One Saturday night I accepted a date from a stranger, a man I now refer to as ‘the Boo Radley’. I had already had plans to go see Gregory Page play at the Westgate, and so I met him for wine, and he joined me for the show…
When you fall in love, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep. But it didn’t happen quite like that, then again, this isn’t a story about falling in love. I love food, I love my sleep, and for the moment, I might have thought I loved him. Alas, while I ate with a passion, as I usually do, loved like it was for only a moment, as one should, I did indeed miss my sleep…
We’d met that weekend, a weekend of fireworks—hey! don’t judge—I say that with only a touch of corniness, it was July 4th, after all.
Give me a break, as much as this isn’t a love story, it is a crazy one, and as with the best of them, it begins with that classic boy-meets-girl moment.
It was rather mundane really. As I took my place in line to order I was mentally determined to ignore everyone around me, to order and focus on my work instead. And if you know me, you know just how much determination that would take.
It’s not my fault. I felt him take his place behind me, and it’s not like I renounced all my resolve in that very moment. He picked up that organic oatmeal. I wondered out loud, as I did in my mind, if it would taste like the cardboard it was packaged in. Whatever he said was missed in that moment, I was struck by his eyes.
Now I’ve had some amazing love stories in my life, and when they say it’s in his kiss, you have to admit the preamble is in his eyes. I’ve had that daredevil blue that tells you all that sparkles is not gold, those serene green that tell you that everything will be okay. There’s the gray that is cool and calm, and the brown that you’d be better off viewing in the light of day.
His eyes though, it wasn’t so much that they carried a message as it is that they received.
He bought the oatmeal.
Cappuccino in hand, I wasn’t too disappointed to see that there wasn’t really anywhere to sit. I loved that spot in the window, back to the wall sitting along the sidewalk… and it was empty—next to him. I asked if he’d mind, it would put me so close next to him, so close it really did require asking.
Whatever resolve I had, I lost in his eyes. Whatever it was he had to read was forgotten. We talked for the next several hours instead. Only, well, if you know me, you know—it’s more like I talked, and he listened. But he really listened.
Yes, yes, I know you all really listen—living vicariously and all that—but, really, he seemed to absorb every word, word-after-word, as if… I don’t know… as if he could live off those words for the rest of his life.
Restoring some concept of being a woman, of wanting to leave him wanting, of realizing the truth of the matter is it was nearly three hours later and surely he’d had spoken a mere moment or two in it all, well I decided it was time to part ways. Not that I wanted to, mind you, but that there was no other course to be had.
I don’t remember what happened first.
It’d be more romantic the way it comes back in memory, but truth be told I might have told him that I needed a bodyguard before he asked if I’d have wine with him that night. If he did ask me to have wine with him, well then it makes more sense that I blurted out I couldn’t I needed a bodyguard instead. Oh well.
I had plans that night, but I would have been delighted to have him on my arm, in that manner that a woman is well served to honored by company, and conducive to setting the scene for onlookers. All that said and done, he said he would accompany me that night, and we parted ways with the wine as good as on my lips.
To tell the story as I should, the way in which you realize that it all happened, a year-ago-today, I must step out of the gobbley-gook lovers and such and tell the moments that proceeded that day…
…back in time to July 6, 2011
It was some clever teacher—who else would it be?—who set his Jim Henson & Kermit Think Different poster eBay sale to end that day—07.06 at 05.04am. It wasn’t only that that kept me awake, it was also that day that the corporate evil of which we do not speak of was to meet me for my day in court—my lawyer having assured me that I would receive all that I was due, and that’s all I wished simply and righteously speaking. Let’s just say that the night before started sleepless as I was excited to have my day in court, as it were, and began with all that I wanted—more than the tens of thousands to be had—my poster from the teacher on eBay.
I got the poster. I was sitting next to this guy who I like to describe as a hippy version of Buddha. Something of a combination of tie-dye and Buddha belly zen. He said he’d rather meet me on another day, but that wasn’t my problem.
