Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Mormon To Married In Manhattan

“What’s their name again?"
“Marah. It’s spelled M-a-r-a-h but sounds like hurrah, which you will be shouting a lot if you come see them play.” My coworker Steve rifles through the mess of papers on his desk. “Look, here’s my extra ticket. Just COME!”
“Are they really that good? I ask.
“Tonight will change your life if you come."

Although I didn’t know it then, Steve had never uttered truer words. The phone trilling on his desk interrupts his pleas.
“Just think about it. You never do anything, you bitch.” After uttering this obscenity, his tone jumps three octaves when he answers the phone with a polite, “FOX news, this is Steve how can I help you?” He mouths threats in my direction then waves me off.

I wander back to my desk, pausing to steal a handful of Smarties from the newsroom assignment manager's private stash. I was planning to see a movie that night. The Bourne Supremacy with my new crush, the adorable Matt Damon.
That was the extent of my sex life; crushing on Matt Damon. That’s the way I wanted it and I had no intention of dragging over to some seedy little bar in downtown Salt Lake City.

Seeing movies alone made me feel powerful. A Fuck You to all my happily dating and married girlfriends. I don’t need any of you co-dependent bitches to have fun. Last year my boyfriend had whispered the bone-crushing “I just don’t think you’re the right girl for me.” He dropped that bomb one sunny, spring morning after we’d been dating for nearly a year.

I was devastated. He was supposed to be The One! That, coupled with the fact that I was the one being dumped sent me on an embarrassing search for self that involved calling him weekly in tears, trying to convince him he was wrong. I just couldn’t let it go. So I took what I could get, becoming his friend with benefits. Mistakenly assuming that he would fall in love with the girl who lost all sense of self-esteem and slept with her ex-boyfriend because she couldn’t move on.

This sorry state of affairs limped on painfully for another year. I languished in love limbo for month after torturous month. Not quite a girlfriend, not just a friend and not sure how to extricate myself from the messy relationship. Oftentimes, I’d be doing fine on my own, moving forward, trying to date new men then some grand gesture from Andy would whip me violently back into the deep end where I’d nearly drown all over again.

I’d finally managed to dog paddle to shallow waters. I wasn’t gasping for breath, feeling death would be respite from the heartbreaking rollercoaster but I was still fully susceptible to the strong currents continually trying to lure me back.

When it comes to love or even just a crush, my Achilles heel is mystery. Mysterious men are Kryptonite. Take a video store clerk who lives with his mom, add a dash of mysterious aura and I’m sold. Mystery cloaks any personality defect in a swath of cool. Mystery was the ingredient that prolonged my relationship with Andy.

I had slowly, painfully weaned myself down to drunk dials only, which, if I'm being honest were still frequent. But I was going out on my own, spending time hiking with my new Black Labrador Retriever, Max, and listening to music. And working. As a news producer at the local FOX affiliate, my work day stretched late into the night, until the evening news ended.

I sigh and immerse myself in writing stories about grisly murders, car accidents and the ever-changing liquor laws in Mormon controlled Salt Lake City.

At ten o’clock that night I congratulate my anchors on another fantastic newscast and amble tiredly to my forest green Dodge Durango. The movie starts at 10:10. That gives me ten minutes to navigate the freeway and downtown traffic.

I am singing along to The Strokes when my cell phone lights up the car interior in spectral green hues. Seeing Steve’s number on the display, I position my thumb over the ignore button. I had no desire to spend the evening in some smoky club listening to a band I had never heard of. After a split second of debate, for some inexplicable reason I answered.
“What do you want?” I joke.
“Jake says The Bourne Supremacy sucks.” Steve lies. “Come hang out. Jake brought weed.”
Jake is a news reporter. It’s entertaining to hang out with the suit-and-tie types in the off-hours. Often they're shockingly different from their on-air personas. Particularly in Utah, where, to cater to the vast right wing contingency, on-air personalities are cultivated into Mr. Rogers and the woman you’d imagine to be his wife. Having facial hair is considered risque. One local anchor plays the drums which in reality is fairly run-of-the-mill but for an anchor he's considered a real wild child in a Bill Clinton-is-so-hip-because-he-plays-the-sax way. Please.

“And all drinks are on us!” Steve continues to plead his case. The headlights of my truck flash across the bright green freeway sign, Downtown Exit 2 Miles. Thirty seconds to make up my mind.

Looking back, the outcome of my entire life hinged on that single decision. To go or not to go? Movie or rock gig? Like a locomotive barreling down tracks, one switch of a lever and those on board the train end up in Albuquerque instead of Akron.
“Okay!” I laugh. “I’ll be there in five. Meet me in the parking lot.” I blurt the words that change the course of my entire life. To be honest with you it was the call of the weed that had me bar bound.

Five minutes later: Like a high-schooler behind the school building I am sucking pot smoke from an old Diet Coke can scavenged from the backseat of my truck. “So how did you hear about this band?” I ask as I inhale metallic weed flavored with the syrupy reminiscence of Diet Coke.
“My brother and I have loved them for years. When I lived in Memphis we used to drive for hours to see them live.” Steve exhales a puff of smoke. “This is their fourth album. They’re pretty big back East and overseas.” Steve passes our home-made contraption to Jake.
“Are they, like, old guys then?” I ask.
“Nah. The lead singer and the guitarist are brothers. They’re in their late twenties, maybe early thirties.. My age.”
“Oh, so they are old guys” I nod seriously. Jake snorts and releases a chimney's worth of smoke.
“Fuck you guys, let’s go!” Steve laughs.
Like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, we spill from my truck, smoke billowing around us as if the interior of my car is on fire.. We giggle like the high adults we are and head for the front doors of Halo.

Gaining access to a bar in Utah is tantamount to entering a foreign country. Liquor laws crafted by Mormon lawmakers require bar-goers to purchase private memberships. As an added lock on the unwanted armor of righteousness bestowed upon you - whether you want it or not - you can’t order two drinks for yourself at the same time. You must finish one before the bartender can place the next in front of you. Bars shut down at one o’clock in the morning as well, I suppose in compliance with the No Dancing After Two In The Morning law still languishing on the books. Footloose wasn't made in Utah for nothing.

After I pass inspection and receive my passport to Liquor Land, an inky stamp leaking across the back of my right hand, I pull up a stool and plop down at the bar.

Halo is a cozy, intimate bar in downtown SLC. Cozy meaning they’ve managed to hide the dirt with strategically placed Christmas lights. But it works. The flattering lighting casts all the right objects in shadow, spreading a gentle glow on the faces of even the most hardcore of alcoholics.

A dozen folks amble around two pool tables in the back, keeping an eye on the changing constellations of balls in anticipation of their next shot. A smattering of people are seated at the flimsy tables placed around the room.

