Sunday, January 4, 2009

How I Met My True Love



I found a little New Year's inspiration here: a challenge to write the story of how I met my best love.



My junior year of college, I came out of a failed love affair with a brilliant artist, a pothead, whose long hair I would put in french braids for him whenever he liked, he was funny and beautiful, but cruel and with a penchant for boys as yet unfulfilled. Our relationship ended painfully, and I was miserable, and miserably sought comfort in highly unsuitable beds. When I could see again, and had become disgusted with my own behavior, I began to notice a man, a friend of one of the girls I shared an apartment with, Lucy. He was older by five years, because, I heard, he had been in the army and then returned to college. I would watch him from across the smoking lounge in the social center, and I saw that although he often held forth with a noisy bunch of comrades, he had a quiet center and was mature. Don't ask me how I could see this across a room, through a haze of smoke and noise, but, somehow, I could.

I began to find ways to hang out with him, and just to be near him. I remember one night, I joined Lucy and this man at the little campus nightclub. I was working on a paper on Byron's poetry, and was tired of working alone. The three of us shared a tiny table and ordered coffee and chocolate cake, and I got out my pen and notebook and Complete Works of Lord Byron. I asked Lucy's friend what he thought of a particular poem, how he would interpret it--it was "So We'll Go No More A-Roving"--and of course, being that this was college and by this time he had probably noticed me too, he offered a very smart commentary. Ah, the heady days of intellectual foreplay...

He began taking me on occasional drives at night, to get off campus and to complain about our failed love affairs--but soon the conversation turned to other, more interesting topics, like what we wanted to be when we grew up. At that time, it was a toss-up for me between rabbinical school and the FBI, and I think that impressed him, as our college was chock full of mindless liberal drones, smart but all planning seemingly the same career in public service law. Fine career, of course, but not the only one in the world. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but still.

I began to think about him all the time, in between our car rides. But what I didn't realize then was that Lucy's friend was actually Sarge, my Sarge, the one with whom I would be forever after that, who gave me Hedgie, who is the love of my life, my only true man for the past 18 years. Or maybe I did know, after all, in some cosmic way.

One night, as I sat at one of my many boring college jobs, watching the desk at the social center, my phone rang. It was my other roommate, Emma, breathless on the line. "Leah!" she hissed into the phone. "I'm sitting with Sarge on his front porch, and Sarah is here with us--I think she's plotting her move on him--you've gotta get your ass here immediately--I can only hold her off so long!"

Sarah was a pale pretty blond girl, totally neurotic, like me, but fuck her! At this point, I wanted him for myself!

I grabbed a random freshman by the arm and sat them at the desk and told them to answer the phone, and I literally ran for Sarge's house. Ran! All the way across the darkened campus, the entire length of it, and out onto the streets of the town. Damn it, she would not get him before I had a chance! A block from his house, I had to pause to catch my breath and my dignity, to straighten my skirt, and then I sauntered casually out of the shadows toward the porch. My friend Emma gave me a wink, and a "hey Leah, what's up?" then immediately got up to leave--"see you guys later"--me with Sarge and Sarah. Sarge seemed glad to see me, but Sarah was definitely on the move...so...I just waited her out. For like an hour. I remained unmoveable, like a coed menhir. Finally, when the conversation turned unexpectedly to me and Sarge's heretofore undiscovered mutual love of Tintin comics, Sarah gave up and said goodnight. I think I can still hear, after all these years, the silent whoop that resounded in my head. Funny thing is, Sarge told me years later that he'd never had any intention of hooking up with her. But well, hey, the drama of the victory was heady at that moment on the porch when I watched Sarah's retreating back, her swinging blond hair, turning the corner back into shadow past the street lamp...and I was left alone with Sarge.

We retired to his little room in the rambling off-campus house, eventually, where we listened to music--he played me "Candy's Room" by Bruce Springsteen--and finally, on the narrow twin bed, we kissed softly, and even later, fell asleep warm and close...

And that's the story of me and Sarge, at least the beginning of it.

39 comments:

Maria said...

I fucking LOVED this. God, where the hell were you when I was in college and needed a snarky best friend?

Oh, wait...I think you were probably in kindergarten since I am a pretty old woman...

But, yes...I really, really want to know where Sarge is now.

Leah said...

Yay! Thank you so much for visiting. What a good idea for a writing exercise. And Sarge is my husband, actually--we made it together through a protracted adolescence, and here we are 18 years later--

I bet you were awesome in college. And it's true, I'm snarky...not always..but hey, it's a good quality right?

Karen ^..^ said...

Awww, I love hearing about budding true love...

This was a great story. I have nothing like this to tell, sadly. Maybe some day.

Cinnamon said...

Hi! Looked in at Kylie's suggestion- she said you are into knitting- and I see reading also. And your writing is so evocative too- I read this with a husky Hollywood actress voice in my head- like the narrator of 'Brief Encounter'! Hope you don't mind me following your blog.
Cinnamon x

Megan said...

Leah - That is a great, great story. I love that Emma had your back - I think that's my favorite part!

Sadly, I too have nothing to tell yet, but I haven't given up hope.

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

What an amazing story!! You write so well. I love it.

MJ said...

Oh crap, are you with the FBI?

*shuffles evidence under sofa*

just bob said...

