Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Boy She Left Behind

Writers can be strange kinds of creatures. They love to inhabit the made-up minds and personalities of fictional characters who only reside inside their heads. When it comes to words and phrases, sentences and paragraphs, thoughts and images, storytellers can be as OCD as any psycho out there. It’s anyone’s guess where their imaginations are sometimes going or have been.

Words and phrases can be especially influential in the sponge-soaked open range minds of some writers. So it isn’t too surprising that those vernacular missiles of imagery can sometimes elicit strong reactions from receptive story weavers. I stumbled across just such a phrase about a month ago when it was triggered by an inquiry that came out of the blue. The inquiry was from an old friend or acquaintance, depending on my mood and her messaging. The phrase that popped into my mind was ‘The boy she left behind.’

For some strange reason, that phrase came bursting out of the back of my consciousness one day while I was driving to nowhere in particular and thinking about my college years. It got stuck in my cerebral storyboard, nudged into some corner that kept disgorging it back to my awareness day after day. I loved the phrase because it swept me back to a time and place long since passed. It was your classic ‘passage of youth’; a yearning for something better and shot at that golden ring called success.

I knew immediately where the phrase came from; what it meant and the delicious irony it brought to my taste buds. It was hinted at in one of my first novels ‘Love in the A Shau’ then circled, surrounded and finally capitulated to in ‘Follow the Cobbler.’ To me it meant unrequited love, maturity winning over immaturity and perhaps a refusal to ‘settle.’ It spoke volumes, perhaps only to me, but in a clear and resolute image that I couldn’t shake from my reflective consciousness.

Many lifetimes ago, I was the ‘boy’ in question and ‘she’ was my girlfriend. One in high school and then repeated again with another girlfriend in college. Both were beautiful, brainy and ambitious. And both women, I think it’s fair to say now, wanted more out of their lives. Our stars certainly didn’t align on either occasion. Both women left me for greener pastures and did rather well for themselves. One married a doctor and the other a college professor. Both seem to be happy and I believe (certainly hope) they’ve had a rich and fulfilling life with their respective spouses.

Now reflecting back, I understand why it’s called the circle of life. A wonderful confusing merry-go-round we find ourselves riding in our youth before adult conversations of real world issues raises its prominent head. With many miles traveled among us, I think it’s fair to say that the experience was a good one. It ended as nature intended and we are better off for the emotions shared, savored and spent.

If I were to meet up with those two women again, I’d probably tell them that I’ve finally grown up, although I’m certainly not going to let maturity get the best of me. And I’m sure as hell not about to accept a ‘senior’ label anytime soon. Call it delayed acceptance of reality or a desire to hold on to ‘my world’ for as long as I can.

With both women I have a ‘history’ and for that the writer in me is very grateful. And with my health holding steady, my eyesight intact and my imagination running amok, I can still churn out stories in a thousand different forms. My experiences at those first inklings of love have helped me flavor twelve novels and thirteen plays thus far.

No one has to know where the real story slips away and the make-believe takes over. In the end, it’s all story-telling anyway.

Or is it?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Let's hope your imagination continues running amok.

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