Monday, October 31, 2005

This time, darlin....

I'll pick up where I left off with Maria tomorrow, I promise...

I just re-read my post from yesterday (which is something I rarely do), and although I guess I had to get it all out, it sure is hard for me to look at...I guess that's the point, though. Thanks to everyone who wrote & left me comments; I know when you lay it all out like that, it seems like the answer is so clear-cut, but I wish it was as simple as just calling Roxanne & telling her how I feel. She knows full well how I feel...I've told her as often as I could ever since I was able to finally put it into words myself, but it's still all's my actions that put me where I am, and no amount of talking or confessing is going to fix it. Maybe if I could actually have the chance to prove it to her with my actions again, but I've had more than one chance already, and I blew them all; her giving me another one doesn't seem too likely.

She's in a relationship now, and we hardly even talk anymore. We see each other a handful times a year, at one of her brother's shows or something, but the person she's been with for the past couple of years is very....wary of me, to say the least, and I'm rarely given any chance to say more than 2 words to her. She won't allow me to call her because she feels like she has to go behind someone's back to talk to me, and so, out of respect for that, she won't talk to me on the phone.

But I still write her every week, I go and see every show that she's in as many times as I can, I send her cards on her birthday & Christmas, I try to find any excuse I can to see her. And she knows that I know that letting her go was the biggest mistake I ever made...but that's about all I can do. She writes me back with short, polite, impersonal replies most of the time, and on the few occasions I've poured my heart out to her, her responses have been....well, I don't know what they've been. I know that she still cares about me, and still has feelings for me buried somewhere down in there...she's told me that much, but she always stops way short of saying anything that would make me think she might act on them again. I know that she still wants me to be in her life, in some way or another, I've asked her outright, and I've given her plenty of chances to push me out & slam the door if she really wanted me gone, but for all the contact we have, that's what she might as well have done...

About a year ago, her relationship (which, I should point out now, with full objectivity, is nothing more than an extended rebound relationship with a person that she would not even give the time of day to under normal circumstances, but who just happened to be right there to catch her when I dropped her) had hit a rocky patch, and for just a short while, we were actually almost talking again. I wrote her letters with more soul-searching in them than anything I've written here, and I told her everything that I felt, and explained to her the best way I could (which, admittedly, still wasn't very good) what had happened that had caused me to do what I did. We shared a few exchanges that really went a long way in clearing the air between us after all these years, and, although there were no magic words that made her forgive me & wipe the slate clean, I really thought we were on the way to at least being friends again, and communicating....but after a while, they worked their problems out & it was back to the rear of the line for me.

And I can't say that I blame her one bit, even now. If I were her, I can't imagine what it would take for me to trust somebody else who was in my position after all that had happened. I'm not sure if anything will ever allow her to trust me like that again...and I still wouldn't blame her for it. Hell, I still don't even really have a handle on why I did what I did in the first place...and even if I do know why, I have no clue if I'd be able to stop myself from just freaking out & leaving her hanging again. I sure like to think I've learned my lesson, but this is me we're talking about here...

After all, she already forgave me once. I haven't talked about all of it yet, but after I had freaked out & left her high & dry when she moved to town....after Angela & all the rest, and after I thought I had gotten my head all straightened out & knew what I wanted, I did call her and apologize, and tell her I loved her, and I was sorry, and I made a huge mistake in leaving her, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, and I would never do it again.....but I did.

She opened her heart up to me again & forgave me and let herself believe that we would live happily ever after...and I freaked out & did the exact same thing all over clockwork. Only this time, I shut down even more; I shut myself off from my friends, my job....from everything. There were other factors; my head turned out to not be on so straight, my health was still not great & there were plenty of stressful things in my life, but none of that was any excuse for me to just fold the way I did, and just leave her hanging out to dry. Twice. And the way I look at it, plenty of people never get ONE chance in their lives to find someone that loves them the way she loved me....much less two chances. The odds of me getting a third time at bat here (or anywhere worthwhile, really) just don't seem too good. But, it's nobody's fault but mine...I know that. I made my bed, and I have to lie in it....

...but it doesn't mean I have to be happy with it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Thought I'd lost the blues...thought I'd paid my dues....

I know I'm a couple of days behind on the story, but honestly, there are about a million things on my mind that are a lot more recent than Maria, and I just can't get past them to delve back into the past today. Ya, I know...imagine me not wanting to dwell on the past....

So, I went to Angela's birthday party the other night. Alison is right; I think I need to move to a bigger town. Now, I should probably clarify that it wasn't just Angela's party; Angela also happens to be best friends with Alan's wife, and her birthday was a few days ago, so it was really a party for both of them. Although Angela is really the only ex that I even so much as speak to anymore (if only because there wasn't ever that big of a bridge to burn), if Alan's wife hadn't been involved, I probably wouldn't have been either. Still, I had a good time, even though I spent the entire night wondering (as I usually do when I see her) why the hell I was ever interested in Angela in the first place.

Well, maybe I do know why. She was safe. You see, in our old age, my idiot friends & I have become an even closer group, if anything, and a few years ago, when Alan got married, his wife entering the circle, as it were, brought with her a few friends of her own that have since become part of the family, one of those being Angela. She had been around for two or three years already before we got together, and I had always thought she was painfully cute, but I also knew deep down that she wasn't the deepest girl in the world, and any relationship with her couldn't be
all that complicated.

I hesitate to jump way ahead in the 'story' here, but, since it may be months before I get there at my current rate, I don't really see any way around it today; like I've said, this ain't a damn mystery novel. Maybe it'll explain things a little clearer, anyway. I'm sure I'll go into more detail about all of it later, but the reader's digest version follows...

It all started in early 2000. I was working in Europe for a production company 3 months out of the year, and I had just gotten back home after a six-week stint in one of my least favorite countries. Honestly, I don't really do well with travel, no matter where I am; I hate to fly (I've never boarded a plane on less than 20mg of Valium), I'm not the sightseeing type, I could honestly care less about the beauty & mystery of other cultures, and I get really annoyed anyplace where I can't hop in my car & go grab a Quarter Pounder w' Cheese at 3 in the morning. Also, at the time, I was having some health problems with my back which generally didn't keep me in the best of moods, and I was living in a house with a roommate that I found it really difficult to live with. So, even though I didn't quite realize it at the time, I was under a bit of stress.

The day after I had gotten back, I was still sleeping off the jet-lag & the Valium when I got a call from my old grade-school friend Chris. He told me that Ted's older brother (yes,
that Ted), whom we all knew, had just died tragically. The funeral was being held the next day, and he wanted to know if I would go with him & the rest of the guys to be there for Ted. Ted & I had started speaking again over the last few years (yes, Kara had ended up breaking his heart, too), but we had never really talked about or settled things, to my satisfaction,anyway. Still, he was my friend, and I knew I should go & be there for him with the rest of our friends. Only thing was, I was terrified that Kara was going to be there.

Maybe terrified wasn't exactly the word; I don't really know what to call it. What do you call it when you haven't seen someone in almost six years (at that point), but you still think about them every day, and still compare every girl that comes into your life to them? There is still a little more to the story of what happened between Kara & I, but I'm sure it's no surprise to know that it ended badly, and she & I hadn't so much as spoken to each other since. I always thought, from the bottom of my heart, that we would at least end up as best friends, no matter what else happened...we were too close not too...but it didn't turn out that way. The last time we spoke to each other...well, it wasn't pleasant. Somehow, though, she & Ted had stayed friends....I guess he ended up taking my place there, too. I knew they weren't very close anymore (she was engaged to her future husband at this point), but I knew that she might be at that funeral nonetheless, and I didn't know what the hell to do to cope with that. So, I did what I usually do in those situations: I freaked out.