Poster on it’s way, having had my Boo Radley weekend of love, I now faced the days to count between then and seeing him next.
I threw myself into my work. What else does a self-respecting woman of the world of technology do?
As the shortened week passed it times, reminding me of leaving my Boo Radley’s side fireworks in mind, heedless of those in the sky, my footsteps found themselves after midnight as they would do, this time tracing not only that same path they wore before, but now the one I knew would also find you.
You see, he lived on that center of energy. The one I told him about that I’d seek, walking night after night. He knew. He knew long before he gave me his address. He knew, as walking after midnight might do, that my steps would lead me to…
Finally, I made it to Friday.
Never had a week had such a simple agenda. All the chaos I had wreaked in the world had something to do with the quaking energy I felt in my soul. Never before had I desired so much to see a man again, and never before had I had everything in me tell me to wait for that precious moment to come as he’d ordained.
Thus Friday found me at my coffeeshop, white pleated cotton flapper dress and linen bowler hat to boot—Goorin Brothers, for those who wonder of such things. My Breakfast at Tiffany’s sunglasses seemed to be the last straw, for as I counted the hour until evening’s fall, he arrived but didn’t know me at all.
Can we all heave a collective Southern sigh?
He adored me every last moment of every moment we’d shared those four days together—every moment against every bit of everything I’d ever been raised to be. And that Independence Day, last Independence Day, I felt the first time truly free, truly Independent. I knew what it was to feel that exhilarating first moment of love above and beyond everything that previously would have held you in restraint.
I felt free.
Now here we are.
Where were first met, last left only days prior, and does it only take a pair of Oliver Peoples and a dress to find me lost in a minuscule crowd of morning caffeinated?
Okay, okay, so I admit I’m not given to dresses, but while that’s a fact of which you might be aware, I’ll tell you the truth—I wore a dress that first night together—I had told him to dress the occasion, fitting for a Gregory Page performance at the Plaza Bar of the Westgate Hotel.
So let that be that, it wasn’t the dress that confused him.
Maybe it wasn’t being able to see my eyes?
I said hello as he was leaving the cafe, and I walked with him as he walked home. Our date wasn’t until later that evening, but even I didn’t think against walking with him in that serendipitous moment.
The night before, a lover of literature as he was, and one who had drank my every word as drunk as ever I’d have believed a man to be on a lover’s wine, I had deposited a few of the books I had referred to at his doorstep, leaving the house undisturbed.
As you find something amiss, so do I.
He seemed somehow unnerved. That calm that seemed befitting a professor of English to a nation who might describe their collective language as American and yet carry on undaunted as only an English professor might, seemed lost on his in this moment, and suddenly so did what would have been our night.
Never before had I ever lost my senses in a dream such as his, and never so quickly did it turn into a nightmare as this.
It wasn’t the loss of recognition of that worthy of love and light in his eyes—no—more so that simple confusion that have an appearance on a player’s sleeve, but had no place on his.
Very truly, he was concerned.
I told him I’d hadn’t slept since I’d left his side. That was very nearly true, as my nights are indulgence to the luxury of slumber, but of late I’d been found laying awake or walking after midnight.
But I thought perhaps he’d have appreciated the truth of my words, and not taken them quite so literally.
We arrived at his home, the description of which I could fill with volumes with the state of balance he’d found between the Japanese zen and an English garden I called secretly my own, he stated his concern, and I offered him my phone.
I said he could call anyone he wished, I’d wait and sit alone…
My Boo Radley returned and told me he had spoken to my mother, or pseudo mother as she was then known. She and he had agreed, based on his concern, I should be seen. A doctor was phoned. I don’t fault either of them, at least not for the decisions they made in that moment, at least of the things that are known.
There is something really very freeing about finding ones self quite unexpectedly in an institution, specifically that of a mental variety.
