"A Sorta Fairytale" by Tori Amos
And I'm So Sad
Like a good book
I can't put this day back...
A sorta fairytale with you.
--lyrics from "A Sorta Fairytale"
by Tori Amos
Written in the summer of 1997, later revised.
"Gorgeous day, isn't it?", I heard a soft-spoken, male voice say.
I groaned silently to myself, with my head on a desk.
It was February 14th, 1994.
"Happy Valentine's Day", he said hesitantly.
"Black Monday" I said, raising my head only to flop it back down on the desk.
I heard a pleasant chuckle, and a warm hand gently touch my shoulder.
I looked up, into the hazel eyes of Shawn Michael Currey.
Maybe I should not have looked.
In the weeks following, I looked forward to the Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays spent in Professor Ward's History 405 class. On those days I would sit next to the same eccentric gentleman, discussing anything in the world or nothing at all before class. After class he would walk me back to my dorm, and we would chat the whole way. He would say goodbye to me at the door, with never any mention of a date or anything of the sort. To describe how frustrating this was is beyond words. I thrived on any small indication he would give me that he was interested, and constantly wondered who he was and what his life was like outside of class. His stories of traveling (he was a "navy brat"), his close family, everything about his life was intriguing to me. He would tell just enough to get me interested, and every parting was a cliffhanger...I wanted to know not only how his story ended, but when ours would begin. It is difficult to explain what I felt for him at the time, but there was something there. I know that he must have felt the same thing, because as the semester drew closer to an end, the partings were quite a bit more hesitant, as if neither one of us wanted to leave. There would be a moment we would just stare at each other, until out of sheer awkwardness I would open the door to my dorm.
On the last week of class, I felt a sense of urgency. I knew I had to do something to let him know I cared. On the last day, as my professor discussed the final exam, Shawn slipped me a note asking me to study for the final with him. A tremendous relief came over me. "YES!!!!" was my answer, and I somehow managed to scribble it without shouting it.
I couldn't wait for our day of studying, so I called and invited Shawn to my dorm for a talent night event, where people would be reading their poems and singing songs they wrote. Those events weren't usually very exciting, but it was an excuse to see him. I still remember how handsome he looked newly showered wearing a button-down shirt and jeans. He was actually being flirtatious, asking me if anyone there knew me well, so that he could ask them about me. We took a long walk after the event, and he picked a flower for me and put it in my hair. I had the strongest urge to just grab him and give him a kiss. Instead, I let him get in his car, and get some sleep so he could be at my room bright and early the next morning.
At 9am on a Saturday morning, he came to my room. Conversation was suddenly something we could hardly manage, both of us were very nervous. We studied for five hours lying on the floor of my room. We ate lunch at Benjamin's, an off campus dive that served the most descent food in the area. We were talking more easily, laughing, and exchanging anecdotes. Back at my room we studied for a few more hours, then all of a sudden he sat up, pushing away our books. He looked at me for a while, just smiling.
Pointing to a framed photo on top of my dresser Shawn asked, "So who's that?" with a raised eyebrow.
I explained that the man in the picture was my previous boyfriend Patrick, whom I was still friends with. He asked when we had broken up.
"Six months ago", I said.
"And you haven't dated anyone since?" he asked in a warm tone of voice.
I said "no."
He laid down on the floor, closer to me with his head propped with his elbow, the same way I was.
"So, what do you look for in a guy?" he asked.
I told him some of qualities I was looking for in a guy (kindness, sense of humor, desire for adventure, etc.).
"I think that's an accurate description of me", he said with a smile.
I was sure I was blushing and it suddenly felt ninety degrees in my room. I quickly thought to change the subject by opening my book. I reached for it, and he put his hand on it so I could not open it.