I couldn't talk to my roommate, so I called Alan. He wasn't home, and so I tried Pete & a couple of other guys nearby just trying to find somebody to just talk to or go out for a drink with (no, I usually don't drink, but this was a special occasion). Finally, I couldn't reach anyone in town, so I figured I could at least call & just talk to Jerry. Jerry was living in New York at this time, and he was rooming with his sister (Roxanne, if you forgot). I called them long-distance, but Jerry was out. Instead,
Roxanne answered the phone...

Now, I know there's more that you haven't heard about Roxanne, as well, but in a nutshell, after our aborted hookup 6-7 years earlier, we had only seen each other a handful of times. She had been living & traveling all around the country (Roxanne is an actress), and had settled in New York for the past couple of years. The last few times we had seen each other, though, we had gotten along just like the old days. I had been in a relationship every time I had seen her, so there hadn't yet been an opportunity to pick up where we left off, but it was obvious that she still had a lot of affection for me after all these years. I had never lost any of mine for her, either, it had just been buried under all the other crap I'd been through, and when she picked up the phone that day, I was so relieved to hear her voice that I can't express it.

She could still read me, after all these years, and right away, she knew something was wrong. I told her the story & told her that I didn't know what I was going to do or how I was going to handle it if I saw Kara. She just listened & talked to me & comforted me, and just generally made me feel a whole lot better. We talked for hours, about everything that had been happening in our lives, and everything we had both been through when we were younger. She knew about what had happened between me & Kara, but she & I had never really talked about it in detail before, and how it had related to the two of us.

She thought it was somehow romantic that I was still so affected by someone after all these years (instead of thinking it was pathetic, which would have been closer to the truth), and I remember she asked me if I was afraid of seeing her, or was I afraid of what her reaction would be if she saw me. She was perceptive, as always, and I knew that much of what I feared was looking into Kara's eyes & seeing...nothing. Seeing no sign whatsoever that she had spent so much as one minute thinking about me over the years, when I still had to fight to get her out of my head every day. She was right...that was much more terrifying than just seeing her.
So, I just let it all pour out to her & the floodgates came loose. It felt really good to talk to someone, but it felt especially good to talk to her.

She still understood me better than just about anybody else in the world, and I could still talk to her about anything, effortlessly, like I hadn't done with anyone since...well, since Kara. We talked for almost five hours that night, and by the time we hung up, I was as ready to face Kara as I would ever be....and I also missed Roxanne something fierce. I thought she missed me, too...she had almost begged me to come up and visit them, and I was seriously considering doing just that.

The funeral was anticlimactic. Kara didn't come. I was honestly surprised, but she didn't come. We haven't seen each other for 12 years now.

Ted & I did manage to rekindle our friendship somewhat, and since then, all of us old buddies will get together pretty often & play cards or grill out, and it's been just like old times...even though he & I still never talk about Kara. I doubt we ever will, and truthfully, it doesn't bother me much anymore....but I digress.

The next day, I was surprised when Roxanne called out of the blue to see how everything went. I told her all about it, and we talked the whole night away again. We talked all about her life, and everything she had been through in the last few years, and she told me something that touched me deeply; she said that I had always been one of the only things she could ever count on. No matter what happened in her life, or who had turned their back on her or who had hurt her feelings, I had always been there, and I had always just loved her for who she was....which was true (not like it was hard to love her for who she was; it's probably hard not to).

She told me she had taken that for granted in the past, and she was sorry for that. And, she asked me again to come up & visit.
So, the next day, I booked a flight leaving the following week, and every night until I left, we talked on the phone until we fell asleep. The next Friday, I stepped off the plane at Laguardia & Jerry and Roxanne were standing there to meet me. She had on a big, red sweatshirt and a pair of jeans that had more rips in them than my own, and standing there in the middle of that concourse, I thought she was the prettiest thing I had ever seen. She ran up to hug me & I spun her around & gave her a big squeeze. We rode back to their place in Queens, stopping to get cigarettes & wine along the way.

That night, we went out for Chinese food, came back home and sat out on the porch, watching the sun set over the city, just talking about anything & everything. Roxanne & I kept stealing glances at each other all night long, and on the way home from the restaurant, she had slipped her hand into mind & held it tightly the whole way home.
We both knew something was brewing, but she didn't want Jerry to know quite yet, so we played it kind of cool.

That night, after Jerry fell asleep, Roxanne took me by the hand & led me back into her bedroom. We stood there in the dark and I put my arms around her & pulled her to me, and when we kissed, it was like a static shock. We slept in her bed that night, but we didn't have sex, and she made sure to wake me up to go back into the living room before Jerry awoke.

The rest of the weekend was like another whirlwind; we spent it wandering around the city, sneaking kisses on the subway, strolling through the park holding hands, and staying up until the wee hours talking & kissing some more. I'm pretty sure Jerry had it figured out a day or so in, but he never seemed to mind. When the time came for me to leave, I didn't want to go.

Jerry had to work that morning, so Roxanne drove me to the airport. I remember we sat there in the car, talking about just what had happened this weekend, and wondering where it would go from there. There we were, eleven years & a thousand miles away from where it had all began, and it looked like, finally, after all this time, after all we had both been through & all we had both learned about ourselves & each other, Roxanne & I might finally have our chance. But there was that damn thousand miles in the way...and right then, I had to hop a plane.

I stepped out of the car & walked toward the gate, turning around to wave & blow her a kiss before she drove away. She saw me & smiled, and I turned around to walk into the airport, when all of a sudden, I felt a huge whoosh of air & an airport bus flew by not more than 6 inches in front of me. I was so close to it, the bus knocked my bag out of my hand & sent it flying. I came really, really close to instant death, but I didn't even bat an eye...I grabbed my bag & whistled all the way to the plane. I could still smell her all over me, and I was almost drunk on it.

When I got home, we continued our courtship by phone; every night we would talk for hours & hours, tying up the line & driving my roommate crazy. My problems with my back were getting worse by this time, and it was getting to the point where I was having chronic pain pretty much all the time I spent awake, and talking to her really helped ease my mind. After a while, though, I knew it was going to have to be put up or shut up time; long-distance relationships can't last forever.

All that was confirmed when she called me one day & said that she was moving back to town.

We had talked about the possibility of it before, but that's all it had been; a possibility. She had talked about moving back home, maybe getting a place with one of her friends, trying to do some theater here, but honestly, I never expected her to leave her whole life in New York....she had tried so hard to make it there & had done so well already. But a few days ago, she had gotten a letter from the drama department of a very famous ivy-league college asking her to come & work as an instructor for the summer sessions. It was a great opportunity & she had to take it, but she would have to give up her apartment in the city to do it.

So, she decided that after the gig was over, she would just move back home. She had already talked to her friend Sherry, who was looking for places for them to live as we spoke. And, even though she never said it, I knew one of the main reasons she was coming home....
She told me that it wasn't't because of me & her....or at least that wasn't all of it; she had been thinking about it for a while, and this had just given her the reason she needed. Even so, I suddenly, in that moment on the phone, found myself very uncomfortable being anyone's reason for doing anything.

I didn't let her know it, but I realized that I was terrified; this was actually going to happen. After all these years of me thinking she had hung the moon, Roxanne was basically uprooting her life and moving halfway across the country to be with was everything I ever could have dreamed of, and I knew that I should be the happiest person in the world. Instead, I was scared, and on top of everything else that was going on, I started to freak out.
Over the next few weeks, I only got worse. Even today, looking back on it, I don't know why I reacted the way I fact, that's one of the main things I'm trying to figure out with this journal.