On the wall opposite the pool tables is a stage. Well, it's more of a raised portion of the floor. Atop this "stage" rests a set of drums, guitars, a keyboard, amplifiers and various carrying cases and black boxes.

On the side of one guitar case I noticed the word MARAH, emblazoned in thick, white spray paint, bleeding down the side of the coffer. The band is obviously here, but its members are nowhere to be seen.
“What time is the show supposed to start? Is there an opening band?” I ask Steve.
“Eleven. No opening band. Marah should be up any time. I’ll bet they hate playing shit places like this.”
“What do you mean?” I ask
“Low turnout, lame music scene. Their gigs back east are legendary. Jesus. Last show I went to at The Stone Pony was unbelievable. Jam packed, wall to wall groupies.”
“Groupies?” I ask.
“Yeah, they have women that follow them everywhere. My brother’s girlfriend used to. That’s how she met my brother.”
“Groupies.” I snort derisively at the unfamiliar concept. Who would follow a band around? Little did I know I would soon be THAT girl.

“Let’s get our drink on.” Jake, returns to the bar from a cigarette break out back and is rubbing his hands together in anticipation of ordering a cold beer.
“Jake, have you ever heard this band?”
“They’re amazing. Steve’s been loaning me their albums. Jagermeister?” He asks me if I want a shot.
“I guess. I’m stoned. Don’t let me get too drunk you liquor-pusher.” I giggle. My body is relaxed, my head buzzing slightly and I feel good. Better than I have in a while.

"I saw the band out back. They definitely don’t look thrilled to be playing here in the land of Zion. Who would be? Jesus Christ. No pun intended.” Jake laughs at his own joke and hands me a shot of ice cold Jagermeister which I promptly pour down my throat. It slides down like ice cold syrup and begins burning my stomach in a not unpleasant way.

“How’re things with Andy?” Steve asks. Being my confidante at work, he knows every peak and valley from the past four years of my life.
“Eh.” I shrug. “I’m down to drunk dials only. Which reminds me. Here.” I shove my cell phone at him. "Don't let me have this. Just bring it to work tomorrow."
“So you’ll probably stop at his house on your way home tonight then?” he jokes knowingly.
“Fuck.” I sigh. “Probably. Against what better judgment is left rattling around in my brain. Serves only to prolong my agony. Can’t seem to beat this traumatic break-up disorder.”
“Is he dating anyone else?” Steve asks.
“I don’t think so. I only ask every few months or so. The fucked up thing about it all is that I don’t even want to love him. I don’t want to be with him. If I think back on the time we spent together, it was fun. But it wasn’t amazing. He just fit into the nice life I had planned for myself. I don’t know. Sometimes I think we were meant to be together and other times I think I’m just pissed that he isn’t in love with me.”

Steve nods sympathetically. Encouraged, I continue to ramble as I tend to do when anyone asks me about Andy. “But there is no one to date. Nobody interesting lives in Salt Lake City. They’re all cookie-cutter boys who were raised Mormon and feel ridiculously rebellious for smoking pot. Ultimately they’ll get married in the temple without ever questioning the religion we’ve all been spoon fed since birth. They’re all unbelievably arrogant in the most ignorant way. And they all wear the standard uniform; button down shirts, jeans, flip-flops and ski caps!” I cut my rant short to slurp down the shot of Jagermeister that Steve has been taunting me with for most of my whiny monologue.

I can joke about the sorry state of my love life, but truly, the past year has been agonizing. I feel as if my heart has been ripped from my chest Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom-style and like that poor man I am continuously dangled over the fiery pits of hell, screaming and crying from the pain.

I would avoid Andy with the best of intentions, literally counting the days in which I managed to refrain from contacting him. At week one I’d be in good shape, congratulating myself on my fortitude. During week two I would be certain I had moved on. So certain, that by week three I’d talk myself into calling him, positive that friendship was the right idea. The mature thing to do, I'd justify.

Of course, by the end of the night hanging out together I’d break down, begging him to explain why I wasn’t the girl for him. He’d tell me he loved me, he just wasn’t in love with me. A shitty line on par with It's Not You, It's Me. I would storm home, angry, vowing never to call him again. Of course the next month the cycle would repeat itself. Lather, wash, rinse and repeat.

In an effort to change the subject I engage Jake, a new father, in the requisite small talk about his exquisitely chubby baby girl. He’s just putting away the photos he spends ten minutes displaying with great fanfare when the lights dim and the crowd of maybe fifty fans begins to applaud.

I don’t remember who said what first, what song was played first, I can only recall an explosion of sound and personality and stage swagger the likes of which I have never, ever experienced.

At first I chalk it up to the pot. Then I spend ten minutes trying to figure out if the band is really THAT good or if it’s just the perfect combination of liquor and drugs coursing through my system.

When members of the audience simply can’t contain their tapping feet and clapping hands and jump dramatically onto the dance floor I decide Marah is THAT good.

My eyes are repeatedly drawn to the guitar player. He's a scrappy fellow clad in tight black jeans and a striped, button-down collared shirt topped with a dapper black and white pin-striped vest.

Guitar Boy stalks the stage like a lion, tossing about dark tussled hair that hangs in sweaty clumps over his smooth forehead. Round, shadowy eyes peer from the disheveled tresses, occasionally giving the audience a once-over.

Mostly he seems to play for his himself and his band mates. I know I’m in trouble when I catch myself gazing at bulging veins in sinewy arms that thrust boldly from rolled up sleeves. The veins bunch and flex as his strong fingers expertly work the guitar strings. Periodically he takes an obviously satisfying drag off an ever-present cigarette, then wedges it back between the strings near the head of his guitar. My Rock Boy, as I possessively refer to him in my mind, appears to be channeling the ghosts of rock stars who came before.

This display of fireworks is a complete change of pace from the too-cool-for-school hipsters bands like The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and Interpol currently dominating the rock scene. After scarcely daring to avert my eyes, even just for a moment, I determine that Rock Boy is completely unaware of his cocksure stage persona. He is there to play his music, play it well and invite us to join him in a fierce rock orgy if we're so inclined.
“Those two are brothers.” Steve indicates Rock Boy and the lead singer, a mysterious looking fellow with pale skin and scraggily dark hair snaking from underneath a news cap.
“I know, you told me.” I shush him.
Interested to observe their sibling dynamic, I turn my attention to the lead singer.

Dressed in an army green jacket with patches sewn onto it in a haphazard fashion, black jeans with red Converse high tops peeking out the bottoms, he commands attention, but in a quieter more jaggedly docile manner than his brother.

