A man wrote a poem for me. But that isn't as cheesy as it sounds. He's a real poet, already published and getting his doctorate at one of this city's fine universities.
He is a friend of a friend whom some of you may know as HT, but now he's FHT. FHT wanted us to meet because he said we have a lot in common, especially our emotional health disorders and grad student life. Sounded like a set-up to me. He claimed it wasn't that afterwards, but...He drove me to this man's apartment in Cobble Hill. I mostly went for the ride in his jeep, on a beautiful summer day a drive over the Brooklyn Bridge provided relief from the oppressive uptown concrete heat. When the poet guy answered the door his face lit up in obvious surprise at seeing me. FHT and the Poet caught up with each other. I tried to be polite but didn't say much. Being angry at FHT for setting me up with this guy whom I found totally unappealing put me in a stinky mood.
The Poet asked me a lot of questions drawing me into a conversation. I was not friendly, not encouraging and not loquacious. I presented myself in Ice Queen Witch mode. In response to my reticence he brought out his guitar to play and sing some songs he'd written--very cheesy. FHT watched all of this in bemused silence. Then we went to lunch. The poet recommended this middle eastern place down the street. While waiting on our food, the men talked and I played with my fork dragging the tines on my napkin. Poet noticed my fork fiddling and said that was an aggressive behavior suggesting anger. I shrugged.
FHT had wanted us to meet because we had so much in common, like the guy is bi-polar and lonely. I'm not bi-polar but FHT didn't know the difference and he seemed to have taken us both on as service projects. Anyway, the Poet brought up the subject of medication and doctors. He asked me for specific details about my problems and boldly shared some of his horror stories. What I learned that day: Don't ever mix large amounts of alcohol with large amounts of Xanax while manic or you could wake up a week later several states away and not know how you got there.
One of my biggest problems in life right now is my lack of insurance and dependence on mental health care. The State of New York pays for this dude's medical care. I had looked into that but my income surpasses the limit. Poet said there were ways around that, I was skeptical but he offered to talk to his doctor to see what I could do. Which meant he needed my phone number. I'm a sucker for discount medical care so I gave him the digits.
A few days later the poet called and asked me out in a stealth-date manner. (That's fodder for another post.) I couldn't say no when he asked me because I'm very bad at it and he had manipulated the conversation such that he made it even more awkward and difficult. I should have found a way to decline anyway. We went out that weekend. During the beginning of our date he gave me an envelope. Told me not to open it, inside was a poem he wrote for me. He said that on the day we met he just sat down and wrote it quickly. He hadn't written anything that way in a long time. He thought it was a good poem, publishable, but I couldn't read it until I got home.
I was impressed and a little freaked out. It sounds like a typical cheesy date ploy, like something you'd see on the 'Blind Date' show. It makes a difference to the value of the gesture that he has already published other poems. The way he described his fevered composition of the poem sounded sincere. I read it as soon as I got home. Stunning. With each reading I fell deeper into the layers of metaphor, savoring the images he created. It had a solemn tone. About the sadness he saw in 'me' and how he wanted to comfort 'me'. He didn't know me at all so it wasn't really about me. That poem and the elaborate lengths he took to impress me on our first date got him a second date. (I will tell that story in full someday.) We only went out twice because the next date was one of the worst dates in my whole life.
This happened in August of 2003.
Two weeks ago, I got a phone call from an unknown number. Curious, I picked it up. It was the poet calling to tell me the poem has been published in a very prestigious journal. He told me where I might find a copy. We exchanged niceties but he clearly wanted to get off the phone. So I let him go with the words, "Your poem was lovely, thank you." He said, "Well, you're a lovely woman, thank you."
Somewhere out there is a published poem written for me. Sort of. I can't believe this is my life. Any day now I expect the real person to knock on my door and ask for her life back. So much is happening right now. I can't even write about all of it. Maybe soon.