After what seemed like a lifetime of Roxanne & I popping in & out of each other's lives, after spending years pining over Kara, after wasting the better part of a decade in an insane tug-of-wills with Veronica, after Maria & after J.C. & after all the others that had come between,
finally Roxanne & I might actually end up together...and the very thought of it scared me out of my mind.

I started second-guessing everything; the way I felt about her, the things that had happened between us. I kept comparing it to the only other frame of reference for being in love that I had; the way I had felt about Kara. I never stopped to think that maybe the way I felt about Kara wasn't what I should judge things by for the rest of my life, considering how dysfunctional we were; all I knew is that I had been chasing that feeling again ever since, never quite finding it. I know now that nothing will ever be able to live up to years of memories you've put on a pedestal & probably embellished upon plenty in the first place, no matter who's face you put on them, but at that time, it was just one more excuse for me to freak out.

At the same time, my back problems were starting to affect my sleep, and I found myself moody & frustrated a lot of the time. I never took it out on her in any overt way, but I think she could tell something was wrong soon after her announcement that she was moving. She still had the job to go do in New England for three months, but after that, she would be here, and I knew I had to shape up or ship out before she got there.

We were only able to talk about 3 or 4 times a week while she was in New England, and honestly, I don't remember a single conversation that we had during that time, my brain was so scrambled. I've been sitting here for almost an hour trying to think of a way to describe it, but I can't...I still don't know what made me act the way I did. The easy answer is that I was about to have something I had always dreamed of handed to me on a silver platter, and I was just too scared to face it....but

Why, after all the things I had been through, after all the heartache of the past god-knows how many years, after over a decade of thinking that this girl was the most perfect creature on earth, what the hell was I scared
of? Being with her? I loved being with her. Spending the rest of my life with her? I didn't have any plans...well, not exactly anyway.

There was one thing. It wasn't everything, and I knew even then that it was batshit-crazy, but I knew it nonetheless. I've never admitted this out loud to anyone before, and I cringe to even write it now, but it's the truth. In my mind, I
knew that if Roxanne moved here & we stayed together as planned, that we would end up married...I had no doubt about it then, I have no doubt about it now....nor do I have any doubt that this would have been the best thing that ever happened to me. But, somewhere else, in the deepest, darkest corners of my mind, I also knew that, if Roxanne & I got married, and somehow....just somehow, by some crazy chance, Kara & I were to bump into each other on the street one day, well, I would already be married...and that would be that. Yes, I know...that's crazy. Like I said, it wasn't the only reason, or even in the top 10....but it was there, and I guess I had just better admit it now. I'm ashamed & I know that it's pathetic, but I just wanted so much to feel the way I felt when I was with her again...and that was always in the back of my mind. The rest of the feelings I had, I still can't explain. I wish to god I could, 'cus maybe then I'd understand them. All I knew is that I was scared to death for her to move here, and I didn't know how I was going to handle any of it. I never told Roxanne that, of course; I never told her any of it. Instead, I just waited until she finally moved here, and I just shut down.

I don't know any other way to explain it, and believe me, I've tried. I just....shut down; I barely talked to her...hell, I barely talked to
anybody. I couldn't find the words to tell her the way I was feeling, so I just didn't tell her anything. She knew something was very wrong from the time she first got here, and she did everything she could to try and talk to me about it, but I just...couldn't. I felt like the lowest of the low; I felt like a complete coward, totally unable to make myself accept anything good in my life, or anything that might challenge me, or might force me to show a little responsibility for someone other than myself. I told her that, I didn't know why, but something about the way I felt was very wrong...and I didn't think we should do this.

I broke her heart, swept the rug out from under her, and shattered everything we had built up between us...all because I was too screwed up to do anything about it. I don't even remember hardly anything about what I said or how it happened, it just did. I just threw it all away. She stayed here & started a new life for herself, and I went on wallowing in my own pity.

And that's where Angela came along.

About two weeks after Roxanne & I broke up, I drove out to the coast to spend a week at house on the beach with about 10 of my idiot friends....Angela among them. Angela had been around for a few years already, and we were pretty good friends, but I don't think we'd ever had a conversation longer than 2 minutes before, and I couldn't tell you anything about who she was & what made her tick. Somehow, though, before the week was over, she & I had moved into the same bed & were already an item. A completely arbitrary, empty, meaningless, time-wasting, placebo of an item.

I guess I was just lonely & felt bad after everything that had happened, and Angela was about the safest place to take haven that I could imagine. I knew from the first moment that it wouldn't mean a thing....but maybe it might help me think about Roxanne just a little less. Remember, I'm not too bright sometimes.

So, Angela & I dated & went through the motions for a little while. I tried to keep Roxanne from finding out, because I was so ashamed, but of course she did, and she was crushed. I was still pretty crushed inside from the whole thing, too...even though I was doing the crushing. Eventually, I wised up and broke it off with Angela, but not before a wedge had been driven even farther between Roxanne & I, and not without any casualties to our group of friends; things were very tense for a while, as Angela was pretty upset about our breakup. Of course, me in my infinite idiocy tried to smooth things over between me & all my friends more than I ever tried to smooth things over between me & Roxanne....and the whole, ugly incident just screwed everything up worse than I could have if I tried.

And yes, there's a lot more to it & it didn't just end there with Roxanne & I, but the other night, standing there, singing happy birthday to was all just staring me in the face. That was the girl I decided was worthy of my time when Roxanne wasn't? She was the one whose feelings I tried to spare, when it was Roxanne's I should have been concerned about all along? It wasn't any grand revelation or anything I hadn't thought before, but just remembering & realizing it all again, I felt almost sick....and I still don't feel so good right now. In fact, I've been sitting here since I started this at 4:00; it's now 9:06...maybe I should eat something...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Reason to believe...

So, I had another girlfriend. Or, at least, I was pretty sure I did; I don't remember exactly when we had the talk about being exclusive, but I vaguely remember her asking me if there was anyone else I had been seeing or been interested in, and I told her that I'm not the type of guy who is interested in more than one person at a time; I've never been able to grasp that casual-dating, musical-partners thing. In any case, it was understood pretty early on that neither one of us was interested in seeing anyone else, but we were interested in where this could possibly go.

Although I didn't realize it until I was actually in the situation, I remember very early on realizing that having a girlfriend who lived an hour out of town would have it's advantages & disadvantages. For instance, at the end of every weekend, she would leave! I don't mean to sound like that's such a great thing, but I'm a person who likes their space, and right away, I saw a definite bonus in not having to be constantly 'on-call', as it were. I could leave my apartment messy throughout the week, and know that I had until Friday to clean up. It was long-distance to call each other, so I knew that we wouldn't be calling back-and-forth night & day; and also, since she lived in a dorm room, she was always the one who had to make the hour-long drive to see me, since it was my place that we could spend time together in. Yes, I knew even then that these were selfish things, but they were only added bonuses, not the reasons for being there.

And, there were also disadvantages. For one, well...she was an hour away. If I wanted to, I couldn't just hop in the car & go see her. I mean, I could, but it wasn't really a viable option. By the same token, she couldn't just come over and watch Letterman with me at night if we were both lonely & couldn't sleep, or drop into work and bring me lunch, or do anything spontaneous. Also, she was constantly out of my sight, away at college, where the girls go to parties, drink beer, and meet disreputable guys like me, and there was no way I would be able to know what she was doing when she wasn't here....I would have to trust her, perish the thought.

Trust was not exactly high on my list of doable things back then, but just as I had said at the beginning of the summer, (you know, all that stuff about making a new start & not repeating my mistakes & all that?) I was trying to change...I was trying to look at things through new eyes, and I knew that, if I wanted this to work, I would have to give her the benefit of the doubt: I would have to trust her.