My nerves are tingling and my ears are alive. My scalp prickles and the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck are standing at attention.
“Fever! Play Feeeeevvvver!” To my embarrassment Steve is slurring out song requests. But the band seems amused, chuckling appreciatively as they launch into another song. I have no idea if it’s the song Steve is drunkenly clamoring for but I love it.

The music. It’s catchy, loud, emotional and raw. It plays my spine like a xylophone, it makes my heart pound like the drums reverberating through the bar. It’s rock & roll infused with bits of punk and folk. I detect motown, country, even some catchy pop choruses. It’s everything. Jake turns toward me, a big grin splitting his face nearly in half.
“These guys fucking rock!”
“I know!” I shout back, unable to keep a smile from stretching my lips.
The band finishes the next song and my Rock boy begins to speak.
“Thanks, you guys!” I hold my breath, straining to hear every word above the glasses tinkling distractingly behind me as the bartender does his duty.
“Thanks for coming out on a Thursday.” He continues with a humorous story about a transvestite and some such rock & roll on the road madness. Then the band launches itself into a tinkling, beautiful song I later find out is called “Feather Boa”.

It’s not his hilarious, self deprecating story but his voice that shakes me to my very core. Deep, ragged tones, like a mellow red wine with a zinger aftertaste.

Confused at my visceral reaction to the guitar player I choose the end of the next song as the optimum time for a restroom break.
“Be right back” I mouth at Jake and Steve.
I wander to the bowels of the club in search of the ladies loo. After washing my hands I scrutinize my reflection in the mirror. Yuck! I’d only come to smoke a little pot and relax, but suddenly I cared very much about my appearance.

It's an arid summer night in August. Not being an on-air personality, my work dress code is pretty much anything goes as long as my ass isn’t hanging out.

I am wearing the knee length A-line skirt and black tank top I’d worn to work earlier. My thick, wheat colored hair is slicked into a ponytail and I’ve already sweated off what little make-up remained on my face after a long day in the newsroom.

“Shit.” Nothing can be done to remedy the no make-up situation as I’m not the kind of gal who totes around a bag for touch-ups. I slide the rubber band down the length of my ponytail and place it around my wrist for safekeeping. I twist on the sink faucet and pat water on my hair in a futile effort to smooth out the dent left behind by the ponytail. I stand back and take a gander at my handiwork. Not quite the tussled, wet look I was shooting for but it will have to do.

What are you doing, I ask myself. You’re such an idiot! Attempting to flirt with some random guy in a band that you’ll never see again. I wash my hands and consider my situation. But I need to get over Andy already! I have to move on, take chances.

I dry my hands and pause momentarily for a final peek in the full-length mirror. Not amazing, but not terrible. The saving grace of the haggard girl staring back at me is her skin. It's at its best because of daily hikes with Maxie boy.

Healthy and tan, a natural blush has developed on my cheeks. My eyes are shining and my blonde hair, finally growing out from The Great Hair Disaster of 2002, hangs halfway down my back in soft waves. Ashamed at my preening, I leave the bathroom resolved to listen to the music then take my pathetic ass directly home.
“You missed Firecracker!” Steve shouts when I reclaim my stool. I had intently watched the guitarist during my return to see if he was aware of my existence. No dice. He was completely engrossed in the music.
“Missed what?”
“My favorite song.”
“You let your hair down.” Jake observes with a wicked grin.
“So.” I reply defensively.
His grin widens. “Someone’s getting’ her groove on!” he sing-songs like a five-year old.
“Shut up! I have no groove to get on.” I cross my arms defiantly.
“Monica likes Da-ave!” Steve chants in a sing-song voice.
“Who’s Dave?” I ask.
“The lead singer.”
“Not him. That one.” I nod at the guitarist. “He is the sexiest man I’ve ever seen. It’s gotta be the whole rock guitarist James Dean cool thing though. He’s probably dumb as a box of rocks.”
Steve and Jake exchange knowing looks and innocently sip their beers.
“Anyway” I continue, “My head was sore from the ponytail, that’s why I took it out. If you had hair, you’d know that.” Steve, bald as a billiard ball, laughs.

Even though I tell myself I don’t care, my eyes continually sneak back to the guitar player. Look at me! I plead in my mind. Over here! He apparently can’t read minds and continues his guitar sparring with the lead singer, his brother.

When Rock Boy leaps onto the bar and crazily slaps at bongos that his brother holds aloft I know I am a goner. I am done for. It’s in the middle of a raucous song I later learn is called Round Eye Blues that causes the audience to leap to their feet and cheer. The guitarist clambers up onto the bar as patron sweep beer glasses out of his way in the nick of time.

As the song winds down Rock Boy pounds the bongos like his life depends on this one final act of exaltation. Emotions are at fever pitch throughout the bar. You can feel the air come to life with the electrical current crackling from person to person. People are looking around at each other, eyes wide in amazement, trying to confirm that everyone is experiencing what they’re feeling.

I feel it. My mouth drops open and tears form in my eyes. He bangs the bongos faster and faster until his hands are a blur and I can't see them clearly anymore. I realize I’m holding my breath. I try to breathe. I can’t. Sweat streams down his face like the tears running down my cheeks. He finishes in a thunderous torrent of banging, jumps to the floor and returns to the stage. He thirstily gulps a beer, takes a drag off his cigarette, grabs a harmonica from his arsenal and launches into another song.
“Holy shit” Steve mouths at me. “That was awesome.”
I nod dumbly and order another shot of Jagermeister.

Two shots of liquor later the show is ending with my particular fellow writhing on the floor, making love to his guitar, sweat pouring from his body. And then it’s over. The music bubble pops and the real world comes crashing in like a sonic boom. I feel like I did when I was five and had just finished tearing into my last Christmas gift.

The crowd thins as people quietly gather purses and jackets and make their way to the door. Others wander back for another game of pool, a smoke, a restroom pit stop. People are speaking in hushed, reverential tones. The muffled library voices are unusual for a bar that's usually as rowdy as it is dowdy.

“I’m going to the merchandise table.” Steve says.
“I’ve gotta go.” Jake says while checking his watch. He tosses a twenty on the bar and gulps a final swig of beer. “See you guys tomorrow.”
Tomorrow? I can’t comprehend tomorrow. I am frozen, staring into space, trying to metabolize the musical orgy I just experienced.

I swing around on my stool in search of Rock Boy. Crush or no crush, I’ve got to tell him how amazing that was. How he has, in the span of two hours, changed the way I feel about music, about life. But he is nowhere to be found. I sigh and turn to the bar and order a glass of water to kickstart my post alcohol hydration routine that is key to avoiding those brain-splitting hangovers I collected like stamps in college.