I had the same sort of reaction toward Jack Daniels. Uncle Jack has always been there when I needed to see him and he's never let me down.

Leah said...

MJ: Too late, I already saw it!

Leah said...

Bob: I find Jack to be quite a romantic.

Leah said...

Karen: Actually, I think being with the same person from adolescence on is a bit weird...you know? I think it's good to meet someone when you've both had life experience.

Megan: ditto what I just said. And me too, my fave part of our story is Emma's phone call. Good old Emma.

just bob said...

Bob: I find Jack to be quite a romantic.

For me, he makes the hurt go away.

Leah said...

Cinnamon: Of course you're so very welcome here! Just don't be alarmed by my avatar. I'm experimenting with my Shane McGowan look. I finally found a salon which would oblige... ; )

Leah said...

Bob: in or out of a relationship, Jack obliges that way...

kylie said...

hey leah,
i'm such a sucker for a romantic story and this is one of em.
my favourite bit was you two falling asleep together.
i just think falling asleep together is such a beautiful thing, sometimes more intimate than sex

k

Cinnamon said...

Blimey- confession: I had to look up 'avatar'!

Robyn said...

LEah! OmG! That is a amazing story and written so well! I think I love Sarge...too! LMAO! great story and I feel so honored to have read it! Thanks for it! Happy New Year girly!

Suzanne said...

Robyn's here. Why isn't she over there? Jeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzz.

Who's that guy on your blog? Well at least he's naked. I could have fun with that. Yeah, it's true, I'm kinda easy! I know you're laughing!!! Beautiful love story baby. The real deal. You know I love you and your writing. Thanks for sharing this one. Sarge is a keeper!

Personal Ad: Sarge, I'm 5' 1 1-2" and appox. 110 lbs. I'm fit and young for my age. I'm pretty smart, speak well, write okay, nothing like Leah, but I could try. I guess. (Leah, I'm laughing too hard!) I'm 49 and probably beyond child bearing age, but we could always adopt or just keep trying.

What?! Leah, leave me alone. I'm thinking outside the box!

What?

XO

Leah said...

Suzanne you are truly one of the funniest people. You make me laugh so often and I thank you for that, more than you even know--

xoxoxoxo

Suzanne said...

Leah, how can I take you seriously when I nearly ran over you and your pretty wife exiting my luxury high-rise condo in West Hollywood? I can't. I know you. I know your voice. I know your car. You endured my wrath and lived. What? No, you didn't have orange hair. Short hair, a lazy boy style, and your wife? Please. Gorgeous.

Okay, so Sarge is available when? I don't have all freakin' year to wait for some action.

Heats the kettle for tea...

Walker said...

Great story!!!!
The real ones are always the best to read and the stry is still being written :)

Practically Joe said...

Thank goodness you had the moxie to step up to the plate and hit a homer. You knew what you wanted that's for sure.
I met my wife (we were 15) in a neighborhood center gymnasium ... on girl's night. That's right ... I snuck in.

Skeeter said...

Hi Leah!

What a beautiful sotry!!! I love it.

Best wishes,

Skeeter

faycat said...

Awww, that's so sweet. Of course, it's obvious that Sarge never would have been interested in the other girl, you guys are too perfect together.

I wish I really remember how J-Cat and I first met. I think it was in the cafeteria, so it can't have smelled good.

Queen Goob said...

Wow, I wanted to be a ninja, a lion tamer, a poodle (there's a story there somewhere about a VERY bad perm), a cop, or a high school English teacher.

And may I take a moment to quote Maria?

I fucking LOVED this!!!

Random said...

See, I told you that you were a great writer. That story is so romantic, and fucking AWESOME!!! You kicked ass!

I will also quote Maria and say, "Where the hell were you when I was in college and needed a snarky best friend?"

Random Chick said...

Crap! "Random" is me. I just have another account and forgot to switch it over.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing - my first direct experience (besides a portentious letter from you describing his many charms) was in your mom's living room during a school break, I think. He leaned around the side of an arm chair to greet me, and was revealed to be holding a Tintin. It wasn't the only reason I felt right away how right he was for you, but it was a nice bow on top.

XO

Allison

Leah said...

Kylie: it's true, once upon a time that falling asleep together was soooo romantic and intimate, wasn't it? I guess it still is at times.

Leah said...

Walker: I love that--the story is still being written--thanks!

Leah said...

Joe! Thanks for describing me as having "moxie." Not only is that my favorite expression, but it's also my lifelong goal. You've known your wife since you were 15? That's awesome. I'd love to hear more details on that story--I challenge you to it!

Leah said...

Skeeter: well your story is beautiful too, young man!

Leah said...

Fay: Your first encounter smelled! heee heee! You've got a really good story there too. High school sweethearts!

Leah said...

Thanks QG! so much. I also wanted to be an orthodontist and a cinematographer.

Leah said...

RC: wait, where were you?!

Leah said...

Allison: That really says it all. He's still got a Tintin in his hand, as we speak, reading to Hedgie.

The Idle Devil said...

Hi Leah...I love your story but even more the way you ran out to save your love from being snatched away. And the victory whoop in your head :)

Practically Joe said...

I accept your challenge.
On January 21st my wife and I celebrate our first date.
It was 1/21/67 ... that will be 42 years ago.
I will tell you the story in a couple of weeks.

Leah said...

Joe: Yay, I can't wait!