Somehow, I found it a lot easier than I thought I would. Maybe it was just because I could tell that she was trustworthy; she just didn't seem like the cheating type. Sure, we had met at some frat party, but it had taken us weeks to even kiss each other, and if all she wanted was a sting of college flings, she wouldn't have been there with me, anyway. Something about her just let you know that she was a good person, and I guess I was lucky to meet someone like her at that point in my life (in fact, I know I was), because, had I been burned again by the wrong girl at that point, I shudder to think how much worse off I'd be than I already am...

So, the first week came & went, and I don't remember much about it, other than I genuinely missed her. Maria was very missable; there was no shortage of things about her to like. She had the most peculiar way of answering the phone; when she would pick it up, she would say "Good morning?" or "Good evening?" instead of "Hello?", and I just thought that was too cute. She had the most adorable geekiness about her; she wasn't exactly a nerd, but she wore these precious little glasses sometimes & she had the cutest, most matter-of-fact way of talking that was just completely charming. Like I said last entry, if you've ever seen Smallville, she really had a lot of Chloe in her, which is probably one of the reasons I've always secretly wanted her & Clark to hook up, but I digress.

She had this old, beat-up Volvo that she called 'Sherman', and I remember she told me that her parents were always offering to help her buy a new car, but she just loved that old blue Volvo, and I could totally relate to that. I felt really bad a couple of months later when I put a dent in Sherman while driving him to see a Violent Femmes concert downtown, but that's another story. She also was the first person I knew to have a real computer - like an actual PC, not a Commodore or Atari, and I remember one weekend she had a test to study for in some lab, and she brought that big behemoth of a PC over to my house & hooked it all up, crawling around on the floor with a dozen wires while I just sat back in amazement & watched her go. I remember thinking that if it was Kara, she'd probably just say to hell with the computer & sleep with the professor for an A....which I knew wasn't true, but still made me feel better to think it....

Anyway, so I was missing her. I remember I called her the next night, and I knew that we were really getting used to each other when she started chiding me about our first sex session & how apparently I had left an accidental telltale hickey behind that her roommate was bugging her about. We made plans to see each other the coming weekend, as it was going to be Halloween...which happens to be my personal favorite holiday, so I was excited.

I remember looking in the papers & stuff and trying to find something fun for us to get all dressed up & do, but somehow, since all my idiot friends were also in tow, we ended up at some stupid dance club again. Still, contrary to most guys, I enjoy stupid dance clubs a lot more if I have a girl there to dance with already, so I actually remember having a pretty good time, as far as those things go. One reason was, I remember there was another guy there wearing the same costume as I was, only his wasn't half as cool, and all night, he kept trying to get next to Maria (who, for a self-proclaimed geek, looked pretty damn hot dressed as a biker chick on that dance floor, if I do say so). So, at the end of the evening, when she went home with me, it was kinda cool...since i'm usually on the other end of that stick.

That night, after we left the club, I kicked the rest of my idiot friends out of my house, and we went at each other with abandon on my living room sofa, still all hot and sweaty & full of adrenaline from dancing (which I do hate, just for the record). The next day, we went & rented a pile of scary movies, and laid in bed in our underwear all day & night, watching TV & doing unspeakable things to each other. Halloween was fun.

Heck, it was all fun. That's about all I can remember when I look back on Maria & the time we spent together....good things. I'm sure we must have fought, but for the life of me, I can't remember when or about what. I remember we laughed a lot, and she was always very sweet to me, but I really don't remember us talking all that much, at least not like I had used to talk to....other people. I mean, we did...I remember us talking about the future & such, and what we wanted to do with out lives...but I remember wondering, even then, if Kara & I hadn't had a very rare thing between us in the way we were able to communicate, and if I would ever really find that with anyone else again. But, I digress...again...

I can't really remember what came next, after that first couple of weeks, but pretty soon, Maria & I had settled into a sort of routine; we'd talk on the phone 2 or 3 times a week, and she would come spend the weekends with me, school & such permitting. I do remember she surprised me one day early on; I was at work one afternoon when she snuck in & enlisted my co-workers into a scheme that involved them luring me into the back of the store, and then her jumping out from behind a pile of boxes where she had hidden herself. I remember I got a big kick out of it, and all the guys at work ribbed me mercilessly about it afterwards. Turned out, she had gotten out of school early or something, and had decided to come down & surprise me. She asked if she could have the key to go on up to my place, and I remember handing it to her while silently thanking the gods that I hadn't left any of my porn out the night before.

That evening, I got off work & came home, only to walk through the door & have her come up behind me & put her hands over my eyes. She said she had a surprise for me, to which I responded that she was just full of 'em today. She walked me toward my bedroom and I started to fantasize about what she might be up to, when she took her hands away from my eyes & I saw what she'd been doing.

The first thing that went through my mind was: this girl has got balls. She had re-arranged my bedroom, completely different than the way I'd had it before. My first reaction was to be shocked...I wasn't mad, and even the thought about her being ballsy carried a bit of respect with it...but I was a little taken-aback that she would think to come in & re-arrange my room after only dating me for a month or so. Only thing looked good.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a trained feng-shui practitioner or anything; basically, my bedroom has looked pretty much the same ever since I was about 15 years old....there's been some progress today, but we still haven't gotten real far. She had really done things in a way that was much nicer, though, and that I would have never thought to do. I suspect she probably knew that, and counted on me knowing it too, and not being mad, but I'll have to say, she was probably lucky; there's plenty of times in my life that I can pinpoint where I probably would have been a huge prick about something like that. But, this time, I was actually impressed...and more than a little touched. Heck, she had actually cared enough to do it...that had to count for something. At the very least, it showed me she planned to be spending a lot of time in there, if she was so concerned with how it looked, so against all odds, I was very happy with it. I don't know why, but just now, sitting here, I remembered that we ended up having sex on the living room floor that afternoon, as well. I can't remember why we didn't do it in the newly-remodeled bedroom...I guess we were just crazy kids.

I remember how different sex was with her than it had been with Kara, also. Kara was pretty open with herself sexually, and while she wasn't exactly kinky or anything, she definitely was very playful & experimental. Maria was also very comfortable with her sexuality, but she wasn't quite as experienced, and with her, it was usually very passionate, with just a hint of real innocence still there...or maybe not innocence as much as that wonderful awkwardness that only happens when you're first really exploring things with another person...something I knew even then that I'd probably never see again. I'm not saying it was better or worse, or more or less meaningful than with Kara, but it was different, and it was very special.

In a lot of ways, even though she was by no means a rebound-girl, Maria was the antidote to a lot of things Kara had left behind. Or, if not an antidote, at least a pretty good anesthetic. More than anything else, she definitely restored my faith in a lot of things about womankind (much in the same way J.C. would, years later) that had been shattered by years of girls sleeping with my friends & other assorted horrors. She made me realize that being in a relationship didn't have to mean being constantly worried & on edge; she made me realize that sometimes, people are still worth trusting; that not everybody is going to hop into bed with somebody else the minute I turn my back. God knows how I didn't let my paranoia kick in & drive her crazy with all my baggage - I can't imagine what kind of hell it would have been to try and date Kara if she had lived in another state, on top of everything else - but somehow, I didn't. It was the first, real "grown-up" relationship I felt like I was ever in, and although I didn't know where it was going to lead, I knew I was gonna give it my best shot...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lost Boys & Golden Girls....

So, anyway, nothing happened that night. We woke up the next morning & ate cereal while watching cartoons, and I remember during Muppet Babies, we got to talking about who our favorite Muppet was; mine has always been a toss-up between Scooter (whom I once had a cat named after) and Beaker; I forgot who hers was, but she then proceeded to do this little squeaky-muppet voice that I remember thinking should be really annoying, but instead was about the most charming thing I'd ever seen.

