Well, he was. And he still is. But here we go.
Imagine one of those mall maps with the star “You Are Here” that was me:
626 Hollywood Ave. He was there: 663 Hollywood Ave.
We were neighbors, married neighbors, & not to each other. One day BC the Know-It-All & a few other friends sat on my front porch, as friends & neighbors of
Hollywood tended to do, listening to me recount a disastrous full moon night on call with the Surgical Team.
As I was talking about all the action I mentioned a great trick I had learned; if you don’t eat or drink you don’t have to miss out on anything. Of course sometimes that backfires a little...
BC wasn’t too happy about what he was hearing. From across the porch, he laid into me about needing to take better care of myself. Ending with him throwing a hard ball my direction, “You will never make it through medical school.”
Then he turned away refusing to look at me the rest of the evening.
But I was pissed. I stared at the back of his head thinking...well, I shouldn’t write what I was thinking but you might guess the power of it because true fact is he now has a patch and I mean an exact circle, of white hair on his head right in the spot where I was glaring.
Two days later while working in the garden I got a call from his then wife. “BC was on a ladder and a nail gun fell off the roof hitting him in the head. He asked me to call you to come up and look at it.”
I remember hanging up the phone laughing, “Oh you think I’m good enough now?” Slowing washing my hands, even slower making my way up the street only to find his wife on the sidewalk chatting with another neighbor like nothing had happened.
“He’s in there,” she pointed as if she couldn't be bothered by it. So I went in alone and found him on the sofa holding his head, blood trickling down his face.
He needed stitches but he wasn’t willing to go in.
So I said, “Let’s clean it and stop the bleeding. Where is the hydrogen peroxide?”
“My wife knows,” He answered.
I looked around, no wife; she hadn’t followed me into the house.
“Maybe you could just tell me where to find it?” I tried delicately.
Looking a little green he muttered. “My arm is getting tired.”
I took over holding pressure on the wound.
So now there I was on the sofa kneeling over another woman’s husband. Insert soap opera detail: I know that after a party one night at my house BC told his wife he thinks (despite the fact I will never be a doctor), I am the sexiest woman he has ever met. How do I know he said this? She told me he said it. Awkward.
I tried again. “Yeah, can you just tell me where the hydrogen peroxide is?”
“I don’t know, my wife knows. She can get it.”
And getting more awkward by the moment….“Ah well...yeah, but she’s not here right now.”
Insert gossip: you would have to live at least three blocks away to not know their marriage was in the toilet & had been from about day one.
“Where is she?” he asked, confusion of a head injury spilling out around him. I twisted to take a peek out the open front door. I could see her laughing & joking with yet another neighbor in the grass.
Really?!? WTF?! The so-called sexiest woman on the
Hollywood block has your incapacitated husband pinned in the corner on a couch & you are not the least bit curious?
I would be...
I would be...
And you know those moments when words walk out your mouth without checking with your brain first? Yeah, one of those: “Dude your wife doesn’t give a shit about you so you better tell me where the fuck the hydrogen-peroxide is because I am all you got right now.”
(With a bedside manner like that aren’t you glad he was right & I didn’t make it through medical school?)
What I had said might have been harsh but it was true. The next week she left him.
He told me what had happened, all the details of the fight that finally ended the war as she drove slowly by; his marriage dissolving over the asphalt.
And with the same compassion previously displayed, I said, “Wait, you can do that, you can just pack up and leave?!”
Now BC stayed around for a few months like a lost dog. Eating my food & hijacking my babysitter for his young son. Then one day sort of out the blue he said, “I’m a good man who can be an jerk and my wife left me. But your husband is a real asshole. What are you doing here?”
So months later when I did just that, I packed up and left it isn’t surprising that the Know-It-All was there to support me.
He brought me food. And made me eat it.
He sat at the park with me while we let our children play together.
He went running with me.
He helped me study.
And maybe there was something there.
One day as friends in transition we went hiking up a trail that leads to a mountain top which leads to the soul of my heart.
