The Road Taken: Euphoria

I have a plastic container. I keep this container burrowed in the back of the closet that I share with G. It is mine.  One of two filled with letters, poems and countless journal entries. G and I have been married almost two years now. He is still steeped in graduate school, classes, research, late night study groups.  I am a graduate school widow. I might as well be single and living alone.

We left the treehouse for a two-bedroom condo in this place.

G and I had moved out of the tree house and into a condo we’d purchased in the Northgate area, about 10 minutes north of the campus.  Fifteen in traffic. It stresses him to be so far from the school, since he has to be there all the time.

But it is our own place, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, on two floors. What more could we want? On this particular Saturday, G had left early for the lab, as usual, and I am organizing. One of my favorite pastimes.  I pull out my containers to see what I can trash, what I can consolidate.  Every letter my mother has written me is here, so are the letters of my friends from school, my friends from Maryland, my friends from camp.  I’ve kept them all.  Even notebooks and composition books from elementary school, I find these hard to discard. My life is in these containers.  Here, too, are letters G had written me when he was already in Seattle and I still in Maryland.  Folder after folder, I open and lose myself, once again, in memories of old friends.  Which is when, I come to a folder marked, simply, “R.”

“R” is for Rick. It has been quite a while since I’ve thought of Rick. Even longer since I last saw him. Two years. And now, I feel my heart aching all over again, for him. My yearning for him hasn’t abated one bit. Here are my journal entries, poems I’d written about him. About us. Euphoric, is how he made me feel. I’d never felt that way about anyone, not until I met Rick. His passion for life was contagious and here on these pages is the proof.  Proof of what we had, of what he meant to me, and what I meant to him.  His notes, his desires.

There are aspects of him I shall never forget. Like the slight Southern twang in his voice.  His honesty and warmth, the love in his heart, and the longing sensation I’d get when he smiled at me. The memories of the days we spent together, so short, so fleeting, still feel fresh. And now, the memories are all that are left.

Rick slipped in and out of my life seamlessly, barely noticed by anyone but me. We were like children, exploring, touching, testing the limits of our senses, in ways I have not tried since. There were no boundaries, no fears. While I may be comfortable and settled with G, I felt challenged and delirious with Rick. Suddenly, everything was new, waiting to be discovered.

I pulled out the journal I’d kept then and opened to a random page, more than two thirds in. There it was. Remember? The one full day we spent together. It was all documented here, page after page of a recollection of a singular, cosmic day where we were as one and nothing else in the world mattered. That was the day we went to the zoo in search of Jimi Hendrix. That was the day I will never forget. A perfect day, and in the end, how I hated saying goodbye.

We met one more time at a cafe in the University District and finally faced our truths: my marriage and his yearning to keep running. Running towards the next adventure. Running to see the world. I wasn’t ready to give up on G, having only just begun, and Rick’s journey, his restlessness was too real, too strong. We held hands as we poured over our words, finding no relief in the conclusion. I held my tears back as long as I could. One last hug, one last kiss on the cheek and one final memory of walking away. Away from Rick, away from joy and the promise it held. Away from me. I watched him leave until he became a pinpoint on the horizon, until I could no longer see him. He was gone and, as I got back into my car, I let the tears wash over me.

And now, reflecting on the day at the zoo, and what happened after I returned home to G, I know I did the right thing. I had already gone too far on that road and needed to return to the one I’d started with G. He was waiting for me, after all.

So, there is only one thing left to do. I gather the poems, the journal entries, and Rick’s notes to me. One by one, I destroy them all.  No trace, no record. Wouldn’t be right for anyone to see this, especially G.

For, G had returned home early the day Rick and I went to the zoo, to surprise me. He was sitting at his desk, his back to me, in the dark, with only his desk lamp on. He didn’t see me open the door. He was quietly playing solitaire, and it made my heart lurch. Is this what we’d come to, so soon after marrying? This was my husband. We were just starting out. I was young. G was young–and so was Rick. And just like that, I knew what had to be done.

As I sat in our condo, with my boxes of letters and mementos, tearing up the evidence, I keep two items:  A short story Rick wrote and gave to me, and a poem I wrote for him about the night we missed class.  All the memories, all the wonder and delight between us, reduced to these two items.

But closing my eyes, I can see once again. Rick. And, there I am, by his side. We’re running, hand in hand. He looks back at me, his face flush with joy as he pulls me along. Almost there! My feet skimming the ground, barely touching. Just around the bend. Feeling light, light and free! We are as one, and we are laughing. Yes! I close my eyes and I am once again, euphoric.

 

Missed a chapter? Read past installments, by visiting the page, The Road Taken.

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30 thoughts on “The Road Taken: Euphoria

  1. I can’t believe that this is the end. Imagine where you would be if Rick hadn’t come into your life. I believe people find us for so many reasons and clearly Rick was meant to be in your life at that moment, to touch your heart and make you feel wonderful. You are who you are today because of your experiences. I related to your stories on so many levels. In the end I found love with stability, when I thought it wasn’t possible to have the two mesh together. I applaud you for sharing life with me! I can’t wait for your next story. I know for sure it will be good.

