Saturday, Feb. 22, 2003, 11:52 PM

Anniversaries and rain

What is the color of loneliness? I'm not sure, but I can tell you how it tastes and how it feels. Sometimes when you are alone for long periods of time you do things you would not normally do. During the last big snowstorm the city ran out of salt to use on the roads, so they used cinders instead. Just the other day when I was walking from my truck to my apartment I walked the line between the snow and the wet road, where the cinders had collected in a line like the drumlin of some miniature glacier, just to hear it crunch beneath my feet. I had been alone so long that the noise was reassuring. I had driven home with the radio up loud and when I stopped the car and the radio stopped playing I kept singing so that I could hear a voice.

It is raining here today. It is raining in my heart. Today is a Saturday, and on a raining Saturday exactly six years ago is when I met my wife--my soon to be ex-wife. I had allowed an ex-girlfriend to convince me to accompany here to a medieval recreation group gathering. I had borrowed some old-style clothing, referred to as garb, and had allowed myself to be driven across town to a church where a bunch of people checked their identity at the door to assume another of a lord or lady of some realm. There were corsets aplenty and the cleavage to go with it, and a fencing competition with the accompanying testosterone. I thought it rather comical that all of these people were lords and ladies and that only about one percent of medieval society was rich. Where were the servants, serfs, peasants and workers who kept these people in expensive textiles and pretense? And then I saw her.

She was dressed as a peasant, or perhaps it was a serving wench. She was tall and carried herself with purpose. Fair skin and dark hair and I wanted nothing more than to kiss her hand. Introductions were made and invitations were extended and somehow I had been invited to a post gathering party, and I had managed to convince this beauty to accompany me. Since I had come in my ex-girlfriend's two-seat truck she was forced to ride on my lap. I wrapped my arms around her, tightening them around every bend, and flexed my pecs to see if she would notice. The party was lame, and the girl made the excuse of needing to study for a test for the next day and asked for a ride home. My ex-girlfriend trusted me with the keys to her truck and I drove this girl back to her dorm and asked only for her phone number and a hug in return. How was I to know what would come?

Six years. There was one point during our relationship when she circumnavigated the globe on a boat, and at one point on that trip she was as far away from me as any two people could be. A world away, but still with me. And now she is 500 miles away but not with me. And for a brief time a few months ago she was sleeping in the same bed and was not with me. And now I am alone.

I spent the day driving in the rain, and it was good. I spent the day thinking about the rain and the past, and it was good. I spent the day taking an accounting of my life, and it was good. I have totaled the columns and have come to closure, and it is good.

If I drank alcohol I think that tonight I would be drunk.

Goodnight my sweet Rachel, wherever you are, and goodbye.