Things have been pretty good for me lately. After some trying times last month, the ANN situation (more accurately, the ANN boss) has settled down, and things have returned to normal. I've been doing some pretty good writing lately, too, if I say so myself... on the site, and in the book ("That Which Will Never Be Finished" is now the working title, instead of "The Sum Of All Things") -- pretty much everywhere but here. I'm feeling pretty good, too -- I'm getting out on the bike more, nearly every morning (nothing quite like riding around just before the sun comes up, when the streets are fairly quiet) and the scale says I'm doing OK -- not great, but making progress. Good deal.
In fact, things are about as routine around here as they can be... so of course, last Thursday fate decided to throw me something of a curveball. I mean... you don't really expect to turn the page in the morning paper and see the smiling face of your first girlfriend, ya know? But there she was -- I'm pretty sure -- staring back at me from a Dillards ad.
Once the initial shock wore off -- more of a dumbfounded "is that who I think it is?" reaction -- it wasn't very surprising. She had been in a state beauty pageant back in 2000, after all, and had talked about modelling back in the days I knew her... which, my God, was 12 years ago.
"I was there when you shone as bright as Bethlehem from afar...and I was there when you were young and strong and pervertedAnd everything that makes a young man a star... and you were a star"---Chantal Kreviazuk
You know how guys are about their first girlfriends (by now, my family and close friends are likely saying the same thing... "God, here he goes again.) Guys never forget them... Lord knows, I haven't. In fact, it is safe to say I've thought about her, at least in passing, almost every day since we broke up 12 years ago. I view that as a sign of respect... which I really didn't have for her during the time we dated.
I thought of her as I was leaving Fresno -- and another relationship -- in 1998. I thought of her briefly as I turned base-to-final for the second time during my first solo flight in Belen. And for some reason, my mind flashed to her first... and received some comfort from the thought... when the radiologist told me back in January I had TC. That was probably because she once talked of becoming an oncologist, as a friend and classmate of hers had died from leukemia.
That's only one of the things I still remember about her. Her birthday is December 2nd. She has two brothers -- one adopted, who I once took to a car show in Albuquerque -- and a mother she didn't see very often and, frankly, didn't like very much. Her mom had divorced her dad, who had been in the Navy, a few years before I met her. She knew sign language... and loved unicorns. Her middle name is Elizabeth... the only middle name I still remember of any woman I've ever dated.
She was such a sweet, caring, unassuming person... and the only person, man or woman, I've ever known who not once displayed any hint of a hidden agenda. She wanted to be cared for, and loved, and that was pretty much it. She was also beautiful, to boot... the perfect first girlfriend.
And I dumped her... and I did so cruelly, calling her and her family names to boot. I was an arrogant asshole -- likely why I tend to have a short fuse with others like that today -- who thought since he'd managed to score a home run at his first time at the plate, surely he could do better in the future.
Admittedly, that's the "kicking myself" version of that tale -- it would be more realistic to point out that most people NEVER stay with their first loves, as by definition they aren't the lasting ones. And it is cliche that most people have a better appreciation for their first loves looking back, than they did at the time... once they have some life-experience under their belts.
Standing here today, in the emotional aftermaths of the relationships that came after... that's an understatement.
I was there... c'mon, tell me I wasn't worth sticking it out forI was there, and I know I was worth it'cause if I wasn't worth it that makes me worse off than you are
After the end in 1994, I saw her intermittently over the next several years. She came into the restaurant I later worked at -- owned by a mutual friend -- with a friend of hers from work. She later came in with her new boyfriend. I suffered through it... although by that time I had also dated other girls.
The last time I saw her was in March 2002. I was working at DMC -- just promoted to Shift Manager -- and had to do a new once-a-week pickup at a bank I hadn't been able to put on a regular route yet. So, I did it, not thinking anything of it other than I've been working nonstop for the past 12 hours, and I really want to go home, take a much-needed shower, and crash.
So, of course, when I walked into the bank, my eyes went immediately to an office that had her name on the door. Nah, couldn't be... I thought.... but just to be safe I turned away, pretending to be interested in a home-equity brochure...
She was wearing a white dress, black belt, looking for all the world like a professional career woman... which made me very aware of my courier-service attire, and my current lot in life. We traded awkward small talk for a few minutes, and I remember next to nothing about our brief conversation... except, wow, she was still with the guy she'd brought into the restaurant eight years before.
Not married, though.
I left the bank feeling... embarrassed, for many reasons.
Things, of course, are better for me today... like, A LOT better. Even the recent brush with cancer can't change that. I'm living a pretty nice life... albeit single... but I'm blessed with a lot. The bills are paid, the car runs (never a certainty with GM) and the roof over my head doesn't leak. I'm now living my life with purpose and direction, something I didn't have on that Friday afternoon in March 2002. That would start five months later, when I flew to Farmington on N591DM.
I can't help but wish she could see me now, though... ya know? I'd love to have that conversation with her -- "So, what's happened with you in the past dozen years?"
But that would rile things up, things that are best left in the past, I'm sure. Fairly sure... reasonably sure.
And now it's all around me, all around me... I'm surroundedAnd now it's all around me, all around meYou surround me like a circle.