THE DATE PART V: BECAUSE MY LOVE FOR YOU WOULD BREAK MY HEART IN TWO
Who Am I? Who Will I Be Now? Rhodes Cardell or Will Makepeace? Those questions haunted him as the day of the date came closer and closer like the waters from an on-rushing river. A week and a half had seemed a more than enough time to make up his mind, to get a handle on his feelings, to calmly compose himself, but he soon discovered that such was not the case. There was something almost farcical in his attempts to delay; he found himself going to bed later and later as if this would somehow slow down time; Rhodes Cardell’s frantic schedule of clubbing picked up though the music didn’t elevate, didn’t move him, while alcohol and drugs had never appealed to him, partly because he feared losing control but mostly because he simply didn’t like them; when he finally made it to bed the worries that scoured his mind and heart were so ludicrously intense that sleep eluded him for hours. And his dreams… His dreams were strange and involved, yet he couldn’t remember them when he awoke and was ashamed to find his cheeks were wet.
What was happening to him? Was anything worth this? Then came the realization that it was crippling *love*, that it *was* worth it. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t thought himself in love before, and he had experienced two serious, intense, if brief and disastrous, relationships when a younger man before the Rhodes Cardell shell had fully formed. But this was different. Even though it seemed impossibly adolescent, fantastical, he had felt an instant connection, almost a communion, with Isabella. Her loveliness seemed permanently strobe-lit as if illuminated from within by her intelligence, personality, warmth, her deep *true* beauty – a beauty far surpassing the physical. Isabella’s wit was satisfyingly cutting, sophisticatedly mock-vulgar but didn’t obscure her sensitive core. There was something about her, an “I don’t know what it is”, existing apart from and beyond all the wonderful qualities he could enumerate.
He felt enraptured by her in a way that was almost embarrassing but not, because of its truth and purity. She was a living breathing human being, heir to all the flaws of human beings; he knew that and it didn’t change a thing, because in his eyes her even her greatest “flaw” was as nothing. Underneath it all was the sense of danger that was leaving him wracked with worry and stress. It was dangerous because of his fear that he wasn’t worthy of her; it was dangerous because he was so unconfident that he, whether thinking of himself as Rhodes or Will, could possibly hold her attention with his own qualities, such as they were; it was dangerous because he could imagine the date turning into a calamitously slapstick disaster that, even if it might seem hilarious from the outside, could leave his heart in as many pieces as glass bowl hurled from the observation deck of the Empire State Building to the street below.
So he delayed and delayed and delayed, pushed thinking of the entirely ordinary date out of his mind while, in truth, being unable to. Then when he couldn’t do that any longer he found himself hatching fumblingly juvenile and craven plots to extricate himself from the thing for which he longed; perhaps he could get one of his assistants, Pedro (real name: Pete Armbruster from Schenectady) or Ramona, to call and say that he’d had to go on a shoot in Rio de Janeiro on short notice, or that he’d suddenly been taken ill, or, no, had *died*! Yes, *that* would work, he had died tragically – slipped on a banana peel and gone right under a subway train… Tragic, indeed. The only *slight* problem that he could see was how he would explain the fact that he quite transparently was *not* dead… Eventually he calmed his jittery nerves, and halted his desperate and comic imaginings, as the reality crashed in upon him and brought him to obvious revelation: not to try to be worthy of Isabella was unthinkable.
Even though he was riven with uncertainty the alternative was now beyond him. The change that Isabella Arden had unknowingly wrought on him was too powerful, it really did have the force of *divine revelation* or soul-deep epiphany; this painful and undeniable realization that he had been running or dancing away from real life, that the notion that his Art and Work was *enough* had been a self-protective fallacy, that the real enjoyment he had felt as Rhodes Cardell was, in truth, flimsy, ephemeral, a fragile facade. Having met Isabella, there was no possibility of slipping back into that stasis, that *meaninglessness*. There would be nothing but darkness if he did so. He finally realized that he had been frustrated and depressed by the life he had been living, the performance as Rhodes Cardell had become worse than unsatisfactory. He had been looking for something, for *someone*. And until he met Isabella he had had no idea, but now he had there was no denying of it, of *her*. It would be impossible to turn away now. *Impossible*.
So, there he was the day of The Date, reservations somehow made, trying to stop his hands from trembling and ignore the tumult of thoughts tumbling through his mind. Everything now-wasmovingsofast. First he is agonizing over what he should wear; then he is washing, shaving getting ready; then he is in the limo; then he is walking to her apartment building… NOW, he is outside her door about to press the intercom buzzer… And he knows that he is Rhodes Cardell *and* Will Makepeace, and he can only be himself with her, he can only be True to her. He reaches for the buzzer…and presses it. In a few moments The Date and his new life will begin. And with that we must leave them with our tenderest hopes and imaginings. Good luck, Will and Isabella, good luck…