Damn the Internet! I was simply following a Twitter link supplied by the New York Times to learn a bit more about an American Civil War calvary general. An article led to a reminder which led to a search of a name and memories long frozen.
You know, “I wonder how she/he/they/it are doing” sort of the thing. Time travel enabled by the Internet. Stunned to read in the first Google citation that she’s dead and died two years ago taken away by a crippling illness which depleted a life-long athlete. Too much of this is happening to me lately. I know that it’s not me or anything personal, it’s my time or the prevailing chapter of my life. Curious and bedeviling is not that people leave or leave unexpectedly- that’s to be expected- it’s the who and the how and the when. Their exits seem nearly random. Statistics do lie. No one lives to be an average of 83.
In this case, I hung on to something that never was mainly because I discovered her at my age of 16. She was 22 and 22 years older than me. Married, baby, degree, house, car and a job. I recall that I was hoping to make the varsity baseball team and maybe scrounge-up enough cash to pay for a date at the movies on a Friday. Still, first impressions are lasting ones and mine was from a second story window into a second story window. I associate At Folsom Prison with this interlude because that’s what was on the hi-fi that evening.
Over time, I borrowed her car for a date; went to one movie and one street parade with her – in the company of others. I left; she stayed; I visited; we met; I fawned; she smiled. Twenty years later, she accompanied me to a high school reunion because our newborn prevented my wife from joining. She was the star at the bar, never leaving my side even though I was distracted by the many who suddenly had much to recall about our shared high school days. Something occurred at the door that night, but nothing happened.
Another 6 or 8 years later, drifting after divorce, I landed at home-base. We all went to dinner; she and I returned to her apartment. Never so nervous in my life on the couch, we kissed. Just once. I think I overreacted. I might have proposed marriage even, but I doubt it. We came close and it didn’t feel right for her. I called for two days and she wouldn’t pick-up the phone.
The next time, the last time that I saw her, I visited home with my new girl friend. We stayed at her apartment.
I sometimes wondered about her. When I did, I wondered what the next time would be like. Would she be as beautiful or would some age, like 80, diminish her some?! We’ll never know. ‘I hear that train a-coming…’