A short man with robin's egg blue eyes, a mop of dark, curly hair and a kind face grabs the stool next to me and orders a beer.
“Hi!” he blurts happily.
“Hey.” I recognize him as the band’s keyboardist.
“You from around here?” He asks.
“Born and raised.”
“Me, I’m from—“ He’s talking but I don’t hear a word. His mouth is moving but his face is a Picasso of strange shapes. That’s because I am focused on the man who sits down on his other side. It’s him. The guitarist. Rock Boy. And he’s looking at me. I’m looking at him, he’s looking at me and nothing else exists.

The three of us engage in the obligatory small talk for several minutes. “Who are you here with?” The guitarist asks.
“My friend", I enunciate FRIEND. "From work, he’s over there buying a tee-shirt.” A glance at Steve confirms he’s getting the lead singer to sign a CD.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a news producer for a local channel.”
He nods and takes a sip of beer. “Impressive.”
“Not really” I reply. “I think what you do is much more interesting.”
“You think?” His beautifully curved lips, the color of the inside of a seashell, twitch in amusement. “Come on the road with us. You may change your mind.”
“No way.” I gush like a groupie. “You guys are amazing. I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like it. Makes me feel stupid for watching MTV or liking some of the bands that I listen to. They don't even compare.”
He laughs. “Well thank you very much. I take it you’ve never heard us before tonight?”
“No. My friend, Steve, he’s from Michigan and has liked your band for a long time. I just agreed to come with him.”
“Oh, so you had to be dragged here.” He teases. “I’m Serge by the way.”
“Serge? That’s an interesting name.” I consider, “I like it. Unusual. French right?”
“Very good. My dad’s French.”
“He’s really French or his ancestors are? Because that doesn’t count or else I’d consider myself Irish.” I tease.
“He’s fully French. Accent, likes cheese, he's even a painter. The whole nine yards.”
I giggle. “He likes cheese? He is officially French then. Oh and I’m Monica.”
“Like harmonica?”
“Yeah-” my voice trails off. We’re staring at each other, amazed at what we’re both feeling. I’m smiling and I can’t help it. The corners of my mouth keep turning up of their own accord. Like a rubber ducky that won't stay under the water, every time I try to make my lips obey, they pop upward. Serge is smiling at me, I grin back, then we both laugh.
“We’re just leering at each other like loons!” I manage to say through my smile.
“I know.” He laughs. “Listen, I’ve got to go help the boys load our van.”
My face falls. “Are you leaving tonight?”
“No, we’ve checked into a hotel just down the street.” He pauses, seemingly considering something. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.” He gets a few feet before turning back. “I’m serious, don’t go anywhere.” He shakes his finger in mock severity then disappears out the club door.

I release my breath in a gasp. My mind is a dryer full of tumbling clothes. I’m trying to sort my laundy -- er - thoughts when Steve returns laden with Marah CD’s, and two tee-shirts.
“I’m headed home. Want me to walk you to your truck?” He asks.
“Um.. Nah. I think I’m going to finish my water,” I say innocently.
“Riiiiight.” He looks me in the eye. “Be safe. And call if you need anything. Oh, and one more thing..” He stops and I already know what he’s going to say.
“Don’t say it!” I plead, using my arms to shield me from his smugness.”
“I HAVE to!”
I lower my arms. “Okay then. Get it over with.”
“I TOLD YOU SO!” Satisfied with himself he smiles, gives me a quick hug and leaves.

I’m sitting at the bar, sneaking cocktail olives, sipping a glass of ice water and swinging my feet self-consciously when Serge returns.
“Hey.” We smile.
“Again with the smiling?” He asks.
“Can’t help it.” I respond.
“I don’t mind. You have a beautiful smile.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
“Not all girls have your dimples.” I blush ferociously at his answer.

Five minutes later finds us frantically making out in the dark hallway that leads to the restroom.
“I’m really not usually like this.” I gasp.
“Me neither!” He replies breathlessly.
My knees are threatening to give out and I’m dizzy with desire when we hear someone calling for Serge. We ignore it and continue with our frenzied shenanigans.
“Serge!” The voice again, this time near our dark corner. Serge brushes a hair off my face and grabs my hand. We stroll nonchalantly back into the main bar area. It’s the lead singer, Serge’s brother.
“We’re heading to the hotel.” He nods at me and turns back toward the front of the bar.
“I guess this is it?” I say to Serge. He’s looking at me intently. I can see that he’s considering something, but I don’t know what.
“Do you want to come back to my hotel? Just to hang out? Talk?" He laughs at his question. "I’m trying not to sound lecherous but 'do you want to come back to my hotel' is a tough sentence to say to a girl you’ve just met at a bar.”
“Yes, I would actually. I’ll give you a ride.” I volunteer boldly.

“You’ve gotta listen to this one" I giggle excitedly.
Serge and I end up in the parking lot of his hotel as I play DJ on my truck’s CD player.
“This one is my favorite” I say as I slide in Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. “Do you know Wilco?” I ask.
He chuckles. “Yeah I’m familiar. The lead singer used to be in a band called Uncle Tupelo that I liked a lot when I was younger. Their guitarist is also a good friend of ours. He plays with his sister in a band called Blue Mountain”
I get the impression he knows a lot about music that has never even entered my radar so I stop trying to impress him with what is becoming my painfully obvious lack of knowledge.

Once I've tossed aside my pretenses we talk about everything. In the cocoon of my truck, as Jeff Tweedy's haunting vocals infuse the air with passion, we share the intimate details of our lives and loves.
Books: "you've got to read Dickens". Music: "Badly Drawn Boy, you need to listen". Religion: "Mormon eh? What's the deal with polygamy". Traveling: "You want to come to Paris with me?".

Being raised by single mothers and our past relationships also figure prominently in our conversation. I tell him about Andy and he reveals he has a girlfriend who lives in London.
“We’re on a break though. Trying to figure out where we want to take things after four years of long distance.”
“How come one of you doesn’t move to be with the other?”
“That’s a thought. It’s just been really complicated, so we finally decided to take some time off, let the pieces of our relationship fall where they may.”

