So, years ago, when I used to live in
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
My point is this: when I saw Red, I felt something. I felt something deep and exciting. Could that have been what
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
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
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
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.
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,
I wish I'd asked her name.
But, oh well,
at least saw her lips.