    • Everything happens for a reason and it sounds as though you believe in it, too. I applaud you for taking the road you were meant to be on. Know that I so appreciate your thoughtful, supportive words. I’m so pleased you found something in my story you can relate to. I know I always enjoy catching up on your blog, too. 😉

  2. Girl, hindsight is twenty twenty and had you not torn up Rick’s memorabilia, you’d now be able to use it in your memoirs. Thank goodness you at least kept two small mementos. Much as I love to rely on memories of the grand times in my life, I do love the concreteness of old letters, poems and old cassette tapes. I find they hold secrets; secrets that belong to me and the person whom I shared them with. I for one, am delighted that you’re sharing these memories with us. Do they resonate with everybody? I don’t think so. However, given that this is not the purpose of this particular piece of writing, it should matter not. I find it sad that there are people who feel their negative critic’s opinion matters one iota. Me? I’m elated to read about your life’s stories. I feel they depict the trajectory of a woman coming into her own; of the struggle to find the meaning of love, and above all, of the beauty of savoring each of life’s moments. No rationalization, no deep analysis, no dissecting the why and the how. Instead, celebrating those moments of bliss that only those who embrace the inexplicable are able understand.

    • Bells, it kills me that I got rid of so much. In fact I still have the journal I kept, but at least half the pages have been torn out of it. Only a few blank pages remain. Boy, I sometimes wonder, if those blank pages could talk. Perhaps they’d tell me what was taken out. Perhaps there was a clue to Rick’s life, his whereabouts, or how to find him. An address, maybe, I don’t know. It was too short, and so sweet. What would I do if I could go back in time. What would I do.

      Gracias, Chica, for reading my stories and enjoying them as much as you do. You don’t know how good that makes me feel. How happy it makes me. You put a smile on my face with your kind, thoughtful words. Mil gracias!

  3. I truly enjoy this post. It’s beautifully written – the joy, though fleeting, was wonderfully conveyed. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Ah the ending of the Rick saga. Now on to? Can’t wait for the next chapter and to see what ‘tangled web’ you’ll share with us!

  5. You made the right decision. Rick was a guy on the move. Your man was studying at the University. At least, between the two of them, Hubby was the right decision. Three folks tangles things up and complicates the mind. 🙂 Makes for a good story though.

  6. What poignant memories you share, Monica! You really convey what a breath of fresh air Rick was for you, as well as your deep-down need for the security and familiarity G. offered. I’m kind of sad to see the end of Rick, though — have you ever tried to find out what happened to him? You know, the Internet is a vast hunting ground for reunions! Just wondering.

  7. I confess that I am puzzled. If all your posts are added together do they amount to a memoir? Alternatively, are they notes for a novel, a love story perhaps with a romantic ending? Is there a knock on the door, the twang of a guitar, a bumping into another on a train station? When added together the posts do not amount to any of these things. These recollections when put together are all equal: they cluster in the telling of them. They are not multi layered and lack resonance. I cannot but think that it would be best to do a search for Rick. There he is. A garage hand in Kansas: balding a little with a paunch and deeply immersed in thinking about the Red Sox. Either that or a cold shower.

    • Oh Monica, this made me sad. True love, never to be. I guess it’s because I have a very similar memory of my own. I believe in soul mates. Sounds like Rick was yours.

      BTW, I’ve been to Jimi Hendrix’s grave too! I was amazed at how “normal” it was. Nothing grand and spectacular. But I liked that.

      I thought you ended this series of stories in a great way.

    • As a frequent reader of Monica’s, i love these memoir-like recollections that create glimpses of a beautiful story from secret memories and adventures. They resonate with many people, obviously as you have many religious readers who are enthralled by your writing.

      I agree, searching for Rick would be interesting. Where he is, none of us know, but imagination is far more interesting than cynicism.

    • John, Don’t try to make sense of my story. Don’t try to analyze it’s purpose. Each post is written to stand on its own merit. If you don’t like this one, that’s ok. I cannot expect everyone to appreciate my writing. I’m just grateful for those who do. If–and I say IF–I ever turn this into something more than a blog–then trust me, it’ll be embellished, elaborated upon and strung together so that it does make sense.

  8. I love your post ! ! Your short ” life ” with Rick totally pulled at my heartstrings…. right out of a romance story. Do you think you made a wrong choice ? No, I don’t think so. You chose what any normal woman would… stabilty and quite love.

    Greetings from California!

    • I’m so glad I was able to convey, through my words, how I felt about Rick. It was short, sweet and truly amazing, and I will always have my memories. A romance like that, albeit brief, is something to be treasured. Thank you so much for reading and enjoying my story! I love your comment!

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