Some Pair

Across the grass they wandered
In search of something more;
The emptiness inside her
Behind a hidden door

The vacancy of his regard
Was evident to all
Except that one companion
In range of his

Footfall


[Note: the story below turned out a lot different than I was expecting it to. – Owen]

In high school, I suffered from a condition that might best be called “Attendance Deficit Disorder”.

In the words of the vernacular: I skipped school a lot.

I was an oddly harmless kind of truant: I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, and I certainly wasn’t headed off for secret rendezvous with girls. I was mostly alone, just kind of wandering around, or occasionally with one friend, talking.

However, most of the other school-skippers I knew did indulge in these more interesting activities. Smoking (weed) was the most common reason; however, drinking and hooking up were also reasonably frequent among the many, many, many people I knew who were cooler than I was.

One set of friends of mine – a boy and girl – were particularly memorable. They were dating at the time (I believe “going together” was the expression back then) and both of them were intelligent, high-achieving types who simultaneously seemed to have decided that the whole high-achievement scene was ridiculous, and to spend as little time around it as possible.

They were, perhaps, best known at our school for constantly breaking up, yet always being together. I knew them best, however, as being explorers: when they skipped school, they liked to try to get into abandoned places – and they were often successful.

The first such place they tried was an old abandoned hotel near the water where we lived. That wasn’t much of an achievement – almost every teen in that town had done it – but it gave them a taste to try other places.

He told me a story (which she verified, years later) about the two of them breaking into an abandoned farm up highway 85. He said it had been empty less than three months when they got in, and they explored it, basement to cellar. When they left and were crossing the grass to get to her car, they were chased by the neighbor’s dogs; while that would have deterred me from ever trying anything like it again, it apparently only served as a spur for them.

And something of an aphrodisiac, from what she told me later.

They seemed like an odd couple to most of us, and I was never clear that either of them really liked the other one all that much. But at that stage of their lives, anxious to create identities for themselves that broke away from the confinements they each felt, the relationship seemed to do them good – after a fashion.

They continued to date into college age, and even got married. The marriage didn’t last through college, though. After the period I knew them best, she started a period characterized by a growing sense of her own worth; he headed in the opposite direction.

The short version would be: by their mid twenties, she had become a reasonably successful business woman, and he had become an unemployed drunk.

The closer up version would be: she continued to be what a version of who she always was, and so did he. But then…

As a part of finishing this essay, I looked him up on Facebook. He had long since I lost track of him gotten his life in order; married a beautiful woman, had a career… as a locksmith. I had to smile. I guess those breaking-and-entering skills had taught him something.

As for her, it took me quite a while to track her down online. Turns out, she’s been married eight times.

Eight times.

That’s like, Liz Taylor territory, only, without the fame or money.

Seems like continuing to break into houses and be chased by dogs would have been less dangerous.

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