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  • It was a magical Fall, and the beginning of a wild ride. Life was opening up all around me. I’d started attending college in Hartford, and I loved the classes. I was taking Sociology and Psychology and Literature, and I wound up joining the school newspaper staff. But, the highlight of each week was the Sunday night meetings of the Pilgrim Fellowship, over at the old Congregational Church. It was the oldest Congregational Church in Connecticut, and the 4th oldest in the world. It had the coolest cemetery, with gravestones dating back to the 1600’s.

    Martha didn’t attend every week, but when she did, it would make my week. I was still kind of quiet and shy, still emerging from my long summer of silence, not real confident yet - but I could tell she liked me, and my heart just soared when she entered a room. I was really smitten with her, but just didn’t have the courage to make a move. Not yet. I was making some solid friends, there. Some of the kids I had connected with at the Spring Retreat were there. That seemed like another lifetime ago.

    They seemed to take my “quietness” as “being cool”. That was the last thing in the world I was trying to be – I was never what I would consider to be cool – but, if that’s what they wanted to think about me, that was cool. I developed a little following. I was just being myself, now that I had some level of comfort of who and what that was. If they wanted to follow me, who am I to stop them?

    Everyone started talking about the Fall Retreat. We were going somewhere in Rhode Island, to a campground in the woods, not far from the ocean. I became increasingly excited about that weekend. I felt very much like Tony in my favorite movie, West Side Story, when he sings, “Something’s Coming”. I could feel it in my bones, in the air, all around me. Something was coming – I didn’t know what, but I knew it was big!

    Could be! Who knows? There's something due any day;
    I will know right away, soon as it shows.
    It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
    Gleam in its eye, Bright as a rose!

    Who knows? It's only just out of reach,
    Down the block, on a beach, Under a tree.
    I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
    Gonna come true, Coming to me!

    Could it be? Yes, it could. Something's coming, something good,
    If I can wait! Something's coming, I don't know what it is,
    But it is gonna be great!

    With a click, with a shock, phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
    Open the latch! Something's coming, don't know when, but it's soon;
    Catch the moon, one-handed catch!

    Around the corner, Or whistling down the river,
    Come on, deliver to me! Will it be? Yes, it will.
    Maybe just by holding still, it'll be there!

    Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy,
    Meet a guy, pull up a chair!
    The air is humming, and something great is coming!
    Who knows? It's only just out of reach,
    Down the block, on a beach,
    Maybe tonight . . .
  • Indeed, the weekend was like a dream, somewhere between heaven and paradise. It was wild, and crazy, and memorable. I made lasting friendships, laughed as hard as I had ever laughed, went swimming in the ocean when it was 22 degrees outside, on a dare, and was the warmest person in camp the rest of that day.

    Oh, yeah…and I fell madly in love with Martha. On Friday night, we had been out driving around the forest in my car, when we discovered, in the middle of nowhere, the strangest looking house we’d ever seen. It was a large, square, red house, with one door right in the middle of each of the four walls. I immediately dubbed it the “House of Four Doors”, after the Moody Blues’s song by the same name. We kept driving around, getting lost, and we would always wind up back at the House of 4 Doors. It was freaky, and hilarious, and became the big thing that everyone talked about all weekend, and went out to find on lost trips through the woods.

    At one point, Martha was with me, and we were just talking, and we decided to get out and check the house out. Someone took off with my car and left us there, alone. She took my hand, and we laid down in the field beside the house, and just talked. I really opened up to her, and she just listened to everything I had to say, with those knowing eyes, and she told me that she really liked me. Then, we kissed for the first time. I had kissed a number of girls at that point, but none of them had felt like this. There was a soul connection thing going on that I’d never experienced before, like we had just melted into one person for awhile there.

    The rest of the weekend was so beautiful. So this was what love felt like. Wow, I’d had no idea what I'd been missing. We had two beautiful days together, in the middle of a forest, surrounded by friends. Magical.

    The following week, I happened to be driving by the Dunfey's Tavern, an old quaint colonial style bar and restaurant, where she worked as a waitress. I stopped in to see her. I was just going to ask her out that Friday night. She had to wear this old “period” outfit from the 1700’s, and she just looked so pretty in it, in that old-fashioned way. . As I was waiting in the lobby for her to go on her break, an old lady sitting there said to me, “Isn’t she simply the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen?” I felt like I was in a movie or something. “Yes, she sure is. I’m in love with her!” She whispered, “Don’t let her get away. She’s a keeper!” “Yes, I know. That’s why I’m here.”

    Martha came out, smiling, happy to see me, then something on my face seemed to cause her to be alarmed. “Are you o.k., Pete? You look so…serious. Is everything alright?”

    I decided to just come out and tell her. “Marty, I am serious. 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, and I don’t just go around kissing any boys - 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 just sat there, stunned, and shattered. Are you kidding me? Did this just happen? I felt like I had just gotten whacked upside the head with a sledgehammer, and was just in complete disbelief. I didn’t know what to do. I called Mary K. up, down at Southwestern Connecticut State, and told her I needed to see her. We had re-formed our friendship over recent weeks, and she had said that anytime I wanted to talk, she’d be there. I needed to talk. It was about an hour’s drive, but I flew down there in 45 minutes, and poured my tale of woe out to her. She told me to buck up, I’d get over it, there were plenty of girls around, and I was a good-lookin’ guy, I’d have no problems. But I did have a problem. I didn’t want any of them. I wanted the one I couldn’t have. I loved her. Mary told me I’d get over it. And, she was right – before long, I was seeing all kinds of other girls, but none of them matched up to Martha, in my mind.

    I went home, and at 3 in the morning, sitting there contemplating what had just happened to me, 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 on it, “Mona Lisa at 3 a.m.”

    So sad is her soft, sweet smile
    Yet so nice to sit and watch it for awhile
    So hard to ry to understand
    What it is that she holds in her gentle hands

    Could it be the answer
    To Everyman's life?
    Sould we dare to chance her
    And ask what is right?

    And if this we do, will she give a firm reply?
    And it this she doesn't, will her everlasting beauty die?

    I don't think so, because
    There was something in her eyes I saw
    Years ago, I think it was
    It couldn't have been anything but love

    Thus, I discovered poetry. I became a love-sick poet, with poems just pouring out of me, poems about heartbreak and love lost, bleakness and desolation. Poor Martha quickly learned to avoid me, much as she liked me, because I was just so over the top, hopelessly lost in love with her, and it took me about a month to be able to see her without acting a total fool.
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