kiss.
He had been tentative at first, moving slowly and gently to close his mouth over hers. He watched her eyes flutter shut, felt her breasts pillow against his chest, inhaled her hint of floral scent and deepened the kiss, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and pulling her tighter. The small connection swelled his heart in a way no other kiss ever had.
Patty fluttered like a moth for a brief moment and Matthew prepared to release her. Then she sighed and leaned in further, wrapping her hands low behind his back and skooching on the vinyl seat to sit closer to him.
That was all the encouragement Matthew needed. Ignoring the crowd, his concern for her 1950’s reputation, all the things that had held him back until that moment, Matthew probed her lips with his tongue, encouraging her to open them to his exploration. She pulled back to look into his eyes, looking bewildered but interested. Her lips were moist from his kiss, and her eyes were smoky with desire.
“It’s okay,” Matthew reassured her. “It’s a French kiss. You’ll like it.”
She must have believed him, because she, rather swiftly, closed her eyes, leaned into him and pressed her mouth gently against his. This time when his tongue probed her lips she opened them slightly, allowing him to explore the warm, sensuous space. He wrapped his tongue about hers to encourage her to engage with him and soon their tongues were tangling in an excellent imitation of lovemaking.
Matthew’s hands moved of their own volition up and down Patty’s back, the fingers of his large hands grazing her hips, ribs and the slope of a breast under her arm. She didn’t stop him, pushing her body tight against his, moaning slightly and moving her own hands, now wrapped around his neck. He loved the feel of her cool fingers against his skin, the slight tug from her fingers buried in his hair. He was wrapped in Patty and time be damned, she was the woman he wanted.
From that moment, their kisses, their groping and their conversation became those of lovers building a future together. They would talk, dance and make out until the bouncer would tell them it was closing time, which he did with increasing sympathy. The couple was now well known around the club, and if the women found Patty’s behavior scandalous, they kept their gossip to themselves.
“Are you worried about your reputation?” he asked her one night with a sheepish expression.
“It’s a bit late to be asking, wouldn’t you say?” she queried with a laugh. Matthew caught the concern in her beautiful blue eyes but before he could answer, or apologize, she continued. “I should be, but this is such a miracle. You could disappear as quickly as you appeared. I want to experience everything while I can.”
Matthew shook his head vigorously in agreement. “I know. I worry about that too.”
Her smile drooped and she broke eye contact. Putting a finger under her chin to lose himself in her crystal eyes, Matthew saw Patty’s concerns broadcast in her open expression so he set out to reassure them both. “I’m here now and I have no plans to go anywhere. My project has months to go. I will be here, Patty. I will be here for you.”
“How can you promise what you can’t control?” The lyrics of “One for my Baby” being sung by the bandleader in a melancholy, clear tenor, echoed their sentiments. The couple sat silent, contemplative, holding fast to each other’s hands as if to defeat time.
They had come a long way as a couple. In the beginning Matthew had focused their conversations almost entirely on how their times were different and how they were different. It was as if he was trying to push her away, even as he clung to the hope that she would be there each Thursday. Slowly, she broke through his reticence, with her sweet temperament, her lively wit, and her clear admiration for him. Soon, he was focusing on the ways in which they were similar, the activities, attitudes and traits that held them together.
She told stories about her siblings, three of them, the oldest ten years older, the youngest just two years her junior. She was close with them both, and admitted following her older sister everywhere as she grew up. He in turn shared stories of growing up with Jonah and his plans to go into business with him. Patty was his greatest supporter in the venture, boosting his confidence in the most illogical way.
Patty was devoted to her family. “It was soul-wrenching for them when I moved into my own apartment,” she admitted. “But I wanted it so badly, and I was twenty-one and still unmarried so they finally gave in.”
Matthew praised her independence, sensing how important it was to her, admitting how much he longed to see her apartment and pick her up for a date there.
He laughed at her notion of being a spinster. While many of her friends had married fresh out of high school, his stories helped Patty see that single at 21 would not be the end of the world. “Look at all the opportunities ahead for you, Patty. Marriage is just one option. You can be a lawyer, a doctor, a pilot, anything you want.”
“I know – how swell is that?” Her voice was wistful.
“I wish we could be together, and have a family. Do you even want a family?”
“Someday,” he echoed her longing. Rather than allow them to wallow in pity, he shifted the dialog. “ In the twenty-first century, Patty, many couples wait until they are in their 30’s to have children.”
Patty had been astonished, but surprisingly reassured by that idea. “Maybe by the time I am 30 we can figure out how to make this work,” she said wistfully, her gesture encompassing the two of them.
“Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that,” he lied. “Would you want to live in 2017 or have me live in 1950?” Matthew had a moment considering how ludicrous this conversation was. First, he was time traveling. Time traveling! He often wondered if he would wake up from this dream one day soon and laugh at the ridiculousness of believing it had been real. Second, they barely knew each other. In the real world, as he now referred to the other days of the week, he would not be talking with a woman about being together this soon in a relationship. This conversation should be absurd, but it just felt right.
“I suppose it would be easier for me if you come to my time,” she pondered, her unlined brow furrowed with concentration. “But your time sounds so much more exciting. Scary, but really exciting.”
“More options, more choices, more to learn. All of that makes for too many opportunities to make the wrong choice, to not be able to keep up or succeed. What if you thought I was stupid?”
“I couldn’t never think you were stupid,” Matthew placed a quick kiss on the tip of her upturned nose. “I think you’re adorable. I think that you are Independent and feisty, smart and curious as hel…heck. You are a dichotomy, a fascinating combination of working woman and daddy’s girl.”
“Is that an insult,” she attacked, a childish pout pushing out her lower lip in an expression he had come to know and adore.
“A compliment, Patty. I love these things about you.” She blushed at the words causing him to add “And I love how easily you blush.”
He kissed her again and again after that conversation, whispering to her. “I think your perfect” or “I wish you could be like this always”.
“I love you,” she confessed in a husky whisper, causing his heart to stop beating in his chest. It was one thing to know he would break his own heart one day, another to realize this situation would also break hers. He stared at this beautiful woman, her lips cherry red from his kisses, passion clouding her pale eyes, and was speechless, overcome with desire and depression.
“I love you,” she repeated in a stronger voice.
“I love you, Patty, and I am going to find a way to be with you, always.” Matthew wanted to believe the words, but felt the lie like ice coursing through his veins. How could they be together? How could he extend this miracle into a life?
“I’ll wait, Matthew, for as long as it takes.” Her face was alight with adoration, her heart open to his. He didn’t dare break it.
His heart beat like it would explode with want. “I’ll find a way,” he repeated the lie. Matthew knew with a sinking realization that it would likely take forever.