I had to go to work that afternoon...probably at about 2 o'clock, so we just kind of spent a lazy morning around the house, waiting for us to both have to leave. I thought there was detectable tension in the air, but I still couldn't be sure; she hadn't made any moves toward me, but she was still here...obviously that counted for something, right? She wasn't exactly giving me googly-eyes & batting her lashes, but she didn't seem like the type to do those kind of things, I didn't know what to think. These days, I would realize that if a woman had tolerated my company that long already, she was either in love or insane, but back then, I was still groping in the dark. I knew I was on the clock, about an hour before I had to leave, somehow I weasled my way into giving her a back massage on my bed...maybe she complained that her back hurt, I can't remember. Either way, I knew that was my chance.

I took her into the bedroom & gave her one of my patented massages, which was one of the few things that I knew I did pretty well back then, and she seemed to enjoy it; she wasn't digging her nails into the bed & moaning, but she seemed receptive. I remember I looked over at the clock & saw that I only had a few minutes; if I was going to make a move, it was now or never. So, after getting her suitably relaxed, I leaned down, hesitated a moment while breathing softly on the back of her ear, and gently kissed her neck. She let out a little sigh and her arms reached back to find me. I remember I grabbed her hand tightly and kissed her neck for another moment until she turned herself over and we finally kissed. When we broke apart after a few minutes, I looked over at the clock, and she said "Why did you wait until now to do that?". Because I'm an idiot...didn't you get the memo?

We kissed for another minute or two, not saying anything, until I looked at the clock again & saw that I was already going to be late, even though I only lived about a mile away. I told her that I wished I had done it last night, but that I had to go now. We got up & she gathered her things together and we both left together. I don't remember kissing her goodbye or telling her I would see her later, or anything...we might have, but I don't think so; I think I was still a little drunk from the whole thing. I do remember getting to work & telling all the guys there what the big smile on my face was about, but aside from that, the rest of the day was a blur. I'm sure I talked to Alan & the guys at some point, but it had already been an eventful year & we were all used to crazy things happening, so I don't think I made a huge deal out of it. In fact, I don't remember anything else about it until a few days later.

Come to think of it, it was probably 12 years ago today that this happened, because it was like the Wednesday during the week before Halloween. I was at work & I got a call, which my nosey boss informed me was "a girl" on the line. I picked up the phone and was genuinely surprised to find out it was Maria. Even after what had happened a few days before, I still wasn't sure if she liked me or not...probably because my self-esteem wasn't at it's highest at that point, so I was thrilled to hear from her. And calling me at work, no less! I must have given her the number, though I don't remember doing so (and I guess it wouldn't have taken a genius to get it, anyway).

Anyway, the phone call soon erased any doubts I had. I remember it was really cute; she had a friend of hers there in the dorm room with her, and the friend was egging her on, saying things like "just ask him out already!" & stuff...which made me smile bigger than The Joker. So, she asked what I was doing that weekend, and I said that I was totally free. She said she had been thinking about coming to town, and I played coy & asked mer why she would want to do a thing like that? She said that there was someone she sort of wanted to come see, and I asked her who, and she asked if I didn't already know, and we did that little dance for a few minutes, which was cute. We talked for a few minutes more & made plans to go out that weekend, but I remember I had to work Friday night, so she said she would come down on Saturday. I remember thinking to myself that, even though this would technically be our first date, she was already guaranteed to sleep over at my house, so I figured at this point, I couldn't lose...

That Saturday came, and I don't remember anything that happened before she showed up, but knowing me, I was probably doing my best to clean up the six dishes I broke while trying to clean the house & trying desperately to make the place smell just a little less like dope. The only thing I remember about that evening is suggesting that we go see a movie, and finding that no horror films were out, ending up going to see The Beverly Hillbillies movie, which I remember not one single thing about.

Afterwards, I sort of took her on a little tour of some of the town, and then we went for a drink at a local parrothead-type bar that was a staple of my formulative years, but sadly closed down a few years back. I remember that she ordered a Killian's Red, and barely drank any of it, but we still had a good time. We sat there & talked for a while, but I remember I was in a hurry to get home and put on the Barry White records, if you know what I mean...

We got home in the middle of Saturday Night Live, and we laid on the sofa & watched it until it went off the air. Afterwards, I looked down & noticed that she had started to fall asleep. I remember feeling a little sting of dissappointment, as I still hadn't even kissed her again since the last time we'd seen each other. I reached down & kissed her on the forehead & asked if she was ready for bed. She said she was, so we went into the bedroom, where I stripped down to my boxers & she went into the bathroom to get ready for bed.

She came out wearing a nightgown that was just long enough to be conservative, but just short & sheer enough to be sexy, too, and I remember thinking that even the way she dressed was giving me mixed signals. As she climbed into bed, she apologized for being so tired so early. I told her it was ok, and that I had gotten up early that morning, too (which probably meant around 10:00). She got under the covers, laid down beside me & we talked for a minute or two, and I don't remember anything we said, as I was constantly trying to read the situation.

It was already obvious that Maria was the type of girl you had to make the first move with, and I was pretty sure she wanted me to make that move..but I was still nervous. Like I said, these days, I'd have been all over her like makeup on Gene Simmons, but I remember having the damdest time trying to read that girl on that particular night. She had already slept in my bed, we had already made out, we had known each other for a few weeks now, and she was driving an hour to see me regularly already, but I still didn't know what was too much, too soon. She was a different kind of girl than I was used to being with, and I already liked her enough to not want to blow it.

When she reached over to kiss me goodnight, I decided to take my chances. I grabbed her shoulders firmly & held her to me as we kissed, and it didn't feel like she wanted me to let her go, so I didn't. After kissing for a few minutes, I turned her over, moved on top of her, and started to undo the buttons on her gown. I remember being amazed at how firm her body was, and I remember she smelled like absolute heaven. I realize now that I'm too embarrassed to actually try to write my love scenes in too much detail, but suffice it to say that this was a nice one. Afterwards, we were both spent, and we fell asleep together with her head on my shoulder.

The next morning, we slept in as late as we could, but she had to be back at school early that afternoon for something, so we didn't spend much time together before she left. Before she left, though, I remember I was standing up beside the bed, looking out the window while she was packing her bag, when she grabbed me by my belt, threw me backwards onto the bed, jumped on top of me, and started kissing me. I looked up at her & asked "So where did this playful person come from?", and she smiled impishly & said that I had just brought something out in her.

I figured I could relax at least for now; she definitely liked me...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Close, but not touching....

(music of the period: Meat Loaf - I'd Do Anything for Love, Blind Melon - No Rain)

Maria. Maria wasn't like the other girls I had been dating up to that point. I didn't know what to make of her at first; she seemed almost...normal. We met at some frat party in a little town about an hour away. Alan, Pete & I had driven up for the night to hang out with our buddy Mark, who was in school there; Mark had shown Alan's picture to some girl who had thought he was cute, so half the reason we were there was to facilitate his potential hookup. When we got there, Mark couldn't get hold of the girl that wanted to meet Alan, but he knew of a party that was going on that she might be at. So, we ended up at one of those huge bonfire-lit outdoor keg parties that are usually filled with the guys I never talked to in high school. I don't drink beer, so I'm usually having even
less fun at these things than normal, but somehow or another, I started talking to this little girl in jeans & a red tank top, who wasn't really my type, but was undeniably cute....

She was about 5'2, with short, blonde hair and big, green eyes...think Chloe on Smallville. She said her name was Maria, and while I can't remember what we talked about, I do remember that, right away, I knew she was smart; she actually made me laugh once or twice, and I ended up having a genuinely good time that night thanks to her. Turned out, she & my friend Mark already knew each other as well, as they had a couple of classes together. The three of us stood around & talked for a bit, but Alan had never found his admirer, and had somehow gotten trapped in a corner conversation with some girl that outweighed him by a good 100 pounds & wasn't letting him get past her anytime soon, and before long (although not as soon as he'd have liked), we noticed he was looking for a way out. So, as the party was winding down, we all got together & decided where to go from there.

