Wednesday, June 8, 2011

caution: don't try this at home, a love story

From the very first second my eyes met Colby's I knew, just knew without a doubt that this man was a know-it-all jerk.
He was.
And he still is.

But here we go. Imagine one of those mall maps with the star ‘You Are Here’ that’s me:
626 Hollywood Ave.
  He was there:
663 Hollywood Ave.
  We were neighbors, married neighbors, & not to each other.  One day Colby the Know-it-all & other friends sat on my front porch listening to me recount a night on call with the Surgical Team. I had learned a great trick, if you don’t eat or drink you don’t have to miss out on anything- oh except fuel & hydration for your body; details.  Colby wasn’t too happy about what he was hearing & laid into me about taking better care of myself.  The conversation tanked quickly ending with him throwing a hard ball my direction, “You will never make it through medical school.”  He turned away & wouldn’t look at me.
I stared at the back of his head thinking...well, I shouldn’t write what I was thinking but you might guess the power of it because true unexplained fact he has a patch, I mean an exact circle, of white hair on his head where I was glaring.

Two days later while working in the garden I get a call from his then wife.  “Colby was on a ladder and a nail gun fell off the roof hitting him in the head. He asked me to call you to come up and look at it.”
I remember hanging up the phone laughing 'Oh you think I’m good enough now?' slowing washing my hands, even slower making my way up the street to find his wife on the sidewalk chatting with another neighbor like nothing has happened.  “He’s in there,” she points as if she can’t be bothered by it.  I found him on the sofa holding his head, blood trickling down his face.
He needed stitches but he wasn’t willing to go in.  Okay fine. “Let’s clean it and stop the bleeding. Where is the hydrogen-peroxide?”
“My wife knows.”
I look around, no wife, she hadn’t follow me into the house.
“Maybe you could just tell me?” I tried delicately.
“My arm is getting tired.” He says looking green.  I took over holding pressure on the wound. So now I’m kneeling on the sofa over another woman’s husband.  Insert soap opera detail: I know that after a party one night at my house he told her he thinks despite the fact I will never be a doctor, I am the sexiest woman he has ever met.  How do I know, she told me he said it. Awkward. 

“Can you tell me where the hydrogen-peroxide is?”
“I don’t know, my wife knows. She can get it.”
“Ah well...yeah, but she’s not here right now.” Insert gossip: you would have to live at least three blocks away to not know their marriage was in the toilet & had been from about day one.
“Where is she?” he asks, confusion of a head injury spilling out around him.  I twist to take a peek out the open front door.  I can see her laughing & joking with yet another neighbor in the grass.  Really? The so called sexiest woman on the Hollywood block has your incapacitated husband pinned in the corner on a couch & you are not the least bit curious?  I would be...
“Dude your wife doesn’t give a shit about you so you better tell me where the hydrogen-peroxide is because I am all you got right now.” With a bedside manner like that aren’t you glad he was right & I didn’t make it through medical school?

The next week she left him.
He wandered down to my front porch to sit as she packed.
He told me what had happened.  As she drove by with the same compassion previously displayed I said, “You can do that, you can just pack up and leave?”

Colby stayed around for a few months like a lost dog.  Eating my food & hijacking my babysitter for his young son.  And then one day sort of out the blue he said, “I’m a good man who can be an ass and my wife left me.  But your husband is a real asshole.  What are you doing here?”  Okay without mud slinging he’s not the first man or woman to ask that question in my ten year marriage.   

So months later when I did just that, I packed up and left it isn’t surprising that the Know-it-all was there to support me.
He brought me food.  And made me eat it. 
He sat at the park with me while we let our children play together. 
He went running with me.
He helped me study.  And maybe there was something there.

One day as friends in transition we went hiking up a trail which leads to a mountain top which leads to the soul of my heart.  On the way he said very diplomatically that if we were going to try to see what was developing between us we should go slow, we should be careful, we should both experience not being married before we jump into anything with two feet.  Normally that would have been enough to make me run but not on that magic mountain.  I jumped up the slope laughing, the lake breaking over the horizon, “That’s fine but I know what I am seeing in you.  And I know that on this very spot I made a mistake allowing something I should have fought for slip away from me.  You are what I want.  So do whatever, it won’t matter. I will win this one.”
“I know that story.” He admits which really surprised me; no one should KNOW that story.  I had written it for an English class. It was titled Seeking Shelter, in it I admit (while being married) that I fell in love with another man.  Don’t worry it’s not as trampy as it seems- nothing ever happened between us & I got an A in English 2010.  It is a story about finding strength & vision, about finding a reason to be brave. “My wife took a copy from you to show me.  I think she was trying to discredit you because she was jealous.” He said. “Only that’s not what it did.  I didn’t think a woman could love a man like that.  It made me start to wonder…it made me want to be loved like you.”

What could be more romantic than a relationship built on an insult, a head injury, two disastrous marriages, one common street, thievery, scandal, & a love story about another man? Hold on let's gain perspective.  I fell in love with a man when I shouldn't have, wrote a story about it, a different man's wife took it to prove I wasn't so wonderful, which caused him to want to be loved, which caused her to leave him, which made me realize I could leave, which caused the two of us to get together, becasue I had loved the other man, which caused me to be brave enough to love Colby.  Okay, so I’m back to thinking awkward, but we hiked down with potential.

Our first official date we went dumpster diving in huge bin of saw dust. Our second we planned to hike but he was so nervous he forgot his shoes. So we lay in a field of golden grass and watched the sun set drinking wine. Our third date I think I moved in…it wasn’t that fast but it was close. We did everything wrong you could do putting a Blended Family together.  And that might be why it worked.

So October rolls around & we hike my mountain again.  On the way back to the car he says something about Arlo Guthrie’s song ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ and I had never heard it.   
“Oh, you are going love it come November baby.” 
Are you kidding, a song about a half baked good deed gone wrong, a crazy hippie, two Thanksgiving dinners, & a social message dripping with sarcasm?
I’m going to love it for the rest of my life. 

And if any of this nontraditional boundary crossing Love Story is offense just note that we are still happily together unmarried raising ourselves & kids going on ten years.

Two days before V-day he spelled out with candy hearts an invite to take this thing legal: hey babe. true love. u rock. love me. adore me. sweat pea. u r it. step up. marry me.
Would you settle for a hike?  I know a trail that leads to mountain which has the absolute best views on life.

My Dearest Colby,                                                                           12/17/02

How do I tell you all that I want to on this peaceful and snowless December night?  What could I say that might help you understand that which is in my soul?  I hold emotions, yet I lack the words to express them.  I can hope you understand what I mean when I say my love I am coming home to you, tonight and forever.
Here in the hospital time had the thickness of a dream, I have seen and done too much today.  Did I tell you I loved you before I left this morning, and did I kiss you good-bye? 
Whatever madness my shift brings, whatever blood or injury I must wash away I know you will be waiting for me.  Thank you for your love and support, and for the way you see me.  Under your gaze, in your arms, with my hand in yours, I feel truly beautiful.  I am already on my way,

Sweet Misty Brown   

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