A girlfriend in London. Sounds so glamorous. I’ve never been further east than Colorado. I tell him all about how I think I’m ready to be done with Andy.
“It’s more habit than love.” I say.
“Yeah, I know exactly how that goes.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure” he replies.
“Do you do this kind of thing a lot? Hook up with girls on the road, I mean.”
He takes my face in his hands, looks at me intently for a long time before answering.
“Really? Because if you just want to fuck me I’d rather you not pretend like you’re feeling these things when you’re not.”
“Wow.” He whistles. “Who fucked you up so bad?”
“What do you mean?”
“Somebody must have hurt you for you to feel this way.”
I sigh. “I’m just tired of the bullshit. I’m tired of the games people play. If I like someone, I like them and I’m not afraid to tell them. I don’t want to play hard-to-get and I don’t want to try and play it cool to lure some guy in. I don’t want to make it complicated. And I like you. I don’t know what that means, I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again. It seems so unlikely. So I want this night to be authentic. I want our emotions to be authentic. Then we can always look back and know it was a valid experience without ulterior motives.”
“I agree. And I’m impressed with your forthrightness.”
“So if your little goal here is to fuck me, that’s okay. Just be honest about it. I’m fine with that.”
“It’s not. I mean, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I’ll be happy if we just talk.”
“Yep. You are a sassy one, aren’t you?”
“You’re good.” I drag him toward me by the front of his shirt and kiss him hard.

Before I know it we’re in the back of my truck doing things I’ve never done with boys I dated for years.
“Holy shit.” I say when we’re finished.
“Holy shit is right.” He is staring at me, his inescapable eyes drilling holes of escape into a soul that's long been locked up.
“Let’s get back in the front.” I am so alive life vapors are seeping out of my skin. I am afraid. I climb forward and fiddle with my CD collection, embarrassed to meet his gaze.
When the music begins playing I risk a look at my passenger. He’s still staring at me with those boundless eyes.
“What are you doing to me?”
“What do you mean?” I ask coyly.
“You know what I mean.” He grabs me and three minutes later we’re climbing into the backseat again.

“Fucking hell!” I shout when we’re finished. “I know this is such a cliché thing to say but I am SO not like this! Really! I swear to god. Tonight is the craziest—“
“I know.” He looks shell-shocked and it's obvious he is feeling what I’m feeling. I am blown away by our conversation, the sex and the wild emotions he is setting free inside of me.

Hours later the sun is rising. My surprised intake of breath is audible as I spot it peeking over the shadowy, purple mountain range that rims the east side of the Salt Lake Valley.
“We’ve been talking for six hours.” Serge says quietly.
“I feel like I know you better than people I’ve known for years.” I say.
“Yeah…” He’s toying with a stack of my business cards he discovered while rifling through my console. “I’m going to give you my email address. That’s the best way to get me while I’m on the road. Will you email me?”
“Of course. Here, write down my email and my phone number too.” We exchange addresses, then silence descends.
“I guess this is goodbye." I sigh. "Where are you guys headed now?”
“Portland.” He mutters cheerlessly while running a hand through his beautifully scruffy hair.
“That should be fun.” With the specter of goodbye looming over us we have suddenly turned shy. Neither of us knows what the future holds. He’s tangled up in a long distance relationship. The last thing he needs is more long distance drama. I’m---well, what am I? I haven’t given a thought to Andy in hours. Suddenly, after years of pining for him, my obsession with my ex-boyfriend seems silly and pointless.

“Well, whatever happens in the future, I’m glad I met you.” I say. “I’m happy to know somebody like you exists.”
“I feel exactly the same way.” He lifts his head again and studies me with those phantom eyes of his.

We say our goodbyes and after watching him disappear behind the smoked glass of the hotel I pull out of the parking lot. Immediately across the street is a convenience store. Early morning commuters are gassing up on their way to work.

I remember Serge describing his love for a certain brand of chocolate covered pretzels. Before I know what I’m doing, I’ve pulled up to the convenience store. I purchase two bags of the pretzels and drive back to Serge’s tour van. I pull out a business card and dash off a little note: “I hope they don’t melt before you get to eat ‘em!" and shove them under the window wiper.

I drive home in a daze. Just let it go, I tell myself. It was something that happened to pull you out of your funk. Nothing more. This is not something to pursue.

When I get home I turn on my computer and log onto the band’s website. There he is. All the time right here on the internet looking out at me and I never knew he existed. I tap in my Yahoo account password and debate emailing him. I know myself. If I don’t email him right now, when my emotions are fresh, they will become vague and I will talk myself out of it.

Our conversation seems to have had this freeing affect on my personality. In one night he validated every feeling or emotion I’ve ever had. So, after debating what to write I decide to send whatever comes out, no deleting. It helps me craft an email without pretense.

This is what I send:

Well hello there. I figured I may as well email you before time distorts my memory of you (and us having ghetto - but oh so good - sex in the back of my truck). It's the next morning. You are probably still here in Salt Lake City... and I am, strangely enough, still thinking about you. I logged onto your website to check you out and make sure I didn't dream the whole thing. I am listening to Feather Boa, which I understand you wrote - and is a song of some import for Marah. Life is strange, and we may never see each other again, or you may hook up with women all along the way - shit, if I was a "sexy band guy" I'd take all the action I could get, so nobody's blaming you...But I digress... we may never see each other again - but I wanted you to know you did something to me. What you have done, I don't quite know yet. The fact that I'm listening to your music and emailing you is evidence of something. Anyway... these things are noteworthy: your voice, your eyes (eye sex is important) your passion, your intelligence, and the unbelievable balls it takes to tell conventional life to fuck off and just tour the world and play music. You are brave. I am better for meeting you.

Two days later I get a text: “Am in Portland and just having a few of my pretzels.”
I agonize over the text for hours.
“It means he’s thinking about me, right?” I ask Natalie hopefully.
“Definitely!” She agrees.
“He wanted me to know he got the pretzels.”
“Seems to be.”
“I don’t think he’s checked his email yet.”
“He would have emailed you back.” Natalie adds helpfully.
“I think so. Shit, I hope so. We talked about hating the games people play. He doesn’t seem like the type to play games. It’s just that I don’t know what the deal is with his girlfriend. Whether they’re breaking up or working it out. Maybe he regrets our night.”
“I don’t think he would have sent you that text. But they might work things out. Four years is a long time to date someone.”
“Yeah, I know.”

When the emptiness in my email inbox gets the better of me, I draft the following email and hit send before I can talk myself out of it.

