November 1, 1999
Secra's Long Journey Home


Very long e-mail I wrote to David, the day I returned to Oregon after our first weekend together:

Subj:    Secra's Long Journey Home
Date:    98-11-01
From:   SecraTerri
To:        DRaftervoi

"... After you dropped me off at the Alaska Airlines curb, I forlornly checked in and found my way to Terminal C-6 to wait for my flight. I knew I was going to cry, so I took a seat facing the windows, where no one could see me.

I pulled your book out of my bag and tried to read some of it (Doyle is being offered a big bunch of money to fly to London and give a lecture)  ... but after a while I realized I was reading the same two or three sentences, over and over again (Doyle is being offered a big bunch of money to fly to London and give a lecture).  So I gave up.

Then I tried to read some of the book you bought me yesterday, 'Walking on Alligators,' but immediately hit the following:

'No one can write your book. The story you have to tell is unique. In struggling to tell it, you will work alone .. and it might be the hardest, most painful thing you ever do.'

At this point  --  today in particular  --  the issue of my *aloneness* is one that hits a critical nerve  ...  the nerve, as a matter of fact, directly connected to my tear ducts. So that was the end of reading that book.

I was ravenously hungry -- and even more desperate for a cup of coffee -- but my bags weighed a ton, and the thought of schlepping them around the airport terminal, feeling and looking as miserable as I did right then, was NOT appealing. So I pulled out my little notebook and my pen, thinking maybe I could exorcise some of the urge to cry -- not to mention the hunger pangs -- by jotting down a thought or eleven. I flipped the book open and found the notes I'd written on Friday afternoon, when I was waiting for the flight that would take me to see you:

October 30, 1998

So here I am, sitting in an airport again. Weirdly familiar, this. People stretched out over several seats in the terminal, snoozing oblivously ... the drone of the airport intercom, endlessly paging Betty Johnson to meet her party in the main pick-up area ... the smell of coffee and perspiration and eight thousand brands of cologne ...

We'll be boarding in about 35 minutes. I plan to sit here and scribble thoughts in this little notebook and try and compose myself for my big face-to-face meeting with David.  Right now I'm cool as a cucumber, interestingly enough, but I suppose when I'm landing in Oakland it will be another story entirely.

"That's all I wrote on Friday. I don't remember why I didn't write more: I suppose I was just too keyed-up. That seems like a thousand years ago.

This morning, I managed to scribble another few lines before the waterworks kicked in:


November 2, 1998

So here I am, fighting back tears in an AIRPORT again ... waiting for a flight to take me home after a week of passion and adventure. Feeling desolate yet hopeful, abandoned yet connected, terrified yet brave, exhausted yet jazzed ...

... but mostly just feeling alone, alone, alone ...

(A tear tumbles down my face and spills onto the front of my blue sweater ... shit.)

Little voices in my heart whisper that this time is "different." I'm not returning to some gigantic personal calamity, for one thing. At least, none that I am AWARE of. No angry husbands or boyfriends will be waiting with murderous calm for me in the living room. No blistering i.m.'s from Psycho Wives From Hell. No convoluted e-mail messages explaining that the whole thing was a "mistake," and that we probably shouldn't ever ever see each other again, and by the way he's signing off AOL forever so don't bother trying to reply. No feelings of guilt or remorse on my part. No panicky sense that this was the last time we'll ever be together. No gazing around the terminal and seeing him in the face of every stranger who walks by. (This, of course, is mainly because I am too embarrassed by the weepy spectacle I am making of myself to turn around and face the terminal. But still.)

Knowing in my head that this time may be *different* and knowing it in my heart are two different things. So I sit here and think about the weekend, and about all of the things that happened and everything that was said between the two of us, and all of the cool stuff I saw and the fun stuff we did ...

... and I weep. Like an idiot.

Like a pathetic slow-witted delusional idiot crybaby who STILL hasn't learned her lesson - that every *magic weekend* ends this way, with me sitting in an airline terminal alone with forty bucks in my purse (is forty a magic number or something?) and an unread book sitting in my lap, while I drip Maybelline onto the pages ...

... Writing all of this has calmed me down a tiny bit, anyway. I have a grueling day ahead of me. I will NOT stop at a store on my way home and buy a bottle of wine. I WON'T.


"You had no way of knowing this, of course, but the last two times I saw The Doc, he stopped at an ATM on our way to the airport and tucked forty bucks into my purse, just so I wouldn't be flying home across the country without any cash. Both times I used the money to buy alcohol, as soon as I got home. So I was a teeny tiny bit *nonplussed,* as they say, when you hit that exact amount this morning. And I admit that one of those infernal voices gnawed on my ear the entire flight home.

(You are going to be SO DEPRESSED when you walk into that empty apartment tonight. Wouldn't a glass or two of wine help ease some of the pain?)

My flight home was packed. You may or may not have heard, by now, that an airplane scheduled to fly out of Oakland to Seattle hit a bird on the runway, right before you dropped me off there, and they were forced to divert all of those passengers onto my flight. So it was wall-to-wall people, including a couple of screaming babies two rows behind me.

I didn't care. I barely noticed. I had my window seat. They were gonna feed me soon. I was 'happy.' I pressed my forehead against the little window and enjoyed that groovy natural rush when we took off (I said 'Bye, David' as we lifted into the air), and then I spent the next hour and fifteen minutes watching clouds and land formations and eating a horrible salami sandwich and GRAPES <--- (instant Weepy Moment) and worrying about the bus ride home from the Portland Airport and thinking about that moment in bed when you looked at me and said, completely out of the blue, 'You're beautiful, y'know?' ...

