The passions can be very misleading, I think. I would have bet no small sum of money, any of several times during the history of my friendship with this Steve, that that was it, we were simply not going to be friends any more, that whatever it was was the absolute last straw and to hell with you (mutually) once and for all.
It has been many years since the last time either of us felt that way, though we both certainly did on quite a few occasions in the mid- to late-70s. Then a curious thing happened: we became each other's best friend, in part because we'd seen it all, the best and the worst, in each other. We had no secrets left, so there was no option that would make sense other than complete confidence and trust.
I think it probably also made a difference that the almost 15 years' difference in our ages was more or less neutralized by the passage of time and the fact of his settling down into a life-pattern.
As lovers, it's easy to say now that we were just not able to make it work at all. But at the time, it was as acute as any agony I've had to deal with in my whole life. We even tried twice (the one and only time a bust-up was not a done deal for me) to make a go of it. This folly stretched over the better part of three years.
I'd met Steve at a fancy dinner at a friend's house, where he was the date of a fellow I knew fairly well. I thought he was attractive and mysterious, but it wasn't until that fall that we got seriously involved with one another. In late 1972, my life a mess from trying to harmonize an increasingly discordant, failing relationship with my alcoholic boyfriend, I reached out one night to this big, broad-shouldered blond with the great smile, and poured out my tale of woe. He was understanding enough, and we would run into each other in the same bar fairly frequently. Our range of topics broadened considerably in the course of these generally pleasant times, and we learned a lot about each other's creative sides.
To gloss over the very difficult parts, we proved not to be especially alluring to one another as sex partners, and the emotional dependencies that tended to dominate the friendship were not the best for either of us. But there was a very strong and inclusive basis for an ongoing friendship, particularly in the matter of stimulating the creative impulses in one another, something we've both done a lot of over the course of the intervening three decades.
It was he who flew to New York with me in July, 1973 to fetch my harpsichord and drive it back to Madison in a U-Haul van. It was I who became his first and most devoted patron when he began to thrive in the book arts. And so forth for all these years. If there's a moral in the story, it's that you really never know where it will all end up.