Fri Nov 23, 2012, 05:42 PM
bigtree (50,919 posts)
The Girl Of My Dreams
It's my 33rd wedding anniversary and I cleaned up this true story I wrote out last year . . .
Is there someone you met in the past who so captivated you that their image and the event was permanently planted into the recesses of your memory to be measured against all others? I'm not talking about some consummated meeting or relationship, but a brief, almost casual encounter which left you imagining what life would have been had you said or done something differently or pursued them more aggressively.
I had such an encounter the summer of my 14th year. Daydreaming about girls wasn't at all unusual for me at that age. In fact, daydreaming was about all I had the opportunity to do where girls were concerned. It could have been an age problem, or it could have been the fact that my long curly hair always had tilt to it like bozo the clown's. Looking back, though, I realize that it was an era where my darker skin didn't hold the same appeal to girls in my suburban neighborhood as it might today -- or even a few miles down the road, for that matter.
Anyhow, I had maybe three or four close encounters with the opposite sex before I was eighteen. Just three or four. No more. In fact, my wife was the third or fourth. I was eighteen and making my first stand away from home in Cumberland Md..when I met her. I had just been released a few months earlier from what the State called a forestry camp atop Mt. Savage outside of Lonaconing, Md. . . .
I had stolen some stuff the summer before (as a juvenile), gotten caught, and had been granted the benefit of this alternative to the frightful detention center by a judge exasperated that I'd spurned his home detention ruling and skipped town to pass my eighteenth birthday in a barn on the property of a girls school right across the Mass. border in upstate N.Y..
I eventually surrendered and called home to face the music right after we were discovered in the barn and escorted to a truck stop at the state line by a school administrator. Dad arranged passage for me on a plane home and I said goodbye to my youth right then and there as my friends went on to spend more time in Mass. and I went home to jail.
I did my time in forestry camp cutting dead trees down with a crosscut saw and cutting them into cords with the same aggravating tools. We split the $10-$12 dollars we earned between the 11 of us . . . I took the time to study botany out of a book one of the bus drivers for the camp gave me. I made plans to be a forester and I spent my nights reading and studying from this advanced botany book.
I got myself admitted to Allegheny State College while I was still 'locked-up' and, after I was released, I had my Dad drive me to Cumberland and drop me off at the Y.M.C.A. in the middle of town. It was dodgy and had a weird smell, but, when the old man put $75 dollars in travelers' checks in my hand and drove off, I was at the top of the world . . . for about an hour or so.
The small town was indifferent to downright hostile to my presence there. That was something that took this suburban boy a while to get used to. I had imagined working and going to school there, but it quickly became apparent that there wasn't going to be work to be had anywhere I could travel to in that miserable place.
I ran out of money and ended up staying on the Y.M.C.A roof for a few nights until I got caught -- then I ran completely out of money. Desperate, I easily slid back into my old ways, managed to scrounge a few bucks up and talked a nice lady into letting this 'student' rent a room. I got lucky. I got a nice room with a sink, stove, a bed, and a bath. I readjusted myself and headed out into town the first night.
Center street runs down the middle of Cumberland with the hospital and graveyard up above and the railroad tracks down below. I headed up there with the few bucks I had left to see if I could buy some weed or anything other than beer. I had just turned 18 that year, but I had no ID at al, so I wasn't even in a good position to buy alcohol (even if I wanted it). So, I took a good position against the wall outside of one of the string of bars and waited . . . and waited. After awhile, a few folks came by and walked over to me, hoping the the stranger had better connections than they did. Good luck with that. I got a few promises that they'd come back if the guy they knew came through . . . I waited some more.
After an eternity, something was finally happening across the street. There came a girl, in a hurry past a group of guys who were walking on the same side. They hooted and cajoled at this chick, and, all at once, I realized that if I wanted any action at all, I was definitely on the wrong side of the street. I could've been there to hoot and whistle at the only decent girl I'd seen in the entire time I had been in town.
I was kicking myself, when suddenly, she was right beside me! The girl from across the street had gone by and doubled back to where I was leaning against the wall.
"Can you please do me a favor," she said. "Can I just stand here by you until they leave? I can't handle it when they do that," she said, "and I'm scared of them. Can I just stand here until they're gone?"