It's strange how I went about life, never knowing this beautiful fellow from Philly called Serge Bielanko ever existed.. I certainly had a good time the other night. And thought you were spectacular in most ways that matter. But behind all that was the disheartening thought that I was just the girl for the night. Nothing significant in the grand scheme of things. How can I articulate the craziness in my brain at this particular moment, when I may have only been a small blip on the vast expanse of your massive life experiences. And boy, have you gone out and grabbed yourself some life. I'll give it a try: I wish I could explain to you how monumental it is that you got to me. Despite the ease with which you and I hooked up the other night, that is highly uncommon for me. I don't meet people anymore that intrigue me. I know - that is sad, and a story for another time. Jesus, I'm from the Mormon/Republican capitol of the world. It's hard to find good, free thinking folks! You, who are so original, asked me the cliché "someone must have hurt you for you to be so bitter" . Maybe - but it's also just reality. Most men I meet don't express much interest in intellect. So why would some crazy little rock "n" roller from Philadelphia, "cut from chintzy burlap", be any different? But you are. I have been reading online about you. Have fallen in love with your words. You are beautiful, the soul of a poet, with this scrappy city boy exterior. You have wrestled me in somehow, against my will, and without you even trying.. Just by being your Serge self. So perhaps I am a casualty of band guy on the road and that would not surprise me. It will dovetail nicely with my impressions of men thus far in my life. Fuck, maybe you are married with kids. Whatever. Somehow you reached in and helped yourself to a huge chunk of my soul - AND I LET YOU! It hurts, I don't like it.. Am not comfortable. Don't know what to do about it at this point. Perhaps nothing. Maybe you never respond. And that's the way it goes. I'm sitting in my room listening to the Ramones - I wanna be sedated. It's late morning. The Ramones are a good, get shit going in the morning band.. My dog Max (a big black lab, little dogs are for the high strung, or highly sentimental) is laying on my feet, and I want to talk to you. What the fuck is going on? I met you once. Do you have this affect on women often? If so, I will feel so unoriginal. At this particular moment I like to feel as if I have a secret about this amazing, crazy man that nobody else knows. Whatever.. I'm starting to feel like a jackass cuz I've really put shit out there. But fuck it. It's not like we'll run into each other at the movies next week and have an awkward moment. Might as well lay it on the line.. And it doesn't suck to be told you really made a big splash in a woman's life, right?
Monica from Salt Lake City

Four days go by. I try to continue living life normally. That proves rather difficult though. My dad had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He has driven from Colorado to Salt Lake City for surgery at the world famous Huntsman Cancer Institute. I was spending all my free time in his hospital room trying to cheer him up.

I arrive at work one day and log onto Yahoo to check my email for what must be the hundredth time. There it is. My heart leaps into my throat as I see the return name of Serge Bielanko on the only email in my in box. Shaking, my fingers click the buttons and within seconds I am reading.

Hey there now Monica,
This is the first time I've been able to check email since I left Philly; I have 34 new ones, mostly ads and crap. BUT, I also have two intensely sweet ones from you. They both made me feel really lifted, the fact that you listened to my music...and that I somehow made you feel good after the time we spent. Truth got to me too. I have been in a relationship for 4 years next month in some capacity. Like I texted you: since May its been pretty much on hiatus while we attempted to try and figure out when or how or if we could live in the same city sometime soon. And more importantly, whether we could find our way through the confusing swamp of damage that we left in our love's wake. Anyway...

I love that girl. I spent a lot of time trying really hard to be able to see her from faraway. We have many problems and many people think we are doomed as a couple. But I believe that somehow: I won't know just yet, not until we have one more chance.

Then I go and loosen up and decide to have a bit of a kiss on the road and I meet YOU. Monica, you are fabulous....I mean it. Sexy, sophisticated beyond what I think you even realize (which makes it cooler and sexier!), intelligent, extremely conversationally adept, well-read, hard-working, ambitious, with a a travel bug, and two very gorgeous blue eyes. Plus, you are an incredible lover. AND you like great music and food and have a truck!!!!! And a lab!!!!

SO: even though I could easily fall for you in a matter of moments perhaps, and even though I am certain that many, many, many men would tell me I am a fool from hell for not letting go of what has been so difficult for me and trying something else....I feel as if I owe it to myself and Caroline to try for real once more.

Dammit, Monica....please, please, please let’s stay connected, somehow. Or at least emails and phone calls/texts. This is all very bizarre and new to me. Goddamn, Monica......I don't know.......text me today. Please don't feel strange here if you can help it. I think you are superb. And who the hell knows where life is gonna lead any of us.......

Serge: A sunny cyber cafe in L.A.

Damn! He’s eloquent and articulate. I’d been hoping to find an email pockmarked with grammatical errors and misspellings. That turns me off a guy as quickly as it takes to read the email.

I draft the following response and hit send.

Hey now, back to you.. You are the most eloquent man I have ever had the pleasure of communicating with in all my 27 years. Now, one might say I am not well traveled and therefore your skill with words is relative to the jackass-types I meet in Utah.. which ain't saying much. But I am well-read (have taken you up on Dickens) so I have some idea about beautiful writing and the ability to express yourself - in an email of all things! You compose a mighty fine email, love.. Of course you have got to give it a last go with your girl. There is no question. You owe it to yourself, and her. Just make sure you're doing it because you cannot imagine spending the rest of your life without her - that no other girl could ever measure up - and not out of some obligation to the four years that came before. You don't need my advice. You know what you're doing. And you know the right thing for you.. It will all work itself out in the end. In the meantime, what can I do with myself knowing such a lovely man exists? I will have to subsist on texts/phone calls and emails. When the renewing of your relationship begins.. I'll lose that, most likely. This may sound strange, but I feel like you and I are old friends... but also much more. Your words make me tremble - I literally get weak! You strike me at my core. Really. I can't believe the way you express yourself, musically, as well as in general conversation. Reading what you have written is as good as any sex I've ever had. Your tour diary.. a few interviews I have found online.. your lyrics.. Are you afraid yet? A girl can only be so aggressive before she scares most men off. But if I scare you, than you are not for me. I am generally not interested in men, no I'm not a lesbian (although I have had my encounters).. I just mean that most men bore me.. There is no substance. Then YOU come along and rock my world, in every way. Even if Caroline is the bird for you, I take great pleasure in knowing that someone like you is out there. I would love to stay in touch with you. How could I not? I wish you the best with Caroline even though the only thing I want is to spend a weekend locked in a hotel room with you, a few good albums, books, some good liquor, and perhaps a little weed.. I feel like I could talk to you forever, and never be finished. Perhaps I am naive, but I truly have never experienced anything like this. What will happen, will happen... and I'm okay with that. It's good to know I affected you in some way.. that the feeling was mutual.
Monica: In a chilly newsroom in Salt Lake City

On my way to visit dad one afternoon about a week after I met Serge I manage to pop into a Virgin Megastore and buy all four of Serge’s albums. I find myself hoping I don’t like them, wanting them to rescind my raw, pulsating emotions. Maybe his band isn’t that good, maybe the entire night was a result of the drugs and liquor.

Ever since exchanging emails and phone numbers we had been texting each other funny little missives, sharing jokes and generally entertaining each other throughout the long hours of our days.

Through the band’s website I was well aware they were finished with Arizona, en route to Austin, Texas. Serge had sent a text with a joke about Texas and how they were stopping in El Paso for the night.

