It was just like the real thing, playing hide and seek with a real live girl. It was an over grown hayfield that just happened to belonged to no one but us that day. It had grass almost as high as any kid’s head, and the equivalent ability to lend to a child, to be able to fly. The place was replete with grasshoppers and butterflies. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the chiggers. They won’t forget us. The chiggers will be tormenting us sometime into next month. But I remember you, especially.
You were the quiet girl in my parent’s back yard, who got a nose bleed that one night; the one who was in love with me the entire time I didn’t pay you any mind. I saw you in ways you thought I never saw a girl. We were both still children, but we played on a rope swing at the church picnic. We swung out over the pond and let go of the rope. I would wait there and watch you, taking my turn, like an obedient proper child would. I was watching you all the time I could see. It got dark too.
You’re the one from prom night, who loves horses, and Dark Shadows on the TV. You are a few years younger that I, when it was a crime and a sin to like someone a little younger than one’s self. You’re the one who participated in some extracurricular activities in the back seat. You turned into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, and I was scared of your father. I had to drive you home on those country roads at a breakneck pace, until I believed I’d kill us both, and slowed down appreciably.
You’re the one who talked me into getting into the saddle of your swayback mare. I was twice as scared in that saddle as I ever was behind the wheel, only there I was afraid of the wrath of God Himself. I was the one who liked all the girls, the one with the reputation, remember? I could never seem to make up my mind from the one girl to the next, because I love you. I spent my time alone in life, with consequences to pay without you, rather than having children.
Now, I’m old enough to be a grandfather, and just as alone as I ever was. All I have now are memories of you. I have no one to blame but myself, because I considered chronic schizo-affective disorder to have been of significant substance, endangering any children I become father of. Chronic schizo-affective disorder is genetically transmitted. Grandma had it, Dad, and then me. It would have been a bad thing for me to pass that trouble of on to our children. It wasn’t their fault.
So I walked away. It was the only decent thing for me to do. My body tormented me for years after that. The only think I didn’t do was develop another relationship. Not for quite sometime. I must have seemed like a walkaway Joe to you, after I pushed you away from me. Like some idiot with no principles whatsoever. I’ve thought about that breakup ever since, and I can never get through the memory with my integrity.
I hear those songs mocking me, and can’t help wondering where I stand with you? I know, you have that fella, and those girls, but in your heart of hearts, how is it you feel about me. In a quiet moment, when there’s nothing else demanding your attention, do you think of me? I can’t help but wonder, after I’m safely tucked away in an old folks home, essentially thought of to have shut me up, can you imagine what I went through, in all those years of being a young man?
I would feel like a man for you all night long, but you were nowhere near. You had been sent away from me, to save you from my schizo-affective madness. I did my best to remember your body, but it was no use. My minds eye would not project you onto my vision. At times there was no relief from my young adulthood, because everyone else was disinterested in me. I struggled to be alone, and not impose myself on anyone. Thank God I won that struggle, hands down.
Once upon a time I believed I might surely become an imposition on someone or other, but I was brought up too well to behave that way. You would have been proud of me, Love, for the way I purported myself among the general public. I was never violent, and never an overt imposition on anyone. I always found the gentleman’s way to treat people, even long after you were married and the mother of your husband’s children. That very idea used to torment me no end.
You had moved on, dear. I was reminiscing about our days together. I still do that. Your memory has become a sanctity to me, all the pertinent highlights of how we interacted are still significant. I’ve had my therapist get to the point where she almost demanded you become on of my significant others, but I talked her out of it at some point. It was another act of heroism, Dear.
I ended up starving on the streets of Baltimore City, a slave to a Shylock, whose threat I could not overthrow. He had a ring in my nose. Embezzled every penny, he’d abuse me if I ever said anything he didn’t like. I had one room in a city of rooms. The room with a bed, a chest of drawers, one single chair, one lone chair, an isolated chair, a celibate chair. In a city of rooms, which covered miles and miles of rooms, and I was disoriented from starvation.
I went to a soup kitchen thirty blocks down hill, and wolfed down a thin sandwich and thin bowl of soup, while I became more and more thin and disoriented. All this time I was in my twenties, with feelings like I was in my twenties. No one I knew or cared. Most people I knew were not feminine but masculine. I found a masculine friend to occupy my room with me. I had a young man to bring me home some cheese and some Mad Dog 20/20. How I ever survived I don’t know?
My buddy, the grand and glorious Shylock, was busy occupying my bachelor chair almost always, almost incessantly, the way he was doing with the little bit of income the government was affording me once a month. My refuge while that man was in my personal place, was the edge of the only bed, in the only room, with a city full of rooms, with no support for my back, or my empty stomach, while it was clearly evident my own, personal Shylock ate fitfully.
There I was, addicted to a substance which was only psychologically addictive. Therefore it was OK to smoke the stuff as much as I wanted, because it was not really addictive, just psychologically so. I could not afford a hamburger, but I was high almost all the time. Don’t remember having beer, or anything hard, I just smoked that wacky weed, and that was that. One demanded to smoke that stuff once, and tried to keep it from you, but I didn’t have the authority to make it happen.
I never forgave myself for getting you started on wacky weed.
I found out the Shylock started going to jail for misdemeanors, one after the other. They knew they couldn’t make a felony stick on him, so they prosecuted him one misdemeanor after another. It seems the Police had enough on him to lock him up, almost as quickly as he was released. It’s called the installment plan. If anybody had it coming, he did. I was in a different part of the city by then, trying to get into a state hospital. As it turned out, I got more state hospital than I had counted on.