I saw you across the way, on the other side of the tent, on Labor Day, and I was overwhelmed…
Ten years ago, it was, you contacted me, although I think it was a ruse. “Kathy, I saw that hemp necklace you had on, you said you make them, I wonder if you’d make me one?”
I met you at the Memorial Union with your necklace, that I had made a couple inches too long, just because I wanted to be sure. And as we were sitting there, watching the waves and the people, and feeling the warmth, I raveled two inches off your necklace. But at least I was sure. I remember tying it around your neck. Your neck felt hot, a little sweaty, slippery….
I had met you five years earlier, and I had instantly felt a connection, although I kind of ignored it, because back then I was a lesbian.
Note that I didn’t say, “thought I was a lesbian”, or “was involved in a relationship”, but at the time I really, truly, identified as gay. I felt a chemistry between the two of us, but I blew it off as just, “he’s a nice guy”….but later on, five years later, after my relationship blew up, I found myself in the parking lot outside Memorial Union, fighting with all my will to not leap into your arms. I kissed you, and you kissed me back, and the energy and the heat swelled, and it was overwhelming….and…
“Are you involved with anybody?”
And then my heart broke when you said, “I am going to get married next week”.
“I don’t want to lead you astray. I’d better leave now.”
But it took all I could do to wrench myself away.
So, years passed by. We’d see each other every year or two, mostly at the Labor Day festival. Then the protests happened.
“I love your tattoo.”
“I’ve spent most of the past six months protesting.”
“I was there, I took hundreds of pictures, looking for you. I heard you were playing your drum in the drum circle in the middle. Right in the middle, the thick of it all.”
I blushed. You took my picture.
“I don’t usually photograph well.”
Another protestor walked by and gave me a high five…
“Hey Mark!” (he was a mutual friend, even though I didn’t realize it at the time) “how do you know Kathy?”
“From the protests, we were in the rotunda together”…
And there was another spark, I looked into your eyes, and you looked into mine.
“I’d better get going.”
But, I tossed and turned that night. I kept remembering what Jim said, that “he is the male version of you….he IS you”…and realizing that was the most clear description I’ve ever had about how you and I relate. You ARE me.
But you were married and I was involved.
The next year at the Labor Day festival, I ran into you again. We sat at a picnic table and talked.
“so, did that picture you took last year turn out?”
“no, you didn’t photograph well.”
“Not surprising.” Much conversation ensued. And again, it was all I could do…that same old spark was there. That spark that I had first felt over ten years before. More like fifteen, if you include the spark I had ignored.
And again, a month ago, I ran into you again at the Labor Day festival. It’s easy to find you there. Smaller gathering.
“Every year, I go to every festival, I look for you, I ask people if you are here, and they tell me, “she was just here…she just left”, he said. “I look forward to seeing you here at Labor Fest, all year, and I look for you for the rest of the year.”
“I go to most every festival, at least those on the east side”, I said…(the east side being the hippie side of town)
“I’ll look for you”
Last week, at the Willy Street Fair…I saw a glimpse, well, actually, Jim saw you and said, “is that???” and I looked over, and my heart sped up, and I felt warm and cold at the same time, and I said, “yes, that is!” So I yelled your name. And you came. And talked. And won my heart all over again.
“See that woman with the hula hoop? She looks familiar….maybe she was at festival”…and you said, “would you recognize her if she were naked?” I said, “she may have been naked”.
“you’ve alluded to that in the past…are you a lesbian?”
“no, I swing both ways. Let’s just say I don’t discriminate based on gender.” And he laughed, a deep belly laugh. He looked deep into my eyes. I looked deep into his. I felt the spark again, that deep connected feeling.
“Before everybody comes, back, I want to tell you, I have the hots for you. I have had the hots for you ever since that night at the Memorial Union parking lot.”
And again, now, a week later, I find myself unable to sleep. When I close my eyes I see your face, and I remember that night in the parking lot at Memorial Union, ten years ago now. And I wonder how things might be different had you not been about to get married at the time.
And I toss and turn in my bed at night.