Monday, September 10, 2007


So, years ago, when I used to live in New York (where I will soon be living again), I passed a girl walking through Union Square. It’s been such a long time, now, that I cant remember where I was going, what I was doing, or even when it was. I’m fairly certain that it was in the year 2000, but that’s about as exact as I can get. Anyway, I passed a girl, or rather, we passed each other.

Her hair was red. It looked natural, though I have no idea whether or not it was, and she was beautiful. I was on the Northwest side of the square (near where the farmers market usually is), walking further Northwest. She was walking southeast. We were walking toward each other for a while, our eyes met early on, and we sustained eye-contact. She smiled, and I smiled. Her smile was beautiful, radiant. It was a laughing smile, and so must’ve been mine, because we smiled, almost laughing, until we passed each other and continued on. I think we both looked back once, smiled and laughed once more, and then she was gone.

I remember I stopped, and I turned, and I watched her go. I was trying to think of something to say to her, but she was going, and the father I let her go, the harder it would be to say something. Finally, I decided there was nothing I could do, and I turned, and continued to wherever it was I was heading.

Now, there are very few things in my life which I truly regret. Many things I chalk up to learning experiences, or growth, rather than regret them, which is genuine, and not semantics. This, however, oddly enough, is one of my very deepest regrets. I’ve made many mistakes in my life, but letting this anonymous stranger walk by without ever speaking a word is one of only a handful of things that I regret.

This is insane. No?

No. I think it’s very revealing, though.

I believe in love. And yes, I believe in the kind of love you see in the movies. People always talk about the
Hollywood love-story, and we talk about it so derisively, but Hollywood is not a sentient being. Hollywood does not have a pulse, and Hollywood does not dream. Humans do. The human dream of One True Love predates Hollywood by as far history can take us back. Or we call it Fairytale love or Storybook love, but all of these genres were born out of the dreams of humans.

My point is this: when I saw Red, I felt something. I felt something deep and exciting. Could that have been what
Hollywood would call Love At First Sight? Or was it what Shakespeare would call, "merely a lust of the blood"?

I'll never know.

Letting Red walk by and away opened the gate to a flood of questions which are unanswerable. They echo eternally. What if? What if you had stopped her? What if she was the one? The questions themselves are maddening, but far more maddening is the knowledge that I will never know the answer to them. Of course, if I had stopped her, and had talked to her, I may have found that she had a boyfriend, or maybe we would have gone to coffee and realized that we had no real connection, or maybe she wouldn’t even be interested in stopping and talking to me. All of these are very real possibilities, probably even more likely than the fairy-tale romance which I wonder about.

The problem, though, is that I didn’t stop her, and I didn’t talk to her. I wanted to, but I was afraid, and I let my fear get the best of me. Yes, me, the guy that has Carpe Diem literally tattooed over his heart, let himself be ruled by his doubts, and I’m still paying for it.

It’s been five or six years now, and I still think about it, and I still think about her. Her facial features have long since become blurred in my memory, but I remember the feeling as distinctly as if it were five minutes ago. It was a feeling I dismissed at that crucial moment as a flash in the pan (which really, I think, was a way of letting myself off the hook), but was it? Do I believe in fate? In destiny? In "the one true love"? Am I still haunted by these feelings because I didn’t act on them when I could have, or is it something greater than that? Could it have been real? Could it have been right?

I often day-dream about serendipity bringing us together again. Would I recognize her, I wonder? Her physical features are all gone from me. I remember her hair was red, I remember that her smile was beautiful, and I remember the flood of emotions I felt, but if she and I were walking toward each other again, on the Northwest corner of
Union Square, would I know her? Would it happen again? Would she know me? Has the memory of our brief, shared moment haunted her for the last five years, resurfacing every now and then, seemingly out of nowhere?

I am, by nature, hopelessly romantic; I can’t help that (and wouldn’t really want to, frankly). Experience, however, has taught me a certain amount of pragmatism. I dream of a mystical reunion with Red (the romantic nature), but I’ve learned that, when it comes to love, life seldom gives us second chances (the pragmatic nurture).

I have learned from this experience, though. From this lapse in Carpe Diemishisness, and from the What ifs that I live with, I have, indeed, altered my behavior. To this day, I am far more likely to act on my gut, when it tells me to do something, and I’ve learned that it almost never leads me astray. I’ve had some wonderful experiences because of it. In this case, however, that does not out-weigh the regret and the what ifs. I wish I knew why.

So, that’s my Story of Red. Its one I still think about a lot, and perhaps more so recently, because I am moving back to
New York in just three short weeks. Will I see her again at Union Square? Or will I see her somewhere else? If I do, will I recognize her? (Is her hair even red anymore?) And if I recognize her, will I feel a semblance of what I felt the first time? Will she log onto Myspace one day, somehow see my picture and be oddly compelled to click on it, then be even more oddly compelled to click on my blog entry entitled Red, and suddenly be hit by a wash of memory and emotion?

Pragmatic Brent says, "It’s unlikely."
Romantic Brent says, "It’s possible".
And the Brent that’s a combination of both and all my life experience says, Stranger things have happened.


I wrote the above just over a month ago, and was then swept up in rehearsals, performances, moving and life. I am now back, living in
New York. I’ve walked through Union Square a few times now, and though I’ve seen people I know a few of those times, I’ve haven’t seen her. I’ve thought over her every time I walk through, though.

To close this, while I was writing the above entry (six weeks ago), I was suddenly struck by a though, I’ve written about this before. That’s where I stopped writing and went tearing through all of my old books and journals. Sure enough, I found something. It must have been within a few weeks of my encounter with Red, which, if nothing else, gives me a better sense of when it happened. It’s amazing to me how my thoughts now still echo my thoughts so soon after it happened. Ah, life. Anyway, I thought it'd be a nice way to leave this.

I thought about her all day today.
I only knew her for an instant,
but that was enough to preserve
her in my mind.
She was beautiful.
A red-head.
Perhaps not natural, but
today she was a red-head.
She had pink-red lips,
like sumptuous roses,
as we passed each other,
our eye contact remained,
we both smiled,
(just a whiff)
and I could swear she said,
And with that, she was frozen
in my mind,
ever since.
I wish I'd asked her name.
But, oh well,
at least saw her lips.

-BR 4/27/00

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