I slide Marah’s first album into my player and am immediately thunderstruck. It’s the song called “Fever” that Steve had been screaming for that night at the bar:

These arms, that open out
To grab a hold of anything…

The song continues shredding my raw emotions. It ends with the lyrics:

Oh, the fever is getting badder

I am so fucked, I tell myself. Maybe that’s the only good song on the album. I continue listening as I negotiate downtown traffic at rush hour. But the album continues breaking my heart.

The lyrics thunder into my head like a freight train. The night at the bar was amazing, the music unlike anything I’d heard before, but I didn’t catch many of the lyrics. Now I am caught up in a tornado of imagery. Beautifully crafted songs, words strung together like lights on a Christmas tree. They make everything I’ve listened to before seem trite and silly. Then The Song comes on.

I came here on a golden rocket
I’ll be leaving on a magic carpet
And now it’s “What’d you do this time?”
I’ve been inside of your golden locket
I’ve been sleeping in your jacket pocket
And now, I’m just a junk drawer dream
Waitin’ by a telephone
Feeling lost and all alone
So go ahead and try to see
What I mean
Hey! Spin the rounds, won’t you point the gun
Put on your saddle shoes
And dance to the 81
Pull the trigger, turn to run
Then Father Time won’t you do your best
To mend
A broken heart… the loosened ends
Of a party night, when your story bends
And your phantom eyes tell lies to my old friends
Human highs, dehumanized, dirty tricks, dirty lies
Phantom eyes,
Repeat lies, add evil twist, increase the size

I am shaking and sweating. I feel like I’m having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. I pull over my truck and sob into the steering wheel. I have to shut off the radio. I grip the wheel for dear life, not sure what’s happening. I’m gasping for air. Can’t get a swallow of fresh air.

After a few minutes of desperately controlled breathing I lift my head. I have been sucker punched by the strongest emotions I have ever felt in my life. I grab my cell phone to text Serge: I have to come find you. I am driving to El Paso. Within minutes, as if he has been waiting for me to text those very words, he replies: Okay.

In a daze, I visit dad, who is doing well post surgery. I tell him the entire story.
"What do you think? Should I go?"
My dad looks me straight in the eyes and says, "Hell yes!"

I drive home at top speed and throw some clothes into a bag. I find my road map and look up El Paso. It’s nearly 1500 miles from Salt Lake City. A 23 hour drive! What am I thinking? Don’t think, just go I encourage myself.

I arrange for a neighbor to look after my dog and within an hour I am climbing into my truck. I speed down the freeway with my stereo playing Serge’s album, the volume cranked as loud as it will go. The gray highway stretches in front of me, a ribbon of asphalt beckoning me toward my future.

At around two in the morning, after eight hours of non-stop driving, I roll wearily into Albuquerque, New Mexico. My heavy eyelids are threatening to close, my brain is a ball of mush and I’ve listened to every album I own.

I pull into the parking lot of a motel and consider checking into the dingy establishment. Serge is already in El Paso. I had told him I’d call when I arrived. I quickly nix the idea of wasting money on a dirty room when I can just sleep in the back of my truck.

I close my eyes and fantasize about the next morning. Butterflies wing rabidly around my stomach as I anticipate seeing Serge for the first time since the night we met. Will I still think he’s beautiful? Will he think I am? Will that feeling of pure magic still be there or was it the alcohol? I am so tired I drop off to sleep within minutes.

A high, piercing train whistle startles me awake as the locomotive roars past the nearly vacant motel parking lot. Steely, gray dawn is creeping across Albuquerque's endless sky.

I yawn, stretch as much as my truck will allow, rub my tired eyes and check the clock on my truck stereo. The digital green numbers glow spectrally in the early light: 5:30. I yawn again, rub my neck and climb creakily into the drivers seat.

Ten minutes later I am exiting the interstate onto the southbound freeway that will lead me through Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. As pas through the itty-bitty town dry wind blows through my open window turning my hair into a nest of knots and I ponder the meaning of the name and it’s interesting application to my current circumstance.

At 8:30 I am in El Paso. I turn into the first coffee shop I see and take my overnight case inside. I utilize the restroom to brush my teeth and hair, swipe on deodorant, apply a little make-up then sit down to make the text: Good morning. I am in El Paso.

My phone immediately rings.
“You made it! You’re really here?”
“Hi. Yes. I’m really here!”
“Holy shit.” In a voice riddled with disbelief, Serge gives me directions to his hotel.

Within minutes I am circling the tall, white building in search of a parking space. I get out of my car and amble shyly toward the entrance.

The hotel is built around a courtyard overflowing with greenery. I walk up to the glass entrance, cup my hands around my eyes and peer through the hallway into the lush landscape.

Watery sunlight filters down through sweeping trees, gently illuminating a scattering of flowers nestled at their base. I take in the peaceful setting, breathing deeply in an effort to calm my nearly epileptic body. When I feel like my body will obey my mind, I try the door. It's locked.

I stand there uncertainly, peering to the right and left, down the dark corridor leading to the hotel rooms. Movement in the courtyard catches my eye. A man is striding toward me. I begin waving my arms so he’ll let me in, then I realize it’s him.

It's Serge.

He is walking toward me but doesn't see me. When he nears the glass door that will lead him from the courtyard into the hallway that separates us, he looks up. And sees me.

He freezes, eyes locked on mine. We’re staring at each other through the glass. I see my whole life in that one look. My past flashes through my mind and I think this is what it feels like to die. My heartbeat is palpable, my knees feel weak. A faraway corner of my mind marvels that the old saying "weak in the knees" is actually credible.

Although his texts and emails were charming, the memory of our night had begun to fade like an old photograph, leaving me unsure if I remembered our connection correctly. But now, gazing at him through the glass, it all comes bubbling back like lava, burning me with its fevered heat.

Serge puts up a hand in hello and I do the same. After a few more seconds of staring at each other through the glass he opens the door and ushers me into the building.
“I can’t believe you’re here.” He says in that deep, gravelly voice of his.
“Me neither.” My voice is shaking and my legs feel as if they’re going to betray me at any moment.
“Want to drive to Austin?” He asks.
“Yes.” I say simply.

We spend three amazing days in Austin, Texas. During the day we explore the city and people watch. At night I go to Marah shows and engage in a frenzied musical orgy, a repeat of their Salt Lake City performance, only this time with ten times the number of people in the audience.

That final sultry, summer morning we’re standing dejectedly next to my truck saying goodbye.
“There are no rules. You do what you’ve gotta do. Follow your heart. You’ll know what’s right for you. I’m not going anywhere.” I say with uncharacteristic maturity.
“I’m just so confused.” He answers.
“This is good then. You’ll have time to think. I’ll call you in a couple days.”

