remembering old haunts, part 1

So I finally bought an external hard drive for my computer which is probably going to die soon if I don’t do something about the viruses that are running rampant.  (I got used to having a Macbook and not having to worry about antivirus software….that’s my excuse anyway.)  So I copied over a bunch of files last night, and brought the hard drive to work to make sure everything actually copied over (I don’t know, I’ve never used an external hard drive before…).  I’ve been re-reading some document files from nearly 10 years ago, and remembering things that have been forgotten for a long, long time.  If anyone’s interested, I thought I might post a couple pieces here.  This one is a rough draft, as the majority of my creations tend to me, but I rather like it anyway.

I met Evan very briefly last winter, December or January probably. January is more likely, because I think I was doing homework that night. Even though last winter felt at its coldest like a chilly April night, I was sitting in the back bar so that I could smoke without having to bundle up – April evenings can be quite cold. The wireless internet was down and I was diligently attempting to connect to a far-away, fleeting signal from a neighboring establishment. Though it’s odd that I should say this, I take wireless internet for granted and am always surprised when I cannot connect to any network. Imagine: a building without wireless! Even Centennial Park has wireless internet, or so I hear anyway.

In the midst of my struggles to check my email, a very gregarious little man in a cowboy hat walked up to my table and asked if I was connected to the internet. At the time I was riding on a very low signal from somewhere else, and I told him so. He didn’t ask to sit down or stay to talk; he merely thanked me and said that he’d try connecting again. That was the end of my first encounter with Evan.

He started working at Coco maybe a month after this incident. I’m always surprised when they hire new people because I’m so accustomed to seeing the same people there every night – a new face is a bit jolting. Low turn-over, I guess. But regardless, there he was, smiling face and thick glasses and out-going demeanor, waiting to take my order of a large coffee. I asked him his name and how long he had worked there, since I didn’t recognize him as the gregarious cowboy from a month before; he proceeded to point out to me that we had in fact met before – he was the guy in the back bar who asked me about the internet, remember? “Oh, were you wearing a cowboy hat, maybe? I think I remember you….” Evan, his name was Evan. “And my name is Erin, nice to meet you. Again.”

Having become acquainted for a second time – if the first time counts – we always greeted each other ever time he was working and I was ordering. I love being a regular and knowing the employees of an establishment such as Coco … they wave at you when you’re standing in the back of the line, and if you always order the same thing every night then they remember it. Large coffee in a green mug? Yes, please, as usual. Always $2.00, unless I don’t have any money (which happens from time to time) in which case a small coffee is $1.40, sixty cents for a refill.

Evan struck me at first as one of those endlessly-energetic extroverts; oh, he can be a crazy one – running around behind the counter, yelling nonsensical oddities or sometimes things that made sense but were still extremely loud. I’ve never really understood people who are able to be so entertaining and Out There, attention whores if you will. How can you maintain that level of energy? I can’t figure out if it’s just an act, or if it’s genuine. I’m bad at reading people sometimes.

One day he left a message on my MySpace – “i have wednesday and thursday off. let’s go to the park! with SMOOTHIES and GUITARS!!! i hope it rains again. how’s your life?” What could this mean? I didn’t analyze it too much because I’ve found that when I do that, I tend to be disappointed with the outcomes. Daydreaming has its merits, but I am one of many who have learned that it can also be painful. Why does Evan want to hang out with me? Or does it even matter? Um, no, it doesn’t matter and I won’t think about it. We had never really talked before – no deep conversations and getting-to-know each other. He interested me, though; once before, he had told me that he doesn’t like to talk about himself very much. Whereas I, in my frequent blog entries, tend to spell out in unnecessary detail the activities of my days and my subsequent thoughts, he never wrote much about himself. He talked a lot about music in his blogs. I saw him as something of a mystery, then – elusive, hard to know, veiled. He has to “let you in” to his life – only the select few gain access. This seemed ironic to me since he appeared to be so personable and talkative. Me, I’m not talkative or outgoing, but I’m more of an open book than he was.

