I want to talk about Caroline.
No last name, just Caroline. I’ll respect her privacy in that regard. Oh, I could have written a fake last name. I could have started out saying “I want to talk about Caroline Smith (not her real last name)” and then gone on. But why should I waste your time like that? Why should I waste your time with some parenthetical expression that you don’t need to get to the heart of my tale? That’s not who I am. I am not about to waste your time.
I just want to talk about Caroline.
Caroline had the best song of any woman I was ever involved with (think Jefferson Starship, not Neil Diamond), although Peggy Sue Jones (not her real last name) came close. Caroline was two years older than me at the time we dated (I assume she still is two years older than me), drop dead gorgeous, smart, built, funny, and totally nuts. (I assume she is still all of those things as well.) Now, everyone says that their ex was nuts. I can back it up.
On our first date we saw a double feature of American Beauty and The Sixth Sense. As we left The Sixth Sense, Caroline turned to me and said “It’s not like that.”
“What’s not like that?” I replied.
“It’s not like that when you see dead people. I see dead people, and it’s not like that.”
There are a limited number of ways you can respond to that. You can say “Oh” and change the subject. You then take your date home, say thanks for the evening, and then politely demur about going out again.
I didn’t do that.
You can also say “What’s it like then?” and proceed to get into a long conversation about seeing dead people, a conversation that ends up with the two of you spending the night in bed (in the talking and kissing way, not the yeehaw knock boots way).
I did do that.
But that’s not why she was nuts. I actually believed her. At least I grew to believe her, when one night she started asking me questions about my father. She described how he looked (before I could tell her), and she said “Did he used to say ‘on it’ a lot?”
I said yes to both, and she said that she could see him watching us sometimes.
Now, the description might have been nothing. You could look at me and get a good idea of what my father looked like. But the “on it” thing. That was something. My father always said that as a transitional phrase. I never say it. I use my mother’s transitional phrase, “Anyway.” My sisters and I all do. Whenever we are all sitting around the table with mom, you can count on hearing “anyway” twenty to thirty times over the course of an evening. But you could hang out with me for years and never hear me say “on it.” When she said that, I believed her.
But she was nuts.
One time she came back from a trip to Minneapolis to visit her spiritual healer. (And mine, as well. The things we do for love.) He had informed her that she and I had been together seven different times since the seventh century and that it hadn’t ended happily any of the times. The worst had been in the twelfth century, when I had done nothing to prevent her from being killed as a witch. She sent me an email, telling me not to deny it, I had done it and she knew I had done it.
I didn’t deny it. I told her I didn’t remember it, but I didn’t not remember it. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing I would do now, but who knows how far my spirit may have advanced since the twelfth century? I said I believed her.
But she was nuts.
We soon broke up because she could never get over my betrayal. Our relationship ended because she was angry about something that had happened over eight hundred years ago. And that’s why she was nuts.
Because eventually, you just have to let go…