GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Thank you, Carol

We’d seen each other many times, usually at the Cafeteria. I always sat at a table near the main entrance and saw you walk in dozens of times, books clutched to your chest in a tight embrace, on pixie steps I’ve never seen since. You were always cheerful, and even when frowning, your face was always on the verge of smiling.

It got to the point where I’d wonder about you if a few days went by without seeing you. I found that odd for we never said “Hi.” Not then.

The day you walked into the office, I froze. I remember hoping you’d be charming, interesting, funny… any of them. You were all of them and so much more.

I already had the reputation of working alone until wee hours. You began to work shifts, even the graveyard hours I practically owned. Maybe I was slow, or stupid, but it took me weeks to realize you were often choosing my shifts, or dropping in when I was around. (Hell, I was always around that office.) I was sure it had to do with the others. It did, but for once, I was one of them.

Do you remember our first kiss? It started as a playful tussle and the playing continued for a long time because I was so afraid I was wrong, afraid that I was projecting my feelings on your actions… One kiss, and I was never the same.

We spent time together, but it wasn’t in the burning fashion of Romeo and Juliet; it was deeper, calmer, more a sense of sharing than of consuming. You studied often and hard, and your ferocious will awed me. But in the middle of your reverie, when I felt I was miles away at arm length, you’d reach out to me, to hold my hand or run your fingers through my hair. You’d suddenly close your book and embrace me. Or I’d be busy and you’d come up to place your hand on my shoulder or your arm around my waist. Those moments made the universe and my place in it right. It changed me. I never told you that. I should have.

Reading, watching TV, cooking, playing, walking, driving around or just sitting together, it all felt right. I don’t know how else to say it except that everything we did together made sense. It was you, Carol. You accepted me. My rough edges and fears, everything I tried to hide and the pain I had to reveal. With you I was embraced body and soul. I’m crying as I write this. Sorry. It’s taken me all this time to truly appreciate what a rare and wonderful gift you gave me.

When you left, we parted softly, gently. For the only time in my life, summer held no warmth. We stayed in touch as you plunged into your new job in Texas. I was happy for you, but I grieved for me.

Two months later, just before midnight, I threw clothes in a bag and took off for Dallas, driving for nine hours straight. I surprised you on your doorstep that evening. We spent a few hours together and in a moment ordained by Fate, when “The Twelfth of Never” came on, I asked you to hold me close. You did. We did.

We stayed in touch. Three years later, I received your wedding invitation. My car was in the shop, but a bus would leave the night before and get me there two hours before the ceremony. Carrying my best suit, I rode six hours. I changed in the bus station and was the first person in the church that morning.

Suddenly you appeared, ablaze in your wedding gown, with that brilliant smile I could never forget. You raced up the aisle and greeted one of your friends with that musical “Hello” no one could match. You didn’t see me and I was glad.

The wedding was wonderful. Your father arranged a ride for me to your reception. I stood in line and then, dreamlike, we saw each other. You were so surprised. You turned to introduce me to Lonnie, but your husband and I had already met. You smiled at me, held my hands and gave me a warm embrace. We spoke for a few seconds and I ceded my place to the next person.

I left then, walked to the station, changed into jeans, shirt and sneakers and rode six hours back home. We exchanged one or two more letters, the last of many, and I did what I have always done: I faded away and out of touch.

There are memories in a life that are kept tucked away, in a special place of the heart, touched with the lightest of thoughts as if these moments were made of the finest, most delicate porcelain. Memories so beautiful that peering into that special place is to welcome a sweet yearning ache. For many, the joy is in the remembering. For me, it was a joy best left untouched.

And yet… Half a day just for a moment to see your smile, hold your hands and embrace you. Would I do it again? Oh yes I would. I would until the day I die.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol sounds so great and yet we're here stuck with you rather than with Don and her. Damn

November 02, 2006 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthmonth by the way

November 02, 2006 8:46 PM  

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