Mystic Writer

Peeking out to see if there is a real world out there...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Calm

My mind was frozen as I listened to the phone ring. A rattle sounded and then "Hello?". I recognized her voice instantly. An unexpected surge of happiness welled up and still operating without thought, I said "Happy Birthday!".

"Why are you calling?" she said and I sensed some tension in her voice.

"I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday". This time some of the odd happiness I was feeling slipped into the phrase.

"Well, thank you". I heard some impishness in her voice now too, and it made me want to giggle. "I've got to go now" she continued "there's a big party here and I've got to get back".

"OK" I replied happily.

"Goodbye" I heard the twinkle in her voice.

"Bye" I said, and gently hung up the phone.

I felt bouncy and relaxed for the first time in a long time. What the heck was that about? Had some question been answered? Did I have such a strong connection that after 12 years simply exchanging a few words could make me happy? I didn't get it, but after the earlier pain I was willing to just enjoy the feeling. I'd think about it later.

I went to the door and looked out. The storm was slackening a little and the plastic on my car window still looked sound. I looked up to see if the moon might be ghosting around up there but saw nothing. I realized I was sleepy and with a last deep breath of the wind I gently closed the door and went to bed.

The relaxed feeling lasted through the next few days. Elsa called and left me the name of a counselor and the time of the appointment. I chewed over the conversation with Karen. Nothing important was said - why did it make me feel so good? Maybe I had my connection with her confirmed? Maybe that happy year and a half so long ago was real. Maybe love was real? I didn't know what, but something had been resolved in me. I didn't feel any real compulsions about Karen anymore. For the first time in years I thought about her and our time together, and it was fun to think about the happy times we'd had.

I met with Elsa at the counselors office and I felt distant. I pretended not to notice her overtures for a kiss and when we talked with the counselor I was polite and truthful but didn't feel like I cared very much. We never discussed Jeff. The counselor concluded that we probably could make our relationship work but we had issues to resolve and we set up another appointment. On the way out Elsa asked if I'd like to come over to her house and I told her I had plans and I left without touching her. I drove the long drive back to my house in the country watching the sunset in my rearview mirror. I didn't think at all.

The days passed, and one evening I was again sitting in my rocking chair with the windows open and grooving on the birdsong and golden light of my living room when the phone rang. I snatched it up "Hi!".

"Hi!" her impishness ignited something in me. It was Karen!

"Well, this is an unexpected..." I waited for her to think 'pleasure' then said "...call".

She laughed "I'm sorry I couldn't talk on my birthday. Fred was right there and he'd lose his mind if he thought I was talking to you. I really wanted to talk...".

"Karen, are you doing OK?" concern welled up in me. Something about the way she talked about Fred worried me.

"Fred and I have our problems. We've seperated a couple of times but we've got kids and I always come back. He's pretty controlling..." her voice was tense as she paused. "Hey, I've seen where you live" she said, changing the topic "Did you plant all those flowers? You live alone, right?"

"Yeah, I planted the flowers but now I'm letting the gardens go more wild. I want to have the feeling that the garden is doing what it wants instead of what I want. I do live alone - I've become pretty much a loner although I'm seeing someone now. I'm pretty sure it's not going to work out. Why would you ever drive past my house - it's really out of the way". That last point struck me as pretty odd.

"I go past there pretty often. I always fill up at the gas station near your house. I've been hoping to run into you for years but it never seems to happen..." again she trailed off, then changed the subject "You write software now, right? You're a programmer? Do you like that?".

I laughed - she knew about how I'd struggled trying to settle on a career - first math, then physics, then settling for electrical engineering but hating that. "I love it. It has all the things I liked about math and physics and people are willing to pay me to do it. It's the greatest thing. How about you. Did you-".

She cut me off with a mock indignant tone "Yes, I got my nursing degree. It took me 10 years with the kids and all, but I did it".

I started laughing and she joined me. After a bit she said "Hey, don't laugh! It wasn't easy for me!".

I knew she was joking a little, but I went serious "Hey Karen, you know I wouldn't laugh at you. I know how hard you worked at it, and I'm really proud you were able to get your degree. Karen... I'm really sorry for all the wrong things I did back then".

I heard tears in her voice "MW, you never did anything wrong. Don't ever believe that it was your fault MW. You were perfect...". She sobbed and I cried with her.

After a little while she said "My son goes to school with your nephew. He seems like a great kid".

I loved my nephew and agreed with her "Yeah, he is. I take him on hikes with me and he is so into everything. I love talking with him". We talked about my nephew, then about her kids and then she had to go. We finished our talk with simple goodbyes.

I sat for a long time in a warm glow, then threw on my coat and went for a walk under a moon softened by wispy clouds. I felt like all my questions about Karen were answered, all the doubts I had about that time resolved. I knew I had loved her back then and that I still loved her, and deep inside me, at a place where there is no doubt, I knew she still loved me.



3 Comments:

  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger Bubbles, Ink. said…

    I'm sorry...I couldn't go beyond the 2nd line, I was laughing too hard.

    "Happy Birthday"
    "Why are you calling?"

    D'uh!!!!

     
  • At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why do we do that? Why do we say hello when we mean I love you and goodbye when we mean I hate living without you?! What is it about love that always evades us?

    I know your story is personal but it could make a good script

    http://complicationsensue.blogspot.com

     
  • At 9:35 AM, Blogger mw said…

    LX Robotnik-

    I'm glad you made it through two lines at least, and a comment is a comment...

    Hi Anonymous,

    Good questions and ones I don't know the answer to yet. I'm still looking and I'm coming to realize this blog is part of the quest.

    I am very intrigued by the comment '... but it could make a good script'. If you would, I'd love it if you could go into a little more detail.

    Thank you very much for the comment!
    MW

     

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