I had one slightly surreal experience, during the flight home. A *Haight Ashbury Moment,* if you will. I must have dropped off to sleep for a moment or two, because all of a sudden my brain spasmed itself awake, and I was looking out the window of the airplane and I suddenly saw with perfect clarity -- on the other end of the sky across the cloudscape -- a perfectly-formed cluster of ...

... houses. 

Modern houses, sorta upscale in design, not unlike some of the houses you showed me in Sausalito. I mean, I actually saw them. I could pick out architectural details. They were THERE, man ....

... and then they were gone.



The rest of the flight was uneventful. It took us one hour and sixteen minutes to fly from Oakland to Portland. We were advised that the weather in Portland was 'slightly cloudly, winds calm, temperature 53 degrees.'  (In other words: a day like every other day in Oregon.)  As we descended, I was struck by

1.) How ORANGE everything looked. In the space of three short days I'd completely forgotten that autumn is in full flower at the moment here


2.) How un-*HOME*-like "home" felt. No huge rush of 'ohhhhhh god ... I'm back in Oregon.'  Just a sort of weary 'ohhhhh god ... I can't wait to get out of these Levi's and sink my achy butt into a tub of bubbles.'

The insidious little voice was still hard at work, btw.

Never mind the fact that we now have even MORE reason to stay sober. Never mind the fact that we've been on a steady course here now for 50-something days, and that even though we're drop-dead-exhausted 99.9281908% of the time, these days, we STILL feel pretty damn OK underneath it all. Never mind the fact that David gave us that forty bucks in trust and love, so we could have something to eat and have some bus and grocery money for the week. Let's stop and buy some wiiiiiiine ...

It was the strongest incident of temptation to date. We should have anticipated it. (Or DID you anticipate it? Was giving me the money a *test* of sorts?)

At one point I found myself consulting the bus schedules, while I was still in the air ... knowing that if I caught the #32 in downtown Portland, it would take me more or less straight home, through a labyrinth of residential neighborhoods, without a single grocery store or 7-11 along the way ...

... but that if I caught the #33, I would wind up going down the main drag,  McLoughlin Avenue, where a myriad of dangerous possibilities awaited me: Safeway, Fred Meyer, Thriftway.  I was pretty sure I was going to do the right thing and catch the #32. But the mere fact that I was even looking at the #33 schedule was worrisome, to say the least. 

At any rate,  the plane landed without incident, and I gathered up my stuff and headed down the ramp, fumbling around in my jacket pocket for that little clip-on-sunglasses thingy ...

... only to discover that one of the LENSES had popped out of my glasses, most likely right there on the airplane I had just departed, since my specs were wholly intact earlier in the day.

I had exactly ten minutes to get out of the airport and make it to the TriMet bus stop out on Airport Way. That is, IF I wanted to catch the *safe* #32.

O H   S H I T."

Tree House ~ November 1998

That's the end of the e-mail to David. If I remember correctly, I was interrupted  --  just as I was bringing the narrative to its thrilling conclusion  --  by a phone call from Mr. Wonderful himself, and that was pretty much *it* for writing e-mail, that particular evening.

I recovered from my little Boo Hoo Moment at the Oakland Airport. I survived the flight back to Oregon. I found the missing lens from my glasses, on the floor under my seat. I caught the "safe" #32 bus, with minutes to spare.

I didn't stop and buy wine on the way home.

Basically I came home to The Tree House, dumped my suitcases all over the living room floor, and lived in a state of reckless, disheveled euphoria for the rest of November.

Two weeks later, I was back on an airplane and heading to California again, for the weekend that cemented our relationship.

And two weeks after that ... my days of weeping stoopidly in airports were over.

self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: thanks for *indulging* me the past couple of journal entries, Dear Readers. for various reasons i didn't feel free to write about this stuff as it was happening, a year ago, so i'm making up for a little lost time. plus it's been a welcome change from writing about [thinking about/worrying about/obsessing over/planning the demise of] the *little boss from hell.*

we return you now to our regularly scheduled life ... already in progress.

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER: so how did we spend our big *anniversary weekend,* you ask? quietly. soberly. in extremely LOW-KEY fashion. there was a lot of sitting in bed watching tv and eating lemon-pepper pasta. a lot of holding hands in sunshine. a lot of guitar-playing, and grocery-shopping, and housework around the castle, and afternoon-napping. we went out to brunch on sunday morning, and went to the library on sunday afternoon. sunday night we waited for trick-or-treaters, and when none ever *showed* we ate the candy ourselves.

and of course we ... "listened to records."

in other words: it was just another weekend in paradise.

special *howdy* to: anybody who wonders why i haven't answered their e-mail in the last [insert # of hours/days/weeks/months here]. i've been terrible about personal correspondence lately: basically, i'm on shit lists from here to australia. forgive me. yell at me. tolerate me. nag me. remind me. love me anyway. and don't erase my name from your address books: i'll get caught up here, eventually ... i promise.

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
if i didn't buy wine that day, what DID i buy with david's forty bucks?
think: poultry

amazingly profound thought of the day: "the grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." ~ Allan K. Chalmers ~