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  • "Wise men say
    Only fools rush in
    But I can't help
    Falling in love with you"

    From Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You", written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As I got more involved with school, reporting, and the presidential campaign, I felt like I was doing o.k. now, and stopped going to the shrink, and stopped taking the medication I’d been on for a few months. I felt like it had really helped me when I was down, but I was no longer down, so I no longer needed it. Mom tried to convince me to continue with both, but I was adamant. I wanted to put all of that behind me.

    In retrospect, Mom was probably right, as she usually was about such matters. But, she didn’t push it. She made her opinion clear, but let it go when I was clearly not interested in continuing the conversation, or the treatment. To her credit, she never came back with an “I told you so” later on, when things got crazy again.

    She was great like that. She was always helpful when it came to ideas and direction when you needed help, but was never pushy about it. It was always your decision to either make, or not. She would go on to make a career of doing this for thousands of people seeking help. She was really good at it. I just wasn’t so good at listening, or taking direction, unless I was completely on my ass.

    I got more involved with the Pilgrim Fellowship, and was really looking forward to the upcoming retreat. We camped out at Burlingame State Forest, near the Connecticut-Rhode Island border. It was another amazing weekend, much better even than the first PF retreat I had gone on. This time, I had an experience where, six of us sat around under a tree, talking, and just had this sensation where we all felt an unreal connection, like we were all one entity for a period of time, sharing the same mind, with no barriers between us. I’d never felt that with a group of people before. It was an amazing sensation. The others all felt it, too.
  • I also went swimming in the nearby ocean, while it was a mere 22 F outside, on a dare. Very invigorating – shockingly so! I felt warm the rest of the day, while others were cold.

    The other thing that happened that weekend, last but not least, was I fell head over heels in love with Martha. I was certain she felt the same way – I was sure of it. While she was fond of me, I apparently completely misread her. I would find out, years later, that she was having similar feelings as I, but she just didn’t feel like she was ready for that kind of a relationship yet. She had some dreams and goals she was determined to accomplish before she would allow herself to get into a romantic relationship. Her dream was to become a female commercial pilot, something you just didn’t see back then. She knew it would take a lot of work and dedication, and wasn’t going to let anything, like romance, come in the way of achieving that.

    So, while we had a nice time together on the retreat, I left that weekend thinking we had something and she apparently left feeling like we’d just had a really nice time, and would now get back to our regularly scheduled lives. I was on a cloud, thinking we were going to be together as a "thing", and went through that next week floating. I went to see her at work, a restaurant where the wait staff had to dress in the period costumes, from colonial times. As I was waiting in the reception area for her to go on break, she had come out to say hi, and to let me know that she’d see me in a little while, then went back into the restaurant.

    This older lady was sitting across the way from me, and she looked over at me, and said, “My, isn’t she a real beauty? Don’t let that one get away, young man – she’s a keeper!” I had to agree with the old lady, and I was determined not to let her get away. I was really feeling full of my newfound love for this girl. I wanted to tell her how I felt.
  • When she came back out on her break, she looked at me and said, “Are you o.k., Pete?” I said, “Marty - I’m in love with you. Don’t you feel it too?” She just looked at me, stunned, and shook her head and said, “Oh, Pete, I’m not looking for any serious relationships right now. I’m really sorry if you thought…I thought we had a lot of fun and all - I really like you a lot, but I’m not ready for anything serious. I’m really sorry if you got that idea.” She reached out to touch my cheek, and with that, turned around and went back to work.

    I was stunned, and in disbelief of what had just happened. I became overwhelmed with emotion. I'd never felt so sure of anything in my life, as I did about our connection, and then, just like that, I learned I was wrong. She didn't feel for me what I felt for her. How could that be? I called Mary, my oldest friend in town, who was down at a college across the state, and told her what happened. She could tell I was distraught, and told me to come down to see her. She consoled me, and basically told me to get over myself, and move on. She said there were lots of girls who thought I was cool, and I’d have no problem finding a nice girl. But none of them were Martha. I didn’t think I could ever feel that way about a girl again. She just laughed and said I’d be fine, not to worry about it.

    I went home, and at 3 in the morning, sitting there contemplating my misfortune, I saw a picture of the Mona Lisa in the school paper I had helped to write and edit, and I wrote my first poem, Mona Lisa at 3 a.m.

    I became a love-sick poet over the next month, with poems just pouring out of me, poems about heartbreak and love lost, bleakness and desolation. I wallowed in my heartbreak. Poor Martha quickly learned to avoid me. I just couldn’t help pining over what could have been, and couldn’t see her without making a complete and utter fool of myself. I was so heart-sick. I didn’t care. I let it envelope me.

    I threw myself into even more activities after that, trying to occupy my time and to get over my heart-sickness. Things quickly spun out of control, but I was hanging onto life with both hands, and letting the ride take me wherever it would. I was not going to retreat from life again, like I had that summer. I felt driven by a mad demon - I wanted to do and experience as much as I could, each day. I certainly gave it my best shot. It proved to be one hell of a wild late fall and early winter.
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