There is a new woman in my life. Who is she is and what she means to me is something I will not share here; not today, nor likely ever.
But the signs are saying I should trust again. I should trust her and move forward in the way I need to move forward to become whole again. I need to trust again and I need to trust that she is the one and that is not easy for me.
But there have been times in my life when I’ve been a big believer in signs. And earlier this afternoon I was sent one from space. I have to listen. I have to trust.
The first sign that always comes to mind is from my junior year in high school, traveling in a school bus through a Maine winter’s night, the passing street lights acting as the slow beat of the music of thoughts running through my mind.
I hadn’t played much in the game that evening and I was angry; angry at a coach I didn’t like and didn’t respect very much. I didn’t know why I hadn’t played much and he wasn’t the kind of coach who knew how to communicate very well. I didn’t know what to do. I could stew away the rest of the season or I could confront this man I had no respect for and possibly find myself riding the bench for the rest of my career.
From the back of the bus, I heard Heidi Gambino’s voice rise above all the other commotion. Her voice was clear as day — as though she was a bird chirping into the silence of a new morning. It was her voice and her voice alone rising above the din.
“Go for it, John!”
Heidi was a cheerleader and one of those girls everybody has had over the history of their lives. She was the short-term girlfriend.
It was a quick flash of a high school relationship, one that ended with both of us going our separate ways and not having much else to do with each other. It wasn’t a bad break-up; just an obvious-it’s-over ending that left us not friends, not really talking, just going our separate ways and co-existing in the drama-filled world of high school.
On this night, though, even though she wasn’t talking directly to me, she spoke to me.
“Go for it, John.”
I took it as a sign and I walked to the front of the bus and sat down with the coach for a heart-to-heart. What was going on? Why wasn’t I playing? What did I have to do to get back out on the court again?
The end of this story within a story is that I did start playing again — even if it was just playing junior varsity basketball for a small program in the middle of the state Maine. It was my world and it was important to me and a sign from one of the last people in the world I would have expected it to come from gave me the strength to move forward.
Instances like this have dotted my life. Sometimes I have listened. Other times I have not.
Not more than one hour ago I had another sign come to me, this one screaming in my ears. I recognized it right away and my first thought was, “It’s a sign and I need to listen.”
As this new woman in my life and I sat together today talking about life, love, trust and the absence of couches in our world, I told a funny story from my past; one I always have to share every time it comes surface.
Part of this story includes a line from the Jim Croce song, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” — the one where Croce sings, “Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come, But he stronger than a country hoss.”
The story was told. I laughed, she smiled, and we moved on to other things. It was both a crack in the shell and a dent in the wall, I suppose, but that is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things when it comes to this blog.
It wasn’t long after saying our good-byes that I was driving home when my latest sign came down upon me from outer-space, courtesy of Sirius/XM satellite radio. I had been bouncing around stations, looking for something to listen to. Howard 100. Lithium. The 80s.
Nothing appealed to me.
I pressed the button to the 1970s station and there it was.
“Uptown got its hustlers,” he sang. “The Bowery got its bums.”
It was the same song from the story I had just told her.
To me, it was a sign — I could tell in the pit of my stomach — and I knew given the crux of our conversation today what it meant.
I need to trust again. I need to move forward. It’s not going to be easy and I know it’s going to take time.
But trust me, Mr. Croce, I heard you. And I also came to realize the very next song from that album is “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be A Brighter Day.”
I told you it was a sign.