Susie is spending the night at a friend’s house, and I’ve come back from the convenience store with three bottles of Fuze tea, and will be heading out into the cold to The Pirate House to see in 2015, but I would not feel right ending 2014 without one more post to this blog.
The week separating Christmas from New Year’s Day has been action- and emotion-packed. Susie and I flew back from Florida on Saturday morning. Even though the flight was at capacity, and we could not sit together, it was almost worth it to arrive in Columbus just a little ahead of schedule.
Getting back to Columbus did not have my stomach tied up in knots, however. What did was the first meeting between Susie and Betsy.
And who is Betsy? ask my readers.
Steph and I have been separated now for over four years (three of them in different states), and I was totally okay with living solo for the rest of my days.
That seems to have changed.
When I was in Athens for Halloween, one of the plans I made was to have dinner with Betsy. I had first met her at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens in 1980 or 1981, when I was there to give a lay service. She was 14, and I was 17, and I met her and her best friend Danielle during the coffee hour. We kept in touch by occasional letters, and I was very glad when the two of them showed up at a youth conference at a UU church in Cincinnati, after I had Xeroxed publicity about it and sent it to them.
We lost touch when I moved to Boston in 1982, but when I came to Athens for my semi-serious attempt to be a student at Ohio University, Betsy and I would see each other on Court St., or usually we would cross paths in Ed’s Greenery or some of the other bars.
About six months ago, I was on Facebook and looked for her. Sure enough, she was there, and I sent a friend request, and she accepted. We didn’t interact all that much, but when my plans to come to Athens for Halloween in October began to solidify, I sent her a private message asking if she wanted to come to dinner with me.
And she accepted. I expected the meal to be a few minutes of inquiring about mutual friends, bringing each other up to speed on jobs and families, shaking our heads at how unruly the crowd would get tonight, and then the conversation would run out of steam. (I was thinking of the line in Steely Dan’s “What a Shame About Me”: “We both ran out of small talk/The connection seemed to go dead.”)
This time, I was so happy to be wrong. We ate at a Chinese buffet, and we talked for nearly three hours, with none of us realizing or caring how much time had passed. She marveled over the picture of Susie that was on my phone, and she told me about her marriage and divorce, and her beloved cat.
Once I was back in Columbus, we began exchanging IMs on Facebook almost nightly. Then, the W. Union St. fire happened less a month later. I did want to take pictures of the debris, since I spent many hours and many more dollars in The Union during my tenure in Athens, but while I was making plans for the trip, I realized that I was going down to Athens as much to see Betsy as I was to take pictures of the fire’s aftermath.
Photographing the debris took all of 20 minutes, but it soon became secondary to spending the day with Betsy, first at breakfast at the Union Street Diner, and walking around the Sunday-deserted streets of Athens. When it was time for me to catch the bus back to Columbus, neither of us doubted our feelings for each other.
When I told Susie that I was seeing someone, she waited for about 30 seconds for a punch line, and I’m sure she nearly fainted when she realized I was serious. I had also emailed the news to Steph, who replied with “Well, good for you!”, and told me that informing Susie of this turn of events was 100% my responsibility, as I knew it would be when I broke the news.
I resolved that Susie would not learn by a change in my Facebook status. She and I had talked about it for several evenings, and she knew that I would be making frequent trips to Athens (at $20 round-trip on GoBus, it’s quite manageable). While I was visiting earlier this month, Betsy and I decided to “go public,” and change our statuses to “In a relationship with…” As soon as it posted, the “like”s began pouring in. (As of now, there are 119 of them!) I guess this is the 21st century equivalent of banns.
Betsy was here this week, and I was worried about how her first meeting with Susie would go. Susie was still overwhelmed by the idea that I was in a relationship, since I had taken for granted I would stay single the rest of my life, once Steph and I split.
As usual, I worried for no reason. They got along well, and will be in the process of getting to know each other for quite some time. We ate at the Blue Danube, and at Ringside, and Susie opted out of going thrift-shopping with Betsy and me. (Betsy bought clothes, hats, and jewelry, while I made vain searches for records and functional audio equipment.)
At The Pirate House’s party last New Year’s Eve, I insisted that part of the festivities include burning a 2013 calendar, because the year held so many tragedies for me. No need for that this time around.
Happy New Year to one and all!!