I am in love. Deeply, unabashedly in love. I know in my heart that I will end up with this man, whether it is now or in a year. This new feeling of certainty blossoms in my chest like a blooming rose, slowly but surely unfurling it's tender petals. I can be patient.

I drive home through beer colored wheat fields and skies the kind of blue all other blues secretly wish they could be. I am astounded at the left turn my life has taken. Two weeks ago I was bitterly disappointed, wondering it this was all life had to offer. I’d never felt matched with any of the men I’d ever dated. Nobody had every really understood me, nor had they tried.

In one night Serge got me better than anyone on the planet ever had. I've never believed in love at first sight, chalking it up to the stuff of movies, a director's wet dream dream, a writer's fantasy. I hate romantic comedies, always feeling like I am buying into some false notion of reality.

But it happened to me.

When I get home a day later there is a message on my cell phone from Serge. “I am in love with you. I want to be with you. Please don’t be with anyone else ever again.”

We secretly got married in a French cottage at the mouth of Utah canyon one month later.

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Reader Comments (57)

<<I am so fucked, I tell myself. Maybe that’s the only good song on the album>>

Ha! Hah. Haaaaaa :-)

You are an excellent writer, Mrs. Bielanko. Excellent.
I love your love story. Yours is a rock and roll fairy-tale. Thank you for sharing with us.
February 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTabatha
You are always so sweet to comment on my stories Tab.. Thank you so much.. It means a lot.
February 15, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Holy shit, that is one fucking great, and insanely romantic story. It provides such a great reminder that love at first sight actually does happen to real people, and that you never know what the future is going to bring.

Thank you so much for sharing.
February 16, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterktphotog
Damn, I love that story! Hollywood ain't got nothin' on you two.
February 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
errr, I should add that I'm raging with premenstrual hormones, blinking away my tears
February 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
How brave and amazing and wonderful and...sounds pithy and I don't mean it that way -- but I'm touched. And amazed. And hopeful that someday, someone will turn my world upside down.
February 17, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersandra
Ha think when that keyboardist sat next to you at the bar, he was trying to hit on you himself.

February 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Wow - that is hope Monica. Thank you for sharing your story.
February 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlissa
Monica - that was so good that I am feeling like I am going to cry and throw up all at the same time! I am sitting here with a towel on my head, late for work because I absolutely had to keep reading. You pull the reader so far in that I don't think I uttered a breath from the moment you decided to drive to El pa so until you were sneaking off to get married. You are so generous in spirit to share a story like that with strangers. You and Serge share a love that inspires. I am blown away!
February 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle
"Where can I find her, a woman like that - Like Serge's girl..." Sung to Rick Springfield's Jesse's girl.

Nicely done!
February 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStFarmer
Awww... you're too kind.. I think - Now I have that damned song stuck in my head!
February 20, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Holy shit! I can't decide which I enjoyed more, your storytelling or the story itself. Doesn't get much better than that. Thanks for sharing -- you rock.
February 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Ahhh, now I have the whole story. I remember when you came to Brandon's B-Day party and showed me the magazine with Serge in it and relayed some very minute details about your incounter. You little coy-ster. That's super.

February 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
yea, I spelled encounter like that on purpose.
February 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
I think I joined your myspace posse a few months ago, but this is the first time that I've actually had a chance to direct myself to this, your more private corner of the internet world. This is an incredibly romantic story and I am a firm beliver that true love and true friendships are stumbled upon rather than cultivated. There is just a serendipity that exists in these things. When you find good, likeminded people, it often takes off like gangbusters. While I had my gushy girl moment about the blossoming love, I have to say, one of my favorite parts was the shout out to Charles Dickens. I am an unabashed Dickens fan and at that moment in the story, I found myself saying (in my internal monologue), right on! I enjoy your writing very much and I'm glad I was directed to your site.
Incidentially, I've always thought your husband's band was spectacular. So I find it strange to have that fold back on itself, in its way, by stumbling across his wife's blog. It makes the world seem oddly small.
March 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermaggie
That's so strange that you say that.. about Dickens I mean.. The next email I sent to The Surge was titled "Dickens and Such"...

Hello! How are you? I figure you rarely check the email, so despite the fact that I want to type your way at least every hour of the day, I try to keep myself in check so you don't have miles to wade through when you finally get around to logging on. It's hard to know just what to say to you... because I want to say so much, but I also know that you're a bit confused and I don't want to overwhelm you. I will say this: I have never met anyone like you.. If I could give someone specific instructions on the type of person I'd like to end up with in life - you would be the end result. Perhaps I'm being dramatic, because it seems as if I barely know you... but I feel like I do know you in the ways that matter.. You mentioned on the phone that you are "fucked up".. So???? Aren't we all??? At least you cop to it.. Most folks spend most of their waking hours trying to cover up their fuckedupness. You said you're broke.. like it matters to me. I grew up on welfare...seriously, powdered milk and grandma's canned peaches for many meals.. So I spent most of my twenties working my ass off, because I was terrified of being poor. The end result? A couple of nice couches, TV's and a truck.. Big fucking deal. I wrote in my journal the day after I met you.. One of these times I will type some of what I wrote to you.. It'll probably trip you out. Listen though, don't be confused... you have some shit to work out with Catherine.. If it works, then I will be happy for you.. REALLY, I will. I am not afraid to care about you even though I could end up on the losing end. Because you have changed the way I feel about life...You have said things to me no one has ever said before. You saw in one night, what no one has ever cared to see. Sure, I get asked out and all that... but mostly by guys who see me and think I fit some sort of blue-eyed, blonde profile.. They don't see the real me.. I am reading "Great Expectations" because you love it.. and I came across a paragraph describing Pip's feelings the first time he meets Estella.. It so perfectly suits how I feel about the night I met you that I'm gonna type it here:

"This was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same way with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."

That is exactly how I feel.. We were supposed to meet. So if it works out with us, it will be amazing, if not - you have inspired so much inside of me, and I will remember you forever.

Monica: On a rainy Monday morning in SLC
March 7, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Amazing how things worked out.

I remember when The Barber told me "Serge got married." Of course I was like huh? WTF? To what's her name? He was like nope....It was quite funny.

Secret it was. It was meant to be though!
March 12, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
While I was reading your story, my heart was racing for you. What an amazing love story. Love really is just around the corner!
May 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
Wow Monica - that's a beautiful story - one to tell the grandkids, although you might want to edit the bit about shagging in the back of the truck within hours of meeting ;) I remember that night at Nat's party, Serge said to me that you were amazing and that he'd never met anyone like you - you were probably already secretly married by then. Sigh...
June 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAli
Beautiful is the only word to discribe your story.
August 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTarah

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