I was in shock, because, one, I hadn't had more than a few minutes of casual conversation with any female in my life. Now, this girl wouldn't shut up. She went on and on about how she hated it when men did 'that' -- how she hated to be treated like an object, and so on, and on.
"Don't you?" she asked, not waiting for the answer. "You looked like a kind person and I knew I'd be safe standing here, I hope you don't mind."
Truth is, I did sort of mind. Here was, perhaps, the girl of my dreams, asking me to come to her house to meet her brother who played guitar and might know where to get some weed . . . "Are you coming?" she asked, now walking away toward the street where she lived. I waited until she was a ways down the street before I resigned myself to give up my vigil for weed and follow. She looked back and I waved her on.
"I'm, coming, I'm coming," I waved her on again and followed her home. Sure enough, her brother was therewith a friend. No weed, but this girl was growing on me. She was staying in a one floor building (shack) at the rear of another larger home. Her art was scattered all over the place and it was the perfect hippie haven -- sans the pot. We talked for a few hours, her brother left, and eventually, so did I . . . but, I came back the next day with a couple of Grolsh beers and some carnations that I blew the last of my money on.
We'd been talking awhile and I heard this noise from the backroom. She played it off, but there it was again! I got up and opened the back bedroom door and there he was -- a little bitty baby boy. She had been thinking the kid was some kind of deal-breaker and had kept the lid on him, I was totally cool with it, and I wondered if she would let me stay and hang out with them. I was still such a kid, myself, she being 4 years my senior. I lied to her about my age . . .
Later that evening her landlord delivered a letter in which he had tripled her rent. The call we got that night with a woman whispering 'nigger-lover, nigger-lover over the line put the sudden rent increase into perspective. One night and a day in her house and the townfolk had revolted. I resolved to stay one more.
I was supposed to go to my first day of college the next morning, but after a night of my first real lovemaking, we both heard a rooster crow and realized then that her blackout curtains had hidden the full day that had unfolded without me from our view. I had blown my first day of college. We both decided we would leave town together and set up another house in College Park Md.. She packed up the next day, gave me her last $175 dollars, put me on a bus and we promised to meet the next day when her friend brought her and her son to College Park, I guess to stay with my sister until we got settled.
What a crazy plan, as I look back on it. She was leaving the town where her mother, father, and her younger brother were living; practically her home town, given the years she had lived there after moving from Falls Church Va.. She was going to meet me at the entrance of the University of MD. that next afternoon with a car full of everything she owned. Insane. Yet, there I was on the bus back to my hometown of Bethesda, Md.. There I was, back on the street, out drinking with my buddies. There I was, in jail for trespassing when she arrived the next day; me, nowhere in sight.
By a hair of luck, she reached my sister, practically minutes before just heading back to Cumberland. I had called my sister and told her to bail me out, but she had called my Dad and he came and whisked us all up and deposited us at my sister's.
We married a couple of months later -- poorer than when we arrived, but deeper in love.
Now my wife is certainly my dream girl, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't another before I married her. There was one encounter that burned into my memory and flooded my imagination with things that might-have-been in the flower of my youth. We've been married now for almost 32 years, this month, but I had married before I had a chance to sow any oats (whatever that means) -- and, remember, my wife was one of only a handful of close encounters with the opposite kind.
Before I met her, my friends and I used to pile into a van or car and just head out, barefoot, to the country with our guitars, our weed, and our craziness. We'd go down to Great Falls and climb around on the rocks or track through the woods before settling in a circle somewhere and passing the bowl around. We'd go to Sugarloaf Mountain where blacks weren't allowed to go in the earlier part of the century. We'd climb to the top to look out and to ride the world.
Funny thing was, my wife had also taken day-trips during her youth to most of the same spots my gang liked to hang out -- like Sugarloaf and the quarry full of blue spring water a few miles out from its base with cliffs to dive off of. In fact, we seemed to live dual lives, even though she lived in Falls Church, Va. and I lived in Bethesda, Md.. We both lived like our hippie idols; already (happily) out of touch with the rest of society before we met and married. We both grew up listening to James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Rod Stewart played over and over again on WINX radio. Later, we both grew up further listening to WHFS; me, enjoying their station situated in my home town, and she, listening to the alternative folk-rock from her town in Falls Church. It kind of shaped us the same way. Kind of folky and artsy . . .
