The Other I

July 13, 2007

My first grown-up love

Filed under: Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 4:21 pm

I was still in the convent the first time I fell in love with an adult passion – that all-consuming, 24-hour-a-day passion when you can think of no one else, and being with him is the goal of every hour.  It was not a one-sided affair.  Marc was as fascinated with me as I was with him, and there was an electricity between us that was probably evident to anyone with anything but my most virginal naivete.  He was married with a French wife who seemed unthreatened and tolerant in a European kind of way of her husband’s wanderings.  Nor did it bother me that Marc liked a lot of women and that I was sure his moral code did not forbid his sleeping with many of them.

We met at a time when the old disciplines of convent life were breaking down, and new disciplines more appropriate to working in the modern world had not yet taken hold.  Marc and his family lived adjacent to the Maryknoll grounds, and many of us often walked over there to spend our weekly free afternoon there.  We accepted their drinks and cigarettes and carried on hours of philosphical and religious debates.  At that time I was also going into New York City every week to record a children’s religious television show.  Marc was a television producer, and we often rode to or from the City with him instead of driving ourselves.  One day – I can’t imagine how this was permitted – I was in the car with him alone, and in broad daylight he leaned over and kissed me.  Not a chaste kiss, but one whose meaning even I could not possibly have misunderstood.  It was not the last moment of passion we had together.

I did not leave the convent for the sake of this love.  When it was strongest, I had not yet taken my final vows and I could have left with little fuss.  What tortured me, and what remains a value for me to this day, was his wife.  He had married her, not me.   I did not see how I could take him away from her without feeling I had betrayed a fundamental human trust.   After I did leave the convent, I slept with him once. 

The next time I saw him I was with my husband, and the old passion had been replaced with affection and a memory of a man who held a special place in my heart until his death.

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