David L. Robbins
Novelist, Educator, Playwright, Essayist
Native Son #12
by David L. Robbins on May 19th, 2014

My dear friend Mike in Miami Beach has a new love in his life. She’s quite something, a Paraguayan granddaughter of Francisco Franco, a Latin jazz singer trained in Israel and Barcelona, a sommelier, one tattoo, very pretty, doting, exotic.

Mike told me how she mentioned after one month together that she believed they’d known each other in a previous lifetime. Even he, not a sentimentalist, sensed they may have had a beginning as a couple that predates this go-round. They both like cooking, motorcycles, music, dogs, and share enough interests to nudge Mike past the hokum of a past life spent with this good woman. A great love, so forceful and sticky that it stuck through death and time to re-emerge in South Beach in the middle of a recession. And if they had one past life together, why not many? Perhaps they were sufficiently great and tragic in earlier attempts at love that the keeper of these things in the cosmic place where they are managed has allotted them several shots at love down through the ages.

Soon after hearing this from Mike, I made a rookie mistake. I told my own girlfriend. Immediately, her eyes widened, ears perked up, she swept her hands up under her chin, romance dripping off her. That’s beautiful, she said. (You know where this is going. I didn’t. I wonder what’s the purpose of living all these years if you miss one this obvious?)

She asked: Did you and I know each other in another life?

She’s tall, stunning, smart, fun, classy. I’m certain I did not know her in any prior life because I obviously do not rate her in this one.

So I, of course, made something up.

Yes, my darling. You were an Arab princess. In a divan carried by servants in a long train of elephants bearing your luggage. On a mountain road, with only the smallest glimpse of your face visible through a silken curtain. I fell in love when you passed, at only that slim sight of you.

Oh. Oh. Yes. And who were you?

Some schmuck beside the road carrying sticks back to my mud hut village.

Not a king?

A peon. Bent by labor, scraggly from poverty – probably because of your tyrant father – lucky to have sticks and to have gotten away with looking at you.

No. No. Try again.

You were a warrior queen on a throne of stone and timber. Braziers burned in sconces all around you on a long Nordic night, your blonde hair fell in furls down your shoulders under a horned helmet scarred by battle. You were kind to your people, firm and beloved. The spear you clutched was feared in all the surrounding kingdoms. I kneeled at your side. My cheek came near your bare knee. I could not resist, and kissed it.

Oh, that’s good. You kissed my knee. Who were you? My lieutenant? A rival king? A captive lord?

I was measuring you for sandals. I ran a nice leather business in the town.

What?

I made you a good price. What’s the problem?

I took a few more swings, but none satisfied. Each time she was grand and I was a serf, plebe, proletarian, a grunt.

See, I have no pretensions about this past-life notion. I have always been an insignificant man. If I existed before, I scrabbled in the muck, rowed a prow, pounded iron against hot iron, fell in the front ranks to the knights on horses, followed a plow, wore chains and was sold. I doubt I could’ve even felt silk in my hands for the calluses. The closest I ever got to my betters in any past lives were the times I lit a torch, grabbed something sharp and went up the hill with the rest of the rabble to burn them out and hang them.

This life is the odd one, the one where I have a voice not shouted down, eyes not averted, a straight backbone. I think it feels as good as being in love with any queen. Like my girlfriend, I don’t know what I’ve done to earn it. But in my next life I’ll crow about having been free, and a writer.


Posted in Boomer Mag, Boomer Articles    Tagged with boomer magazine, native son, richmond, past life, romance, life, rva


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