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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Man That Got Away

Well, there's more than one. But the one that's classic, the "have to say goodbye but don't want to" kind, is who I'm writing of this Valentine's weekend.

It was March of 1998 and I was in Englewood, Florida. On the beach at Englewood's island I saw him. He was on a dune buggy, dressed in the green uniform of the Parks Dept. He was big and tan with wavy brown hair, cut like Morrison's in the Staver's pix. In fact, if Morrison had cleaned up and not died, he may have looked like him. Him's name, I misunderstood, was Nick.

I was working on a friend's property, doing heavy landscaping. Nick was working along the coastline and brought me the piers they were replacing. We cut them down and used them to line the driveway. On afternoons when it was too hot to work I went to the beach, and he'd be there. My heart would jump when I'd see him appear out of nowhere. His big smile under the reflective sunglasses made me smile.

Then one day he stopped by the house to say goodbye. He was going back to his ex-girlfriend's mother's house to live in mid-Florida. I was in no place to say, "No, stay here." I barely knew him, really. We stood in the dark, looking at each other, lost for words, mosquitoes feasting on us. I said, "Well, then good luck, Nick." He smiled that smile and said, "My name's Mick, as in Michael." I laughed and asked why he'd never corrected me. He said it didn't matter. He said maybe he'd stop by again before he left. Then he was gone. I never saw him again.

Ah, well. It's long ago and far away. But I felt and knew he felt, that we really knew each other. There was something beyond our chance meeting, but not something we'd work out at that time or maybe even this time around.

Wherever you are, Mick, Happy Valentine's Day.

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