It occurred to me at 3 in the morning, after waking way too early, that a good story must have more than goodbyes and a general thread of anxiety running through it to be interesting. This one is no different. You know that I'm leaving California, the land that I love. And that I am returning to Georgia, where I grew up.
What you don't know is this: there is a boy.
Or rather, a man. In my memory, we're 36 years younger, and he's 17. I have golfed only one time in my life, when I was 16. Over the years, when relating the story, I never thought about who I had been with. Or why there was no second date. I just remembered being awful at it. And not wanting to repeat the experience. I also remembered laughing hysterically at my amazing ability to swing and never hit the ball. Turns out, he was the unfortunate guy.
It is true that I'm going back to Georgia for economic reasons. I've been pushed in to a corner, financially, over the last three years. And that lately, push has become shove. I've pared my expenses down to the bone, got rid of the expensive car, office and so much more. Yet still, I struggle.
Once done, my subconscious mind began sifting though the "52 Years of Lost and Discarded Memories" file and the first memory that popped up was the infamous golf outting. When I tried to grab hold of the memory, to flesh it out, I got nada. Till I got home and he had confirmed our Facebook friendship with a message that simply said, "What are you doing on the West Coast? How can I take you golfing if you're all the way out there?"
Lightning bolt. Over the ensuing days of messages sent with increasing fervor and frequency, my subconscious ran nonstop. Even at night when I was trying to sleep it continued, churning, turning, searching for memories of this boy. Occasionally, it brought back fleeting ones. Isolated snatches of an impish, adorable face, very young. Later on, a little older, at the store where he worked, ignoring me. Not much more.
But I know, I feel, there was more. After all, there were eleven-plus years of football games, practice, parades, pep rallies, school hallways. Was my desk in Mrs. Lawson's first-grade class his, from the year before?
Amazingly, he remembers me. He is, in fact, a veritable repository of carefully-catalogued information, including, it seems, my missing memories.
He remembers our "date". And other times. He remembers me. And apparently saw me, at a time when I thought no one did. Or could. I was so busy getting out of Villa Rica, you see. It was too small, and I wanted the whole world. My big dreams seemed too big for one tiny town. (Then, there was the not-so-small voice of my mother saying "run, run away, as fast as you can!")
Why am I sharing this with you, my friends? Because I can no longer hold it inside. It colors everything that I think, do and say. And there's an honesty within me that will not be denied. Because I'm happy, and I want to share my happiness with you.
And because the world can always use another love story.