Evan Quinlan

An Infancy

In Non-Fiction, Short Stories on July 21, 2014 at 11:35 pm

She saw me before I saw her, at a party of actors. When she reminds me now, I can remember commenting on her ringtone (think Darth Vader surveying his domain), but the recollections swirl in the same fog as childhood memories, when the brain had not yet learned the difference between what it could safely forget and what must be kept forever.

The first in-focus image I have, she’s strutting down the aisle of a decrepit theater, the remains of a factory dead and bequeathed to the arts. She has her hands in a long jacket. Her eyes are much deeper than her hair is long, and equally as bright. Nothing obstructs her face; she bears it to the world. I think, she’s out of my league.

At this point I’ve spent many evenings wandering Boston by myself, restless and unsure of what I want. Even after I’ve noticed this pretty, vivacious girl for the first time, I still don’t know. I’m here because I’m an actor. She’s here because she’s written music for our intermission. I have a love-hate relationship with my job; she’s good at hers. She intimidates me; she reminds me by contrast that I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with my time. I don’t know how to speak to her, so I don’t. Better that way. But when she asks one evening on her way out the door if anyone’s interested in writing a sketch comedy show with her, I raise my hand, because that’s a habit I’ve formed: I do things that scare me, to find out who I am. This girl scares me. Comedy scares me. I’ll find something out.

I will.

I don’t need to tell you that this is the story of how I met the woman I’d marry; that probably already occurred to you. You may have also noticed it’s incredibly me-centric for a story about love; it doesn’t even mention her name. But meeting another person isn’t a two-way interaction, is it? Sure, you both shake hands, you see each other’s faces at the same time; that’s how it goes down in the textbooks. The real universe, though, discovers itself little bits at a time, without the mutual consent of its parts. By the time we’ve seen a star, it might already have blown itself out of existence. By the time we meet our parents, we’re already grown up. And sometimes, by the time we meet the most important person of our lives, they’ve already met us, and tried to get our attention by casually inviting us to co-write a sketch comedy show.

I’ve matured since then, fostered by circumstance, luck, and blind trust. In this way, the world raises us from infancies we don’t yet recognize, only to look back for a glimpse when it’s almost too late; the station from which we departed slips out of view as the engine bears us on a journey begun without our knowledge or consent.

Cling, if you can, to those moments that coalesce into something relivable. Nourish them; cherish them; pass them on for progeny to hear so that they might learn to plant the seeds of memory while the soil is still freshly turned. Vintage wine, Frank Sinatra called them, in fine old kegs.

She had short, blonde hair.

She could write music.

She wore a long coat.

Behind the curtains, she walks… up the spiral stairs, to the control booth.

She’s confident, radiant.

This is me, noticing her.

I’m just an actor who doesn’t know what he wants.

She’s out of my league, I think.

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