I have a small metal box of mementos of women I’ve known and been with along the way in my travels on the road. Pathetic I know, sentimental old me. I haven’t been through the stuff in that box in a long time.
Tonight I was looking in the closet for something else when I came across it on the top shelf. I pulled it down and looked at it, hesitant to open it because I knew I’d be heading down memory lane and probably spend too much time there when I had other stuff to do.
I get sidetracked easy and this was one of those times. Why did I open that damn box? Of course I forgot all about my main mission, which was looking for something else. I opened the box and inside were some old passes of former Carny women, each of their smiling faces forever frozen in time on a plastic card, their names printed underneath.
When I came to Sarah’s picture my gut knotted up and I regretted opening that fucking box. Why oh why must we torture ourselves with the past? It’s been said that time heals all wounds, that’s a bunch of bullshit someone made up to make someone else, or themselves feel better. I honestly hope it worked. It doesn’t work for me.
Time doesn’t heal anything, it just wears it away, that’s not healing really. It’s kind of like rain on concrete, it just breaks it down after years and years. The concretes gone eventually, it’s the same with wounds, time wears them away, we forget, they’re gone. The ones that do remain, we still feel.
I looked at Sarah’s picture. She was smiling , brunette, young and pretty, an “All American” girl look to her. A girl next door. She never needed or wore make up in her life. My god it hurt to look at her picture, her looking back at me. There was a watch in the box too, hers, left behind, the hands stuck at 3:30PM many years ago.
I hired Sarah to work for the company I was with at the time. She was young and just out of University, looking for adventure for the summer with the Carnies of all fucking people.
Sarah didn’t swear, smoke, drink, or have any bad habits. She was as far from a Carny as you could get. She came from a wealthy family on the east coast. I can tell you they were none to pleased she was on the road. She was one of the best workers I ever had.
How and why Sarah hooked up with me, I have no fucking idea to this day. No one else did either. But it happened. We were like night and day on the outside, I was the opposite of everything she was. We did have some things in common, core personality things.
We were together always, for two and a half years solid. We worked together in the summer and lived together in the winter. Initially I wasn’t into the idea at all. She was too young for me. I told her that a number of times and we argued over it. I broke up with her twice the first summer and she got us back together.
I loved her so much, and she loved me right back. We were the way men and women are meant to be. We never had a serious fight, little spats, but I can count those they were so few. We never hurt each other, Sarah was the first and only woman I never hurt. There were a lot of “Firsts” when I was with her. She was also the first woman I’d lived with in years up to that point.
We were wintering in a small town shortly after the season ended. It was our second year together. Sarah informed me one day that her oldest sister Maria was coming for a visit. I thought that was great as I’d never met any of her family in person yet. She was so excited and I was excited for her.
Maria showed up a few weeks later and was a lot like Sarah of course. I can tell you she didn’t approve of, or like me. I let it go as Sarah’s happiness was more important to me. I arranged a weekend away for them at a camp not far from where we lived at the time. I rented a cabin and off they went to spend some quality time together.
They had a great weekend. And when Maria left Sarah was never the same.
She was moody and unhappy after that weekend. She wasn’t the Sarah I knew. And spending a solid two years together I knew her pretty well. I’d ask her what was wrong and she’d say “Nothing, I’m fine, just PMS, I’ll get over it”.She never did.
One evening a few months later we were sitting out on the porch having coffee in silence, taking in the night air. It was quiet I remember, chilly, snow would come soon. That’s when she quietly told me she was leaving. I can tell you my fucking world was rocked.
I was shocked, hurt, shaken, fucking speechless to say the least. I begged for an explanation. Pleaded for her to stay....all that shit. I’ll summarize it.
She told me she wanted to go, to get on with life. She said she loved me but that she couldn’t do this forever. She knew I could, but said she couldn’t.
Sarah didn’t see a future for “Us” is they way it was explained to me. In the time we’d been together she had lived as I lived, in the moment, one day at a time. Marias visit had popped that bubble, and she was thinking of her future now, the gig was up.
What could I do? Or say? She was right. I was approaching middle age, she was 21 years old for christ sake. Did I really want her wasting her life following me around the countryside? Living in a fucking bunk house?What the fuck was I thinking? Did I really believe we were going to live happily ever after? Yeah, like an idiot I guess I did.
I had promised myself that if this day ever came, I would let her go. I wouldn’t struggle or try and hang onto her. And I didn’t. We spent the next 3 weeks as we had always been, happy. We didn’t dwell on her departure date, until the dreaded day came.I didn’t want her last days with me to be bad ones, and they weren’t.
Maria picked her up on a Saturday. We hugged for awhile and said our good byes,she cried, I didn’t, I can’t, I’m not like that. Maria was waiting. Sarah turned around and waved, got in the car, and they were gone.
I sat on the porch smoking for awhile, pondering this fucked up universe we live in, where things are given and things are taken away. I can tell you that apartment was lonely and crappy looking when I finally went back in. Sarah had made it a home.
Life was cold and empty, it was a long lonely winter let me tell you. We kept in touch for the first little while, phone calls, the odd letter. The world turned and life went on. Sarah went back to school and got her masters, I went back on the road in the spring, and the one after, and the next one, same old me. The letters and phone calls became fewer as life rolled on and the past faded one year after another, they finally stopped.
Sarah’s happily married last I heard, has kids, a nice husband, the white picket fence. I haven’t talked to her in years but I know she’s ok.
Everything is temporary, there is no forever. Enjoy what you have now. I never regretted my time with Sarah, I was lucky to have her period.
In the end we are who we are. No matter who we try to be or wish we were. I am left with me, I always am.Love alone isn’t enough some times.
So I put her picture and her watch back in the metal box , and back up on the shelf. I don’t know when I’ll open it again. I completely forgot what I was looking for and it doesn’t matter now. I just had to write this down, it’s helped. Time for bed, sweet dreams of Sarah.