A few days after breaking up with John he called to see how I was doing. I think he was surprised to hear I was fine. I was sad our romantic relationship had ended, but we had grown a strong friendship over the past year that neither of us could easily give up.
I told John I had some things of his and asked if he’d like to meet for coffee.
Starbucks seemed an appropriate place to meet up since that was where the seeds of our friendship had first sprouted. It would be good to see him and to return his personal things.
The summer of 2012 was filled with so many highs and lows I honestly don’t even like recalling it, and the ratio of highs to lows was unbalanced in the wrong direction. John and I not only had to deal with the snail’s pace of the legal system, but also the uncertainty of love.
John had told me he loved me one night back in April, but
after the accident failed to remember he’d said it or that he even felt it. He
spent the entire summer wondering if he’d let ‘the right one’ get away.
I promised myself I’d spend January researching how to write a book; so I sat down with Stephen King and gleaned some valuable information, “On Writing.”
I learned a few rules from JK Rowling too including, “Be ruthless about protecting writing days…” And this rule that actually made me feel better about going for it, “Failure is inevitable – make it a strength…”
Somewhere I read the best thing to do is to write how you talk, which is easy for me since that’s exactly how I write. I love Seth Godin’s quote, “No one ever gets talker’s block.”
I never dreamed I’d need to know anything about how bail works or the process of navigating the legal system to get a loved one out of jail. But as soon as John was taken into custody, I knew I was about to learn. So I stood up on shaky legs and left the courthouse to call the number I’d been handed by the bail bondsman.
The young woman on the phone said she would meet me outside
the courthouse and asked if I had my checkbook with me.
Sitting outside in the sunshine at a picnic table, I couldn’t help thinking about the stark difference of that beautiful warm summer day and the cold reality of John behind bars.
I don’t recall why we made the decision for John to come stay with me after being released from the hospital. But there he was, stitched up swollen lips and broken teeth sitting on my deck drinking coffee from a straw.
He had doctor’s orders not to drive because they were still
trying to figure out the extent of his brain injury. So there I was waiting on him and nursing him back to health.
The guy who forgot he’d said, “I love you Loretta” to me the
night before the accident.
The one who was facing a felony charge for running from the
cops, and the man who now looked more like Sloth from Goonies than Michael
The first thing I did was to implement a schedule for myself. Yeah I know, sometimes I can be a slow learner.
I wanted to be sure to allow time for exercise and social media but also to have time to actually write.
It seemed I was always trying to find occasions to write and I realized time wasn’t going to jump out of a cake and yell, “Surprise!” I was going to have to carve out moments each day if I wanted to get words on paper.
That morning John said goodbye and headed home to take care of some business. He wanted to make reservations at his favorite place in Pismo Beach for my upcoming birthday, and said he had a few other things to attend to.
We were so happy.
The night before, John told me he loved me just seconds before drifting off to sleep. We didn’t speak of it the next morning, but there was joy surrounding us we could both feel.
When John finally asked me to be his girlfriend in March 2012, I thought everything would be so much smoother for us from then on. After the last eight months of just friends to quasi dating I was sure things would settle down.
And they did, for a while.
The very first thing he did was to introduce me to his family. John wanted me to meet his Mom. She lived just 25 miles from the little town where I was born, and had never been back to since leaving with my family at age two.
For several years now, I’ve had numerous people tell me I
should write a book. They read or hear stories of my life, and then proclaim I
need to write about it.
I usually smile and say thank you, but inside, my only thought is, “I don’t know how to write a book.” So I don’t do anything with their advice.
From the time I can remember I’ve taken most people’s counsel
to heart and even felt a sense of “obligation” that I should follow through
with their guidance. Which for most of my life has created a sense of
pandemonium in my brain.
This last weekend I shared a post about a hike up El Toro with My John. I mentioned he grew up at the base of that hill and had many escapades to share. Here is an abridged column he wrote that I think you’ll enjoy.
“You’d think boys would know how to hunt” by John P. Gavin
Who has read the book Lord of the Flies?
When I was in school it was pretty much
required reading. It was written in the 50’s by William Golding and is the
story of a group of young boys marooned, without grownups, on an island
In the book the boys quickly revert to a feral
state and run about howling, fighting and wielding crudely made weapons. I
remember reading it in class and thinking “what’s the big deal? That’s no
different from my neighborhood”.
Not to knock Mr. Golding but the boys in my
old neighborhood did not require an island without grownups in order to channel
our wild side. All we needed were the orchards and forests at the edge of town
– and a little imagination.
My neighborhood was bordered to the west by a small mountain that had been named El Toro by the Spaniards who discovered it (under the feet of the Chitactac Indians who were already living on it). To the north of us was a large walnut orchard that also bordered El Toro.
We virtually lived on that mountain – we knew all the big trees, open spaces and trails. One particular trail we knew of was travelled by a herd of deer that used it to get down to the orchard. They would then pass through the orchard to drink from the pond that lay beyond.
We were familiar not only with the trail, but
also with the time of evening the deer would come down it. In our grubby hands
this was dangerous knowledge. I still remember the summer day we sat in Dave
Mead’s garage talking about what our next adventure (the word ‘mayhem’ would
work equally well) would be when one of the guys blurted out “Let’s hunt the
deer in the orchard!”
To us an idea like that one did not require any discussion further than working out the details.
My little brother Brian asked, “What will we hunt them with?”
Someone shouted “Spears!”
Dave’s brother Richard wondered aloud “Where do we get spears?”
My response was “We make them”.
“Out of what?” Patrick Black asked.
“Knives tied to broom handles,” I said.
Brian wanted to know “When do we get the deer – on their way down the orchard or back through it?” On their way back from the pond we decided – figuring they’d be less wary on their second trip through the walnut trees.
And so we set off to our respective homes to
steal knives out of drawers and cut handles off of brooms. The plan was to meet
at the edge of the orchard about the time the herd of deer would pass through
on their way to the pond, and then quietly filter in among the trees so as to
be in place when they made their return trip.
To this day I still remember shouting, “Get
‘em!” as the deer made their way back toward El Toro. Out jumped five running,
shouting, spear wielding boys; and as the terrified deer spotted us they all
bolted in unison. I launched my spear, as did the others, hoping it would fly
true and hit its mark – a big deer charging past me.
I didn’t hit my target that day in the
orchard. None of us did. Heck, we were little kids with kitchen knives tied to
broom handles – what damage were we really going to do? I think all we
accomplished was scaring the daylights out of a bunch of deer – well maybe that
and the realization all we truly wanted to do was follow them around.
Birthdays are a big deal to me, but you probably already
know that. And without trying to state the obvious, this next one is perhaps
the biggest in the deal department yet.
I can only remember one birthday party as a kid. Just one. I
may have singled this one party out, but I doubt it. The reason it may stand
out the most is that was also the occasion that my younger brother, Brian,
decided to stand on the fence and pee in front of my friends.
Thirty-five years ago today, I woke up at 6am and it
Just like the book said, the very first sign of ‘delivery day’ came, and I knew I would be meeting my first child that day.
Everything went like clockwork and by 2pm his father and I
headed to the hospital. And at just before 5pm we met our son for the very
Adam was born on Dec. 30th and I took him home on
Dec. 31st…New Year’s Eve. Only he wasn’t Adam then. We had named him
Christopher Adam, but when I got home and looked down at his little face, I
started crying and said, “His name isn’t Christopher!”