“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Memory Lane: Episode 1.2

Want to hear something funny?  When my in-laws call my house, and I see their phone number pop up on the caller ID, I get a little shiver of excitement.  Because years ago, seeing that phone number pop up on the tiny little screen meant Joe was calling me.  It was also a phone number I had memorized within twenty-four hours of meeting Joe when I was fourteen, and I was never brave enough to dial it.  Sometimes, I dialed and hung up.  I wrote a lot of very bad rhyming poetry about the whole traumatic situation.  "I'm sitting here/all alone/I telephoned/he wasn't home."

This period of telephone trepidation lasted about a month before I gave up on Joe altogether (I turned fifteen and decided to grow up).  But the existence--and longevity--of our relationship fascinates me.  Even to people who don't believe in Fate (and I do), there's just too many coincidences and points of return to ignore.  It's like our song says: "After all the stops and starts, we keep coming back to these two hearts..."

So obviously I've spent a great deal of time reflecting on the whole thing, and I think it all comes down to that first month.  That first month of lying on my canopy bed that had no canopy, a phone with a twisted, knotted cord laying before me, NOT RINGING.  A period of time where the name "Joe Bielecki" weighed on me with a magnitude that only a silly fourteen-year-old girl could create within herself, because she wanted so much to fall in love with a boy who only seemed perfect.

He became a part of me.

Of course, what happened seven months later really sealed it.  I had packed Joe's name away in the back of my mind, labeled "Boy I Once Irrationally Loved," and moved forward.  I'd moved forward all the way to a crisp, damp April night when my friends and I decided to meet at a Timon Dance.  Timon is the all-boys' school is South Buffalo, whereas Joe attended Canisius in North Buffalo.  But as Joe had been pushed from my mind AGES ago, I certainly wasn't going to miss out on any opportunity Timon might afford me.  In fact, I kind of had my sights set on a different guy.  A Timon guy.  Timon guys had luster and enthusiasm.  They wore their baseball hats backwards and had big shoulders and were loud and fun.  Their varsity jackets had yellow sleeves.

I was fifteen years old, and I stood in the Bishop Timon High School gymnorium/auditasium.  I wore a midriff-revealing shirt because I was absolutely scandalous (no I wasn't--I was so small it covered my midriff anyway).  I stood in a circle of Mercy girls, with my good friend Alice at my side.  My stomach had butterflies and my heart felt like it was skipping beats because it was Friday night and the gym was dark and somewhere was the boy I liked.

Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  All my friends were around me...who could THAT be?  I felt so sure it had to be that special Timon guy--we'll call him Fernando for identity protection purposes--I felt so sure it was Fernando, having learned that this scandalous girl was waiting on a slow dance with him.

My friends looked over my shoulder as I turned my head slowly and confidently, so sure of who I would see standing there on the incline amidst the plastic auditorium seats.  I was completely surprised that the person there was no Timon guy I'd ever seen before (and somehow every Mercy girl seemed to know all the Timon guys at least by sight).  It was a tallish, blondish, very nervous-looking boy, whose twinkling blue eyes met mine and said, "Are you Mary Pat?"

He was definitely good-looking and it was nice to be approached, but I was so obtuse at age fifteen that my cloudy head was thinking, "Is this Fernando's friend doing the talking for him?  How lame.  Where is Fernando?"  So I said, "Yes, I'm Mary Pat.  Who are you?"

"I'm Joe.  Joe Bielecki."

Maybe you don't know much about the Catholic high school circuit in Western New York, but when a Canisius guy randomly shows up at a Timon dance and remembers you after seven months when you only met one time (even though you might not remember him...or at least what he looked like), well, I'm sorry, but...that's gotta be Fate (and it only took us eight more years to fall in love).

The next afternoon, the phone in our kitchen rang.  It was the only phone in the house with that newfangled caller ID thing, and what number do you suppose I saw there for the very first time?

The number of my future in-laws, of course.   :)

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