– Karen at the Espresso Cafe –
Seems I’ve become a stalker. Initially, it was Karen who established the unbroken routine of our lunches together. Then, she changed her mind, although I probably had something to do with it.
It’s funny that I said this was over. It’s over for her, of course, but she stays in my head, even though I’ll never see her again, except at a distance.
April10, 2009 12:27 pm:
Sounded like you would be busy today, but do let me know when you’re free for lunch. I always enjoy your company.
April 10, 2009 12:49 pm: I will probably be busy through may
April 10 2009 3:04 pm: I’m available other days, meals, times, and places. 🙂
June 19, 2009 8:14 am: Do you have time today for lunch with an old friend?
June 19, 2009 11:40 am: don’t know. It all depends on when my boss gets out of her meeting. We are short staffed this week.
June 19, 2009 11:48 am: OK. Let me know. I’ll wait. 🙂
June 19, 2009 12:44 pm: Don’t wait. I could be any time from now to 1:30.
June 19, 2009 12:49 pm: I don’t mind. I’m busy here. I’ll eat later if I don’t hear from you.
June 26, 2009 11:49 am: Got time today?
That’s it! Between the job stress and the union stress, coupled with no word from Karen, no replies to my email, I decide to retire early. Fuck it all. I can’t take anymore.
July 3, 2009 8:39 am (sent to her non-work, Hotmail account, which she may not have opened or read at all):
Hi Karen. I sure miss those Friday lunches, something I looked forward to every week. I always enjoyed them. I loved the way we liked so many of the same things. Sharing videos or books was really fun. I’ve never actually known anyone quite like you, with your preoccupations and obsessions with Babylon 5, Straczynski, and all the anime and manga stories – things I’ve enjoyed for years by myself. I loved hearing about your Halloween preparations, or your nieces and nephew. Loved the way you spoke of them, and enjoyed spending time with them. You have that quality of being able to relate to children, and they like you too. I liked you immediately, and just was amazed to find out how interesting you really were, and how much I liked listening to you. Do you know those Fridays, one hour a week, was the most time I spent with anyone else besides my ex wife? Ha ha. I’m such a dork.
When my marriage was crumbling, you were a bright spot in the world for me. Of course, I should never, never have done what I did, which was fall in love with you. The one really good thing about getting divorced was that then I thought we might be able to spend more time doing things like movies, or even, wonder of wonders, dating. Ha ha. Sorry. I told myself how stupid it was; beat myself up over and over for thinking and feeling that way. I just couldn’t stop. You became an obsessive, compulsive infatuation with me. Dreams and fantasies. Sigh. Thought about romance, then living together, then marriage, and children. All the while I knew it was impossible, but I couldn’t stop. There were such highs in that fantasy, romantic and erotic, and such lows when I couldn’t be with you. You made it clear that such thoughts were inappropriate, I know. Compliments were inappropriate; asking you out would be, in your words, “Like a date,” and of course that “inappropriate” idea must have horrified you from the way you said it. Just as well we didn’t spend even more time together: I’d have just gotten worse, if that’s possible, so, thanks for that.
Why am I writing you ask? Hard to say. It took me a while to climb out of that obsession with you. One day I looked in the mirror long and hard and realized how old I actually looked from your perspective. I had never been bothered by growing old before, until I realized that being my age meant I couldn’t just meet someone, fall in love, and be with them if they were younger, especially way younger. I had honestly never thought of that before I met you. Suddenly I hated being old.
Well, going back to why I’m writing: I have gotten over the obsession. I don’t know how; it just stopped one day. Took me years. Ha ha. It’s hard to believe I could have been such an idiot now. Again, I apologize for the inappropriate remarks, attention, flowers, last year’s X-mas card with the money. It’s finally over for me.
I still like you of course, always did, always will. It seems you have little need for me anymore, and that’s OK. You have a whole life to live yet.
I like living alone now. I’ve gotten used to it. I’m much more withdrawn now, even misanthropic, not wanting much interaction with people anymore. (how emo) I’ve resigned as President of the union. I’m leaving UNM in the fall; Halloween is my last day. I am trying to find a reason for living. I practice guitar, go for hikes in the mountains, play chess, read a lot. I got some medication for depression, and combined with a little counseling, I think I might be coming out of this emo fog.
Hate to bare my soul like this; I never wanted to make you uncomfortable around me. Since we don’t work together, it’s rare to run into you, and you’re too busy, or uninterested in having lunch anymore, so I thought I might as well get this off my chest.
