"The Knight Lordsoth"

I was on the rebound when I met Ray. I had posted a personal ad to find someone to spend some time with, not necessarily someone to date. Ray seemed like the average Joe, just trying to make a living and spend time with his friends. He worked as a counselor, which was something I really liked about him, since I had gone to college to study psychology. When he wasn't working, he was always with his friends at WPI, playing role playing games, being involved in the Renaissance Fair, and SCA.

We talked for a few months online before we agreed to meet. I met him at a coffee shop in Worcester near where he lived. I was at the coffee shop for quite a while, trying to figure out if he was already there or if I was still waiting for him to arrive. I saw an older man, I guessed he was middle-aged, in a trench coat and baseball hat, reading a newspaper, and figured that couldn't be him. But after a half an hour, I wandered over and asked if his name was Ray. He said yes, and I introduced myself. He wasn't at all what I expected, his appearance didn't match the picture he had sent me online. The picture was of a youthful handsome young man dressed in medieval garb, poised with a bow and arrow. The man at the coffee shop seemed very unsure of himself, and his face told a tale of hardship and disappointment. I delicately remarked that I didn't recognize him from the picture. He confessed that it was taken several years ago when he was in his early twenties, and he was now 30 (I was 26 at the time). He was very shy, as was I, so our conversation was filled with awkward pauses. At least, they were awkward to me. He seemed to be getting rather comfortable, and asked me several questions that were rather complicated to answer. For example, what did I picture myself doing in the future? Was my life fulfilling? What was important to me? After a while, I started wishing my hot chocolate was spiked with alcohol. The meeting reminded me of the interviews I had when I was trying to get into graduate school. I found myself surprisingly captivated and trying very hard to answer the questions. I think I must have gotten an "A."

After several cups of hot chocolate, Ray asked me if I would mind meeting some of his friends. We walked over to the apartment, where there were several of Ray's friends role playing. They were very nice and seemed really glad to see him with someone of the female species. I knew nothing about what they were doing, but they explained it to me as if I was there for a role playing lesson. I felt very welcomed, and stayed for a while until I got tired. Ray gave me a nice friendly hug and said that he would talk to me online and hoped to see me again soon. His friends shook my hand.

Ray and I saw each other a few times as friends. He didn't have a car, so I would drive from Haverhill to Worcester to see him. I discovered he had a great but dry sense of humor. We would flirt and joke around with each other. He didn't make fun of my driving, unlike a lot of my friends, even though at times I think he feared for his life. Once, I almost got in a head on collision with a convertible being driven by a beautiful blonde woman. Before the woman drove away, she winked and blew a kiss. Instead of assuming the wink was for him, he said "I don't blame her for winking at you, you're gorgeous!" After almost getting into another accident since I was laughing so hard, he told me very seriously that he wasn't joking.

We drove to a book store in Worcester, and we continued to playfully flirt with each other. Ray was very quick witted, and we would try to top each other with our come on lines and compliments. He would sneak up behind me, hold me in his arms, and whisper naughty things in my ear. I would do the same, and realized I loved to make him smile and blush. Resting my head on his shoulders, I found his natural scent mixed with the scent of the leather from his jacket very comforting, and attacting me like a magnet.

He took me to the Medieval Museum in Worcester, and he seemed to be in his element. He went there a lot, because he was fascinated with knights and knew a lot about the weapons used and the battles fought. Then he took me to a role playing game, and seemed to be showing me around to all of his friends and other people he role played with. Ray was the organizer for a lot of those events, so they seemed to look up to them, and take notice of me being with him. I was introduced as his "Lady." When I was tired, Ray escorted me to my car. I unlocked the door, and he insisted on opening it for me. He looked very handsome in the moonlight, in his leather jacket and humble expression. A warm smile came over him and he took my right hand in his and kissed it. He held my hand and gently squeezed it, and told me to drive safely. I gave him a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. He blushed and laughed nervously, which was so darn cute that I felt the need to throw my arms around him and kiss him tenderly on the lips. We held on to each other and I felt his tense body suddenly completely relax. As I drove home that night, I could still feel his warm embrace and felt sad to leave him. That night I got home to a message on my answering machine from Ray:

"Ring me once when you get home to let me know you're safe. I love you."

