"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, December 13, 2003
My Heart Impaled
be-daz-zle Function: transitive verb Date: 1596 1 : to confuse by a strong light : DAZZLE 2 : to impress forcefully : ENCHANT 3 : what Patty Cox did to me when I first saw her
Some instants are burned into your mind as if they were seared right into your head with a soldering iron.
The first time I saw Patty Cox was one of those instants.
I was at the campground (*see previous post) and was riding to my trailer after a day at the paddleboat dock. It was late afternoon, the sun was shining. And there she was, walking down the side of the road towards the beach.
She was a dream walking on Earth. Long brown hair, slim, and eyes as big and dark as anime. Those eyes could sparkle and you could still just drown in them.
I hit the brakes, backed up, and introduced myself. "This is the girl I want to marry," I thought to myself. In one instant, my predator heart was captured as surely as a tiger in a snare.
I guess for each of us there is a certain type of person that we are really susceptable to, a certain look or character that really attracts us and makes us helpless. Patty was mine.
By that evening, we were dating.
By the weekend, we were both in love.
Its so long ago now, I can barely remember most of the details. Some images stick with me though, like her hair in the moonlight, her smile, her laugh. Her accent. Her walk. The fact that she had this one lock of blond hair running right down the back of her head amidst the brown tresses.
I remember what it was like to hold her hand.
But, by the end of the weekend I was up against that blessing/curse of a resort town...she was heading back home to West Virginia. The day she left, I was bereft.
I counted the days until she returned.
And a month later, she did. I was not about to let this one go, and before she went back home to West Virginia this time I had given her a pre-engagement ring.
The day she left, I missed her more than I had ever missed anyone in my entire life. I did not know emotions like that even existed. I drove to Brookgreen Gardens, a sculpture garden not too far from where I was, and spent the afternoon walking around among the statues in the hot August sun.
There is something about sculpture, music, and painting that can express emotions beyond what words alone, prose alone, can do. The sculptures at Brookgreen are full of pathos, full of emotional charge. I felt at home among them.
I was going to see Patty again at Thanksgiving. I had that to look forward to.
I called her every week. Those were the days before cheap long distance, so it was like a dollar a minute to do that. We wrote back and forth too.
Then, and I did not want to admit this to myself, I was doing a lot more writing than she was. She said she lost the ring while swimming in the river, I said that was OK, there were more rings.
The week before Thanksgiving, I got a thick letter in the mail from her. Great, I thought. This must have the directions on how to get to her house, hotel info, all of that stuff.
But when I opened it, that's not what was in there at all.
From the first few words, it looked like a Dear John letter.
Not wanting to face this, I raced back to school, and found my friend Bobby. I asked him to read the letter and confirm what I thought. He said yes, it was a Dear John letter.
I had been dumped.
My heart was broken.
Thanksgiving weekend, I went down to the beach by myself. John and I were riding around talking on the CB, which was the fad at the time, and managed to meet a couple of girls. One was fat, but the other one was pretty. We ended up at her trailer, and I ended up with the pretty one.
I slept there that night, but when I left the next morning, nothing had happened.
I went back that afternoon. I thought, what the heck.
And when I left, I was no longer pure.
The saddest thing is, I can't remember her name [note: later remembered it was "Deborah" I think.] I was now at the top of the food chain, the alpha predator. And I would stay there for years. That was where I was comfortable. At the top, no one preyed on you. No one could break your heart if you refused to have one.
The next summer, one afternoon John came running into the trailer, saying "Guess who I just saw! It's Patty, and she has this HUGE ring on!" So, I went to the arcade to see her. Yes, it was her, and yes she had a huge engagement ring on her finger.
Of course, I immediately started letting her know how well I was doing without her. We talked for a bit, and I was really trying to tell her that no, my life had not really been impacted (just sideswiped like a sledgehammer had hit me, but I would never have admitted that to her!) and I had not even thought about her in who knows how long (which was probably hours and not days.)
That night, her sister came into the bar where I was entertaining. "Patty caught a bus back to West Virginia tonight," she said. "Do you know why she came here?"
"She wanted to check you out one last time before she got married."
Oh man. Talk about blowing it.
Thats another one of those soldering iron moments. And that's Patty's story, in a nutshell, sandwiched between those emblazoned memories. That incredible first sight, and that tragic final wash of realization.
It still hurts.
I'm not talking about one of those vengeful hurts, no, not at all. I'm older and wiser and I know other things must have been happening. No, it's a hurt like I lost a dear treasure, maybe the dearest of all, and I was a great deal to blame for it, and forever less than whole because of it.
There are many ways of breaking a heart. Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream - whatever that dream might be. Pearl Buck (1892 - 1973)