What happened next still stands as one of the most magical and intimate moments of my life...and the most odd. When anyone asks me to describe it, all I can say is that we "ferociously hugged", but even that doesn't really describe it. It was a little bit like the love scene between Prince and Ingrid Chavez in "Graffiti Bridge." There was no kissing, no fondling, or groping. Just holding each other, and caressing. There are no words to describe what what was happening and what I was feeling. It has been almost four years since that moment, but I remember he told me I was beautiful. No man had ever told me that before with sincerity and without ulterior motive. I was literally high when he left that day, with the promise of a date on Saturday (exactly a week away). It was on that day I finally admitted to myself that although I had hardly a clue about the person he really was, I was in love.
To say I was happy and looking forward to the date was an understatement. I had very few "crushes" in my life, but Shawn was definitely one of them. My roommate would often laugh at me, because I knew Shawn's schedule. His car was usually parked in the parking lot outside my dorm, and I would often sit by my window and watch him leave. During the weekend, every time the phone rang I would hope it was him. It seemed silly to hope for that, since I doubted he even knew my last name which would make it difficult to find out my phone number. I never skipped class, because the short time spent sitting next to him and our talks before and after class would make my day.
However, the date on Saturday was devastating. He had arrived almost two hours late, and over dinner at a Chinese restaurant told me that our "intimate" moment was a huge mistake and apologized. I felt so sad, that I tried to tune him out as he explained that he was upset with himself for losing control, and that it should never have happened. With the words, "We shall start as friends and work our way up", we toasted. And that night I cried myself to sleep.
During the next few years, Shawn was my friend through some very rough times in my life. Although he had never been in a relationship before, he gave me great advice while I was in an abusive relationship. "Leave the bastard. When is a good time for me to go to his room and kill him?" He was also there for me to confide in when my aunt died. He always offered consoling words and advice. He knew everything there was to know about me, and he had a sense of the me that I did not share as well. But I was foolishly impatient and told him I had feelings for him. He decided it was best to discontinue our friendship, and being so angry with myself for telling him, I felt he was right to not want me in his life.
After almost a year had passed, I slowly started accepting that he was probably gone from my life forever...but I still missed him. Searching on the web one day in April of 1997 (our Senior year), I found his web page. Just for the hell of it, I e-mailed him with a few words...."nice web page". To my surprise, he sent me an e-mail which revived our friendship.
He told me he had really missed me. Considering the friendship we previously shared was mainly on e-mail with occasional awkward lunches, I never expected him to say that. Although we lived in the same town, I had always had to e-mail or send him a letter in order to tell him something great or something awful that was going on in my life. Finally, he was here with me, not showing any signs of going anywhere. After three visits in the span of about a week, I was elated. Finally the man I had loved for four years was back in my life, and it almost seemed like a dream. A very good dream, and one which I did not want to wake up from. We sent e-mail to each other about ten times a day, and he was sharing with me and talking about his life. He had always been a workaholic, never much time for chatter, and all of a sudden he was actually skipping classes or valuable study time to be with me. We were a little over a month away from graduating, and he was throwing caution to the wind.
After a short time, visits lasted longer and longer, and began later and later at night. We became very comfortable with each other, and I felt my love rekindling stronger and stronger. But I could not allow myself to get hurt again. I wanted to know he felt the same way before I could go on. And by what I thought was a miracle, I got my answer in an email he sent me one night after visiting me:
"I didn't want to leave you. In fact, I so didn't want to leave, I came up with excuses to stick around long enough to get caught. Unfortunately, my own hesitation rewarded me with only a view from the second floor window. I WAS caught, but the one who spied me sitting out there was smart enough to stay inside, where it was warm. I so wanted to put my arms around you, as we sat on your bed and talked...but my courage failed me when I almost did... *sigh*. I almost called you up to let me back in, too...but that would have been too obvious *smile*..."
Our relationship nearly became a romantic one. He would come to my room almost every day after class, and would greet me with the warmest embrace. He would tell me he missed me all day, and couldn't wait to hold me. No one had ever said that to me before, not with sincerity and longing. I felt closer to him than I ever had, not only because my feelings were finally being reciprocated, but there was a spiritual connection also. He was the only person I ever loved who shared the same beliefs I did, we were both Wiccan. When I was feeling emotionally exhausted, he used guided imagery to help me, and I never felt so protected by anyone. I was also finally able to express my love for him. I can still remember the way he used to kiss me...very slowly, carefully, it was the kiss of someone who was new to the art. We would lay with each other for hours, touching, kissing and caressing each other...not saying a word. We never made love, but being close to him was just as satisfying and pleasureable, if not more so. If anything more actually happened, I felt I would probably die. Merely holding his hand gave me tiny heart attacks. He spoke to me with the pacing of his touch and his breath, everything was perfectly timed.
