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From the Heroine's Journey

Supernatural Intervention

I signed up to usher at the early-morning jazz concerts during Idaho All-State weekend. It was easy, I just stood in the lobby of the auditorium handing out programs and telling excited parents they couldn’t take their coffees or breakfast muffins into the performance space. I was happy to be there, getting to listen to some of the most talented amateur jazz bands in the state. It made me long for the days when I got to perform jazz like that, loud and enthusiastic. Now, I was just an outsider, not quite good enough to play at the college level. I was okay with this, I suppose. I had other strengths, and none of it prevented me from enjoying the music. The high schoolers, and even middle schoolers, here were much better than I ever could have been. I guess I could say my priorities shifted also, into something that would please my parents. That was practical. Where I could make a living.

I leaned against the wall, listening. Then you walked around the corner, coffee in hand.

“Hi, sorry. You can’t take your coffee in the auditorium. But you could leave it on this table while you watch.”

“Could I just stand here and watch?” you asked.


You looked at me with the biggest grey-blue eyes I knew would either get me into massive trouble or that I would fall head over heels for. Maybe both simultaneously. You looked forward, and I looked at you. The songs from the auditorium went silent while I watched you take them in. It was as if each note stuck to each hair, each pore on your body and made them dance. You half-heartedly asked about me, why I was there, if I liked jazz. I don’t remember how it came up, but I mentioned something about Fahrenheit 451 being one of my favorite books, and those grand eyes of yours closed in on mine.

“What was your name?” you asked. So I told you, and you told me, and then the concert was over and you left.

The Star Crossed Lovers

I didn’t see you for some time after the morning we spent together over jazz and coffee. That morning was on my mind, and I tried finding you online, but my searches came up empty. I had started to think you weren’t real and I that had imagined our entire interaction. Seeing you again was all I wanted. You were the most interesting person I had ever met, and I wanted to get to know you, needed to. But soon the business of life and starting my twenties consumed me, and the mere hope of running into you randomly one day started to slip away.

But then I did, when I least expected to.

I was sitting in the library, having coffee before choir rehearsal. Through the fishbowl windows, you caught my eyes, and I actually did a double take. I didn’t think that was something people did in real life. I watched you saunter in, hands in your pockets, carefree. You went to the person sitting at the reference desk, and I tried to decipher what you were doing there. I wondered if you’d be there long enough for me to talk to you, get your phone number or some way to contact you. You went behind the desk and into an office, leaving me to wonder if there would be enough time for us before I had to go.

Would you remember me? Have you thought about that morning we spent getting to know each other and listening to jazz?

I looked down at my watch, then back at the door you were behind. It didn’t look like you’d be leaving any time soon, so I gathered my empty cup and went to the trash as slowly as I possibly could. But then, by some divine miracle, you left the office and headed toward the main doors. I practically pounced on you.

“Hi! I was hoping I would run into you again.”

You looked confused, I wished I could’ve started that conversation differently.

“Oh, yeah. The girl from the jazz concert.” So you did remember me. “How have you been?”

“Busy. It’s jazz fest, so I’ve had extra rehearsals and classes shifting schedules. I’m actually on my way to rehearsal now.”

Outside the library, I considered skipping rehearsal just to spend time with you, maybe work up the courage to ask you on a date. Nerves spilled out from my stomach to the tips of my toes and the tops of my ears, and I couldn’t say anything.

“I enjoyed listening to those concerts with you,” I said.

“Well, what about sitting in front of a concert together this weekend?” you asked.

“I’d like that.”

We went our separate ways, me late, and you, to I don’t know where. But all I could think was how stupid I was to not get your phone number. How would we figure out the details of going to a concert? I started to think you were just being nice and that I had probably really startled you by nearly yelling at you to see if you remembered me. If I were in your position, I would’ve said that I remembered me too just out of fear for my own safety.

During dress rehearsal the next day, someone came up to me, and once he verified who I was, he gave me a small slip of paper from “a gentleman who asked me to give this to you.” I opened it and saw your phone number and a little note that told me you couldn’t miss out on another chance with me. It really must have been some kind of divine intervention.

The Innocent

I knew I was going to fall in love. You were mysterious and different - unlike any other man I’d met during university. We talked about books and philosophy and how we wanted to be in our lifetimes. It was never about what we wanted to do but the kind of people we wanted to be. I remember telling you I always wanted to be kind, and I don’t remember exactly what you said but I think it was along the lines wanting to always be moving forward, never becoming complacent. That was important to you, not being complacent. We didn’t talk much, except when you would come over to my apartment and that was all we did, for hours. Just talked about the biggest ideas of the world and the smallest, most intimate details of ourselves. We’d get drunk, we’d make a mess and you would kiss me like I had never been kissed before.

