That inescapable heartache

That inescapable heartache

I sat in the hallway of the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper building, waiting for a meeting with the publisher, Benjamin Franklin. It was March 21st, 1739. I’d traveled there by my time-machine. I like to travel backward or forward in time to March 21st, the date of my birthday. I’m addicted to that date. That makes sense, it’s the time where I’ve gotten the most positive attention and presents.

Mr. Franklin came out of his office and greeted me. I have time-travel visited him over 12 times. He knows all about my time excursions. He’s even come back with me three times, staying at my place for a month or two. That’s how he was able to “come up with” so many great ideas. We went into Franklin’s office. He seemed troubled. I asked, “What’s wrong, Ben?” He began to cry. Benjamin said, “I’m in love with the seamstress Purde Fowlt. I let my feelings be known. She informed me that she would rather spend a week in the stocks then in my arms. I have known nothing but despair since.”

I shared that when I was very young I had a mad crush on my neighbor, Betty Misture. On my fifth birthday, I felt emboldened to put a dead frog on her doorstep along with a note asking her to be mine. I added a skull-and-crossbones, shaped like a heart. I knocked on the door and ran back home. I was sure my endeavors would win her over. Her parents called my parents and forbid me from ever playing with her again. I took it hard and overdosed on three bags of Circus Animal cookies. My parents took me to the hospital and my stomach got pumped. I spent the night in the hospital. My roommate was a man named Dirksen Malover. We got to talking. I told him my plight.

Dirksen shared that he too had been shot down in flames when thirty-two years earlier he first asked out his one-day-to-be wife, Gilde. He took it hard, gave away all his belongings, and lived out in the woods for three months. He ate insects, walked around naked, and and slept under a pile of leaves. He said his dire melancholy and bedragglement made him a target for repeated animal attacks. He fought off onslaughts of foxes, swallows, deer, and skunks, leaving him scarred and weak. Laying in a moss pit, emaciated and almost done in, Dirksen was rescued by a bear. The bear took him to its cave, feeding him berries and fresh spring water for a little over two weeks. He got back his bearings and decided to approach Gilde for a second time. The bear accompanied him into the city, and stood by him as he knocked on her door. Gilde opened the door. She looked at Dirksen, then the bear, Dirksen, and the bear again. Tears streamed from her eyes as she took Dirsken’s hand. It turned out she loved bears and because Dirksen was friends with a bear she opened her heart fully to him.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Did you follow suit and return to fair Betty’s home the next day?”

I said that the next morning after returning from the hospital, I walked over to Betty’s house. I was carrying our cat Smudge Pot. I figured the cat would be my linchpin. I knocked on the door and Betty answered. She began to sneeze, cough, and wheeze. I didn’t know she was drastically allergic to cats. Her parents called 911 for an ambulance. Betty spent a month in a coma. I felt such a remorse that I avoided her when she came back home.

Benjamin Franklin said, “I’m sorry that happened to you. Have you ever traveled by time-machine to visit your five-year-old self and helped him through what must have been a difficult time?”

I said I hadn’t. I asked Benjamin Franklin if he minded we forwent our visit and met another time. He nodded and I left.

I traveled back to my old home in Springfield, Virginia, the afternoon of March 22nd, 1966. The little five-year-old me was laying on the grass in the backyard. He looked up and knew I was his adult echo. I lay down next to him. I wished him a happy birthday. He thanked me. I said that Betty was going to be okay, but it would take a little while. He said he was relieved. He asked me if that was the last time he would ever do anything that made him feel such pain, regret, and humiliation. I said no. He asked if he’d ever get used to it. I said he wouldn’t.

He held his arms up in the air and let them sway like wildflowers in the wind. I held up my arms and felt the same breeze.

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