Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Missed Connections

Beth, Metropolitan Community College, Minneapolis, 1970

While searching through the archives, looking for something, I came across this sheet of negatives. They weren't what I wanted. Instead of an answer, I found only questions in the pieces of a puzzle which I have never solved.

We where both 19. She had moved to Minneapolis from Iowa; her father worked in a dairy. We ended up in the same studio art class. She was soft-spoken, but not shy—she broke the ice, asking me why my hair was brown and my beard was red. "The same reason my public hair is red." I said. Classy way way to further a conversation! She laughed. A connection.

Her best friend was my sort-of girlfriend (also the girlfriend of a guy I knew from high school). We would do things together, three or four of us in various combinations. It was a bad situation and I was so confused that I couldn’t see the much better alternative standing right in front of me. A missed connection.

Eventually the triangle broke, I was “free”, but still blind. I no longer had a girlfriend, but my art class friend and I continued to do things together. She invited me to parties. We once spent a night looking at the stars above Lake Calhoun where I made a clumsy pass which she rejected. She had started to take her art seriously, even to the point of going on an ill-fated trip to Austria to study (and starve.) When we met again, at the University, she had changed. Her art friends now were in a different orbit. A nightmare party I spent with them made me realize that I did not belong. We even went to a concert:
She started selling her art work, I’d still run into her, she called me a couple times for some photography. We were just old friends, but nothing more. Life had other plans for us. I married; she had been in a terrible car crash. I took pictures of her scars. And then we finally lost connection.

She liked me. I liked her. She was sweet, filled with genuine kindness. I was Goethe's Young Werther, full of self-conflict. She loved her father. I was estranged from my family.

She still does her art, I believe. I found her profile on an old Minnesota Artists’ web page. She's changed, of course, but her art was instantly recognizable. There's an email address, it might still be good, I don’t think she’d appreciate it if I tried to make a connection now.

Photography can play a cruel tricks, taunting us with images burnished by time.

Images of missed connections.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Zelmarific said...

I don't know what you should do, but I love the photographs.

You reminded me of a missed connection of my own. The last time I saw him, he was hitch-hiking in the pouring rain, and I didn't stop because I had a tiny car and truly no room at all left for him. I really should have just thrown someone else out of the car and picked him up.

Blogger Jono said...

I had one of those in college. She was torn between me and her boyfriend back home. She asked if it was possible two love two at the same time. I told her I didn't think so. What an idiot. I found her on Facebook, still cute as ever forty years later, and dropped her a line. Twice. Never heard back. Damn!

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Zelmarific ~ that sounds like the beginning of a great short story.

Jono ~ I dropped Beth a line as well. I don't think I'll be hearing from her, either.

Blogger Shoshanah Marohn said...

Facebook can be so heart wrenching sometimes!

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