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The Ballad of Pumpkin Patch (Part V)

August 10, 2015

After breaking up with Pumpkin Patch for the second or third time with a tense, awkward phone call, I sent him an e-mail for a more elegant last word. He replied with a thoughtful, sweet message but with no hint of regret and no indication he might change his mind.

I asked him if I could check in with him, every so often. He said, “yes, of course.” He would like that.

Then July 23 happened. There was a shooting in a theater in Lafayette. As soon as I heard about it I texted my son, my brother, my best friend….making sure they didn’t happen to be in the theater. And I texted Pumpkin Patch. We were both shocked and upset. We talked. It helped. We talked about gun control and violence in this country. We continued to talk in the days and weeks that followed. We even gave each other a writing challenge and wrote essays about the tragedy. It helped us to cope.

The following Wednesday was the last concert at the Horse Farm. I knew some of my friends would be there, continuing an art project of prayer flags for the victims. I decided to go. After sitting on a blanket in front of the stage for a while, I got bored and picked up my stuff, walked around the group of chairs, and made my way to the craft tent area. I sat on the roots of a big oak tree and leaned back, just observing the crowd.

“I see you.” He texted me. He was there.

“Well, are you going to say hi or you going to ignore me like a little bitch?” I replied.

He said he called my name as I walked past him but I must not have heard him. I told him where I was. He said he would find me. His sister was at the craft tent, just in front of me.

I saw him walking across the lawn. He always looks handsome when he wears his sunglasses. He was going to the wrong tree. I sat and waited.

Finally he found me and we chatted. Two of his nieces kept running up to him, showing off that they had convinced a nearby stranger to let them hold a couple of lap dogs. He was natural and easy with the little girls. Being the oldest of six, Pumpkin Patch grew up raising babies. His friend Sam showed up, then his dad. I shook his dad’s hand saying, “I’ve heard nice things about you.” He made some joke then said, “I’ve heard good things about you, too.” His mom texted him. “You get to meet my mom,” he said, maybe a little nervously. I met his mom. His niece convinced him to make a flag. I joined him and made another one, my fourth or fifth. We carried them over to the string of flags and added ours to the hundreds that had been created over the past four or five days.

The concert was ending and Sam said he wanted to get a beer with his remaining drink tickets. I had tickets too so we walked over to the beer truck together.

We stood around as other friends came by, Pumpkin Patch and I making stupid jokes that only we seemed to get. When he made an Ewok Star Wars reference I laughed for a long time. “Oh, am I being too fucking cute again?” he asked, referencing a long-ago text. He was in a good mood and seemed particularly confident, almost arrogant. After he made some smart-ass quip and I said, “You know I don’t like you very much. You’re kinda cocky and you think you’re funny but you’re not that funny.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said.

“Wow, she’s got you pegged,” Sam laughed.

I said goodbye and started to walk away. “I don’t get a hug?” Pumpkin Patch called out. The thought of putting my arms around him, of having my lips so close to his neck, of smelling him was more torture than I was willing to put myself through. So, I went up to Sam and said, “Sam gets a hug,” I embraced Sam tightly and kissed him on the cheek as I pulled away. I turned around and walked away.

“Meanie” he texted me later.

I wasn’t close to being over him and I didn’t understand why we weren’t together.

It took a couple more reality knocks on the head before I would even begin to give up hope that he would come around, that he would want me the way I wanted him.

 

 

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