Wednesday, December 17, 2008


*I really didn't intend to write these in chronological order, but I was walking past one of my old apartments earlier, I started to think about this one, and this story just fits here and nowhere else.

I wish I could say I handled this one differently, but I didn't. I was 21 years old and thought that I was invincible and that I could dodge karma and that I could get away with anything.
It was summer, and I was working at the gym. I was working on moving back to Colorado, this time with OP (see post 2 previous) following close behind as soon as he could.
Many of the people who came to work out at the gym were medical students or law students from the college a few miles away. One of the regulars came in almost every night and lifted weights, then came to the desk to talk to me. I am not entirely sure how he asked me out. I don't remember. I do remember that one night, my mother was visiting and enjoying the facilities, and when she saw WTRY come up and talk to me, she feigned a swoon and smiled. Yes, he was that kind of guy. The one even your mother thinks is hot. (Later when I told him he was a recent law school grad who worked as a court clerk but decided he wanted to go back to school-to MED SCHOOL-she almost died. Seriously.)
Anyway. I remember our dates very well. Most of the time, I was a bit freaked out because he wanted to pick me up (remember, I actually lived with OP at this time) but I worked around it. We went to see "Memento." We went to an outdoor Better Than Ezra concert. We ate at a seafood restaurant that served "just okay" sushi. We went to his apartment and talked about philosophy (wow, I feel like I was smarter then than I am now). I remember one night that I was at his place until late. He invited me to stay. "It's not like that," he said. "I'll sleep on the sofa. You can have the bed." I hated to say "no," but I had to. I had a boyfriend at home, remember? Yeah, horrible, horrible me.
I still can't say I know 100% exactly for sure if I knew what love was back then, but whatever I thought it was, I thought I loved both of these guys at once. It was like a boxing one corner, OP with his adorable almost-shaved head that always smelled like his lotion, his crazy glasses, his quiet shyness, our nights spent watching "Pulp Fiction" on the living room floor. In the other corner, WTRY with his wonderful ability to talk about the most obscure college philosophy class references, his chivalry, the sexy smile that he seemed to save for only me. Yikes. Just...yikes.
He actually told me that he planned to move to Denver in the next few months. "I have friends there," he said. "Once you get to Colorado, I will set you up with them, so you will know people. And when I move, you will only live an hour away." (!!!SERIOUSLY!!!!)
And so, the night before I was supposed to caravan across the country with my father (and all my belongings) in tow, I went out with WTRY. For some reason, I can't remember exactly what we did (besides go to the pub and drink a beer or two...that could be why I don't remember?) but I do remember where we parked the cars. (We had met, another one of my ways to avoid OP and WTRY figuring out my horrible deception. I couldn't decide! I was going to! I was! Just not right then!) Right across from the gym. And I remember that we left wherever we were, and planned to drive somewhere else. At the car, he stopped me and kissed me. We just looked at each other for a minute, and suddenly, I felt that someone was watching us. We both looked over to see an obviously homeless older man, one hand down his pants, staring. WTRY looked at him and said "Can I help you?"
And with that, the homeless man reared back and decked WTRY with his fist. And connected with his lip. (Remember...WTRY was about 6'3" and built like a fireman...all muscle, but not gross bodybuilder overdone muscle. The homeless guy was about my height, maybe 5'4" at the most, and stooped and skinny.)
No, really. Again, you can't make this shit up.
WTRY stood there stunned, hand on his mouth, started to say, "Why did you do that?" when a younger, also obviously homeless man appeared. He had an umbrella in his hand and a backpack on.
"Here, hold this," he told me in a soft voice as he handed me the umbrella. He turned and started to fight with the older homeless man. WTRY grabbed my hand and practically pushed me over to his car and into the passenger side.
"You aren't going back out there yet. We are staying in my car for a while. Those guys are nuts."
I was mortified. It wasn't my fault, but I felt so stupid.
WTRY moved his rearview mirror and turned on his dome light. Sure enough, his lip was bleeding. He looked over at me. "I hope he didn't hit me with the hand that was down his pants."
We sat there for a while.
"I made you something, for the trip," he said. He pulled a cellular phone out of his glove box. A phone? "I have the same phone. I mean, this one isn't set up to work as a phone, but it's an mp3 player. And you attach this connector so you can use it with your cassette player (this was 2001 and I had a 1996 car.) I was touched. He showed me how to use it, and the first song to play was a Travis song--Writing to Reach You. Hence, the name.
I can't, for the life of me, remember how the night ended. It was after 3am and I was set to leave at 5am for a very, very long drive. The night was sad, and touching, and hilarious, and scary, and sometimes I wish I could do it all over again.
I ended up not moving. When I got there, I could not find a place to live (my dad thought that my idea of flying out a few months earlier to find an apartment was silly, heh) and I just suddenly felt...wrong (again, no idea why. Because I was to meet my husband a few years later? Hmm.) I called WTRY from Kansas on the way back home.
"Wait. Aren't you going the wrong way?"
"I'm coming back. Long story."
"Call me when you get back."
And I did. He invited me out. And as I remember, I was getting ready, and OP found his way into my side of the closet and read my diary.
And then I was just too messed up to do much of anything for a while. I never did call WTRY again, and I ignored his calls.
A few years later, I was working a desk job, and out of sheer boredom I googled his name. He was working in Denver. He made it.
And OP? Well, he has disappeared. Maybe he moved back to Rapid City. Maybe he married the ex we always argued about and moved somewhere else. Maybe he still lives with his friends in Illinois. I have no idea.
But I do know that I hurt two great guys, and even though I am happily married now, sometimes my husband says something or makes a face that reminds me of one of the many guys in my past, and I get the weirdest nostalgic feeling. And I feel terrible. And I hope they are somewhere out there, happy, and remembering me not as a total horrible bitch, but as one of the girls who came before.

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