It’s the come-what-may, they-won’t-believe-me anyway kind of reality that seeps into reality of the moment into your otherwise every day, day-to-day, life. There’s really nothing you can do to defend the honor of your psyche, as the predicament of a virgin under suspicion is never quite the same.
It is now a year ago—to the very day—that they put me in.
They. Pronouns. Licenses for absence. Excuses for accepting responsibility. They.
It’s not like I could blame him, but it’s her that really feels like an untouched betrayal. She would be the second person in my life that I would never speak to again… just to walk away, and in this case, without another look.
When I say “they”, I truly mean “her”.
It’s not that she put me in really. I can’t fault someone for trying to do what they think was best for me, with limited knowledge and from across the entire country. No, it’s more about the fact that she was so careless her recounting of her perspective.
They. They apparently believed her, and I was never to hear from her again. Well, not really. I called her from the emergency room when I still had access to long distance. She answered the phone, “Hello, this is Barbara, Angela’s mom”. Somehow that was both comforting, and the most uncomfortable at the same time.
She told them that she thought I was addicted to caffeine and marijuana.
She, this, my pseudo-mom, or as the report has it, surrogate mother. Surrogate. Does that have legal connotation, or is it just an idle adjective with lasting repercussions through out this experience? I don’t know, and maybe I never will.
You see, regardless of truth as a defense, my mother would never be so careless… If my words were hurried beyond the hurry they’d ever been found in, she’d wonder at what had disturbed me.
Yes, my mother would know though connected by only a telephone, if I’d just had sex. A mother knows.
Yes, so while they were the ones to start this break from reality, or this disconnection from real life, I can’t really fault them. No, I don’t imagine he’ll ever be the same, but it’s her that I imagine I’ll never quite be able to address again, as if all that was for all the years before had never begun.
I was sitting in the corner of his garden, having taken the photo to document what I told myself could only the be the story book imagination of a child of what was yet to come when he returned.
Whatever he said, I don’t think either of us were aware of the horror to come. Or at least I believe in all the innocence that my soul has left, that it would have been, had he, nor she, nor I have known.
Sitting on the steps under the arbor, they arrived. He and I were talking, and suddenly I felt very small, childlike, in the presence of the blue armour their uniforms provided.
They stood above me, and as acted to rise, it became apparent my place was to be found beneath theirs.
A student of psychology, I asked the most commanding of the three if he’d like to take a seat, offering him a place, literally, above my head, in meekness. No. He’d prefer to stand.
Turning to my right I found myself appraising the gazer. He’s just the bystander. The man in blue who might as well have been a trainee. Ineffectual, just present.
The blonde, her badge read, Valerie. I focused my attention on her, to the exclusion of old Master and Commander and to his chagrin. I’d tell you it was unintentional, shutting him out, but then I’m not given to lying.
What I’d not tell you is that I’m innocent in all of this. No, while I had loved that afternoon to have been just a lazy afternoon nap in the sunshine beneath rustling trees, at these intruders presence I was as captive as a bird and singing a canaries song of rebellion and my own mischief over intrigue.
Once you know all is lost and all that’s left to be told is the story—well then you just give yourself over to the moment… right? Well, I don’t know about you, but the reality is sometimes all is lost and all there is left in life is to enjoy the ride.
Not sure it had ever happened before, for me, but the concept was so clear, and some how I must have had the premonition because I’d already taken the photographic evidence of the moment. Geeks are us.
But let’s pretend in that moment I didn’t have a clue, reality is, whether I’d acknowledged it or not, reality is that—it was every bit of what I realized. The end of the world as I know it.
Now, the truth is, in this very certain day of July 9, 2012, while you darling reader, might be very interested in the past which happened as reality as me, well… I have two silly men mid-thirty and above, who preen in their feathers before me and …
Well the short story is, … we’re a year later in the story.
[choose your own adventure]