Again, I stress this: I am over the infatuation. I would like to resume Friday lunches, or some other day, if that’s better for you. I really, honestly, like you, and I won’t mention any of this ever again if you’d prefer not to talk about my insanity.
I’ve been reading lots of interesting comics and novels lately, and getting into some old movies. It’d be nice to share again. Discuss books, movies, politics. It’d be great to exchange books and movies again.
I totally understand that you would be freaked out by these admissions, so I understand if I don’t hear from you. I don’t even know if you’ll read this. I just felt I had to write it, and couldn’t wait until Halloween to put it in the mail as I planned.
August 3, 2009:
I see Karen at work, while I am waiting at this cafe. She is heading for the glass door entrance. In the corner of my eye I happen to notice her reaching for the door handle. I hope she will say hello when she comes in. She never comes in. I turn around to look for her, but there is no sign of her. There is no place else she could have been going. She has just avoided me.
August 5, 2009:
Karen does it again. I have gotten coffee and am heading into my building with a coworker who was also getting coffee. I am talking as I enter the door, and don’t notice Karen at first. I see someone to the side, and as I turn to look, it is Karen, just finishing an about face. She was heading for coffee at her usual time. She saw me and turned away before she might have had to acknowledge my presence. I have no doubt now that she is purposely avoiding me. I will never bother her again.
October 9, 2009:
Two months, but I’m suddenly thinking intensely about Karen again, although I know how crazy it is, how depressing, how horribly, terribly bad it is for me to think about her. I forward to her an email that has been sent out to everyone I do business with announcing my retirement party. I wait two weeks, and then –
October 23, 2009 8:07 am:
Lunch today? I know you’re busy, but next week is my last, and I’d expect you to be even more busy next week with Halloween.
October 29, 2009:
My retirement party at work. It is a two-hour affair, from 3 pm to 5 pm. Long enough for Karen to make even a brief appearance, even to say good-bye to an old coworker. Although nearly everyone I’ve ever known at work shows up, and the room is crowded with well wishers, Karen does not show. She does not even send an email. One day of work left, so, on –
October 30, 2009 12:35 pm:
My last day. One more lunch?
October 30, 2009 2:20 pm:
Was at a potluck/staff meeting today just got back, and now have to do my document run.
October 30, 2009 4:57 pm:
Been pretty busy myself. Working late today too. You know, you are the one person I will miss more than anyone around here. You brightened up my last few years. Thanks. If you’re ever in the mood, I’ll meet you for lunch whenever you have time, or after work someday for a drink or dinner? Well, anyway, I guess you wouldn’t want to do that. So, Have a frightfully good Halloween, and really great Birthday, and a wonderful Xmas. I enjoyed those lunches one hell of a lot. Enjoyed meeting and knowing you. I really hope life treats you well. I wish you the best possible life. I care about you a lot, and I will never forget you.
November 20, 2009 12:36 am:
Good morning. Care to meet for lunch today? Is the Med II cafeteria still open ’till 1:30 on Fridays? Anytime is good for me.
January 8, 2010:
I find new photos on the Halloween website that Karen has uploaded from October 31 and November 1, 2009. The link takes me to Photobucket. I download pictures of her from Halloween, made up as a Zombie at work, and photos of her at work on Dia de los Muertos in a skeleton/sugar skull costume. I click on a box that will notify me when she uploads new photos. I have forgotten that Karen will be notified that I am “following” her on Photobucket. I add the images to my Oct 9, 2009 post.
January 10, 2010:
I receive a message from Photobucket that Karen has uploaded new photos. Thinking that perhaps she has uploaded them especially for me to see, I click on the link that takes me to her photos. Even after I log myself in, I am asked for a password to view her photos. I am blocked. Her account is now suddenly private. It is a clear message from Karen. She wants nothing more to do with me. She doesn’t even want me to look at her photos. I remove the check from the box that asks Photobucket to notify me of new photos. Thinking that Karen thinks of me as a stalker now, I remove her email addresses from my email address book, and I delete all photos of her from my computer. She exists now only in these terse old emails, my memory and this blog. I will never be able to have contact with her again. She will never reply to any email again.
January 26, 2010
I see her on a web cam, and post the pictures above of her at our workplace coffee cart, where she goes for her iced mocha cappuccino with whipped cream, where I used to go for my simple Americano. We used to drink those together sometimes after lunch. Now, I can only ever see her again as a low-quality image on a web cam with a 2-second delay. Why do I even care?