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August 30, 2014


Her real name was Diane, but what does that matter? What matters is the story, the memories are important to me, still today. Especially today as I will be turning 60 within a week and I met Germaine back in the mid 1970s.

It is very difficult to describe what it was like back in 1975 when I was around 21 years old. Things didn't turn out like I had expected, not at all. In fact, it wasn't until about a year earlier that I got a clue as to my future.

I feel like a broken record, one not really broken, when I remind my readers I was clueless until I got stoned on marijuana. That first time was an epiphany for me and I wasted no time at all in pursuing the opportunities suddenly felt compelled to achieve - you know how they say "it's good to chase your dreams"? Fact is I didn't know I even had dreams. Waking ones, that is.

I moved away from home, got a job at the local community college as a custodian; was nearly finished earning a college degree, but put it on hold; sold my 1969 Ford Mustang - to a high-school bully, who totaled it within a week of buying it from me. I took walks through the forest called the 100 acre lot, part of the community college and enchanted. I began to write a lot, eventually majoring in English and getting a BA.

My mother more or less had a psychological break-down at the new me... and after existing the public school system and years of being bullied, I didn't need my mother taking over that role when I was entering my twenties, but she did.

How does this relate to Germaine? Oh, it does. Germaine was forbidden fruit. Germaine was older than me, though not by much. I was 23 and she was 26. She wore a brown leather vest, seemed French, had short brown hair and a slender figure. She was both tough and vulnerable. A student at the college whom I met one day in the college cafeteria.

But first, my daily routine, which varied somewhat.

I worked the 3 - 11 shift at the college - working at the Fine Arts Center as "the custodian". I cleaned the top floor and half of the basement floor and did all the building maintenance and technical work. After work I would hit the bars - being on a bicycle limited my range, and I usually favored a bar called "The Puzzle Lounge".  I always carried a 6 x 9 inch notebook with me and often wrote, having a beer and what we called pizza subs, that I have found no where else and I simply loved them. I went home between 12 and 2 AM, slept until 9 AM, and was up. My first stop was generally the college cafeteria.

This was my routine between late 1974 and 1978. I met Germaine sometime around 1977. I was sitting in the cafeteria reading and she stopped at my table where I was alone. I looked up mesmerized by her appearance: exotic, French, tough, soft, attractive, slender, tomboyish, mature, focused. On my eyes as he said, "what striking blue eyes you have".

Did I mention her brown leather vest? I asked her if she'd like to join me and she said yes. I was delighted. The conversation that ensued was not what I expected. I remember we talked about books - she was well read and smart. I asked her what she was taking at the college, what her major was? She answered, "Register Nurse".

I was surprised, but said, "wow, that's intensive".

She said, "yes, it is rather".

"How'd you choose that major?" I asked.

She didn't answer right away. She was silent. Then she turned to me and said, "I plan to kill myself and want to learn exactly how."

Stunned? I was. I took it it in stride and I said, " I sure hope not".

We did become friends and we helped each other a lot. It seems like a lot of time passed but it didn't really. Although having sex with her was a mutually known desire and we would joke about it, it seemed it would never happen.

Until a Friday night in December 1977, I was alone in the FACE building and there was a loud knock on one of the 4 locked doors. I answered the door and it was Germaine, standing in the doorway with snow falling and melting as it touched her. I looked at her and she looked at me. She asked, "do you want to fuck?"

Yeah we did, and it was great sex, in one of the college classrooms with a couch. A memorable experience, to say the least. It wasn't meant to be just a one nighter. But it turned out that way.

At the time I was literally being driven out of town. My mother was in melt-down and my continued work as what she saw as a janitor in town, who had illicit sex with women was more than she could handle. My father told me, "the town isn't big enough for both of you - you should move".

I lost touch with Germaine and moved to Arizona in June of 1979. It was a disaster... a long story involving my mother. I ended up moving back home for about 9 months and then back out on my own.

Although Germaine may have thought I'd forgotten her, I hadn't. I found out she worked nights and went to visit her. I found her behind the counter, said "Hi, I've missed you". Yes, after all that time perhaps that sounds lame but life got in the way, it literally did.

There is much about life and the human condition that puzzle me. But coincidence is one thing that puzzles me the most.

When I said Hi she said hi in return, but then said, "I'm going to kill myself tonight".

I begged her not to of course, apologizing for being absent, giving her my phone number, come over and we'll talk... you wonder what to say? You wonder if you should call 911? Grab her and haul her home?

Turning 60 in a few days this relationship still haunts me. She did kill herself that following morning. I was left standing there with questions as I am still today.

Turning 60 is but a number and at 60 the things going for you are knowing how things work. But turning 60 carries memories. The most deeply rooted is that there is still time as long as there is life. Yes, I have my memories but I have a future too.

Have a Good Labor Day...

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