Blast From the Not-So-Distant Past
Riley is more soft spoken over the phone; tender, almost. He’s depressed. New York was too hot. So hot he couldn’t think. So hot he rode the subway for free air-conditioning. So hot he forgot to go to the museums. I tell him it’s pouring here in the mountains and he says it’s pouring in BigCity, NC, too – although when Riley talks about BigCity he calls it a town. It’s all a matter of perspective, I explain, but then we hold the phones up to the sound of rain for each to hear our perspectives are the same: Carolina rain is Carolina rain. Ain’t nothin’ else like it.
The point is this: He says all the wrong things and all the right things, which makes me want to nickname him Trouble or hang up or drive directly to BigCity and see him now or all of the above. All the wrong things: he stole chocolate bars to give as gifts to people who hosted him, he called some guy a douchebag, he irritated a women’s lib group at a friend’s house, he can’t seem to decide when he’s coming back to Joe’s, he’s moving to the Southwest in three weeks. All the right things: he is honest about his temporary sorrow, he likes the sweetness of my gestures, he tried to find some Bob Dylan memorabilia for me in NYC as a gift but nothing seemed right but it’s the thought that counts, he asks about my MFA homework, he’s vowed to help Joe finish a roof project and will stick to his word.
Additionally, the point is this: I’m searching repeatedly in the wrong places and I’ve figured out why. Half of my heart is always dreaming, spinning gossamer webs for some perfect, writer-musician-mountain-loving-dirt-smelling-simple-living-backpacking-joke-making-intelligent-attractive-kind potential husband. The other half is young, selfish, and most obviously, impatient. It wants the ok-you’re-here-now-and-we-have-some-temporal-primal-connection-and-what-the-heck-we’re-in-our-twenties-it’s-all-just-fun-free-love potential part-time lover. The optimistic heart watches from afar, asks important questions, gauges compatibility. The impatient heart gets caught up in the drama, asks only “Why ask?”, and is habitually patterned for better or worse. Both hearts, however, struggle in a rural county in this region that did not shape me as a child and instead is inhabited mostly by retirees or the married-with-children-package-deal folks.
By the way, between the two sites and the six versions, plus some personal emails with votes from friends, Version #6 won. Version #1 was a close second. As it were, Version #6 is the one I used in my most recent draft and Version #1 is the more poetic one that has my heart but sacrifices word-play for storyline, not the best tactic as much as I hate to say it.