Thursday, March 09, 2006

More Return Male ...

David called this afternoon on his way home.

When the phone rang, I expected it to be a colleague who had just sent over a document for me to review. But it was David.

"I thought we'd have conversations three days in a row," he said. (He IMed and called Tuesday, IMed Wednesday, called today.)

"I don't think that's happened since college," I said.

Ah, college. I met David in a class I wasn't supposed to take. I mean, it was full when I tried to sign up for it, but I went to the first class anyway, to see if the professor would let me in. Several other people had the same idea. Four of us were trying to add it, but Jim Sloan, the prof, said he'd let in two. He literally put our names in a hat and had someone draw them. I was one of the winners.

It was a night class, a fiction writing class, one night a week for several hours, and the building was pretty near my dorm. David drove to school, and parked in the lot across the street.

I remember him for his cute glasses and long hair. I've always had a thing for guys with long hair. And I remember him wearing a Gumby T-shirt. For some reason, I couldn't tell you today if Pokey was on it, too. But they were always together, so they were probably together on his shirt. What was Gumby, anyway? Pokey was a horse, but what was Gumby? Gumbies don't exist in nature, I guess.

Anyway... Since I lived so close to class, I usually was the first one there. After the first week, in which I sat by the door in case Sloan told me to get lost, I sat furthest from the door. In successive weeks, David would sit near me. We'd chat before class.

One day, after class, as I walked back to my dorm and he walked back to his truck, he asked me if I'd like to join him and some friends and go out dancing that weekend to celebrate his birthday. I couldn't, I told him. Why not?, he wanted to know. Because I'm going home for my mom's birthday, I told him, which, turns out, is the day before his.

I wasn't immediately won over by David. Looking back, I don't remember the reason for my reluctance, other than general skepticism that he was serious. But one day, when I was working in my college office, he appeared with a card. It's one of those prose-y cards, with an effusive message on the front, this one entitled, "I Believe In You." And inside, in his own hand, wall to wall words.

It was winter quarter, which started just after we returned from Christmas break and ran for 10 weeks. A few weeks into class, David was writing something behind a stack of books between us. Finished, he slipped it to me. It was a small card, and along the top of it was drawn a smiley face, a little card with heart on the front, and a sun coming up behind a mountain.

Happy. Valentine's. Day.

And inside was a poem.

It rhymed.

Well, it still does, actually. I still have it.

I was 19 when I met David. This year, I will be 37. And I can tell you exactly where that little card is: In the closet right behind me, in a metal, lift-top box, under my birth certificate and passport and Christmas card from Bob Hope and ...

... OK, how's this for weird? I just spent the better part of the past hour looking for that card. It wasn't in the metal box. It's always in the metal box, in an envelope along with other cards he's given me over the years. I thought of every place it could possibly be and found it in none of them. But, as it's always the last place you look, I found it, tucked inside Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way." But it's going back in the metal, lift-top box, because it is truly one of my most treasured possessions.

It was an unconventional courtship in some ways, storybook in others. But always intense. We didn't date for very long, which makes me laugh now, since it's nearly 18 years later and he's still in my life


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