“Come a little bit closer…hear what I have to say. Just like children sleepin’ we could dream this night away”…Ray…Ray. Was he ever sexy. One of my most vivid memories of Ray was a time when we were getting ready to head down to Vantage for the weekend to have a little fun in the sun on the hot black basaltic rock. Worlds away from the soggy winters of Vancouver. I had just finished making some oven fresh, tasty granola bars so that we would have energy food when we were climbing by day and drinking by night! He popped into my apartment and was wearing this thick red sweater. As he bounced down the stairs and said “alright, lets go!” and smiled and giggled, I was enveloped with a feeling of love that made me want to skip and jump all the way to the car. He bent over and came close to me, slowly giving me a kiss on the cheek. I still remember his softness, his closeness, his smell of sandalwood slowly permeating my skin . He had medium brown hair that lazily fell just below his ears. His eyes were brown and beaming with light, a sharp nose and rosy cheeks.
I remembered the first time he kissed me. He invited me over to his place for lunch during his work break and prepared some wonderful, yummy food. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I remember he was a great cook. When I biked over to his place I was so incredibly nervous. He was the first guy I had been with after breaking up with Steve, after living with Steve for 4 years. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to do or even how to behave around men anymore. I was so used to being ‘us’ that I didn’t know how to be ‘I’ anymore, and that made me super uncomfortable around men. I forced myself to go to his place, to get out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what would happen, but I would just let it happen, whatever ‘it’ was. So we ate the food he cooked, and then he smiled, and with all the confidence, forwardness and softness in the world he got up off his chair and still smiling, he walked over to me, leaned over and kissed me. I was shocked. I didn’t really expect this at lunch, but everything about him…his cheeks, his smell, his ability to be forward and soft all at the same time, made me want to kiss him back. So we kissed and we kissed. We kissed until the lunch break was over. We walked out of his place, smiling, caressing each other. He headed back to work and I got on my bike and rode off. This was another pair of lips….something I hadn’t felt in 4 years. I was shocked and giddy like a 4 year old girl. I wanted to ride and keep riding, letting everyone know that I was happy, that I felt amazing, that I felt warm, that Ray was HOT and awesome and beautiful. I wanted everyone to know!
‘But there’s a full moon risin’, let’s go dancin’ in the light’. After making the granola bars for climbing, we headed out and climbed hard and partied hard. On Saturday night we were all roaring drunk and were sitting by the campfire, singing. Singing so loudly, without a care in the world and in cat like unison. I decided to really let it rip and bust out a few notes. I went for it…gave it my all. The best performance of my life. Right there at the campfire when we were all howling drunk. There was a long silence that followed on everyone’s part and then, in unison, everyone sighed ‘uhhh’. I decided to give it a rest at the urging of my audience. That was pretty much the last time I sang.
‘We know where the music’s playin’, let’s go out and feel the night’. Ray was not only an awesome soul, he was funny and fun to be around. That Halloween (my favorite holiday!), I dressed up as something that wasn’t that exciting: a tiger. I wore a simple orange shirt and black tights, went out and bought a tail, some ears, and painted my nose and whiskers on with black eyeliner. Ray, on the other hand, dug up his diving gear, and yes, this included his flippers, and he flopped his way over to the party. He was the life of the party and everyone got a good laugh out of his costume. That was Ray, always good for a smile and a laugh, just a beautiful person.
‘Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again, because I’m still in love with you, on this harvest moon’. The next day the warm desert sun was bleeding the alcohol out of our pores and we climbed a few routes and headed back to soggy Vancouver ready for another week of work. I spend the next Friday at Ray’s place. His bed was incredibly comfortable, this huge bed with comfortable down sheets…the kind of bed that makes you feel like you’re on a cloud and you never want to leave. Ray always kept the windows open because he liked the fresh, cold air on his face, even during the winter, and the smell of the west coast pine and spruce would infiltrate the room with every inhale and exhale, adding to the feeling of being in a dream world. Ray put ‘Harvest Moon’ on by Neil Young and a feeling of nostalgia would permeate through the room. A sense of nostalgia that wasn’t ours, but of a generation before us. A sense of nostalgia that eventually became mine. I loved the contrast of the warmth of Ray’s body to the chill of the fall air. The next day was my birthday and Ray prepared a beautiful meal and this amazing vegan chocolate cake for me. I was so shocked that he spent all his time doing this, preparing all these wonderful things for me. To top it all off, he gave me a rose. It was so beautiful and thoughtful that I didn’t know what to think. I was intoxicated by his good looks, good vibes, and extreme thoughtfulness and caring. I felt so special, and everything about those days felt warm and fuzzy…until one day. He used to call me everyday just to say hi, check in on me. After about a month, the calls stopped coming in. Yup. The calls stopped coming in. We talked a few times, but everything in his voice sounded off, not into it, distant. I decided that it was time to say something, so brought it up to him one day on the phone. “Hey…Ray…you seem to be pulling away…what’s going on?” The silence of death followed. “I guess I am….I dunno why….I don’t know what’s going on”. Neither did I….neither did I.
‘When we were strangers, I watched you from afar, when we were lovers, I loved you with all my heart. But now it’s gettin’ late, and the moon is climbin’ high, I want to celebrate, see it shinin’ in your eye”. We continued to be friends, going down to the beach with everyone and having campfires, going to the same parties, but it was awkward, at least for me. In my mind’s eye I could see Ray smiling at me, kissing my check, and now there was none of that….just another distant person in the crowd of friends. After Ray faded out of my life, I was done. I was spent. I had just broken up with Steve after 4 years of being with him and 3 years of living with him, my grandmother who raised me had just died about 2 months prior, I had to find a new place to live on little income, very little friends as Steve and I were very insular, and now Ray, who was just that, a shining ray of hope for me, dumped me. I was spent. I was done. I couldn’t concentrate on school or anything. All I could do was sit in front of my friend’s fireplace, rolled up in a ball, just lying there. I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. There was nothing in me but lots of pain, hurt, confusion…a web of shit and sadness all piled up into this one small woman, dying in front of her friend’s fireplace. I couldn’t do it. I had nothing in me anymore. No fire, no desire. I just lie there…lie there…lie there. And when I couldn’t lie there anymore, I lied there some more until my muscles and brain atrophied.
“Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again, because I’m still in love with you, on this harvest moon”.-Neil Young, Harvest Moon