Saturday, February 6, 2021

2

May 1974


I am standing by a ramp that leads to the New York State Thruway near Buffalo.  Exit 50.  I'm with Becca.  She and I are kissing and muttering nothings.  That we are standing here together given the argument we had the night before is a testament to our attraction, something inexplicable since we are an unlikely couple.

I met Becca after classes one day in a parking lot at the University of Buffalo.  I'd seen her in class once or twice and, on the occasion of our parking lot meeting, she pulled her red Pinto up to where I was standing with another woman, a mutual friend.  She got out of her car ostensibly to say hi to the friend.  The friend introduced us and there was enough there to make me think of calling her.  I did, we went out, and there proved to be a reason for the initial spark.   

When you try to explain how love can evolve despite an absence of similarities, you could use Becca and me as an example.  She was very structured, I haphazard.  The bottom of her car was spotless. You wouldn't want to know what could be at the bottom of mine.  She studied for our exams very carefully.  I went about preparing in a way that regularly caused her to roll her eyes.  Still, when we went out we felt physically connected and that force always seemed to trump the tensions that regularly surfaced because of our differences.  I have not seen Becca for decades but if we both were in the same place at the same time, and allowed natural forces to have their way, I think we might stare at each other for a spell, let out some air, and then figure we better get on our way before we got into trouble.

Becca had short blonde hair, very blue eyes and strong opinions. She wondered aloud, when confronted by what she considered incompetence, how a barber, policeman, service station attendant, or chef could have received a license.  She came by this honestly. Her dad was unequivocal about everything and her sisters outspoken. June shocked me, even though I had been warned, when at the Thanksgiving dinner table on the occasion of my first meeting her clan, she stared at her sister’s chest and said, "Are you on the pill, Becca?. You’ve gotten so big.” June, I'd been told would say anything at any time. But this took the entire family aback. All laughed nervously.  "Have you met my daughter, June?" her father said trying to move the conversation along.  But where could we move it?  After a moment her mother asked me if I was enjoying Buffalo.  

Our argument that preceded the kissing at the Thruway had taken place after we'd gone to a dinner party the night before.  The dinner was a bon voyage gathering of sorts. I was leaving in the morning to hitch-hike across the country.  The whole idea of this trip did not seem wise to Becca and she had a point.  I had gone about my business getting ready for the journey on my own and she had muttered all week about how I was not prepared.  When someone at the dinner asked me what I had in the way of a backpack, I said that I’d be using a laundry bag.  This did not seem like the best vessel to Becca and while she did not say much I knew her well enough to see that she was steamed.

When we left the party she opened the door to her clean car and said, “Get in”.  I took offense to the harsh directive and right there on the street we discussed the wisdom of back packs versus laundry bags, the concept of preparation, and the merits of shouting "Get in" to one's boyfriend as if he was a child.  What constituted who was, and what was, childlike then got some play in the discussion.  

Eventually I got into the car and we rode, in silence, back to her apartment.  There, despite the lingering anger, our passion took over though you couldn’t call it love making.  In the morning she drove in a mist to the exit ramp.    

“Let me hear from you” she said after our last kiss.   I told her I would do that.  She left and I held up a sign.  Shortly thereafter I got my first ride.


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