We didn’t get to go to the park on either Wednesday or Thursday, but a few weeks later we agreed that we should hang out, and I told him that I would call him after I got off work. And I did. I met him at his apartment that night, which was small but extremely neat and organized. He’s a bit OCD, I believe. The night was fairly uneventful – no wild sex or anything. We sat in his living room and talked, drank some bourbon-on-the-rocks, and went to Coco for food. He dressed incognito when we ventured out: sunglasses even though it was well past midnight, a cowboy hat. He didn’t want any social interactions, strangely enough, which led me to believe that maybe the outgoing face that he puts on while he’s at work is, in fact, a façade, a way of dealing with people. I learned that night over bourbon that he isn’t as outgoing as he seems. He finds certain people interesting and only genuinely is interested in them – he doesn’t give a damn about everyone else. All the run-of-the-mill people who come into the café…what the fuck does he care about them?

An Elliston Philly with fries later, we were back at his apartment and listening to either Carole King or Bob Dylan (he let me pick the music). I should mention that his living room is practically encased with CDs. He must have over a thousand, and they are all organized – each has its own place on its own shelf. The walls in his apartment are very tastefully covered in music posters and lyric books; he said that he cares about music and finding his purpose in life … and that sums it up pretty well, thank you very much.

That this night with Evan, he talked, I listened and nodded – occasionally voiced – my agreement.  Maybe I tuned him out a little, too, because I can’t really remember much of what was said after about 2am.  I do remember, though, cuddling on the couch. He invited me to recline with him, and I peacefully acquiesced. It was very quiet because the CD had finished playing and Evan had stopped talking, and we both started to doze off. I had been planning to leave eventually because I didn’t want to out-stay my welcome, but he invited me to crash with him  … and if it’s late and you’re with someone interesting, how can you pass up an offer like that?

We moved into his bedroom and curled up together on our sides – I was facing the window and he was curled around my back. Okay, this was so nice. He didn’t try to kiss me and I don’t think that he wanted to; we just lied there together. It was intimate and comforting.

God, I loved it.

What is it about physical contact that’s so amazing? Emotional attachments are moving too, but there’s something intangible about just touching a person  – even if there is no passion involved … perhaps especially if that’s the case.

I woke up the next morning an hour before noon, marveling in the wonders of just sleeping next to a person. We dozed for another hour together, and I left just in time to be three minutes late to work. He kissed me on the cheek before I left.  That day at work, I felt attractive and peaceful.

What should you do with encounters like that? Where does it go from there? I don’t know. I guess that the answer varies from person to person and encounter to encounter; sometimes nothing happens, sometimes it’s awkward, sometimes a romantic relationship might ensue (though that one hasn’t happened yet), sometimes you just keep sleeping together but nothing substantial ever develops. I don’t know which will be the case this time, and I’m not hoping for anything in particular other than this: I hate awkwardness. I wouldn’t mind replicating that night; I’m trying to ignore the desire to do so, in fact. Daydreaming hurts, like I said.

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I'm a young, childless widow who is trying to figure out the best way to deal with the world in light of my late husband's suicide. It's harder than I ever imagined it would be, but somehow at the same time I am still alive and even happy sometimes.

One thought on “remembering old haunts, part 1”

  1. So evocative. Beautiful. Reminded me of a Rilke passage which I had to dig out: “The ‘being-together’ of two human beings is an impossibility; where it nonetheless seems to be present it is a limitation, a mutual agreement that robs one or both parts of their fullest freedom and development. Yet once it is recognized that even among the closest people there remain infinite distances, a wonderful coexistence can develop once they succeed in loving the vastness between them that affords them the possibility of seeing each other in their fullest gestalt before a vast sky! For this reason the following has to be the measure for one’s rejection or choice: whether one wishes to stand guard at another person’s solitude and whether one is inclined to position this same person at the gates of one’s own depth of whose existence he learns only through what issues forth from this great darkness, clad in festive garb.”

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