Friday, July 16, 2004

PART 11 - The Ice Queen

Here's hoping that today's song keeps you a little cooler. A little cooler than Atlanta would be about a 350 degree oven, but . . .

Cold as Ice by Foreigner

You’re as cold as ice, you’re willing to sacrifice our love
You never take advice, someday you’ll pay the price, I know
I’ve seen it before, it happens all the time
You’re closing the door, you leave the world behind
You’re digging for gold, you’re throwing away
A fortune in feelings, but someday you’ll pay . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As the dog days of that summer gave way to cooler evenings, I resigned myself to starting back to school and finding another job. I was entering 10th grade, and the excitement of starting high school the year before had long worn off. There was nothing new under the sun for me, and I walked through my days halfheartedly. Not even the occasional sighting of Jack did much for me . . . as fleeting as it was, I had had a taste of a REAL boyfriend, and mooning over Jack provided absolutely no thrill for me anymore.

Being creatures of habit, Donna and I picked up where we had left off back in the spring. We reserved our Monday nights for skating. Well, she reserved HER Mondays, I wasn't thrilled with the idea. It wasn't so much that I was still pining over him, it was just my general malaise. I couldn't summon up alot of excitement for much of anything. The world was just kinda cold and gray.

It took alot of coaxing on her part, and she always was convincing. So, one Monday evening in September, we stepped back into the cool, dark sanctuary of the rink. The familiarity was a comfort, and before long, the music and the exercise gave my spirits a lift and I was skating, smiling, and hanging out. About mid-way through the evening, Donna was sitting at the far end of the rink on a long carpeted bench, entertaining a court of admirers, being her cute giggly self, when suddenly she stopped in mid-sentence, looking toward the other end of the rink. She leaned over to me, and through clenched teeth, said "Oh, man . . . don't look now, but guess who is here." Nuff said. I knew EXACTLY who it must have been without even looking.

I told Donna that I was going over to the pay phone to call GB to come pick me up - I was ready to be out of there. As inconspicuously as possible, I slipped over to the lobby area, slipped my skates off, got my shoes, and headed for the side door. And there he was. And there we stood.

He smiled broadly. He spoke first. "I didn't think I would EVER see you again."

I was stone cold, walking past him out the door, never missing a beat. "Yeah, well, it's pretty hard to see me when you don't show up. I gotta go." I heard him coming after me, asking me to wait. Then I felt his hand on my arm. "Please let me talk to you. I've been waiting a long time to talk to you."

I gotta hand it to him, I was a hard sell. I held onto my grudge like a pit bull. With arms crossed, staring at the floor, I stood silently. "Hell, I even got a JOB here on Monday nights watching the door so I could be here if you ever came back!" I hadn't even noticed that he was wearing black shoes and a SECURITY badge. I began to melt a little, but just as quickly I recovered my icy demeanor and stared him in the eye "Sounds like bad timing to me." I was hoping that he couldn't see through the bluff - I was dying inside.

He took my hand, noticing the tremble and holding it warmly and firmly with both of his. "You won't believe this, but I promise you, I have been looking for you for months!" I listened, stunned, while he recounted his efforts to find me again. I was fighting a mighty battle in my head. The strongest part of me, the fighter, was hissing the whisper "he's a liar . . . " and the weaker, sweeter part of me was giving the gentle hint, "maybe not . . ."

The battle was still waging when he kissed my hand, and pulled me close for a hug. God, he was so warm, so comforting. I breathed him in deeply. He murmured into my hair "I'm just glad I got a chance to explain to you. I know you're mad. I can't imagine what you thought. I wanted to see you again. I still do."

And just like David defeated Goliath, sweet Rita sent fighting Rita on the run, with her tail between her legs. He countered my logical, calculating coldness with Kryptonite . . . a warm hug and kindness. Sometimes that's all it takes.

"Would it be ok if I drove you home? I'd really like to talk some more." I hadn't even noticed that the rink was closing. Everyone was exiting out the front, and from my vantage point, I could see Donna getting into a car with her sister and pulling away. I had told her that I was leaving, so she had no idea I was still there. I still had a few alarms going off in my head, but I agreed, and he and I were soon leaving together, getting into his van. His VAN. Holy shit: he had a van. He could see the look on my face, and he said, "Yeah, yeah, I have a van. I need it for work." Sure enough, the back held various tools and supplies, and there was not hint of mirrors or a bed. At that age, at that time, I was a nervous wreck, but I summoned my courage and stepped up into the passenger seat. He closed my door for me. First time for that, too.

We took the long way to my house; I only lived about 3 miles from the rink. We stopped and got a drink at McDonald's and pulled over to a park just off the main road. I was in a dead panic then. "I'm expected home by 10:30," I stammered, which was a big lie . . . I came and went as I pleased, but I was way out of my comfort zone, and I was laying groundwork to get the hell out of there.

"Well, then, we have about 30 minutes. Wanna take a little walk before I drop you off?" he asked, with a smile. I was ready to get out of that van, and with that, he and I were walking hand and hand toward a little playground with a couple of cement picnic tables. The swings were listlessly swaying, it was cool and breezy, the moon was full, and illuminated the areas that the ancient oaks didn't completely cover. It was a beautiful night.

He could tell I was chilled. He took off his jacket and put it around my shoulders and invited me to sit under a huge oak tree. He joined me, breathing deeply and silently surveying the surroundings. I was frozen, wordless. I had no idea what to say or what to do. "It's nice to be outside," I offered, immediately regretting uttering such a boring comment.

"It's nice to be with you," he answered. "I really thought that I had dreamed you up . . . you just seemed to vanish into thin air. All these weeks and weeks, I . . . ." As he continued on, inside my head I kept repeating "What? Who? Me? What in the WORLD is wrong with this guy?" I came back to the conversation just as he began to stroke my cheek with his finger, gazing at me. "You are absolutely beautiful," he murmured, and I laughed and looked away. Knee-jerk reaction. He was taken aback for just a minute, but he redoubled his efforts. "Don't laugh, I think you are beautiful. I have been seeing this face every night since I met you . . ." Even the voices in my head were silenced by that one.

In one motion, still caressing my face, he laid me back onto the soft cool grass, and propped himself up on one elbow beside me. He began to kiss me . . . soft, gentle kisses, and he would murmur sweet nothings in between . . ."sweet baby" . . ."missed you" . . . "beautiful" . . . "found you". We laid there together, kissing, and I felt his tongue probing my lips. I knew what this was, but I was completely unprepared, inexperienced. I froze, quietly whispering "I've never . . ." He smiled and caressed my face, and said "relax, let me kiss you . . ." I melted there in his embrace, and was swept away by the passion of his deep, soulful kisses. Time stopped, noises went away, there was nothing . . . nothing . . . except he and I.

He dropped me at my house at 10:28. Smiling, he said "I always keep my promises . . ." and with my phone number clutched tightly in his hand, and secure in the knowledge that he knew where I lived, he gave me one last little kiss, and drove away. I stood in my driveway, dazed. In that moment, I was completely, utterly, deeply, and truly in love with this man. For the first time in forever, I was warm inside. Sometimes that's all it takes.

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