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  • There is an old Chinese myth that claims the gods tied an invisible red string to everyone’s ankle. Those strings stretch across land, sea and perhaps even time. They say the red strings connect to another person or people. Some say that a person that is connected to you could be your soul mate or a person of deep connection that will remain in your life forever. Either way, over the years those strings may tangle or cross but will always manage to stay connected.

    This is a story about my red string…

    I gave him a copy of Catcher in the Rye for his birthday one year. It symbolized something much deeper than we may have even known at the time, although we did know it meant something, like we knew each others story without having to say a word. I was only 14 or 15 when we met, he was probably 18 maybe 19 at most. We were wild and crazy, drinking, having fun, playing in punk rock bands and enjoying our youth. He drove an old black beast of a Thunderbird with flames of graffiti down the sides. He smoked cigarettes, played the guitar and reminded me of James Dean. We had a connection even back then and I always thought of him as someone special in my life even though I didn’t see him everyday or had a romantic relationship with him…but I always knew he was in my life for a reason. He was wild and crazy, hilarious even and I was young and inexperienced with much of life and at times naive but it was always an adventure when he was around…especially during the days of my youth when I had some dark times. He was drunk at his birthday party one year and wanted me to make out with him, when I refused because he was too drunk he punched out the window. The scars are still there to prove it. At one of his shows on some crazy night he was on stage and while he was singing he got too close to the mic, pounded his head forward to the beat of the music and hit his tooth, causing it to chip off. Miraculously by the end of the show, through a floor covered in beer, cigarette butts and god knows what else, I found the missing piece of his tooth and somehow they were able to put it back together.

    15 years later the scars on his hands still remain, his tooth is still in one piece and our red sting is still connected…even over the 900 miles that separate us now. I've thought about him from time to time over the years, wondering how he was doing, where he was at, hoping he was still playing music and that he had gotten out of the depressing small town we grew up in. We eventually got back in touch online and started sending emails back and forth from time to time. The emails began to come more often and mild flirting began back and forth. Then he asked me to come and visit him. More emails went back and forth trying to figure out a plan…he was going on tour soon, I was low on money, winter was approaching, we both had work and then soon it would be the holidays….then I got an email telling me to visit him that coming weekend. I jumped on the idea, bought a plane ticket and flew 900 miles away from my home to visit a long lost friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years. As the Rocky Mountains faded in the distance, city lights began to appear. Reminding me of the city I once lived in. I landed late in the afternoon on a Thursday, grabbed my bags and took the train into the city to the stop where he was to pick me up. The train ride seemed to last forever even though it was only 6 stops. I wasn’t sure even what this weekend was going to be….we had flirted, but through email. And shit...we hadn't seen each other in 15 years. What was I doing? He and I had always been good friends but so much time had passed without any kind of communication until now. I wasn’t sure exactly how things were going to play out or even what I was wishing to happen.

    I walked up the grungy subway stairs glancing from left to right to see if I could see him anywhere in the distance as some nervousness entered my throat. Or was it excitement? Perhaps both. I stood outside the entrance to the subway and waited for him as the sun was almost down and perfect quarter sized snowflakes started floating through the air glimmering from the street lights. Something made me turn to my left and I saw him. He walked towards me and then started walking even faster as the snowflakes fell on his eyelashes. I felt myself smile and my chest warm up. We grabbed each other and hugged. I didn’t even know I had been missing him so much all these years until I was there in his arms. He pushed me away from his body, grabbed my face with both hands, looked at me deeply, told me how beautiful I was, and then kissed me. 15 years later and that red string was still there.

    By Friday we were telling each other I love you over cans of PBR in a neighborhood bar. Too much emotion for both of us, especially in public so we stepped outside and sat on a bench out in the cold and talked, and talked. I was frightened, happy, turned upside down, confused, but in love. I don’t think either one of us knew what we were doing or knew how this was all going to work but we just said what we felt at the moment and went with it. For a period of time we thought each other was the one, that this was it and we were going to grow old together.

    Time went on and we kept in touch on the phone, through video chat on our computers, cards in the mail, and I traveled the 900 miles to see him as often as I could because I had the luxury of being able to work from anywhere. The distance, life, work, owning our own business’, his music, the distance, our own perceptions, our individual goals, our growth, the distance, our needs, began to tangle and stretch our red string to the point I thought it was going to break. But I didn’t want to give up…

    We lasted a little over two months. Two of the most intense, passionate, loving, crazy, difficult months I have ever experienced. Some may say that can't happen in two months, to those I say you have never been in love…. at least not in love with someone at the other end of your red string. But all good things must come to an end. Life has a funny way of creating a mess out of itself and getting in the way. The distance, our needs, the maintenance, our work, his music, the distance, the knowing each other too well….all got in the way in the end. Timing is everything in life. But I am no longer sad or resentful of him or the relationship because I know we are both still at the other end of that red string and perhaps someday and in someway we will become untangled and find our way once again. And if not, I know he is still there, a connection in my heart and a beautiful man I spent two amazing and life changing months with.

    SONG BY : Paul Cary
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