Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Same as it ever was... but different...

In May of 1983, I was dating a girl named Roberta Irish. I wasn't dating her, actually; we'd simply talked about dating. It was that very busy schedule of a young geek that kept me far too busy with acting, writing, singing, and geeking out with Tim Murphy and Sean Mullin. (Don't deny it, Tim. You know we played D&D!) Roberta wasn't a particularly attractive girl but she was a girl who would consider going out with me, which made her desirable in some way. That and, well, she wasn't Teresa. She so wasn't Teresa that we went on one date and I took out Teresa's phone number that had been safely in my wallet for a couple of weeks and decided to finally call her for the first time.

I met Teresa Alaniz in April, at the close of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". I'd played Schroeder (or however you spell his name), despite the fact that I was a brunette. (Kind of like how Dana Pate played Lucy Van Pelt despite the fact that she was a blonde.)(We were very short on talent at Valley...) Eugenia was our stage manager. She had gams that went on for several weeks and hair like Bacall - all the guys were crazy about her. Then, one day, she brought in her younger friend, Teresa, and though I'd never "hit it off" with a girl before, I immediately knew that was what I was doing. We flirted. We joked. We gave me a little kiss before she left.

Then, I found out she was four years younger than me and I spent the next three months torn between loving her and hating myself for not finding someone closer to my age. She was perfect but not perfect enough. I ended up kissing a girl named Cindy and ruining my relationship with Teresa, losing her forever.

In April of 1985, I was dating a girl named Phia Leota. I wasn't in love with her; she was my "Saturday Night Date". Otherwise, I was too busy with being a young upstart so full of my own potential that I could spend hours just talking about what I was going to do... and bumming cigarettes. Phia wasn't a particularly attractive girl but she was a girl who would consider going out with me on a Saturday night, which made her desirable in some way. That, and, well, she wasn't Rosa. Phia was a rebound from Rosa after Rosa dumped me after one week of dating in February. Then, Rosa came back in May, turned my life upside-down again and I broke up with Phia to be with Rosa.

I met Rosa Piedra in February, not realizing that we'd been in contact before. A year earlier, she and other pompous-assed students decided to have my newspaper column cancelled because of my lack of respect. She wrote letter after letter to the paper, talking about some petition she had going around. No petition materialized. My column was immensely popular (mostly among geeks and teachers). I completely forgot about her. Then, she appeared one day in the Santa Ana Valley High School library, one day when I was visiting some teachers. She was with Megan Pham, a girl who I thought hated me, who introduced us that day. I had "hit it off" with other girls and was sure I was doing just the opposite with Rosa. I said, "A girl like you would never think of dating a guy like me." "Sure I would," she replied. "Really? Like this Friday?" She said, "Yes," and everything changed. I spent 15 years trying to make her happy and, for the most part, failing. I ended up kissing a girl named Cindy and ruining my relationship with Rosa, losing her forever. (I've sworn off so much as talking to anyone named Cindy ever again!!)

Just over six weeks ago, I wasn't dating anyone and, for the first time in a long time, I was kind of happy to do that. But I'd joined Match.com because I was due for my bi-yearly date. I figured if I didn't, at least, appear like I was trying to find someone, people would think I was pathetic, suicidal, worthless... and maybe they'd be right. But I'd planned a summer full of projects. I wanted to spend the summer writing.

I met Vicky on June 20th, sure that the date we'd arranged would end with a perfunctory kiss, at best! Then, I could get back to my plays, World of Warcraft, drinking and smoking... you know... LIFE!

That wasn't to be.

I'm sure some of it was my fault but, for the most part, I blame her.

When I first realized I was falling in love with her, I knew it was too early to tell her. I even waited for several days. And in the span of six short weeks, we have both professed our love, we've talked marriage and children... but I haven't asked her, yet.

Then, last night, I was sitting in my apartment with my cats. I was trying to jog their memories. "It's me. Ken. The guy who feeds you. Don't you remember?" As they sat their, shaking their heads and scratching their chins, I had a few minutes to think about some rather uncomfortable things. For the first time in weeks, I thought about Rosa and Teresa.

I couldn't help but think, "Do we really fall in love with the same person, over and over again?"

I can't help but think of what Plato called the "Perfect Forms" and how, as anything gets better and better, it nears its Perfect Form, which is only a concept and can never be real. We try, in everything we do or make or strive for, to reach the Perfect Form in anything. Sure, there are always flaws. That reminds me of the parable I wrote in "Revelations" about the flaw in the diamond. Even the most perfect diamond has flaws and it's the flaw that makes the diamond beautiful. If the flaw's too big, it obscures the beauty. Too small, and the diamond fades into a bland shadow. The flaw brings clarity, brings reality; it shows us how perfect the diamond is to the Perfect Form.

Sure, I dated people after Teresa but, when I met Rosa, the similarities the two held were obvious. Rosa was closer to my age. She was smarter. But I knew from the beginning, I think, that this was a second chance. It was a chance I never thought I'd have. Obviously, they were two different people. Neither was the other but they neared a Perfect Form I held in my head.

Do we fall in love with the same person? Not exactly. But I think that we strive to near that person who fits that form in our head that fulfills what we need and want. And so it was that I realized, as the cats compared me to the picture they'd put on the side of the milk carton, that it was okay to admit that Vicky does have a lot in common with Rosa and Teresa. But the funny thing is I decided, long ago, that the last thing I wanted was someone who had anything in common with Rosa. I mean, of all people! Rosa! Rosa had basically butchered our marriage, wrung it dry of anything she could get, and then had blamed everything - and allowed me to blame everything - on me! But then, Vicky is also a lot more honest than Rosa ever was. I can already see that Vicky honestly likes me, something that Rosa could never bring herself to do. Going into this relationship, things look positive, and those of you who were around in 1985 know that things were far from positive when Rosa and I first started.

Then, suddenly, my mind shifted and - as the cats took my fingerprints and sent them off to the lab - I realized something. I realized that Rosa and the specter of Rosa was truly gone. For the first time, I think, I not only realized that there was no going back but I was glad for it! It came down to something very simple. Why would I ever want her when I could have Vicky? So, though I'd said it before, I knew now that if Rosa did ever come to my door, I'd turn her away. I'm done. Finally. No more wondering, which I'd done even after I'd been able to look at the moon once again and move on, on my own.

So, I got up. The cats had lost interest and, anyway, I fed them. As I started to walk into the other room, though, it happened. It hadn't happened in months, maybe six or eight months. I heard screams in my head and hands were on my throat and I was blinded for a second. A panic attack - just like all the others. You're going to lose her, a voice said. She's going to leave you. She's going to take everything from you. And you'll never, ever get over it. I clamped my hands over my head and thought, "No. Wait. No, she won't. She loves you and she's good to you. You're going to be fine." And, unlike all the other panic attacks that sometimes lasted for hours, I knew I would be fine. Things were working out. No need to panic. Vicky and I were going to be just fine.

I sat down again and my breath slowed down.

And I thought, "What the hell." And I called her and told her all of this...

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