Mark & Maria both lived in the tiny lil' dorm rooms, so we suggested we should all just drive back to (my hometown) and hang out there; anyone who wanted to could crash at my house. It didn't take much convincing, as there was really nothing else to do, so all of us guys...with Maria in tow...piled into our cars & drove the 50 miles back to my place. Alan rode with Mark, and Pete & Maria rode with me, and I remember us having a blast on the way down screaming down the freeway & singing Asia songs at the top of our lungs.

We got back to my place & we listened to some music, and drank & smoked for a while...neither of which Maria participated in, I noticed. She seemed to be having a good time either way, so I didn't think much of it. I don't remember much else that happened that night, but we all had fun..and strangely enough, none of us, me included, were all over was almost like she was one of the guys. She wasn't exactly the tomboy type (well, she was sorta), but it was just notable that, during that time, there was a pretty, single girl around and everybody wasn't fighting over her to be first. The guys later told me that they had sorta thought there might have been some sparks between she & I, but honestly, I didn't really think about it too much. I went to bed in my room, Alan passed out on the floor, Pete went home, and Mark & Maria slept fully clothed at opposite ends of my sofa.

The next morning, everyone but Maria & I was hung over, so she & I went out to a Waffle House for breakfast. We had talked a bit the night before, but there's only so well you can talk to someone at a party; that morning over pecan waffles, we both really started to get to know each other. Maria was a self-described lab geek; she was a scientist. I had no clue then what she did, nor do I now...something with proteins or something...but I thought it was cool. She had her shit together. Unlike most of the girls I had known, she actually had plans & goals in life, and she was actually working on achieving them. She was a honor student in high-school, she had been in the band, and she came from a nice family one state south...she almost seemed...normal. This fascinated me.

I think she was a little intruiged, as well; I definitely had a sense that she was a little out of her element....she was trying to hang with the bad boys. I mean, we weren't that bad, but we certainly weren't fraternity material, and I'm sure I was as mysterious & interesting to her as she was to me. After all, I had never really been with a nice girl before....or at least not for more than a few hours(this is not exactly true, but I thought it nonetheless). Still, it wasn't like there were huge instant sparks flying between us...I definitely thought she was cute & interesting, but honestly, I just never figured a girl like her and a guy like me would ever happen; not that anyone was out of anyone else's league or anything, but just that we were very different. So, consequently, I didn't give it much thought at first. We had a good time throughout breakfast, and when we got back, she & Mark took off back up to school. As far as I knew, that might just be that.

The next weekend, Alan & I were hanging out at my house when Mark called & said he was going to be coming down for the weekend. He also said that Maria wanted to come with him, and would that be cool with us? We said it would, and that we'd try to find something for us all to do. After I hung up the phone, Alan remarked on the fact that Maria was coming along, and we both wondered was up with her; did she like me, or one of us? Or does she just like hanging out with us because we're the coolest guys around? Well, we'd find out soon, we figured...

That night, Mark & Maria showed up, and we all went out to one of our local watering holes. I don't remember a single thing about what happened, but afterwards, we all ended up back at my place again. This time, Mark & Alan fell asleep on the sofa, and Maria & I sat up in my room talking until the sun came up. I remember telling her pretty much my life story that night, and she seemed genuinely interested. At some point, I was sitting at the head of the bead, leaning my back against the wall, while she lied down on her stomach at the foot of the bed, looking up at me, listening & kicking her feet back & forth, and I looked down & realized that I was becoming attracted to her...and that realization was like a rush of cool water being poured over me. I was thrilled to learn that I could actually be attracted to someone again other than...well, the usual suspects. It was a good feeling, and I remember I paused for a second & she asked me what I was thinking about. I just smiled & told her "nothing", but I think she already knew. We fell asleep beside each other; close, but not touching...

The next morning (or thereabouts), we all woke up & I made us the worst pancakes ever...because I'm the worst cook ever. Even so, they all appreciated the effort, and we cranked up some music, opened the doors, and had breakfast outside on the patio watching the cars go by. Afterwards, Mark got up & started getting ready to drive back up to school. While he was gathering his things, I noticed Maria was acting a little fidgety; like something was on her mind. Mark pulled me away to help him with something, but Alan had my back; he asked Maria what her plans were for the rest of the weekend. She said that she didn't really have any, and so I said that she was welcome to stay & hang out if she wanted to...I could give her a ride back tomorrow. She hesitated for a second & asked if I was sure I didn't mind, but I think she knew I didn't. Either way, Alan piped up with "Of course he doesn't mind!" just to be sure, and so she agreed. Mark gave me a wink, told Maria he'd see her back at school, and took off, leaving the three of us there.

We watched some TV for a while, but Alan & I both knew that it was only a matter of time before Mr. Tony Banks would enter the picture. Allow me to explain. First of all, let me say that I really shouldn't be telling you this. There have been many things I've disclosed in the course of this project, but I don't think I've written anything yet that my friends would really not want me to let out into the open...except maybe the secret of Tony Banks.

Tony Banks, as some of you may know, is a keyboard player extraordinaire & a founding member of Genesis, but that's beside the point; he's also part of a code that my friends & I came up with & that we've used for years....mainly thanks to Pete. Briefly, Pete is one of those guys that doesn't take a hint real well; he's apt to linger when it's not appropriate, if you know what I mean. There have been many occasions where one of us has found ourselves in a room with both a girl & Pete, wanting to be alone so we could put the moves on them or whatever, but with Pete still hanging around oblivious, playing Nintendo or watching TV, inadvertently getting in the way of our action. He doesn't mean to do this (or at least, we don't think he does), he's just oblivious to these kind of things, and I can't tell you how many chances Alan, Mark or I have missed out on because of it. So, we all got together & devised a code, by which we could alert each other that it's time to leave & give us some privacy, without the girl involved catching on.

All you have to do, when you want everyone to clear the room and leave you & her alone, is to mention the name Tony Banks. "Hey, guess who I saw today...Tony Banks!", or "Have you heard from Tony Banks lately?"...anything will do, and when you hear that, you know it's time to go & let whomever go about their business. Tony was picked because he was 1. a famous person we all knew & whose name we could remember, and because 2. he wasn't so famous that most girls would be likely to have heard of him...except for your hardcore Genesis fans, and those girls shouldn't have to be tricked into being alone with us in the first place.

So there, sorry guys...the secret is out. Kids, feel free to use it if you want. We had other codes for other things, but Tony was by far the most often utilized.

Anyway, sure enough, after we've been sitting there for about a half hour, Alan looks over at me & asks me "So, didja talk to that guy, man?".

I smiled back at him & asked "What guy?"

He said "You know...that guy?"

"Oh....oh, you mean Tony!", I said.

"Ya, that's him", Alan said.

"Ya, he wanted you to stop over & see him, man.", I told him.

"Oh yeah? Maybe I'll do that on my way home. What time is it, anyway?"

Alan is a good friend.

So, he left, and there we were...just the two of us. I asked her what she wanted to do, and she said it didn't matter to her, she was just glad to be away from school for the weekend. We decided to just go rent a couple of movies & bring 'em back to my place, and I thought that boded well. We went to the video store, grabbed a pizza, and spent the rest of the evening watching movies, talking, and just enjoying each other's company.