The next day, Ray told me that before our relationship could go any further, that there were some things I needed to know. He was sick. Although his illness was not terminal, it was disruptive to his daily life. He was basically a thirty year old man with the health problems of someone twice his age. As far as he knew, he was not capable of certain intimate activities anymore, and was not ready to seek help or medication for that problem. Since he sounded so gloomy about his situation, I tried to have a positive attitude for him. I said that we could find ways around the problem, and that I would be patient and try to limit his stress as much as possible. He seemed relieved that I understood and wanted to help, but was still sad and seemed hopeless. He had resigned himself to thinking his problems could not be overcome. I had some hope that his mind could be changed.

There was another issue he wanted out in the open. He had an eleven year old daughter that he had never met. This was a sore topic for him, so he would only tell me that he was not ready to meet her and doubted he would ever be. His relationship with the mother of his child had been very difficult and she wasn't supportive of Ray coming back into her life in any way. Ray's mother desperately wanted to meet her grandchild though, and she constantly pressured him to make amends. I could tell that Ray was in a never-ending battle with himself over his past, and lacked any feeling of self-worth. It had been a long time since he allowed himself to have love in his life, because he didn't think he deserved it.

I cared very deeply for Ray, and accepted his problems and faults without hesitation. But it broke my heart to see him in so much physical and emotional pain. We both wanted so badly to be intimate with each other, I tried to be patient with him even as he got frustrated with himself. Despite his poor health and lack of energy, he would always cook for me and we would find things to do together. He would apologize for not having much to offer me, and not having much money to take me out. He did what he could, and always told me how happy I made him.

After several months, Ray became inspired to work on some relationships he wanted to repair, and other things he had wanted to accomplish. He got a new job working at an insurance company, and seemed to really enjoy the work and the people he met there. He also began communicating with his father, whom he had a falling out with years before. His father had never been pleased with how Ray lived his life, but suddenly having a new job and a girlfriend seemed to improve his father's attitude toward him somewhat. We made a trip to see Ray's grandparents on his father's side, whom he had not seen in a long time. They seemed surprised to see Ray so happy, and making plans for his future.

Ray got more and more involved in role playing and making more friends, and I found myself being excluded. Most of his close friends he had known for nearly his entire life, and when they needed him - he would be immediately at their service. If Ray had plans with me, they were promptly cancelled to accommodate his friends. Friendship and loyalty were very important to Ray, which was one of the things I loved about him, but it was also disrupting our relationship since I hardly saw him. I loved Ray, but I was becoming very lonely. I brushed off the feeling numerous times, wondering if I was being selfish. But I started to resent him for it, and that wasn't fair to either of us. When I talked to him about it, he would apologize, but nothing would change. As much as it broke my heart, I had to be realistic and break up with him.

One of the hardest things I had to do was tell Ray that we were growing apart and that it was time for both of us to move on. He tried to say that things would be better, and that he had bought me an engagement ring because he was going to propose to me on Christmas day. We did try to work things out, but I kept coming back to the same lonely feeling. He finally told me one day that he understood why I was lonely, and that I was right in the first place about letting go. As much as it hurt him to tell me, he admitted that he told some lies about himself to impress me at the beginning of our relationship. For example, he was never a counselor, he just worked for one, driving patients to appointments.

"To me you were a beautiful princess, and I was just a humble peasant."

I could tell by the look of pain on his face that he was sincere. It was difficult to be angry with him.

Unfortunately, when people come out of bad relationships, often the next one is only a retreat. Ray's chivalry was much needed in my life at the time. It was nice to have someone always wanting to hold my hand, open doors for me, and put me on a pedestal for a change. He may have felt like a peasant, but he was my Knight.

Continue on the journey