Yesterday, I worked in the office downtown to get a few extra hours. I'm not sure if I have the words for how perfect this job has turned out to be for me. I really do like what I'm doing, I love being in the truck, and when they need me in the office, I like being there too. Yip, the new job (See there? The new still hasn't really worn off yet.) is still pretty cool. About the middle of the afternoon, there was mention of grabbing a snack. I'm a bit of a follower that way, and the last time I followed a coworker to lunch, I got to see the tunnels under downtown -- so freakin' awesome! When she mentioned brownies, I grabbed my purse. We walked out across the plaza, a little way down the street, across a courtyard, and into the tallest building visible in the downtown Tulsa skyline.
The plate of brownies in the glass case looked nice enough, but the cupcakes were beautiful, and since I didn't see any Red Velvet, I decided on the chocolate one with the white frosting. My logic was that the frosting might be cream cheese, or maybe white buttercream, either of which would be wonderful with a big glass of milk… When I said "chocolate cupcake with the white frosting," I saw the girl behind the counter reach into the case and quickly close a cardboard to-go box, but the one unique cupcake I'd had my eye on didn't disappear. I'm not one to complain; a cupcake is a cupcake, and who knows, maybe she had a big box of 'em underneath where I couldn't see. I didn't say anything, I just paid and took off to walk back to the office.
Back at my desk, I opened up the box and it did not contain a chocolate cupcake with white frosting. It was yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and even though it wasn't what I'd had my eye on, it was wonderful. The cake was buttery and moist, and the frosting was oh-so-chocolatey, and by about my second bite, I wasn't sitting at a desk in an office building anymore. I was standing in the kitchen of an old rock house way up on a hill in the middle of nowhere, peeling the foil lid off of a tub of frosting for Dave's favorite cake, yellow with chocolate frosting.
Ten years sounds like a long time when you say it out loud, but sometimes it's like yesterday when Dave comes back to pop in on me like that.
Ten years ago yesterday afternoon, we'd argued over the exhaust on my Pure Stock. He'd cut it off way too short the night before, and he was working in the barn when I went to pick up the other set that still had the long pipes on 'em. When I told him I was switching it out 'cause his cuts were too short, he got mad as hell and yelled at me. I'm sure I yelled back, but I did get the manifolds I came for and toss 'em into the truck. I left mad, really lacin' into the ol' sky-blue 7700; "Seven Bridges Road" was on the radio, and I gave it hell in every gear, all the way back to the shop so my brother could swap the parts out.
We fought more than I've ever fought with anyone I've ever been with, but that's just the way we were -- high energy, we both put a lot into it.
He came on up to the shop after closing time, and it was just us, all alone. I really felt like we had a breakthrough that night, me leaning on the rollback, him standing in the doorway. "You want it your way, I want it mine, we're not so different, are we? So there's no need to be so nasty about it." I thought I'd really got him to see things from my side, to stop getting so worked up over piddly shit, and just calm down. He asked me to come home with him that night, so I did. I don't remember what we had for dinner, I don't remember what was on TV, but I do remember that he talked to his parents and both of his kids on the phone that night; we sat on the couch together, and I stretched out with my head in his lap for a little while. He took the first shower, and we kissed in the doorway as he was headed out and I was headed in. He was already asleep when I crawled in bed and pressed my back against his.
He woke me up when he was about to leave for work that morning, ten years ago today. He put his knee on the bed beside my hip and leaned down to kiss me, and then I stretched out in the sunshine under the window as I listened to him drive off down the hill. He called back later and caught me just in time, I grabbed his forgotten lunch from the kitchen and took it to Sperry with me so he could send someone over for it when he got to Collinsville; we talked on the phone a little while after lunchtime, and then that afternoon, a secretary from the city office called and told me Dave had collapsed in the park and they'd taken him to Saint Francis. I tried to answer my phone in the car, I grabbed it too quick to get a number to show on the screen and the call dropped before I could hear anything -- I figured he might be trying to call me from the ambulance and maybe the phone just cut out, so I go there as fast as I could. I put my glasses in my purse because I figured I'd be staying put for the night, if he was staying, I wasn't going to let him stay alone. I snuck my car into the employee garage and hurried across to the ER; the receptionist wouldn't tell me anything, she just pointed me toward the cop in the lobby and he took me into a small flowery room and shut the door.
Ten years ago tonight, a cop held me while I cried, held me while everything fell apart around me; and told me it wasn't that I'd been too late, they'd tried, but he was probably already gone before they left the park.
Ten years only sounds like a long time, it doesn't feel like long at all… I still feel him come around every now and then, like when My Mom slips and says "Dave" when she's talking about Clay. I can imagine him sitting with my Grandma somewhere, or holding a squirming irritated ShadowCat, trying so hard to get him to "play dead," even though he never would.
David Paul, 08/27/51 - 05/09/02
"And I have loved you in a tame way, and I have loved you wild…"