I don't remember all of what happened, but I know that, as it started to creep close to bedtime, I started to wonder if anything would happen...and if I should try to make something happen. She had slept over before, but the pull-out sofa had always been occupied. That night, there was no reason she couldn't have the whole sofa bed to herself, so I suggested that she could sleep there, or that I could sleep on it & she could sleep in my bed. She said that she didn't want to drive me out of my bed, and that we were both adults, and there was no reason we couldn't sleep together & be responsible if we wanted to.

She didn't say why we should be responsible, and she wasn't really trying to be seductive in any way that I could detect, but if it put us in the same bed, whatever was fine with me, so I stripped down to my boxers & got into bed. She went into the bathroom & came out in one of those too-big t-shirts that can make the right girl look like the absolute cutest thing in the world, and it was certainly working for her. She climbed into bed, and we lied there & talked for a while. I tried as hard as I could to read her & see if she wanted me to make the first move, or any move, but I remember I just couldn't read her. I thought she was into me, but we men aren't known for being able to read signals too well. In fact, I'm still pretty bad at it even today, and I was only 21 then, so the potential error margin was pretty high. So, eventually, I resigned myself to just being a gentleman...I figured it was the safest thing to do, even if it wasn't quite the way I'd have written it...

You know, that's another thing that was different about Maria; she was very pretty, and I was very attracted to her, but I didn't want to...well, I didn't just want to jump her bones. It's hard to explain, I'm not really saying that I had deeper feelings for her at that point, it's more about the different ways I find myself attracted to different women. It's like...if I meet a girl, and I find her really physically attractive before she even opens her mouth, then there's always that feeling of "Boy, I'd like to jump her bones" going through my head; but, if I meet a girl whom I'm not initially that attracted to, but I become attracted to as I get to know her, it's almost like I feel bad about wanting to jump their looking at someone you respect & picturing them naked: it's exciting, but you feel kinda dirty about it at the same time? I dunno....maybe I'm just crazy. In any case, it wasn't making me want to jump Maria's bones any less that night.

Instead, though, we just lied there & talked some more until we fell asleep....or actually, until she fell's rare that I fall asleep before anyone. I remember I lied there, looking at her face in the light from the sreetlamp outside the window, and wondering just what wondrous mysteries this beautiful little creature held for me to find...

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Well, I guess my cold passed without getting too bad...but the pumpkins didn't work out so well; first I tried Gene using a white pumpkin...only to find that white pumpkins are also white inside, and therefore don't reflect very well. In the light, it looks just like him, but in the dark, it looks like some freaky mole man or a possessed clown. Ace fared a little better, but we ran out of pumpkins before we got to Paul & Peter...sorry, guys. I'll try to post some pics tomorrow.

I took sort of a recovery weekend...we'll see if it did any good. I'll do another installment later...

Friday, October 21, 2005

My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus...

Well, it's just been a crappy week all around; my car broke down, I broke a crown off my tooth, and thanks to both of those, I'm now broke 'til the end of the month & now, on top of evrything, I think I'm getting a cold. So, sorry for the slow updates the past few days...this too shall pass.

I'm going over to a friends' house to carve pumpkins up like the faces of the four KISS members; I figure that'll make me feel better if anything will. Peter will be a pain 'cus o' all them whiskers, but dammit...somebody's gotta do it.

More later...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters...

You know, it was almost like Gloria all over again...she wasn't what I wanted, but she was there. I can't remember the exact order of some of these events, but I know they all happened within just a few weeks of each other.

I don't think I heard from Veronica again for a few days...maybe the next weekend. She called me at work on what had to be a Friday night & asked what I was doing after work. She was actually staying at Alan's sister Daria's house, who was out of town for the weekend, and asked if I might want to come over & keep her company. I had nothing better to do, and I had not yet hit the point in my life where I hated not sleeping in my own bed, so I grabbed a bottle of wine & headed over there. The wine never got opened, as we ended up having sex on the sofa about 15 minutes after I walked in the door. I must've been really worked up that night, (which is probably why I came over in the first place) because I remember it didn't last long at all, and I must've been tired, because I remember we fell asleep at what was even then an early hour for me without any problem.

I woke up the next morning beside her, and after she went and checked on the baby, she came back & lay down next to me and we played around for a while, but didn't get too far into it. I remember realizing then & there just how spectacular her breasts really were, and finding out that they were entertaining for both of us...but that's not the point; I also remember that morning, looking around me and thinking to myself that, her breasts nonwithstanding, I wasn't really into this girl...and I remember almost trying to convince myself that I was...just to have that feeling back again. I did notice, even then, that I couldn't just conjure that feeling out of thin air (I don't think I'd ever really tried to like Gloria...), and I remember driving home that morning & feeling a little empty inside...I knew even then that there was nothing there.

Nevertheless, I must have gotten really bored or really down, because I remember the next weekend I figured I'd just do it all over again. I thought that, since we had done the nasty about a half-dozen times now & I'd only taken her out once, that I should probably at least make some kind of effort. In fact, I don't remember exactly what I was thinking...I might have genuinely been trying to take her out & show her a good time, but on some level I had an agenda, because as soon as we'd had a few drinks at the first bar, I suggested we head back home & get it on. She didn't object, so that's what we did. And then afterwards, that's when I first saw it...

As I said before, I honestly didn't think that Veronica was looking for much more than a good time at that point in her life. Sure, she had said she liked me, but everything else we had done since then had been Casual Sex 101, so I figured everything was fine, but apparently, there was trouble. I don't remember anything about the sex itself, but I remember afterwards, we lied there for a minute with me grinning & thinking everything was fine, and then she got up in a huff and started putting on her clothes. I asked her what was wrong, and her voice....changed. It got this tone to it that was like your mother scolding you....that's the only way I can describe it.

She was mad; she had wanted to go out more & be wooed & have fun...and I had just wanted to bring her back here for dirty sex. It was basically true...and I was a little ashamed of it (even though I didn't really deny it), but I had thought she was on board....that's what I get for thinking. I told her I was sorry, but she turned and snapped at me, and the look on her face & that...tone in her voice really freaked me out. I don't remember exactly what she said, but the whole scene got decidedly uncomfortable really fast, and she ended up leaving immediately, with this really creepy, cool, calm yet extremely angry kind of demeanor that I can't precisely describe, even after all these years...but just know that it's nothing you ever want to be around.

So, basically, I thought that was that...I had done her wrong twice & that was more than I figured a woman in her position would stand. I'm wracking my brain, but I can't remember anything else that happened until what had to be at least a week or two later.

It was a Friday or Saturday night, and me & the usual idiots had all been out late swimming at the pool where Alan's parents lived. We sat outside his house for a while afterwards, and I remember we had a bottle of Jagermeister, which was pretty new back then, but I hardly drank any of it 'cus I couldn't stand the stuff. I stayed until maybe one in the morning, and got home and turned on the Super Nintendo, only to hear a knock at my back door a few minutes later. My heart jumped a bit; the last time I had opened that door at this of night, it was Roxanne standing there....but this time, I wasn't so lucky. It was Veronica, six-pack in hand & already drunk as a frat boy.

God knows where she had been or what she had been doing...probably just sitting in her car somewhere nearby & drinking, knowing her...but she was here now and she made no bones about why she had come. She immediately put down the beer, pushed me back down onto the bad, and started kissing me. I stopped her (you read that right), and told her that I didn't think this was such a good idea...that we probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place & that we certainly shouldn't do it now, when she would probably not even remember it tomorrow. The truth was, I was really not turned on at fact, I was more than a little freaked out, so i tried to reason with her.

