I’d not thought of you until yesterday. A lane to our left, a truck with the bed loaded with various cages of live poultry made me laugh out loud, and then think of you. I’d admittedly never seen a chicken truck, as we’d called it during one far-too-late and delirious conversation, and the thought and premise of hitching a ride clutching to the outside for two and a half-hours was novel at the time, and now I see why the allusion was so truthful. The prospect of the ride, much like the prospect of meeting you, scared me to death.
In the moment, I flashed back to your ultimatum, the apex in our relationship. You said “I’m going to offer this one last time. I will be in Cleveland for one more day, and I want to touch your face. I want to see that you’re real. Otherwise, I’m going to chalk this summer up to one, long imaginary moment and forget about you.” I was stunned as you spoke to me. “I’m going back to school, and I can’t care about someone that I’ve never met. I want to meet you. Even if nothing comes of it. I want to share a smile with you. That’s all I ask of you.”
We agreed to meet at a coffee shop not far from my house. You’d be there from one o’clock until I showed up or two o’clock, which ever happened first. And as I pulled in, my car turned into that chicken truck. Each of my problems — the fact I was soon to be homeless, living with a random girl and random friends at random times, the girl I’d been seeing who I despised and couldn’t remove her hooks from. There was my drug use, my alcohol use, my depression. There was my hellbent desire to reenact Cannonball Run with the overloaded chicken truck that was my life, derailing everything at a moment’s notice, leaving me in chaos to try and pick up the pieces once more.
And then, there you were, this perfect girl, so beautiful and wonderful. So on track with priorities in order. I knew what I had to do, and I did it.
I sat outside the coffee shop, and at two, I saw a girl with long blonde hair and green socks walk out of Arabica with tears in her eyes. She sat in her White Honda Civic, her head bowed, visibly shaking. My heart ached. I wanted to go to her, tears in my own eyes. She lifted her head, took a deep breath and drove away and out of my life, forever. Another blonde girl in green socks walked out seconds later, a smile on her face. She climbed into a White Honda Civic, and simply drove away, little emotion other than an apparent smile.
I don’t know which you were. Part of me thinks you were the first girl, forlorn over lost opportunity. Most of me hopes that you were the second, happy that you’d avoided near disaster by hopping on the out-of-control truck headed for imminent disaster. Whichever you were, thank you for that wonderful summer, lodged fully in my imagination.
— Bob Dylan.