We'd seen some of the same concerts and both had enjoyed Georgetown's then-bohemian weekends in their heyday. We'd talk about those days as we grew older together as if we'd lived them together and not from opposite states. It's a blessing to share similar memories to recall together. We'd climbed the same mountains, swam the same lakes; albeit, apart from one another; oblivious to each others existence. We'd both swam the crystal-blue waters in Dickerson Quarry at the foot of Sugarloaf, braving the high cliffs and having the time of our lives partying with the dozens who showed up there every summer.
In fact, it was at Dickerson quarry where I met my dream girl, the one I obsessed on; the girl I measured all others against; the moment that I had recreated and embellished in my head a thousand times thereafter.
I still remember that summer afternoon as clearly as if it was yesterday. Two guys I knew, Peter and Alex, had gotten wind of a fellow who was going to drive the motorcycle that had killed his buddy off of the highest cliff at Dickerson. A bunch of us piled into Peter's van and drove to the quarry so we could see the happening and so they could film it with their new video camera. A pretty large crowd gathered on the banks of the quarry and watched the spectacle unfold. The biker revved his engine a couple of times, hesitated, and then drove straight off the cliff into the water. He fell for what seemed like an eternity, then finally, flipped forward over the handlebars as the bike fell out under him. Big cheers all around as he surfaced, mostly unharmed.
Not to be outdone (I was actually outdone), I took my first 'dive' off of the next-to-longest drop. I got out of the water and took a second dive off of '14', the tallest drop (not anywhere close to 14 anything - more like 100 or something). Well, I got bored and decided to show-off for my indifferent hosts just one more time. I headed through the woods to the cliff we called the 'running-jump'. The trick to this cliff was that it sloped outward so far that you had to get a good run up before jumping way out to avoid the cliff and the little pine growing out from the rocks underneath.
I got to the top of the cliff and looked out. By that time I was shivering so badly that I could feel the ground shaking beneath my trembling legs. I was both cold and scared. I though of giving up, but the folks I had told to watch were at '14' waiting. I paced around in the woods awhile, shivering and shaking uncontrollably now. I resigned myself to give up and walk away.
I had just hit the path when I spotted someone running towards me and the cliff. It was a girl! Yes. Exclamation point, girl!
"Hey man!" she said to me, as if she knew me. She was at least a head taller than me, and real aggressive. My sister was the only girl that tall who had EVER bothered to say more than a word to me; especially not "hey man" like I was cool or something. But, I was cool. Cool as shit. Damn cool. But, my hair had gotten wet and I had on my uncontrollable clown hair with one side inevitably sticking up higher than the other. I felt like an idiot there, bare bird-chested, shaking like a leaf.
She didn't seem to care. "So, you gonna jump, man?" she asked me, with respect and attention that I'd never really experienced from a girl before; especially not an older one.
"Yeah, but I'm chickening out, I think." I said, not bothering to care how wimpy I sounded. "I'm cold and shivering . . . are you going?" I asked her.
"Yeah man," she said. "It's not hard. You just have to jump out way far."
"I've been practicing jumping as far as I can into the woods to get ready." I said.
"You don't have to do all that, man. Just get back as far as you can to get a good run. It's easy." And with that, we both went to the edge and looked out and down. "I'm going," she told me. "I'll wait for you at the bottom if you decide to go."
With that, she went as far back into the woods as she was able, ran to the edge of the cliff and propelled herself out and down into the water. There she waited, wading water as she called for me to go next. There was no way I wasn't going, so I loaded up whatever courage I had, made myself realize that could be my last moment alive on earth, and I jumped . . . I landed right beside her.
"Cool, man," she had said to me, or something like that. I thanked her briefly and she said goodbye and swam over to 'Beetle' -- the smallest drop in the quarry; where most of the girls drew the line if they were inclined at all to jump off of cliffs into crystal-blue water.
