Me and Mr Thomas — What is Love?

It’s been a struggle watching the #MeToo women tell their stories. I have had to keep asking myself if I was a victim when I fell in love, at 18, with an older married colleague at TIME. I underwent, at 18 and 19 and 20, a personal crisis in which I became perilously ill. How easy it was to look up to, and have faith in, my seemingly benevolent and gentle superiors at TIME. They included Richard Stengel and Walter Isaacson and one I will call Mr Thomas.

With one of these men, namely Mr Thomas, admiration turned to love that was more real and lasting than anyone could have imagined. The attention and love of this man saw me through a life-threatening situation in which I fell into a spiral of destruction and drugs.

Of course, when this older male colleague eventually conspired to marry me, and then abandoned me, it made a bad situation worse. I lost my job and apartment and had to leave the country. Yet, that probably would have happened anyway.

And now, at least, I had his memory and the memory of his love. That was more than I had had before, and it carried me through many years to come.

Recently, this man, Mr Thomas,  now 67 or so, had his lawyer write to me from Washington D.C. that I was prohibited from quoting from any of Mr Thomas’ letters in my writing,  I can understand that, but what I resent is being erased, not only by the lawyer and Mr Thomas and those with whom I worked at TIME. I resent the message that I am someone who might be easily and thoughtlessly ‘brushed under the carpet,’ be ignored and hidden. I was during my tenure at TIME, an intern. Mr Thomas later won a National Magazine Award for his coverage of the Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal.

I do not feel that my love story is a#MeToo story, but it is a true story, and I do not deserve to be be erased. “I am in love with Louise Wareham and I want to marry her,” Mr Thomas wrote in a note I saw once when we attempted to leave TIME Magazine together. Is that quoting him? That is a memory of a note I saw to his editor when he and I set out to begin a new life together.

That life never happened  —  but I happened, I am not a mistake, and not a source of shame and I cannot lie and hide forever.

About louisewleonard

Author of 52 Men, 2015. Excerpts in The Rumpus, Tin House, Fiction Advocate and Gargoyle.
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