Sunday, May 27, 2007

starry night

Spending the weekend in Tahoe, here to see an old friend get married, in another one of those strange intersections where my past life collides with my present.

I lived here once before, just married, to a man I'm no longer married to, and who was, inadvertently, the reason I fell out of touch with (for a time) the friend whose vows I had the privilege to witness here last night.

But that's another story for another time.

The story for right now is how I met R while I was wrapping up high school and running drive-thru at McDonald's. He worked there too, in a kind of in-between state between H.S. and the next big thing. We got to know each other better the following year -- I wasn't working Mickey D's anymore, but I was still working, saving to somehow try to get my butt through college (pulled it off in the end), and he was playing Ultimate Frisbee with my boyfriend, J -- my first real I-think-this-is-it sweetie (it wasn't).

Our friendship was solidified the night the three of us were hanging out at his place and he put on an album (CD's were *just* coming out) with a "you're never going to get this" look in his eye and said "guess what this is." I listened close and took a swing: The soundtrack to Godzilla?

It was.

He looked at me differently after that (and pestered me a hundred times: "how did you know that? how did you KNOW that?!") and I looked at him differently too -- as odd as it might be for a 17 year old hippie chick to know something about Godzilla soundtracks, it's even odder to run into someone else who cares about those things.

Time passed, I headed up the hills to school in Boulder, and R continued to work at his in-between place, working a marriage into the mix to see if that might do the trick.

It didn't, and we both wound up getting our hearts broken around the same time. J did mine in, R's wife did his, and one night during all that R drove up to Boulder to do some hanging out.

We probably hit the Last American Diner for dinner and some bread pudding -- I don't remember that part of the night the way I remember the last part of the night, but I was pretty keen on their bread pudding so I expect I talked him into something like that.

It's the last part of the night that I remember best, like it was one of the best nights of my life, because it was.

I remember that we drove up Flagstaff Mountain, but we drove past the usual turning off spot, way way up and over the ridge. And into the darkness.

Finally we pulled off the road onto a little sidespur and got out. It was chilly, the way the mountains get at night in the Fall, and I was wearing my old jean jacket (before it was all that old) so I wasn't nearly warm enough.

R had the idea that we should lay down on the hood of the car, which was still hot from the ride up, and turned out to be just the thing to chase away the chill.

And, of course, it put us directly in line to see all those stars.

There was a Rocky Mountain ridge between us and the city, so the seeing in that night sky was tremendous. A big thick carpet of stars -- stars that aren't ever like anything else you try to describe them to be -- diamonds, points of light -- no, goddammit, they're STARS. With unknown worlds swirling around them. And there's nothing like lying on your back with something warm beneath you looking up at something that intimate and magnificent and vast.

The conversation was vast, too. We talked for much longer than the heat of the hood lasted, about all the things you talk about when you've just had your heart broken and you're still young enough to believe that the next time you love you'll love just as wildly, just as free, just as full of everything you have to give. You won't. But it's something to believe you might.

Still is.

I don't remember how we said goodnight that night. I suspect my shivering got to be too much and we had to pack it in.

I'm sure as we headed down the mountain I thought "what a wonderful night", but I suspect it didn't occur to me, for even just a moment, that I wouldn't have hundreds, even thousands, of rare and remarkable nights like this one.

Of course I haven't. There have been a few since then, but not nearly enough.

So R and I lost touch for awhile -- my fault entirely, and it would take a whole other post to explain how I so easily evaporate from the lives of the people who matter to me the most. It took the death of a friend to bring me back to him and to the brothers b1-, who I met through R, and who I lost touch with at the same time.

Not a trade I would have asked for, but the kind of thing that has to happen only once for you to realize how sparsely populated this planet is with rare and remarkable people. How hard it is to cling to that vastness, and how important it is to try.


anniemcq said...

Just gorgeous.

Hope this weekend is just as memorable.

litwit said...

One of the loveliest things I've read in a long time. Peace, my friend.

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