santo and soldierboy

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Some stuff happened tonight that brought to my mind memories of this one time before. No, not in band camp. And no flutes or any other sort of musical instruments put places that they shouldn’t be. This is just about…this one time. Period.

I said before that I’ve had three “I Love You” relationships. This is the story of the one that almost was, but wasn’t.

Once upon a time…oh, about four years ago, I had (well, I STILL have, but at that point had just met) a dear friend whom we’ll call Santo. We’re using made up names here in order to protect the innocent from the NOT-so-innocent, which really is what Santo was. Is. But that’s another blog.)

At any rate, Santo and I met through mutual friends. We were both dating people and so never dated until years later (for about a minute. Maybe a minute and a half), but this story is not about Santo, he is simply the means to an end in this particular tale from 2N’s past. Sit back and enjoy, because most of this here blog site is all about me NOW, not me THEN.


Santo had a friend. This friend’s name was…oh, gee. Let’s call him Dreyfus. No wait, that was after it was over. How about…just SoldierBoy.

Nearby where I live, there’s an Army Base called Fort Lewis. It’s just south of Tacoma. Both Santo and SoldierBoy were in the Army. At the time I met them, they had about a year to go until discharge. A year can seem like a really, really long time when you’re newly single, free, and loving your independence. When you’re drinking far, far too much and enjoying your new apartment so much, and so loudly, that you get the threat of eviction on almost a monthly basis. If not more frequently.

SoldierBoy and Santo were pretty much inseparable. And since Santo and I hung out all the time, especially once he dumped the rich-bitch girlfriend type, it was inevitable that SoldierBoy and I would meet.

I hated him. Seriously.

He was short, bald, and NOISY. I mean, I’m noisy, okay? It goes with the DMH territory. But he was even louder, even more drunkish, and even more mouthy than I could ever hope to be even on my most DMHish of days. Seriously, people, the boy was loud.

Somehow, he grew on me. It was either that or stick a fork in his eye, for real. He was around all the time. He came over for parties, I saw him at my favorite dive bars, he was always around.

One night, when another one of Santo’s friends was visiting from New Jersey, I threw a party. It was the friend’s idea to play drinking games. If you’ve been reading for a while, you can probably guess that I can’t pass up a good drinking game. If you just started reading, you should know: I can’t pass up a good drinking game.

To get back to my point, things, well, happened. If you know what I mean. It was wierd. It was extremely comfortable. It was something that happened because we were two young people having a good time and not worrying about tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that, or the six months after THAT when he would go home. We just enjoyed what we had while we had it. I never thought that anything would develop, it was just fun, right?

To make a long story just a little bit longer, we were inseparable. We hung out all the time. I visited the barracks, which is an experience I hope NEVER to repeat again, and we hung out while we did laundry. It was free there. We went camping. We went shopping. We went out together. He was short, he was occasionally irritating, but he had a good heart and he was brave, and compassionate, and he made me feel cherished. Valued.

He met my son. They became good friends. They played at the park while I took pictures of their smiling faces. I toyed with the idea that maybe, those six months would last forever and I could stay right here, in this moment, for a long time. Just taking pictures of my son and this man, enjoying the sunshine and the jungle gym.

In the back of my mind, I recognized that the end of our time was coming closer and closer but I refused to see it, I refused to pay attention. Remember “I’ll think about that tomorrow?” Yeah, just like that. JUST like that.

I never told him I loved him.

I had a business trip the week that he was leaving. He drove me to the airport and I knew that when I got back, he would already be gone, back to Michigan. He had his family, and a kid, and all manner of Jerry Springer-type drama waiting for him. In all likelihood I would never see him again.

I remember standing there in that airport, knowing that although I was the one leaving, it was he who was truly gone. We clung to each other like the end of the world was happening around us and the only way to stop it was to just hold on, just hold on that little bit longer, just keep holding on.

We held each other even when someone yelled at us to get a room, get a room, laughing like he’d said something so uproariously witty that people should overlook the fact that he was (perhaps unknowingly) mocking someone else’s pain.

We both cried, without shame. We kissed through the tears until finally he broke away and took a step back, just looking at my face. He reached out one hand and wiped a tear off my cheek. Took another step back, then another. I stood there and watched him walk away and I thought my heart would break. I sat down on a seat and I bawled my eyes out. I wanted to run screaming after him…Wait! Wait! Just one last time, please, just once more, just hold me in your arms one last time, because I think I’m going to die right now if I just let you walk away.

But I did.

I watched him leave, and I cried. I didn’t regret what had happened with us. I just wish it didn’t have to hurt when it was over.

Doesn’t life just suck sometimes? Sometimes, it just does.

I learned stuff though. I learned that sometimes, timing is everything. And that everyone comes into your life, whether it’s for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or the rest of your life, that they bring you something that no one else will. The challenge is to find it, and hold on to it, and remember it later. Because eventually, things change and people leave, and all you have left is the memory of how it was, once.

And then, years later, something will happen that reminds you of that time, and what else can you do?

You blog about it.

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