Knowing you was a constant state of newness. It was a constant state of discovery, and I got addicted. Quickly. You told me everything I wanted to hear and watched me fall in love. I don’t know how you knew, but you did. It became this known thing that we just didn’t talk about but that existed in the space between us. We became insatiable for one another. I could see that you loved me too, even though you seemed to do everything in your power to deny it. You told me about your theory that substances are what allowed us to become our truest selves, how they lowered all our protections of self-judgment. You seemed most in love with me when we were drunk, and I could see those same signs when you were sober. Or, at least, I told myself that I did.

The Unhealable Wound

It was my idea: a starlit picnic. We went up to the water tower that overlooked our college town’s lights, even though you insisted on facing the woods. We set up our little camp with a blanket where we could both lean against the base of the water tower and lay back, admiring the stars above us. We had wine and cheese and bread and just enough fire in our hearts to brave the wind and rain to make it happen.

We started with a white, poured into cracked tea cups from a thrift store. You gave me the one that wasn’t chipped on the mouthpiece, a tender gesture I suppose, that confirmed my growing feelings for you. Of course, we had gotten drunk together before. It was the first time you came over and we baked bread together. It didn’t turn out well, but we danced in my living room underneath the twinkle lights that weren’t so different than the stars.

Now, there we were. Trying to decide what to talk about first for we never lacked topics of conversation. It was always easier once we had a few drinks. I was shy and so were you, in your own way. You asked me about work, and I told you I was selected to do some special calling to ask alumni for five-thousand-dollar donations for a new basketball arena. Then we joked about how crazy it would be to have the ability to donate that much money at one time, just over the phone to someone who could be anybody, really.

We had eaten an entire carton of blackberries, and when we got to the last one, you put it in your mouth, leaned in and we shared with a kiss. Kind of like that scene in The Lady and the Tramp with the spaghetti. I don’t think you liked Disney much, the endings were always too happy and cliché for you. You liked to be sad, miserable even, I thought. You kept my cup full of wine, gradually draining the first white, then the first red. I’d never met anyone as romantic as you, and each time I looked into your eyes it was as if the entire universe was sitting in front of me, funneling itself into to the pit of my stomach, waiting to escape from your lips to mine.

We started just asking each other questions. I guess this was my idea too. I needed to know every detail about you and savor your answer as if it were my last meal. The way you looked at me was the way I had always wanted to be looked at, exquisitely and with full attention. In my wine-filled vision, I saw our future. The stacks of books, the strongest, blackest coffee and a house, out in the woods, completely overgrown with ferns.

“Have you ever been in love?” I asked, hoping you would’ve said yes. Yes, I have and it’s now and it’s forever and it’s you.

You thought for a moment, and in that moment I held on tighter than I’ve held on to anything in my life.

“I have.” You looked down into your cup, finished what’s left, topped us both off. “Ana. She lives in Barcelona. I’ll be going to visit her this summer.” You tore off a piece of bread, put some salami and brie on it.

“Tell me about her.” I said.

The Sage

I suppose I knew you were too good to be true, but I refused to believe it. Maybe you weren’t good or true, which I know now. The more I fell in love with you, the less I seemed to love myself. You were addicting, telling me everything I so desperately wanted to hear. You told me I was gorgeous, even when I had steroid-rebound rosacea, making my eyelids nearly swell shut. You told me I was intelligent, and you cared about my thoughts and opinions. I had never felt so confident as I did when I was with you. Even now, when I lose myself to other people’s problems, I remember what you told me: you’re the only person that matters in your life. I even suppose I have you to thank for taking the risks I have in the last two years – a new relationship, writing, potentially moving halfway around the world for the fun of it.

The Ritual

The first time we had sex was after that starlit picnic. We had drunk four bottles of wine, and when we walked, or skipped, home, you picked a daffodil and put it behind my ear with the most loving look. We went to my room and started kissing, but when we tried to have sex we were just too drunk. I remember feeling embarrassed and upset, but you reassured me that it wasn’t my fault. I think we laughed about it before promptly passing out only to wake up a few hours later with crippling headaches.

So the first time we actually had sex was sometime later. I remember it being good. I remember wanting it so badly I could’ve begged for it. I remember feeling like I was falling in love, but maybe it was just the dopamine being released from my brain every time you so much as glanced in my direction with those eyes of yours. It was tender and human – unlike anything I had experienced before. The way you were then, the way we were, was a fairytale.

I remember lying in bed together one night, after we had finished, and I was laying on your chest, just talking about nothing, and everything. I wish I remember what I had said to you, but I’ll never forget what you said: and that’s why you love me. I turned away, hoping you would say something to me. But there was nothing. You rolled over and whispered in something in my ear about distracting me. It worked. I kissed you back, and we had sex again.