For a while.
A few weeks after Shawn had come into my life again, I had broken up with someone I had dated for seven months. Our relationship had been serious but not physical. We were more best friends than partners, because he was a Fundamentalist Christian and held firmly to his beliefs. He once told me that if we ever made love he would probably enjoy it but then he would have to kill himself. Of course, my being Pagan complicated things greatly for him, so I had decided we were better off perfecting our friendship than our romantic relationship. He saw this, however, as having to do with Shawn. He thought that I had cheated on him. The timing was wrong indeed. Shawn did wake something up in me....I realized that I wanted a relationship filled with attraction AND love...and with someone who was not afraid of the wrath of God every time he touched me. Shawn didn't seem afraid of anything. I cannot deny that a part of me was always waiting for Shawn, but it was not the main reason I was giving up on the relationship with Seth. Seth became very angry, and would leave long messages on my phone, first pleading for another chance, then cursing me for the wrong I had done.
One night, as Shawn and I were discussing a possible future together, my ex began pounding on the door. It was 3am. He was yelling, something I could not understand, and frightened me so much I called the police. After a while, they came to my door, asking questions about my ex and where he might be (he had left minutes before the police arrived). Shawn helped explain what had happened, and tried to calm me down. The police finally found him, and a friend of his had managed to convince the police that he was not harassing me but merely "concerned" that Shawn was trying to hurt me.
After a similar incident, Shawn took it for a sign we should not be together and that he was somehow being protected from me by a higher power. Instead of encouraging him to trust his instincts and accepting his friendship, I felt cheated for not being given a chance. I loved Shawn for a long time, and wanted to be more to him. My reaction to him wanting only friendship, as well as to a very personal secret he shared with me, only proved that I didn't deserve a chance with him. I know that love can cause people to act and say foolish things, but I didn't have anyone to blame but myself.
One rainy night, Shawn was outside my dorm trying to call me, an effort on his part to give me a chance to talk. I couldn't bring myself to answer the phone, I was an emotional wreck and had been crying all evening. I called him back later, but when he realized that I had been in my room and not answering the phone, he was understandably upset. I remember him saying that the fact that I didn't answer said a lot about the kind of person I was. To him, what I did was shallow and immature, but to me I thought it was reasonable that I didn't want someone I loved to see me crying over him. But maybe if he had, he would have realized how much I cared about him.
I asked Shawn for a chance to talk to him about what happened just before we graduated. He agreed, and in retrospect I realized it was a chance for me to save our friendship. There was so much that I wanted to say to him, and my intentions were to get everything out in the open and be honest with him about how I was feeling. However, as much as I wanted to be, I wasn't emotionally ready to talk to him with a clear head. I was still feeling incredibly hurt, so I was mostly silent when we met to talk. He even asked me if there was anything I wanted to tell him, and that opportunity slipped passed me as I reacted stubbornly and said nothing. I was nothing short of an immature brat to him, when I should have been telling him what I really wanted to say....that I loved him with all my heart, but if he believed friendship was all we could have, that I would gladly accept it. Part of me was screaming those words, but instead of paying attention to what my heart was telling me, as I've done too many times before - I didn't listen. That moment remains one of my deepest regrets that will always haunt me. This magical, wonderful person who meant so much to me disappeared from my life because I was an idiot. I remember in one of our last conversations via e-mail he said to me "I will always love you, and there's nothing you can ever say or do to change that." But I knew that I had managed to change that, because if I hadn't he would still be in my life. I was a disposable part of his life. A dead weight. He said that rectifying our friendship was "ultimately unnecessary." My desperate attempts to grasp at straws were pointless. He was gone before he left me in the bleachers at the football field. Something inside me was screaming "Why are you letting him walk away???!!!!" But I didn't think there was anything I could do. I resigned myself to feeling that maybe I really wasn't worthy of knowing someone so wonderful.
