I’ve played it out a million different ways. Well, maybe not a million, but at least seventy-seven. I just don’t know which will happen. Will any of them? Or will some scenario I didn’t anticipate in any way blindside me from left field? I just don’t know. But I HAVE TO KNOW. More than likely, it will be a lonely, depressing, tear-inducing, lonely trip. I won’t see him…I mean, I know me, and I am positive I will not be able to resist going by the several addresses – some new, some old – hoping I will catch a glimpse of him; but even if I do…
What is really the point? I know that’s what you are asking. Along with, I am sure, Why go somewhere you are not wanted?
I could say I’m a masochist, a glutton for punishment, that I won’t be satisfied until every dream I ever, ever had is ripped from me and stomped into oblivion. I could say that; and maybe it’s even true a little. I need drama – that’s what some people think, I’m sure – so let’s create some.
But I don’t really think any of that is right…
I think I want to go because – please, please try not to laugh too hard (at least not to my face) – because somehow, I am still the tiniest bit hopeful. There is still some little spark of the fighter in me left, and she just can’t give up without giving it the old college try one last time. I feel a desperate need to see the things I saw with him one more time. For most of my life his world was a huge black hole to me; a mystery, a vortex around which I hovered in the hope that one day a convulsion in the space-time continuum would send him flying out of the shadows and out into the world of light in which I have waited for him. Time after time after time.
Go ahead and joke me for that. It’s okay. Even I think it sounds lame. But it’s really how I feel. My place in this world seems to be to help others. Always. No matter the cost to myself. And I have never minded that at all – not the cost, not the personal emptiness, not the inherent loneliness of people coming in and out of my life just long enough to get what they need from me and be well enough to go on. I was proud. Aside from my child, it was about the only thing in my life about which I was proud. So many things made me feel dirty and crummy and stupid – no one’s fault, really, it was just the circumstances in which I found myself.
The only other thing about which I was singularly proud was the fact that this man loved me. I cried tears of joy when he came into my life. Never had I felt such completion, such security, such intense…everything. Then he was gone. After that the sun was never as bright, the trilling of the birds in the morning rarely stirred me, the ocean seemed flat.
When we reconnected in our twenties, I was again so proud. Of him. He had broadened his horizons so much; read so many books, wrote such beautiful words, played such beautiful music, drew such beautiful things. The need to be with him then nearly made me insane…and yet, I was so afraid to go to him. I freely admit it that I fucked up. I told him I couldn’t come…I thought I had made it clear that I would come, later, just not right then. Of course, he took it to mean that I didn’t really love him and I never would. We both had bad advice from our parents, both of whom said “If He/She really loves you, He/She will find their way here to you. If He/She doesn’t come then you know He/She doesn’t really love you that much.”
How wrong those parents were. And how juvenile he and I were.
I tried to call him several times. I had made up my mind that I was going, consequences be damned. I had to know if he could really love me. I whined and cried and begged til my mom bought me a plane ticket. I didn’t tell him – I was going to, but when I called every day for the three days before I left, whomever answered the phone told me he wasn’t there. I didn’t believe it. I figured his family was angry with me for hurting him…again, in their minds. So I said, fuck it, threw caution to the wind and boarded that damn plane.
Oh my plans…I was going to call when I got to St. Louis and ask him to come get me. Wouldn’t he be thrilled and surprised??? I couldn’t wait to see him. I had been so stupid worrying that he wouldn’t love me because of things that had happened to me…I suppose I have to take responsibility for fucking up everything by putting off going to see him…Yep, it’s all my fault.
See, I got to the airport in St. Louis, but I was scared to call him, scared he wouldn’t want to talk to me or something, and suddenly I wondered what the hell I was thinking to fly half way across the country without even talking to him. So I called home and begged my little sister to call his house and tell him I was there and to give him the number of my payphone. The intervening ten minutes were some of the longest in my life. I was so scared he wouldn’t answer. When the phone rang, I pounced on it.
“Hello?” I asked breathlessly. When I heard the answering voice I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t him. It was my sister.
“Um…are you okay? I mean are there people around or anything?” Her voice sounded awful and I knew I was going to hate what she had to say.
“Steph, just tell me!” I nearly shrieked into the phone.
“Okay, okay. Calm down.” Impossible, but I said nothing. “So I called and a lady answered the phone.” She stopped.
“And? What happened???” My voice was trembling now. I knew this was going to be the worst news ever…
“And I asked if he was there. She asked who I was. I told her that I was Steph, your sister. And she said your name in a really, really not nice voice. It made me feel creepy but I said yes, your sister. And then, well… she…” Again she stopped.
“Just please fucking tell me, STEPH!”
“Okay, okay!” She was crying now – and so was I, although I didn’t yet know why. “Okay, so…she said…she said….oh, please don’t make me tell you this, Rob!!” She was sobbing uncontrollably.
“Steph, please just…just tell me.”
She sniffed long and hard. “She said I didn’t need to call there anymore and neither did you because he got married a week ago.” She was crying so hard by then that I could barely understand her.
“He what?” I asked, in a whisper.
“He got mar–rrr–iiiieed!” she wailed.
I just stood there staring at the phone in my hand.
“I have to go, Steph. Now.”
“Wait!! What are you going to do??”
“I’ll get a flight. I …just….I…can’t talk. Gotta go. I’ll call when I get home. Bye.”
I hung up the phone and literally slid to the floor in a puddle of misery. Clutching my purse to my chest I wailed like a banshee, heedless of anyone or anything else. Attendants from one of the counters came over to me to see if I was alright. To this day I couldn’t tell you what I said, what I did, or how long I sat there waiting to catch a flight home. The next thing I knew, I was back here and my mom and sister were at the airport to pick me up. I don’t even know how they knew I was back. They were just there. I went home with them and didn’t leave my room for a week.
Unanticipated scenarios. They always fuck you up. That’s what is scaring me about going there this time. But…I have to try one more, one last time. I gave up before and it has cost me nearly thirty years of a life with him.
I don’t have any illusions that I will go there this time and he will suddenly decide he can’t live without me for real. He has decided that his love for me was the evil in his life and it ruined everything else for him. Which I suppose I understand in a way. In a way.
But go I will. I’ll get there on a Saturday, late morning like I always did, and go where I always stopped first. I have some flowers to change and some headstones to talk to. Then I’ll spend a night where I went last spring break. Maybe even drive to the spring we visited – if I can figure out how to get there again. Maybe this time I won’t be able to hear the thunder in the water because maybe I’m not pure of heart anymore – if I ever was. And then I’ll stay where I stayed the last time I saw him for a night – two if I can stand it. Then I will sadly wend my way home.
I hope I will see him. I hope, no I pray, that God, in His infinite kindness, will make it so I at least get to say good bye in person. My best scenario is me with the flowers, making things pretty and he drives up. He fusses at me for coming there, is angry with me. But then he hugs me and kisses me gently on the lips before going away.
More than likely, though, it will play out like that fucking trip to St. Louis. That day-late-and-a-dollar-short trip. The worst trip of my life.
But maybe not. I can hope, can’t I? Even if it’s stupid to do so, can’t I still hope, a little, that he will know I am there and talk to me? In two weekends, I’ll be there.
Please pray for me. Ask God, Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Muhammed, L. Ron Hubbard, whomever you believe in, ask Them to be kind to me just one more time.