Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gone Tomorrow

Part 1 - We Meet
Part 2 - She's So Lovely
Part 3 - See Me
Part 4 - Here Today

I drove home with a heavy heart; the details of the night replayed in my mind like a movie on A-B repeat. I got back to my apartment at three in the morning, and although the rain had stopped, the streets and sidewalks were still mottled with puddles and whispering runoff. The once teeming thoroughfare around me was fast asleep, deserted like an old west ghost town, as if the city had declared last call hours ago and closed it's doors.

I pulled her card from my wallet and made an entry into my email address book, the clicked Create Mail. Although I had no idea what I was going to say, the words came alive of their own accord; my fingers rattled the keys and chattered like the staccato of machine gun fire. My feelings flowed unhindered and without inhibition, words that would have been impossible to express were I to attempt to speak them. When my head lit upon my pillow that night, I slept easier than I had in years.

I didn't know how to retrieve my email at work, so I had to wait an agonizing day before I could rush home to check for her reply. I dialed up my internet service provider and fired up Outlook Express, and my heart puttered in anticipation as I watched the status: Connecting..., Checking..., Downloading 1 Message..., 1 New Message. And there it appeared in glistening bold.

To my great delight, she matched my enthusiasm and depth of feeling. Where the night before she had been guarded and controlled, now she wrote with unfettered passion and abandon. She wanted to know everything about me, and I replied with a dissertation on my life, never leaving a question or point unanswered, and countering with a thousand questions of my own. I always wrote in the evenings, and her reply always awaited my return from work.

Chuck, a coworker of mine, was our resident genius, whose thirst for computer knowledge was insatiable. He was also a wannabe psychiatrist, who liked to dig into my past and diagnose my condition, once even going so far as to give me some of his Prozac, or Zolof, or some other Russian sounding anti-depressant. I was Starling to his Hannibal Lecter. He was a drill sergeant whose goal was to break me down and recreate me in his image. I began to doubt myself, so I went to a psychologist for a single session, and told her of my trouble holding down a relationship for more than a few months, of my various reactions to being treated with disrespect. She gave me the best, most helpful, and the only professional advice I've needed since: "What you are describing to me is perfectly healthy, and I would only be concerned if you didn't stand up for yourself." Chuck was very disappointed, who had been licking his chops as he tried to convince me to confront my father for a lifetime of instability and chaos. He wanted me to need the drugs, like himself, to remove any responsibility on his part to deal with his own problems. I told him one day that I decided to forgive my father, and myself, and move on with life, and thus did our relationship take a turn to nowhere.

But I needed to get my email at work, as the daily wait was killing me.

"Chuck, is there a way to get my home email here at work?"

"Yes." He stared at me insolently, and waited for me to press.

"Ok, will you show me how?"

"You could Telnet and use Pine." He said simply, as if I should know what the hell he was talking about.

"Chuck, you may as well be speaking Farsi, but I would really appreciate it if you would just show me, ok?"

"Hmmm. Why can't you just wait until you get home to check it?"

"I could, but I want it now, see?"

"It must be important, whatever it is."

"Are you going to show me or not?"

He did show me, and thankfully left me alone. I would have told him why, but I didn't want to hear about the odds I was up against, or how contemporary scientific studies clearly proved that long distance relationships are doomed to fail.

Soon, emailing wasn't enough, and we talked at night on the phone, which kept me up until midnight or one, which meant three or four in the morning for her. I asked her one night if I could come for a visit.

"Are you trying to give me a heart attack," she exclaimed.

"I can't help it, I have to see you. I can't take it anymore."

After a long pause, she said finally, "Ok."

I stayed with her at her house, where she lived with her parents. Her sister and two brothers were in close attendance, and I made a favorable impression. Again, not for any reasons I had intended.

We ordered out for Chinese food on the first night. I served myself some rice from a bowl and noticed that it was overcooked. Her mom saw me eating it and commented, "I just hate the rice that they make there."

"I know what you mean," I replied with a slight grimace, "it's a little watery."

She looked quite amused. "I won't eat the rice from the restaurant, so I make my own."

