Richard, Part 1: The Beginning

I have been giving a lot of thought to my recent doldrums and the goodly dose of nostalgia that came along with them. I am in agreement with J. Lovejoy when it comes to nostalgia. I have never thought of it as a very healthy state of being, because I think that looking back overly fondly at the past is the brain’s way of dodging something you would rather not have to look at; it often directly relates to the situation / emotions / psychology-at-hand while entirely sidestepping the issue. It seems to be a general rule that everything balances itself against something else, keeping the universe and all contained in it in some sort equilibrium; from that, I have come to the conclusion that the amount of nostalgia I am feeling must be proportionate to some psychological evil I am outrunning. I didn’t have to look far to find the font of this nostalgia.

I wrote this entry a little while ago, talking about happy memories of a townhouse I sort of lived in the early nineties. Even in that entry, I mentioned that all wasn’t rose-coloured back then, but I hadn’t yet realized what exactly I was up to. I still haven’t, but I suppose that is why I am writing about this.

You see, I have been obsessing for over a month about a section of my history that started eleven-and-a-half years ago. I have been trying to rid myself of repeatedly casting my mind’s eye backward to over a decade ago, but I seem to be stuck staring at it. It’s like when you’re having a bad day at work and all you can concentrate on is that coffee stain on the hem of your shirt that got the whole bad-day thing rolling. Eleven-and-a-half years ago was a few months after I officially started my adult life at the age of nineteen and moved out of my parents’ house. Eleven-and-a-half years ago was when I met the first man that I knew I was undoubtedly supposed to love for the rest of my life despite the fact that I didn’t necessarily believe in marriage.

In order to figure out properly what all this back history has to do with Now, which it must for all the obsessing I’m doing, I am going to go over some of the story of that time and try to decipher what its importance might be with regard to Now. This story may happen over a couple or a few entries, so if you’re looking for some kind of finality at the end of today’s post, you won’t find it. This is one of those things that grew bigger and bigger once I started writing about it, and now it has completely outgrown the confines I originally tried to enforce.

So, without further adieu, here is the beginning of the piece of my history that might have spurred on my latest bout with the sickness, Nostalgia…


I moved out of my parents’ house at the age of nineteen in October. A friend of mine knew that I was depressed and suggested that I go visit a guy she knew, B. I had no money, I was unemployed, I had wallpapered half a bedroom wall with rejection letters, I lived in a truly crappy apartment with an anal roommate, I wasn’t on speaking terms with my family, and the carton of cigarettes I had splurged on when I moved out was quickly dwindling. I needed something more to do than sit on my ass chain-smoking cigarettes and memorizing the line-up of mid-afternoon fishing shows. I had never met B, but he was of the hippy sort and readily welcomed all kinds of people into his home. My friend assured me that he would be happy to have me for tea. During my first visit with B, we were sitting in his kitchen having tea and talking about who we knew in common when a tall, skinny man of about twenty-five hurried through the kitchen and down the basement stairs with a fiddle in his hand. I asked B who the man was, and he told me that it was his roommate, Richard, who had just taken up the violin. The strains of a thousand dying felines wafted up the basement stairs, and I knew that I had just seen the man I would love forever.

I made sure to go by B’s house at least once or twice a week after seeing his roommate. I befriended a girl there with whom I moved out of my crappy apartment and into a much better one beside the river two blocks from his house. Despite all the time I was spending over there, Richard hardly seemed to notice me. We had been introduced twice, but he was rarely around, and when he was around, he was busy practicing “Whiskey in the Jar” in the basement. I was unconcerned for the most part, because my intuition had told me what was up, and all I had to do was wait for it to happen. I had stumbled into a jigsaw puzzle whose previously missing pieces were being slowly brought into their proper and rightful positions. All I had to do was wait for Richard to take notice.

And he did. There was a party at B and Richard’s in February, three months after I became a regular visitor. A few of us were leaving to go pick up some mix at a store a few blocks from the house, so I asked Richard if he would like to join us for the walk. He hesitated, said no, and then grabbed his coat anyway as we were heading out the door. On the walk to and from the store, he finally started talking with me, and I guess I wasn’t the only one with the crush, because we started horsing around on the way home, and I suddenly found myself pushed up against a lamp post being kissed hard with warm lips. What seems odd to me now is that the kiss wasn’t really what excited me at the time. I had been so sure that this would be the natural progression of things that my stomach barely did flip flops over it. The kiss was just another milestone on the road to our joyous forever, a demarcation to be recalled later as proof of what was surely to come.

All things seemed to be pointing in a clear direction at that point, and I was only twenty years old! I felt so lucky and pleased with things. I was going to grow up to be a writer and an artist, and Richard and I would be very happy with pets and his music, oh yes, and I could almost feel the warmth of the sun streaming through the windows of our house and see all the cool people who would come over to make art and music, oh my, and our life together would be Exactly What Should Happen. But dreams are dreams are dreams…

(The exciting adventures of Richard and Schmutzie will return shortly in my next post after this previously scheduled intermission).



Without Warning
-- Sappho

Without warning
as a whirlwind
swoops on an oak
Love shakes my heart


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