Well, we all know how well logic works on drunks, and she was hearing none of it. I'm sure that, in the little experience she'd had, she probably wasn't accustomed to guys turning her down (and I'm pretty sure that's the first time I ever turned a girl down...correct me if I'm wrong), and I had already seen she could be pretty persistent when she wanted to be, so she kept right at it. When I pushed her away again, she pulled out the big guns; her top came right up & her bra came off in a flash. Now, even today, I'm still a little surprised that that didn't do it, 'cus they were spectacular, but truthfully, it was a huge turn-off. I said before that she didn't really seem like the type of girl to be doing this kind of stuff (which she really wasn't), and that thought hit me again & the whole "what's wrong with this picture?" vibe got real heavy. It was just kind of....I dunno...really desperate, I guess...and that's never attractive.

Still, I wasn't sure what I was going to have to do to get 'no' through to her, 'cus nothing seemed to be working, and honestly, had she kept rubbing those things against my face for a few seconds more, it wouldn't have mattered, but thankfully, at that moment, the phone rang. Saved by the bell. It was Molly, my platonic punk-chick buddy, and when I heard it was her on the line, I quickly formulated a plan in my head in about 3 seconds that would end up haunting my life for years to come.

I talked to Molly for a minute & then told her that I had just gotten in, and to call me back in 10 minutes sharp. She said okay, and when I hung up the phone, I turned to Veronica and lied right to her face. I told her that Molly & I had started seeing each other (Molly was actually pregnant with another guy's baby at this time, but that's beside the point), and that she couldn't find out that I had another girl over, and she had to go right away. She argued with me for a second (although she had put her top back on when I was on the phone), but eventually the message got through. The phone rang again in 10 minutes, and she was on her way out the door when it did.

I felt really bad for her right then; I felt bad for lying to her, and I also felt bad for her that she was so...down, and that she had obviously hit some kind of personal low. I knew she had been fighting with & was estranged from her family during that time; she had taken the baby & left, and I remember feeling really sorry for her, but at the same time, being really glad that she was gone. I didn't need that kind of trouble in my life. I answered the phone & told Molly what had just happened, to which she joked that I had a stalker now, and I remember thinking that maybe that wasn't so funny...

Regardless, nothing else happened; I got no more late-night visits, and I wouldn't hear from Veronica again for a long while, but the seeds had been planted (no, she wasn't pregnant). The rest of that summer was nothing but mindless fun...some of the best I ever had, in fact; that summer is still the time in our lives against which my friends & I judge any fun we've had since. There were a few other girls that summer, but all of them fleeting. There was the sorority girl, there was the new-age chick, there were the girls from St. Louis, there was the one that was still technically illegal...but there was no one important. I had a blast, but it would be a few months before anyone significant came along.

I finally had to move out of our house, as it was being sold, and I moved into a little one-bedroom apartment in a shady complex just a few blocks from where I worked. The place was pretty ratty, but it was cheap, and it was my first time living alone. I remember the first night I stayed by myself, I cranked up The Yes Album as loud as I could without rattling the neighbors & felt a tremendous sense of freedom & solitude that I would get way too used to over the years, but at that moment felt fantastic.

It didn't last long, however, because about a month or so later, I met Maria....

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The future ain't what it used to be...

So I was talking a few days ago about the Ego Monster, and how, when he's hurt or spurned, he proceeds to commandeer my life & screw things up royally. In fact, I wrote a whole big preamble about him that probably should have been written now instead, but we'll just call that foreshadowing. Anyway, the whole point to that story was that, when I'm at a low point, I'll do stupid things to make myself feel better, and after the weekend of Hurricane Roxanne, I wasn't at my lowest point, perhaps...but I was definitely low enough to do something stupid.

There have already been a couple of moments in my life chronicled in this journal that I've pinpointed as being some of the biggest mistakes I ever made...and there will be many more...but honestly, sitting here now thinking about it, sober as a judge, I don't think I'll ever be able to find anything I ever did that I wish I could go back & change as much as this.

And so it was one night the following week that I found myself sitting outside on the steps beside my house with Alan & Pete, drinking a bottle of Bacardi white & musing over the past weekend, when Veronica pulled into my driveway.

Her reputation for craziness had already begun to proceed her, even back then, as both of the guys audibly groaned as they saw who it was. I was surprised to see her there, 'cus I know she certainly got the message last time we spoke, but there she was, I remembered thinking that she was either really persistent, or she really was crazy....and then deciding that I was too drunk & upset to care. I don't remember a goddamn thing that happened next or anything that she or anybody said, 'cus right then, the Ego Monster took over; next thing I remember is a half hour later, and her naked, writhing on top of me, with me looking up at her with her hair done up in braids & thinking that she looked vaguely like Princess Leia..and we all know what that does to men in our age group...

Afterwards, I remember making some small talk, but mostly I remember realizing that we had almost burned the house down...literally; I smelled smoke & saw that there was a cigarette smoldering on the floor that left a two-inch black crater in that floor that is still there today. Only thing else I really remember is, after she left, realizing that I probably shouldn't have done what I just did, but again, being too drunk to care.

I can't remember if it was the next day or not, but it had to be either that or the day after, because the next memory I have is of being woken up at about 10 in the morning by Veronica entering my bedroom door. Apparently, although I had & still have no memory of it at all, at some point in the past, she & had talked about mixing sex & fruit, like the whole 9 1/2 Weeks thing, and she had shown up first thing in the morning with a bowl of strawberries & a tub of cool whip. While I was still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, she showed me the goodies she'd brought with her, and then dramatically unzipped her dress & dropped it to the floor, revealing a lacy, purple nightie underneath.

Contrary to what you might think, a lot of thoughts actually went through my head at that moment, first and foremost being that this just seemed way out of character for this girl; I know she liked me & she had just been through a rough time, but it just seemed kind of forced, like she was trying too hard to bag me, and I thought even then that what she was doing had as much to do with desperately trying to get her self-esteem back as with who I actually was. Still, I had to admire it; it was a gutsy move...and she almost pulled it off.

Don't get me wrong: she was a beautiful girl, and she looked spectacular standing there in that nightie, but I just didn't....swoon. Had Kara or Roxanne walked in & pulled something like that, I would have probably fainted from sensory overload if I didn't slip on my own drool & knock myself out first, but here, something was wrong with this picture, and I still don't know now if it was actually that, or just my brain trying to tell me that something was wrong with the bigger picture, but either way, I didn't have the reaction she wanted. Still, I wasn't going to let her know that....

Instead, I got up, pulled her to me, told her that the strawberries & cream were a nice thought, but it was hot, the air conditioning was on the fritz, and we should just get down to business, and she seemed to be just fine with that idea.

In fact, afterwards, she seemed positively ecstatic; she was giggly as a schoolgirl the rest of the day, and it was kind of infectious; I don't remember what we said or did, but I do remember I enjoyed hanging out with her the rest of that day. I remember I had to run a few errands, so i sort of let her tag along, and I shamefully remember my 21 year-old mind thinking that, anyway you looked at it, it's already been a hell of a couple o' weeks.

That evening, I remember sitting on top of my car over at Pete's house, telling the guys all about how I'd been woken up that morning, and seeing Alan's face grow wide as he realized I had just seen something he had thought about since 3rd grade - it's not like everybody was in love with Veronica in school or anything, but she was awfully pretty and had developed awfully early. I remember even then all of us talking about how I shouldn't get too involved with her...after all, she did have a baby. I didn't worry about getting too involved, though...I wasn't really all that into the girl, anyway. She was sweet, but she was also potentially crazy. She was beautiful, but she wasn't my type at all. She was also still technically married for another few weeks, and so I thought. especially after the casualness of the last few days, that it was nothing more than her blowing off some steam & getting back in the game and me coming along for the ride & having some would never add up to any more than that.

Like I said, if I could go back, and change one, single, solitary thing...well, maybe it would be that first date we'd had a few weeks before, I guess...but either way, I had opened Pandora's box....and that girl would end up affecting my life...or I would let her end up affecting my life...more than any other ever would....