I felt the sparkling warmth spread across my face as I turned cherry red. "Ok, wow," I stammered, "that, hmmm."

Everybody laughed as one of the brothers pat me on the back.

The next morning I slept in. I could hear Beth's mom asking where I was, grousing that I wasn't up yet, so I made my way downstairs. As I came through the kitchen entryway, I leapt through the doorway to make a grand entrance and say 'Ta da!', but instead I crashed my forehead on a crossbeam atop the doorway and nearly knocked myself out. I had a nice imprint to show for it, and again her mom got a good chuckle, and from that point forward, I was a made man.

The night before I went home, I threw all caution to the wind, and told Beth that I loved her. Her eyes glossed as she stared at me speechless.

"I want you to come to San Francisco and move in with me."


Mr. T said...

I was laughing my ass off until I got to the end when I nearly choked. Talk about brave and to the point. But as you said, at 35 opportunity starts to knock less and less. Bravo, Scott!

Still chuckling about the rice... OMG

jenbeauty said...

You passed the family test!! That had to have been difficult for you. I am glad her mom had a sense of humor about it all.

Wow, asked her to up and move to SF! Very impressed!

trinamick said...

Making an idiot of yourself right off is always the best way to make a good impression. Bravo!

magnetbabe said...

I got a good laugh about the rice too. Does she still make rice the same way? Or is rice a taboo food around the in-laws? I'm learning as you tell the story that your relationship with Beth breaks all the stereotypes about long distance realtionships. Distance can't keep soul mates apart!

Beth said...

"Chuck, you may as well be speaking Farsi, but I would really appreciate it if you would just show me, ok?"

Why oh why do computer people ALWAYS speak like this when they KNOW you don't understand them? I think they have cyber-God complex.

Anyhow, the rice, knocking yourself in the head with the beam ... great laugh out loud moments!

Scott said...

Mr T - I was getting to old to play the games of youth. It wasn't so much brave as listening to my inner voice. Glad you got a laugh out of it; I still do.

Jen - Her mom could have taken a whole different attitude, and I was very lucky.

Trina - It sure had a disarming effect on everyone. Talk about being myself!

MagnetBabe - No, the rice is on the table for every take out order since. I'll make a comment about how great the rice is once in a while for a laugh. It is written in family lore now.

Knitter - It's always something with the digit heads. Even within a team of programmers, everybody feels extra special for their concentration. The database admins in particular feel like the equivalent of Atlas, holding the weight of the company on their backs. What they know is one one-hundredth of what I do to get my job done, and I don't let on at all, but these folks usually have a smug look when you need their help as they check their Day Runners to fit you in.

Tee said...

Awh! LOL - Love all those uncomfortable moments!... And I totally have had that anticipation when waiting for an Email from a special someone.

Scott said...

Tee - It sure is nice to be looking forward to something.

mr. schprock said...

Turning awkward moments into a plus is an art form. You are an artist.

Trevor Record said...

Aw man, what's with all these cliffhangers?

Man, I have been there with the insulting a girlfriend's mother. Didn't turn out so well for myself.

Scott said...

Mr Schprock - Well, that's one way to look at it. I think, as the old saying goes, that greatness was thrust upon me.

Trevor - Sorry to hear about that. And I'll work on wrapping this up tomorrow.

Jason said...

I love it -- gusto!

Scott said...

Sweet, thanks Jason.

Mrs.T said...

This is so sweet!

Miranda said...

*laugh* Telnet and Pine! I love it ;)

Wonderful as always, Scott :)

Jenn said...

Shit, I SO want to catch up on your blog! I will have to either tonight or after the long weekend ahead. I can't believe I'm missing all of this. I suck.

Scott said...

Thanks Mrs T and Miranda.

Jenn - I'm not going anywhere, so stop by anytime!

dog1net said...

Oh, man, everytime I see rice from now on I'll start chuckling. Too, funny. Thanks for visiting my site and leaving a comment.

Anonymous said...

Pine? I haven't used that since the 90s.

I don't know what's up with blogger, but I can't login so I have to post anonymously. this sucks.

-The Zombieslayer