Saturday, February 9, 2013

No. 481 – Yet Another Movie / Round and Around

Performer: Pink Floyd
Songwriters: David Gilmour, Patrick Leonard
Original Release: A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Year: 1987
Definitive Version: Tongue, Tied and Twisted, 1987

When Melanie and I began to date in April 1988, there was one major problem: Melanie was part of a one-car family.

She lived with her mom, a younger sister and two younger brothers post-divorce. Melanie didn’t have her own car. Her mom didn’t need the family car all the time, but Melanie certainly couldn’t be taking it for an entire weekend on anything like a regular basis.

So that meant I would have to travel to see her, which was OK, but now that it was getting to be summer, I wanted to be by the lake. Besides, I couldn’t really go anywhere until the high-school year was over in June. There was baseball and softball to cover. This sucked.

Fortunately, Melanie came up with a solution: If I were willing to drive to Benton Harbor, she could take the Greyhound bus from Albion before she left for home. You’re kidding, right? That’s all I had to do? I said I’d even pay half her bus ticket (even though I had nothing).

I made sure to leave myself plenty of time to get there before she arrived. Benton Harbor, of course, is part of a twin-cities arrangement with St. Joseph across the St. Joseph River. I’d been to St. Joe’s before then, because it was the county seat. I would go once a month to cover the Berrien County board meeting. I’d never been to Benton Harbor, however.

I don’t know if it’s any different from when I was there in 1988. Maybe Benton Harbor has gotten better. It’s almost impossible that it’s gotten worse. I’ll never forget the drive to pick her up at the bus station. I went from St. Joe’s, which was bustling, across the river to Benton Harbor, which was a ghost town.

I’m not exaggerating. I’ve seen my share of urban blight: Gary, Ind.; Flint, Detroit, East St. Louis. I’ve never seen anything like that day in Benton Harbor.

Every building on Main Street downtown, and I mean every one—except for the Greyhound bus station—was empty. I don’t mean empty as in not busy, I mean empty as in you could look into the windows and see that nothing was inside the building. These were multifloor office buildings we’re talking about.

The bus station was a fairly nondescript stone building, as I recall, but at least it was open. I parked and went inside to wait. I don’t remember how long I was there. I don’t remember that it was either a very long or brief time. What I remember is when the bus pulled up.

I don’t recall many people getting off and coming into the station. It could have been hundreds for all I know. All I was paying attention to was the brunette woman walking toward me with a smile that I had missed so severely even though it had been only a couple weeks since we’d seen each other.

Melanie wore a bright-colored floral sundress, sandals, a floppy hat and big sunglasses. She was a palette of color amid in a canvas of empty gray, as full of life as the city around her was dead. I felt like a ray of sunlight shone on her as she came towards me, and I could not have been more in love than I was in love with Melanie at that moment.

I couldn’t wait to get her home, to have her all to myself, alone for the first time together, but, well, work had to be done (and now I could charge the paper for mileage expenses). Before we headed home, I swung by the high school where New Buffalo was playing to take a couple of pictures. Unless news dictated specific coverage, I tried to run photos of both New Buffalo and River Valley teams to even it out.

Melanie sat in the stands, and I shot a few pics, almost reveling in the anticipation of getting back to my place, letting the anticipation build.

See, this was going to be a big weekend. Melanie and I had not slept together at that point. I mean, we had slept together but not SLEPT together, you know? We hadn’t really been alone before, and this was to be the weekend that made us lovers in deed as well as word.

Or so I thought.

When we got home, Melanie informed me on the love seat under the bay windows where we started our relationship earlier that month that she wasn’t ready. The reason was simple: Melanie had gotten a little something-something extra from her last boyfriend that had to be taken care of when she got home.

The good news was it was treatable. The bad news was anything from the waist on down sans clothes was strictly verboten until she had the corrective surgery next month. So … who’s up for Redamak’s?


Well, if something’s worth waiting for, it’s worth waiting for a little longer, right? All I can say is when it finally happened, when Melanie came to visit me in June after my birthday, we didn’t leave the apartment for more than an hour the entire time she was in New Buffalo.

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