Times not a-changing


December 18, 1981


It hit me very hard yesterday.

The snow was swirling outside the wide windows of the college cafeteria.

Christmas is almost here.

Dr. Chief (what we call one of our more famous creative writing professors) and his professor friends sat at one of the tables, intellectuals discussing Bob Dylan.

I gobbled down food while Cathy sat near by with her laughing eyes. Iíve made a fool of myself twice around her this year Ė once when I broke up with my girlfriend and could not stop gushing, and the other time when I screwed up a story I was writing. And she seemed perfectly aware of both, and though she didnít hold any of it against me, I couldnít quite look her in the eyes.

Dr. Chief complained about Dylan riming everything, saying it got in the way of his lyric as poetry.

While I ached to disagree, I dared not open my mouth in front of Cathy.

How many times can I make a fool of myself before she does hold it against me?

I stare out at the snow instead, and I am only aware of their leaving when Dr. Chief touches my shoulder Ė Cathy leaving with them, and thus leaving me alone.

I keep thinking of Christmas, and how alone I felt back in 72 after I broke up with Louise and spent my first Christmas without her after three years of sharing it.

Breaking up with my girlfriend this year promised the same miserable fate.

Christmas is on a Friday this year, a week from today, and I write this on the edge of my bed already feeling sorry for myself because I know Iíll be alone.

I remember slipping on the snow covered walk as I came out of the Student Center, my boots kicking up snow from the open space between it and the other buildings, snow filling all the vacant formerly green spaces with white.

I walked the half mile down to Lot Six with nothing else around me but snow covered construction equipment and snow-laden trees.

Nobody elseís foot prints showed but my own and I felt like a kid again.

Back then, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be the first to leave my footprints in freshly-fallen snow.

I wasnít in Boulder long enough with Louise to do it there. So I did it yesterday, carrying my loneliness on my back, a pathetic Santa Claus delivering pathetic presents too myself.

I woke this morning with a whizzing in my chest each time I take a breath, suggesting the walk may have made me sick.

Iím 30 years old but feel 16, full of that same silly frustrated sense I felt when I screwed up with girls in high school.

For years after Louise, I carried her inside me like a ghost. Now sheís got another ex-girlfriend to keep her company in the back of my mind, and Iím too weary to exorcise them by finding another girlfriend this close to Christmas. I canít picture any of the women I know sitting around a burning log fire with me on Christmas Eve.

So it looks like Iíll be one more stag at the Christmas Eve stag party this year that includes Garrick, Hank, Pauly, and though in the back of my head I hear Bob Dylanís voice singing about times a-changing, I donít see it.

Not this year anyway.



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