Thursday, August 17, 2023

Thou shalt not

It was a meeting in some building at the county fairgrounds, I don't remember what it was about. You were there in your official PR capacity representing the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) and I was covering it for the Pagosa Springs SUN. You were up front, asking incisive questions that impressed the fuck out of me. What a brilliant mind.

Once the meeting was over and everyone stood around after raiding the last of the sandwiches, I made my way into the circle of male bureaucrats vying for your eye, babbling out their shoptalk in an effort to impress you. I can't remember what question I invented to draw your attention to me but you flashed your electric smile at me, answered my question, then asked me who I was.

"I recognize your bylines," your smile still entrancing me, "I really like your reporting, your writing is superb." It felt as though the entire universe pause, spacetime glitched in that moment. Your compliment charged every molecule composing me--beautiful women have always intimidated me.

I saw you again that weekend during the Brahms quartet performance, Music in the Mountains beneath a huge white tent, you and G facing forward from the second tier, M and me along the wings. You were even more a vision than you were at the meeting and I barely watched the stage, hoping to catch your eye and elicit a response. You never saw me.

At work the next day, I looked you up in the PAWSD directory then chewed on my lip as I stared at your email address. What to say, how far to go. Girding my loins so to speak, I typed out some kind of introduction (no memory of what I did) and then hit send, letting my heart pound and my head swim, almost hyperventilating with anxiety, excitement and fear. 

I wanted you so badly...

Dizzy again when I saw you reply the next morning. To no one's surprise, your reply was cheery and friendly, intelligent and funny--and an invitation to write again. We were both non-natives to the area and, despite mutual friends (my colleague James, the town's project manager, a count commissioner, et al) we recognized that we were outsiders and essentially alone in a veritable intellectual desert. 

We found each other during our first month of chatting, expressing our frustrations with the people inhabiting the area where we'd landed, the horrible selections chosen by the local book club, creating a tighter and tighter embrace in the vortex we were creating with no consideration of the ultimate consequences.

By the end of that month (more or less), our emails started to take on on a flirtatious tone, gripes about our spouses, desires not being met, suggestions of how we might be better suited for each other than the horrible people we were encumbered with. Vows and legal entanglements and an existence that made work preferable to being at home. I don't recall who initiated that tone but I do remember that, once that rabbit was released, the greyhounds bounded and sped up. A trope, yes, it was when we both shared we were alone and the reasons why (You were appalled be Racing in the Rain as a book club selection) that we realized it was just how the world works and that was that. Thank God.

I still want you so badly, more than ever...


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