The Watershed Moment
Jason edged the black minivan up to the curb and I jumped in with a dozen roses. He had been lying in wait in the fire lane of the grocery store idling with the A/C on full, in the sunshine of the central florida town. We were both barely old enough to drive. I had collected a box from the loading dock and borrowed a Sharpie from the cashier who didn’t give a shit since she was joining the Navy the next day. She had no problems parting with properties that belonged to Winn-Dixie, a southern chain of grocery stores that laments the decision of Appomattox Courthouse a 130 years prior, and my very first employer under the Commerce Act and the first one I had to provide my Social Security number to.
“So its set then?” he asked from the driver’s seat as he watched me run in the side door with the goods.
I shut the sliding door.
“Yea, I guess so,” I replied.
It was summer in Florida, and the heat was moist that year, more than most. We had been used to it, native Floridians usually are. Its the same growing up in the cold, growing up in the congested, or the foggy, it becomes part of your identity. We just happened to grow up in the sunshine, by beaches, by lakes, and by thunderstorms you could set your watch to. The sheet of humidity that day flexed and bended the light above the streets in broad day light, that effect that movies would use with a Sterno can infront of the lens, usually with a wandering misunderstood silent loner walking in leather in the desert. Although that effect was everywhere, naturally. And instead we all had board shorts and t shirts.
It was around 2pm on a Thursday, and we had just gotten out of class. Fresh in my head was that scene in Redford’s movie “Indecent Proposal”, about the girl that he never spoke to on the subway. Where fate lined up and he had the opportunity, but didn’t take it. Didn’t take the risk for fear of rejection, for fear of the unknown. I think that story resonates with so many of us shy guys out there. And we can either follow suit, or chase something that means something to us. And this story was the impetus on why Jason took a right onto Rangeline Road out that parking lot.
“You know I can turn around,” he said, unbelieving that I would follow through with this.
“No, just keep going,” I rose to his challenge.
There was this girl…who happened to be in our class, since this course wasn’t offered at her school. So she was visiting with another. I saw her and melted. I could not concentrate. Physically could not speak, or wax like I’m used to doing. I was taking this course over again because it was boring and I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I had tested a few months before, and apparently I scored 138 in Mensa IQ tests, but if she had been in the room, I think I would have scored perhaps a 9. It was hard to believe, that she was real. Like she was an apparition. “You only see people like that in the movies,” I thought. And for a guy who daydreams a lot and lives in a fantasy world because his real world was shitty at times, that was perfect. She was perfect.
This is the stuff that segues between narrative points in a climax of a film. I think its because she moved in slow motion. She really did. The golden hair would fly as she walked, and I’m certain, totally certain that freaking faires would keep each strands fluttering a half second longer than the normal 9.8m/s2 would allow. And her form would have contrails outlining the places she walked in that chemistry classroom. The music that subconsciously played was more hairspray rock than gregorian chant, and I was smitten.
“What do I say?” I asked, looking down a the box, the note, and the roses.
“Beats me, I’m just driving you because you told me to not turn around.”
“Turn around, this is nuts,” I pleaded.
“Really?, but I’ll also tell you I told you so,” Jason said as we got to EE Williamson and Rangeline Rd.
He started doing the look in the rear view and side view dance, and with his right hand began to apply pressure to the turn signal wand on the steering column.
“No. No, just Keep going.”
His eyes looked at me in the mirror. I was sprawled out in the floor of the minivan with the pieces of this “gift” spread before me. I met his eyes into the rearview…
“Just keep going.”
What was I thinking? I got her address from a phone book for crying outloud. I spoke all of three sentences to her in person. And now, here I am in a murdered out mini van with a friend/driver who was pushing me to do something I wouldn’t have done on my own. I had told him a few hours before, “I’m going to do this, and once we get in the van, you will not let me turnaround. You will drive till we get there. And I will do what I set out to do. And don’t turn around even if I ask you to.”
We were passing my old house, and the entrance to Jason’s subdivision, and music played as I tried desperately to figure out what I was about to write on this box. The blur of trees, and cars, and kids on swing sets filtered by the midnight tinted windows and time was quickly evaporating. I stared at the box that awkwardly fit the roses. It was box that probably shipped papertowels or cans of pinto beans, it was shaped in a rectangle with the square end of the rectangle opened. It fit the roses diagonally, but there was no packing, there was no way to “finish” the presentation. Only the roses, and a letter I had written the night before. A letter that in so many words stated, how impressed I was with the short exchange of words we had in class, and my desire to meet with her outside of it. Every sentence hinged on the edge of how smitten I was. In short, it was ballsy. And way outside the box which I had constructed for myself as safety.
Jason took the right, onto Markham Woods Road, and the minivan was now serving as triumphant limo in ticker tape parade, welcoming the hero, or serving as a hearse. The vehicle began to slow as the address numbers began counting down.
“So what exactly is the plan?” Mr. Eyes said to me in the mirror.
“I don’t know I was just going to put this on her doorstep.”
“That’s the plan?”
“Yeah.” adding already to the doubt welling up inside me.
“The Front Door?” he sneered.
It was at this time I began to get agitated, I needed encouragement, not so much doubt, I was already so far off the reservation within my own comfort zone here.
“How else could I do this?” I asked “I hardly see her, and after today I may not see her ever again.”
“Why don’t you just visit her at work or someplace common?”
“She presently doesn’t work, and she is a beautiful ballet dancer, I have nothing in common with her.”
“Then this is the only the way.”
“This is the only way.” I said, and we continued on in silence.
We arrived at 5478 Markham Woods Road, and we were pleasantly surprised at what we saw. Instead of a doorway, and a front step, and a welcome mat with a pair of flip flops to the side. Instead of a doorbell, and perhaps some bric-a-brac door knocker, we looked at a cold steel box of multiple mailboxes. The silver contraption was at the intersection of all these dirt roads that fanned out in multiple directions into the woods around us. These secluded properties were concealed by the woods and it was impossible to know which road led to the actual house since these homes were off the grid, and most certainly didn’t have conveniently placed spray painted numbers on the curb. Especially since there was no curb. Just dirt.
Jason and I idled in the van considering the next step. It would have been a perfect time to drive home and file 13 the letter, the roses, and any crazy ideas I might have that the supernatural girl would hang with me for a little bit. Jason put the van in reverse, and was about to left off the brake.
I slid open the van side door, jumped out of the van, grabbed the box which had the letter and the roses, and with the Sharpie, wrote in big black letters. “To: AMANDA CUTTER” on the outside of the box. I threw the box on top of the silver Postal mail center, and jumped in the van, had one lasting look at the act I was about to commit, and slid the van door between the box of fate, and myself, separating my look with that tinted glass again.
“Drive. Get me out of here before I change my mind.”
That ride back was complete anguish. It remained anguish until…
The Phone rang 6 hours later.
It was her.
This happened almost 19 years ago. And we’ve been best of friends ever since and continues to predate mostly everyone else in my life. This photograph was taken early this month and as you can tell, she really is supernatural since she hasn’t aged at all. Take a chance people, Life can surprise you.
Los Angeles, CA
Hasselblad 500C/M 80mm Zeiss Planar Portra 160 NC
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