Today seems to be the day for long stories. I decided I wanted to keep this one as a whole, rather than split it into Parts 1 and 2, so it is a little longer than your average blogpost. (Dear readers, every Sunday I will be featuring stories written by guest male bloggers. To see the collection of them, click on where it says, “A Guy’s Story” above the title.)
This is Pipeline’s story:
Linda and I had quite a romance for a while, but moving to Chicago meant it was over. No regrets, we had a great time.
The sexiest thing about Linda was her brain. Smart and witty – too often people have wit without substance, Linda had both.
University of Chicago promised intellectual stimulation – it didn’t disappoint.
Linda became a distant memory – a pleasant one from the sunny climate of Stanford. The gray days of Chicago were filled with the rigor of work, and less dating. It didn’t bother me too much, until an unexpected email from Linda.
I didn’t want a long-distance relationship, but then she stunned me. She was applying to law school at Chicago and invited me to come visit her.
Not an easy time to get away for me. My lab experiments were at a critical stage – things were coming together, and many labs were racing to be the first with the gene splicing. While there were many giants in the field working on the same project, I could out work them – sleep wasn’t needed, but time was.
You always think when you see a companion that they understand your work. Play is important, relationships are important – your life’s work is important. All have their place. This was my time to work. And while the glass of sherry with my friends in other fields provided some relief from 18-hour days in the lab – there was only time for texts, phone calls, emails, and apologies for not being able to visit.
The work paid off — two months of hard work, a bit of luck – and now to get the paper out before my colleagues in the world published it first. I had a slight advantage – it could be published quickly in a journal where my good friend was an editor. But all the photos, all the proof, everything had to be perfect. Photo perfect for the journal, along with all original notes.
The texts continued with Linda. My good friend was one of the law professors, and I asked him to look at her application. Linda was an easy admission, he told me — she had a great record at Stanford, was published, and aced the law school admissions. He assured me that her admission wouldn’t require any intervention.
Now I was excited. It had been a couple of months since she invited me. While my messages and emails had decreased a bit, they were, I thought, of more substance. She appreciated the work we were doing — sure it was obscure, but she got it.
The paper was accepted. Galley proofs to be reviewed – damn, they made a mistake, had to correct it, had to provide some more back up material, had to run a few more experiments. Sorry, Linda, can’t make it yet – but soon.
One late night an economic professor and I were enjoying a glass of Sherry with students. We didn’t understand each other’s work. He knew about Linda, and he asked when I was going to visit. I had forgotten. He looked at me. Yes, it had been several months, but she was coming to Chicago for law school, and this project was finished.
“You don’t understand women, my friend. I fear she feels left out.”
I denied that. She knows intellect. She knows work. At Stanford we frequently had things that kept us apart while each worked.
It bothered me. I sent her a text. I was coming, I had a free weekend, and while the tickets were a bit pricey – I wanted to see her.
The lukewarm response bothered me. I sent flowers – and even her mom sent me a text telling me how beautiful the roses were – two dozen, pink and yellow.
The long trip from Chicago to San Francisco was made easier by re-reading her letters. I think she might be the one. Oh, for a good weekend in the city I loved.
She met me at the airport – the hug seemed off, but it had been a while. The conversation seemed strained – but it had been a while. A lot of catching up to do. Don’t push it, it will all come together.
Off to the beach, I said. Walking on the beach – should help spark this again.
Holding hands and walking barefoot in the sand seemed strange. It didn’t spark anything. She asked about my project. I blathered on and on about gene splicing, and how while it was small to the world, in my world it was important.
To lunch – a place I knew well. The wait staff remembered me. They gathered around me like I was a long lost family. I felt relaxed. Started telling jokes and stories- finally things seemed to be warming.
Then, she looked me in the eyes.
“I can offer you my friendship.”
I felt the stab. My throat was dry. My smile melted from my face. I had to ask.
I wanted to ask why I was there. But, it didn’t matter.
I don’t recall what she said as she offered some explanation. I didn’t feel I needed to apologize for my work. It didn’t matter. I knew it.
I excused myself to go to the bathroom. The bathroom is next to the kitchen, that isn’t seen from the restaurant. I walked into the kitchen.
Alfredo stopped me. “What is it my friend? You look shaken.”
I told him I was just dumped, and I was leaving.
He showed me the back door, gave me the keys to his car, and said he would give the check to “the laaaady.” He said to bring the car back by the end of his shift in a few hours.
I walked out never to see or hear from her again.
Tags: liar, long-distance-relationship