Monday, May 13, 2013

As If We Never Said Goodbye

In the musical Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond is singing about the thrill of making movies, and how familiar it would be even after many years' absence from stardom.

When I started writing this blog to deal with one of the most painful chapters of my past, I prefaced it by saying that I wrote from my own perspective. I was only half of the equation- and my perspective is tainted by an unhappiness that I have carried for almost three decades.

Hopkins not only turned up for my play on Saturday, he stayed for the whole thing, and then spent several hours hanging out with me at the cast party/book launch for a friend's new novel at a vineyard out in the country.

I bought a single smallish glass of wine and found a handy corner in which to hide. As we were discussing what it will take for him to finish his CIT degree at Western Kentucky, he said something about...that place...the one in, you know, Baltimore. I drained the glass and said, as I hastily crossed to the water pitcher in the opposite corner, "I won't even book a flight through Baltimore." When I sat down, he said, quietly, "Don't blame Baltimore. Don't blame Johns Hopkins. The blame lies with me. I did it to myself."

Who am I not to accept his own assessment of the situation? Even if I release that bitterness toward Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University, I will probably always harbor a slight resentment toward the university that I saw as the rival for his affection and author of my greatest misery.

We talked about it for a few more minutes and I added that I'd expected him to go to Caltech, MIT, or Stanford- and he asked why I had gone to Kentucky. "Biggest scholarship offer," I told him. He stared at me while I explained that it was all my parents could afford in the end. "I applied to Goucher," I said, going back for more water. My back was to him, but I heard the sharp intake of breath.

"We thought that Goucher, the guys at Hopkins, that is, that Goucher existed to provide us with girls to date."

"I know."

Those two words finally sliced through that thick skull. I was one of the smart kids, too, and Goucher is not one of the Seven Sisters. That response was, if you know how to read it: "I was mortgaging my entire future to get you back."

"I got in, by the way."

When I finally turned around, I saw understanding, then shock, flooding his features.

"Interesting."

I admitted quickly that it had been a supremely bad idea- I'd been afraid of further rejection, you see. Maybe it wouldn't have been. Who can really say? I have to take this as it comes, and accept the terms as they unfold. It has been a long war, and I am weary from the fight...and I don't feel the need to convince anyone he was worth it. He was worth it to me.

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