Five years ago today my Pap died. I don’t think I’ve gotten over it. I think it’s something I’ve learned to live with. There’s still a sense of unreality when I remember, as I have every day these last five years, that Pap isn’t around anymore. I’m writing this from what used to be his bedroom. I slept in his bed last night. He was such a huge part of my life, and probably the biggest influence on who I am (so, you know, blame him). He was the best friend I ever had. Whenever I see a train or hear the whistle, I think of him; whenever I drive past what used to be the tannery outside of Williamsport, I remember being a small child, and him wrinkling up his nose at the stench and saying, “Da tannery tinks! Makes me wanna fro up! Blearggh!”
So that makes today a sad anniversary. But a year after Pap died — a year to the day, which I didn’t realize until I looked through some things last night — I got an email from a beautiful girl named Ashley, who I had known a little in high school, who had gone out with my roommate a few years before. The subject of the email was “A blasé ‘hello’”, and it read in part:
“Well, my research has paid off — and here I am, sending you an e-mail to say the usual hello and how have you been crap. Seeing you in the illustrious grocery store a couple months ago made me wonder how you really have been doing since I last saw you eons ago. Are you still writing? Still obsessed with Buster Keaton?”
How could I have not fallen in love with this girl?
I love you, darlin’. Thank you for finding me, and thanks for being here ever since.