The Journey

When we would lay in bed together, we often talked about all the places we loved and all the places we wanted to love. I told you of my love for the Oregon coast, specifically Newport. I’d spent my childhood travelling there and discovering the secrets hidden plainly in tide pools and the mountains of sand. It had been a few years since I was able to go, and I missed it dearly. The way one misses home, I suppose. When we were drinking coffee the next morning, you told me I should go. That you’d go with me. I immediately agreed and found a place to stay. I never would have gone somewhere on a whim like this before I met you. You taught me how to be courageous and take risks for which I must thank you, but I wish it was something I could’ve learned from anyone else.

The school year ended, we packed up my car and set off. You spent the first half of the drive finding different radio stations that intrigued you and reading plays by Samuel Beckett, but not aloud. You’d doze off, and I remember how beautiful you looked with the sun shining on your pale face. It was dark, foggy and windy when we finally arrived. I made you park the car and get out to look at the ocean with me, and you were hesitant. I was elated. That night was also the night we checked “sleep in my car” off my bucket list.

We found a hotel and parked in the back, in a rather secluded area. We drank wine and ate jalapeño mac & cheese from an old sour cream container. In that moment, I felt like this could be our life together. Just travelling around, seeing the world and sleeping in random places. Over the next few days, I’d be able to share a piece of myself with you, hoping you would find room in your heart for me. I had never felt so excited by something that, deep down, I knew I couldn’t really have. I had a letter for you that I was waiting for the perfect moment to give you, but after spending a sleepless night crammed in the back of my car, hearing you tell me exactly what I didn’t want to hear, I thought against it, though for only a moment. Being with you, then, in that moment, was a dream. It still is. I suppose as the years have gone by, I’ve been slowly waking up, becoming.

The Sage

When I dropped you off at the bus station, you said you couldn’t take all of your stuff with you, so I could have it. At first, I thought I would hold onto it for when I saw you again in the coming school year. So I put you on the bus and let you kiss me goodbye, but it wasn’t a passionate kiss. It was an obligatory kiss, maybe you thought I was expecting it. Or maybe you somehow remember telling me that you loved me just two nights before when both of us were so drunk we couldn’t stand up straight. That’s what I wanted to think. I wanted to think that you did love me and you didn’t want to get on the bus and you didn’t want to leave me with a tote of your stuff to drive five hours alone.

Now, I know the truth. It took me at least a year. After that summer passed, I got rid of all of it. I gave the blanket to my best friend, the sunglasses to my brother, the duffle bag to my roommate, and everything else I just took to the thrift store. Part of me hoped you would wander in there and buy it all back, just for the memory of me. Then some months later, I took the note you had written me and the maps from our trip to the coast and threw them away. I burned the deck of cards, one by one. I looked in my bedroom mirror, and repeated to myself what you told me all those months ago, I led you on. I knew I shouldn’t have, but…

I was too angry to hear what came after that but. Even now, I still like to believe that it was because you had fallen as deeply in love with me as I had with you. That I was the one you never saw coming. I like to think that I’ve made you suffer and that losing me is your biggest regret. I still miss you sometimes, but I think I miss the idea of what could have been, not you, actually. Because when I do miss you, I remember the all the ways I became un-myself, just to stay safe from your judgmental eye in the hopes that you would love me.

The Fool’s Errand

We needed cigarettes. I needed to get as far away from you as possible. I needed to not look at you, not hear you, not even think of you. We were at a campground on the coast, about 500 miles away from home, drinking white wine out of your thrift-store tea cups.

“I can’t love you,” you said.

I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t.

“Let’s get cigarettes.” I turned toward the door.

We walked. It was a quarter mile to the trail along the beach, then nearly a mile to the convenience store on the highway. I crossed my arms and walked barefoot in the sand, angry at how it slowed me down. You tried to keep up with me, but every time you got close, I pushed you away. I hoped you would fall or at least smash into the wooden railing hard enough so you could feel pain. All I could think was how I was going to tell you that I loved you on this trip. I was going to ask if you wanted to be together, officially. I was going to ask if you would write me letters while you were in Hailey all summer.

It was getting dark, and soon I wouldn’t be able to see you. We reached the end of the jetty, underneath the Yaquina Bay Bridge. You stopped me and asked me just to say something to you. I told you I didn’t know what to say, that I wanted you to leave me alone. I didn’t say that I felt hurt or humiliated or like I had just been hit in the stomach with a lead pipe.

We stood ten feet apart from each other, just staring at the dark silhouettes, listening to the lapping water and traffic overhead. I crossed my arms and glared fire at you, but you just stood there. You said you were sorry. You came up to me and put your hands on my shoulders. I pulled away and kept walking, all the way to the convenience store and didn’t say a word.

I sat on the curb while you went in. You came out with a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and no cigarettes.

“If I’dve known you had to be twenty-one to buy cigarettes, I’dve used my fake.”

You handed me a peanut butter cup and stood above me, silent.

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