For a long time after my relationship with Shawn ended, my mind and heart sought another end to our story. I didn't want to believe that I had betrayed and mistreated someone I truly loved. When I think back to that time, or read the letters and messages we sent to each other, I realize so much that I missed because I tried to rush things too quickly. I know that Shawn leads a different kind of lifestyle now, and that the end of our Senior year was a confusing time for him. If I had the wisdom then that I have now, if I had taken the time to LISTEN to him, and swallowed my pride and spoke from my heart, I would still have the pleasure of knowing him. To this day, 8 years later, I still miss Shawn greatly. I think about him every day, and I hope he is happy and has love in his life.
I can safely say after all my experiences, that Shawn was the love of my life. Sometimes I still catch myself daydreaming about our short time together, because it was one of the happiest times of my life. There have been times when I have tried to forget Shawn, because the memories can be very painful. I tried every unhealthy way possible, in the past eight years, to try and erase him from my mind, and my heart. But despite my best efforts, my memories of him have persistently lived on, as a reminder of how deeply I once loved someone special. I have never felt the same about anyone else. I think I will always feel a strong connection to him and miss him every day of my life. I don't understand why, or what purpose it serves now. But as a good friend of mine said to me....sometimes you just love someone, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Shawn will always have a place in my cherished memories, however faded they may become. I think for as long as I live I will still hear the soft-spoken, male voice say,
"Gorgeous day, isn't it?"
And I will always want to look up and see him there.
I don't know why I feel this way
Or why I can never say
Just what is on my mind.
Well maybe this time...I'll try.
You see, something happens to me
When I think of you
As I gaze at the stars above.
I'm feeling a little giddy, but I think that its...
All I know is that
When I try to say your name I can barely breathe.
And to finally be able to hold you is an endless need.
But I think that if I got that far
I would have a heart attack.
And I'm sure that a kiss from your lips would
Take me to heaven and back.
And I always want to be near you
When push comes to shove,
It may be my imagination, but I think that its...
You must think I'm Crazy
Because I'm always so vague
I'm just afraid that if I tell you
You'll avoid me like the plague.
You're too perfect for words
And I am only me.
But I wish I could make you feel,
I wish I could make you see
That I could give you the moon
And those same stars up above.
I can't deny what I feel, and I know that its...
Its been quite a while, but I'm trying to hang on.
Everyday I want to shout--
"What the hell is going on?!"
You never give a green light,
And you never give me a sign.
But my one wish is to be yours,
and for you to be mine.
I'll promise to treat you with kindness,
And support you in all that you do.
No matter what happens,
I will always...
There are no explanations
For what I cannot say.
But I know that I want to tell you
In person someday.
I'm walking on thin ice
But that's okay.
I've fallen through so many times
This is just another day.
I am no stranger
To this pain called love...
And my heart has its reasons...
Which Reason knows nothing of.
--For Shawn, 1996
It was an unsolved mystery, a Reason unknown
What drew us together, behind a locked door alone.
Four years of foreplay, my heart beating fast
Hoping so long for what finally came to pass.
Without a word or a whisper, only primal instinct
I smiled when you smiled, and our souls became linked.
If only for a moment, I felt beautifully loved
As I felt your gentle kiss and thanked the gods above.
Feeling your heartbeat brought tears to my eyes
And I finally released all the love I locked inside.
I had given up hope, but my wish had come true
I was sharing my desires, and lying beside you.
But I knew it would not last, and it even seemed cruel,
I had broken a code, I had broken your rules.
Now you are gone, and my dreams have cracked
I made a fatal mistake, and you will never come back.
But my heart will remember, and feel a phantom embrace
From the one I truly love, who brought joy to my face.
I know you will be far away, but whatever you do
Remember that I will always love you.
--For Shawn, June 1997
"The only thing worse than loving in vain is letting go in necessity." --Author Unknown