JOY part 45

And so my mind rambled as we took this great walk through the park. It was so nice to be with her, again. To hear her voice. Just to be by her. I just so wanted to hug her and hold her against me…aside from all that other stuff. Really. In fact, I did. No, not all that other stuff. I wish. No, the hug. As we were walking, I asked her to stop for a second and I gave her this huge hug. She was very agreeable to the whole idea. She did ask what it was “for.” To which I replied, in total honesty, that I missed her and just felt like doing it. Which she knew was true, took as just that, and went on with her conversation.

Which was, of course, about Josh. And how much he liked his new job. And about how much fun they’ve been having together since they came out here and…And it struck me that either I was really sensitive to the fact or she was, in fact, talking about him far more than usual. Which is saying something, because she talked about him a whole-hell-of-a-lot, anyway.

I wondered if it was a warning. A reminder of what she has with Josh. And not to say or do anything that contradicted that. Then again, maybe it was a warning from her to her. A reminder that she was married and with Josh even though she was here, alone with me, right now. Or maybe, I was just going to have to come out and say all this crap or live with the fact that I was never going to know any of the answers and just drive myself nuts.

I got really quiet. And nervous. Which was weird. Honestly, I was never really nervous with Nancy. At least, not when it was just the two of us and I didn’t have to worry about how I was coming across to Josh. No, I had always felt incredibly comfortable with her. Safe. Like I could be totally me in all my offensive, judgmental, smelly glory and it would always be OK. She would always completely accept me for who I was. If I said something stupid and obnoxious, she would just make fun of me for it and let it pass. And with her, it really did pass and wasn’t held against you. How rare and wonderful a thing that was.

If there were limits, I never found them. Then again, I had never broached the topic I was about to with her in quite the same way before. I had no idea how this was going to go. I just knew that it would probably change everything between us, forever. Probably ruin one of the most important relationships I had ever had in my life. But, especially being that forever might not be too much longer, I really needed to just put it out there and see what happened. So, here it goes…

EXT. GOLDEN GATE PARK – DAY

Tom and Julia sit on a hill with a tremendous view of the ocean.

ME
Nancy, I need to tell you something.

NANCY (nervously)
OK.

ME
I love you.

She doesn’t say anything for a few, agonizing seconds.

NANCY
I know. You told me that night in the bar,
back in New York.

ME
I know. But I…It’s not just that.

NANCY
That’s pretty big, don’t you think?

ME
I think about you all the time. I even
imagine having conversations with you
when you’re not even there.

NANCY
Really?

ME
I’m totally in love with you.

(There, I said it. After all the thinking. All the pain…)

NANCY
No, you’re not.

(Speaking of Pain)

ME
Yes, I am. I know that puts you in
a really awkward spot. But I’m in…

NANCY (insistent)
NO, you’re not.

ME
Denying it isn’t going…

NANCY
Look, you’re not in love with me.

ME
How can you say that? They’re my feelings.

NANCY
Because I know you so well. That’s how.

ME
Fine, so I don’t love you?

NANCY
No, you might. I think you do, in a way.

She pauses for a second. I guess I’m supposed to say something here but I really don’t know what.

NANCY
And I love you. Which is a little awkward
because, as you know, I’m married.

ME
You’re in love with me, too?

NANCY
NO!

ME
Oh.

NANCY
Nobody’s IN LOVE with anyone. No matter
what you’ve convinced yourself.

I shake my head in disbelief. I’m just really not
understanding any of this.

NANCY
Don’t act so confused.

ME (a wee bit angry)
Then straighten me out. Because I really
don’t get it. Not even a little. I’m in
love with you. I know that’s really…

NANCY
No, you’re not in love with me. You’re
OBSESSED with me.

ME
Can’t I do both? I mean, I think they’re
kind of related, don’t you?

NANCY
Not with you.

ME
What?!

NANCY
You set yourself these almost impossible
things to achieve and then obsess about them
until you get them.

ME
What’s wrong with that?

NANCY
Or you get so tired, miserable and
frustrated, you finally give up and
find a different thing to obsess about.

ME
What’s this have to do with us?

NANCY
A lot, unfortunately. Everything,
in fact.

ME
You’re not really saying all my
feelings for you come down to the
fact that you’re a challenge?

NANCY
That’s exactly what I’m saying.

ME
Bullshit.

NANCY
Think about it. Would you have all
these intense feelings for me if I
wasn’t married?

ME
Yes. Absolutely. Why are you making
this even harder than it already is?

NANCY
This isn’t exactly easy for me either,
you know.

Her mood changes. She becomes very quiet, again.

NANCY
You’re not the only one who’s thought
about how things could be between us.

ME
You mean you’ve thought about doing
all sorts of naked, kinky things with
me, too?

NANCY
There’s that Tourette’s syndrome, again.

ME
I was just trying to lighten the moment.
But feel free to answer the question. In
graphic detail, if you like.

NANCY
Yes, I have. And that’s as graphic as
I’m going to get because it really doesn’t
matter. It’s never going to happen.

She looks straight into my eyes with all the intensity she can muster…Which is a lot. A whole, whole lot.

NANCY
You know that, right? IT’S…NEVER…
GOING…TO…HAPPEN.

After a few seconds looking into those eyes I find myself slowly nodding in agreement without even realizing it. I know she is right. Her and I will never be together like that. Never more than “just friends” or whatever the hell we are. And then we just sit. Not saying a word. Enjoying the fact that at least we have this. At least we have legs.

My mind is swimming. I try to concentrate on the moment. Record it into the memory banks of my mind. Remember the way the light fell on her face. The slight breeze coming off the water. The smell of manure being used as fertilizer in the trees. Don’t forget whose life we’re talking about here.

But, in all honesty, I will never, ever forget the way she looked, right then. Sitting on the grass so close to me. The way she tried so hard to be calm and reasonable about this whole thing. But every now and then showed the nervousness in her eyes. The rare glimmer of vulnerability which made her that much more special. And for her to be more special to me than she already was, was really, really saying something.

We just sat there in silence for a long time. There was so much I wanted to say still, but right now it just didn’t seem appropriate. I wanted to tell her how incredible I thought she was. How amazingly grateful I was to have her in my life, even for the relatively short time I did. And then I thought, what the hell. Say it.

ME
Thank you. Not for this. Just for letting
me have you in my life. Whether I’m in
love with you, just love you, or whatever.
I just want you to know how much you mean
to me.

She started to say something back. I stopped her. I told her not to say anything back. And she didn’t. Her eyes just watered up a little and she hugged me. Tightly. Very, very tightly so that I could hardly breath. At least I had done something right. I had done something on the list, the Grand Plan, that I had intended to. And done it right. Thank God, for small miracles.

The enormity and larger implications of what she had told me there in the park didn’t strike me until days later. I was driving down the PCH listening to “Muse,” this very cool English band which is kind of what “Queen” might be doing if they were together now. Very operatic, very big stuff, but somehow it works. The reason I’m going on and on about the music is that it sets the mood for the scene in the movie. A cutting-edge, progressive rock soundtrack as I hurl the Mini down the most scenic road in The United States. Talk about a visual tour-de-force. A pivotal scene of emotional torment and catharsis that approaches a powerful level of pictorial poetry. Or not.

THE JOY OF SUICIDE on http://www.first100books.com

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