On the way he said very diplomatically that if we were going to try to see what was developing between us we should go slow, we should be careful, we should both experience not being married before we jump into anything.
Normally that would have been enough to make me run but not on that magic mountain. I jumped up the slope laughing, the lake breaking over the horizon, “That’s fine but I know what I am seeing in you. And I know that on this very spot I made a mistake allowing something I should have fought for slip away from me. You are what I want. So do whatever, it won’t matter. I will win this one.”
“I know that story,” He admitted smiling, which really surprised me no one should KNOW that story!
I had written it for an English class. It was titled Seeking Shelter, in it, I admitted (while being married) that I fell in love with another man.
Don’t worry it’s not as tramp-ish as it seems- nothing ever happened between us & after a little bit of an awkward (word of the day) peer review session I got an A in English 2010.
It was a story about finding strength and vision, about finding a reason to be brave. About falling in love when it is the only choice you have; when being loved actually can save your life.
He explained that his wife stole a copy from my school bag to show him thinking it would discredit me in his eyes because she was jealous of me. Only that’s not what it did.
“I didn’t think a woman could love a man like that. It made me start to wonder…it made me want to be loved… like that...by you.”
What could be more romantic than a relationship built on an insult, a head injury, two disastrous marriages, one common street, thievery, scandal, & a love story about another man?
Hold on let's gain perspective.
I fell in love with a man when I shouldn't have, wrote a story about it (probably shouldn't have done that either), a different man's wife stole it to prove I wasn't so wonderful, which caused him to want to be loved, which caused her to leave him, which made me realize I could leave, which caused the two of us to get together, and because I had loved the other man I was brave enough to love BC.
Okay, so I’m back to thinking “awkward” but we hiked down with potential.
Our first official date we went dumpster diving in a huge bin of sawdust.
Our second we planned to hike but he was so nervous he forgot his shoes. So we lay in a field of golden grass and watched the sunset drinking wine.
Our third date I think I moved in…it wasn’t that fast but it was close. We did everything wrong you could do putting a Blended Family together. And that might be why it worked.
So that year October rolled around & we hiked my mountain again with an apple and a bottle wine. On the way back to the car he said something about Arlo Guthrie’s song ‘
Alice’s Restaurant’ and I had never heard of it.
“Oh, you are going love it come November, Sweetness," he laughed.
Are you kidding, a song about a half baked good deed gone wrong, a crazy hippie, two Thanksgiving dinners, & a social message dripping with sarcasm?!?!
I’m going to love it for the rest of my life.
And if any of this nontraditional boundary crossing Love Story is offense just note that we are still happily together unmarried raising ourselves & kids going on 13 years.
Two days before V-day (5 yrs ago) he spelled out with candy hearts an invite to take this thing legal: hey babe. true love. u rock. love me. adore me. sweat pea. u r it. step up. marry me.
Would you settle for a hike? I know a trail that leads to the mountain which has the absolute best views on life.
BC has never read a word I have written (outside a grocery list) ever since he read Seeking Shelter. So, you might have read this story before but BC never has. And even though he will never see this: Happy 45th Birthday to the man who doesn’t understand metaphors but can change a truck tire in the desert without swearing. To the man who opened the door, taught me to trust, to love, and to try. The man who took on my kids with his whole heart and accepts me for who I am everyday. To the man who I won over with 969 words, Happy Birthday.
My Dearest Colby,
How do I tell you all that I want to on this peaceful and snowless December night? What could I say that might help you understand that which is in my soul? I hold emotions, yet I lack the words to express them. I can hope you understand what I mean when I say my love I am coming home to you, tonight and forever.
Here in the hospital time had the thickness of a dream, I have seen and done too much today. Did I tell you I loved you before I left this morning, and did I kiss you good-bye?
Whatever madness my shift brings, whatever blood or injury I must wash away I know you will be waiting for me.
Thank you for your love and support, and for the way you see me. Under your gaze, in your arms, with my hand in yours, I feel truly beautiful. I am already on my way,
Sweet Misty Brown
[University of Utah Surgical Intensive Care Unit 12/17/02]