Back in the early eighties, when my late husband Dave and I were dating, I was away at college in upstate NY, where we met, and he was living with his parents two hundred miles away, having already graduated.

We met at SUNY Cortland in the first weeks of my freshman year, when Dave was a junior. Our family homes were 120 miles apart and Dave did not have a driver’s license nor would he ever because he was legally blind from a progressive eye disease known as Retinits Pigmentosa. This was the pre-instant social gratification era of tethered public telephones and school-ruled writing pads, so during the times we were not together at college, we forged our relationship through controlled long-distance phone calls and ardent letter writing. The story captioned below is an excerpt from a letter he wrote March 23, 1984 with an encounter with childhood friends.

I went to see Jeff Lorber and Alan Holdsworth at the Chance Saturday night. They were fantastic. Strange and unfortunate things happened that night, as always seems the case when Steve & Patti are involved. Originally, just Brad and I were going. The drummers in both bands are hot, I knew Brad would like it. Andy, Brad’s friend from work, decided to go too. We had tickets to the 11:30 show. As Brad, Andy and I were sitting in Brad’s house waiting until about 10:00, Steve and Patti walked in dressed up. I knew that meant trouble. Steve innocently asked how much it was to get in and nodded his head. Oh man, Patti is about to ruin my evening.

The Brad mobile boogies to the Chance at 10:15 so we can get seats. As we were standing on line here comes Steve and “wife”. We all got a good table with a good view. Alan Holdsworth comes out first. He is a fantastic guitarist and his I.O.U. band is hot. Brad and I are sitting there boppin’ into it and after three tunes I can hear Patti babble with displeasure. Then she starts talking about me right behind my back like I can’t hear her, but I could. She says how stupid the music is and how weird Brad and I are for listening to it. I turned to look at her and she shuts up. I turn back around and she says to Steve, “oooopsie”. That night she called me many names including asshole right behind my freakin’ back. She’s got balls like an elephant. I didn’t say a word, just tried to enjoy the show. But there were many times during Holdsworth’s set where I couldn’t listen because Patti was talking and I was getting mad.

After Holdsworth was done, Andy fell asleep. Brad got up, talked to Steve a little and said he was leaving and I could go home with Steve if I wanted to stay. I agreed. Approximately one minute and 43-1/2 seconds later, Steve says, “let’s go”! I knew it would be that way. Brad probably hadn’t left the parking lot yet. I didn’t even speak, just got up and followed them out the door. Patti had that shitty looking face on. They were walking about five steps in front of me talking on the way out to the parking lot, when I stopped and said out loud, “fuck it”, “later”! I turned around and walked back toward the door. Steve asked me how I was going to get home. I didn’t listen and walked in the door. I would have rather walked home than listen to Patti bitch.

Lorber didn’t even start playing yet. I knew I’d be able to find a ride home. It made me feel good to blow them off. When I walked in, there were Alan and the band standing by the bar. I got to talk to them for about a half-hour. I bought one of their albums at the bar for $5.00 and had them all sign the back cover. The night had a whole new spark, I felt good, Jeff Lorber came out and played for 1-1/2 hours. I found some people I knew. They were having a lot of fun and were my ride home.

I got in at 4:00 AM and was going skiing for free at 7:00. I barely slept, falling asleep in the rocking chair for about half an hour and woke up dreaming about punching Patti in the face. I just stayed awake and got ready for skiing. I skied great all day, it was 50 o and a beautiful Sunday. Call you soon. I had to get that off my chest.

For Dave, as a Twenty-two year old young man pining for his independence in the face of logistic challenges, from transportation to employment discrimination, he seized the courage to shed the shame and shyness that masked his disability. That evening represented an emotional waypoint where he allowed himself to be vulnerable and take a bold action, releasing the links that chained him to his dependencies. He confronted his fear of the dark and the illusion that he needed to rely on the security of those familiar to him to make his life happen. Life doesn’t stay the same and neither do humans. Discomfort drives growth in new directions, on a curvaceous, personalized journey toward discovery of our true selves. He chose to let go of what was, that which had already left him, and fuel his desires with faith in what will be. In introspect, I see the message I hadn’t seen thirty-five years ago…he took the heroes journey. For Dave, that late Spring evening waxed in bewilderment and waned to enlightenment. Sometimes we have to just turn around and walk ourselves through the door.

© Deborah Garcia, 2019

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