So, from that brief encounter, I had made the most time with a girl in my entire 14 years on the planet -- and she was taller and older, at that! Silly, I know, but, you see, I'd had just a few close encounters with girls before I met my wife, and, whenever I thought of Dickerson quarry, I also fantasized about what that moment would have been like; if I had just taken more advantage, perhaps.
I fantasized about that moment for so many years, that there I was sitting listening to music with my wife of 25 years at that point, thinking of Dickerson quarry and remembering that wonderful girl who had made me feel less of the gangly kid I was and more the way I'd imagined myself to be. I relived the magical afternoon that moment and tracked the distance in my mind across the quarry and back to where my friends had been watching.
I remember that I got back to the top of '14' and the guys that gave me a ride were nowhere to be found. I had waited until, finally, they came out of the woods with their camera and sheepish grins on their faces. As I recalled in my daydream, they'd found two girls in the woods by 'Beetle' rock and had filmed them in their immodesty. . .
I turned off the music. Silence.
"Honey. Listen . . . I have something I want to ask you," I said to my wife. "Listen, it's important."
"Okay," she replied, not certain what confession was forthcoming; not sure if she should be interested or angry.
"Do you remember," I asked, "that you told me once that you'd seen a guy ride a motorcycle off of the cliff at Dickerson Quarry. Do you remember that?" I asked.
"Yes," she answered. "I'd driven up there with Becky because she told me this guy was going to do it, so we went to see him."
"How many times did someone ride a bike . . .," I thought to myself. "Honey," I asked slowly, taking a deep breath as I waited for the answer. I had something . . . "Did you see a couple of guys with a video camera that afternoon (so very rare in those days) trying to take your picture?" I asked her.
"Yes I do," she said, after a short pause. "I was hiding in the woods because my shirt was wet and see-thru," she explained. She had to get it by now . . . That persisting vision of Peter and Alex at the end of my mind-reel of memories from that day was the missing piece of the puzzle. Why hadn't we realized this earlier?
"I knew those guys," I told her. "They brought me to the quarry that day to see the motorcycle jump. Honey," I said, "I've got something to tell you. We met that day. No, really met, in a big way."
I told her about the running jump; the tom-girl a head taller than me, and my years of daydreaming on that magic moment in the woods . . .
"No shit?" she said. "You're kidding . . ."
No kidding. Turns out, the woman I had married 25 years earlier, without realizing it, was the very woman I had spent almost 30 years daydreaming about -- dreaming about at that very moment -- as the personification of the ultimate romantic encounter.
I had, in fact, married the girl of my dreams.
16 replies, 1881 views
The Girl Of My Dreams (Original post)
|Drew Richards||Nov 2012||#6|
|Jim Lane||Nov 2012||#10|
|a kennedy||Nov 2012||#12|
|Uncle Joe||Nov 2012||#14|
Response to bigtree (Original post)
Fri Nov 23, 2012, 08:54 PM
Drew Richards (1,330 posts)
6. Damn bigtree you dont know half the memories you just conjoured
If I said BCC 1967 I fear we may have more in common than we could ever believe after more than 40 years...
By the way his name was serge obalinski and it was a norton atlas he drove off...
His friend Brian speeden whos bike it was, passed out on the track by the air rights building and was run over.
In hind sight it was a terrible loss of a good guy and terrible waste of a classic bike.
Response to Drew Richards (Reply #6)
Sat Nov 24, 2012, 08:26 AM
bigtree (50,919 posts)
I'm thinking you were around when the air rights building was supposed to be a helicopter landing. I came to Bethesda a few years after that, and went to Leland for my 8th grade year. Bethesda was much sleepier than it is today. There was Marco Polo for our young heads (later, there was Good Stuff). There was WHFS and the Psychadelly (sp.?) across the street where the Nighthawks and Nils Lofgren were regulars.
We spent a good bit of time selling stuff at the Women's farmers market's flea market recently. Still a good downtown vibe, despite the development. Sorry your memories go back to that tragedy. We'll never be that young again, that's for sure.
Response to bigtree (Original post)
Sat Nov 24, 2012, 05:58 AM
Jim Lane (4,772 posts)
10. A long read but well worth it!
Admittedly, I'm biased because I can so readily relate to your younger self's sense of futility with the opposite sex. My hair was unexceptional but I had other problems to make up for that.