BETWEEN A WALL OF JELLO AND A TUBE OF CREST GEL
I woke up early this morning to the sound of my ravens, Blackie and Pearl, flying over the house. A few moments later I received a text from Alesia Leingang, Davyd’s best friend from his high school days, who has become a dear friend of mine as well.
She wrote me, “I am really missing Davyd today.”
Alesia was probably the most important person in Davyd’s life, and his love for her, and her family, only grew with the years. Quite by chance, I then opened one of Davyd’s journals, which sits on the nightstand by my bed. I found several letters he’d written her many years ago. Gratefully, she’d saved many of his letters to her, as well as many of his drawings, and she sent them back to him several years ago, so that he could reminisce.
Amongst the letters was a birthday card he’d sent her, i think when he was in the Navy. I realized suddenly that today is Alesia’s birthday. It seemed appropriate to send a picture of this card to her for THIS birthday, to remind her that love transcends time and space. He loved her then, he loves her now, because love is eternal, and it’s the only thing that makes the universe make sense.
Davyd’s letters to Alesia are full of warmth and love and wonder. They’re poetic, they’re weird, they’re covered in drawings and full of his stream of consciousness. He clearly adored her, trusted her, and shared with her his innermost thoughts.
Also, amongst his journals I found this essay he’d written for a writing class, describing his first meeting with Alesia:
MYTHOLOGY AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
All the kids in Mythology class at my high school are wiggling and restless in the formica desks as the jock donkey faces are standing outside, whistling at Laura Booher. Inside me there is an excitement that feels like a rocket ship lifting off! History is about to be made in our town; nothing as outrageous has been taught in Bluff City, or any school in the Appalachians!
“We are going to get this ‘honky-tonk’ place moving for once,” I am thinking. There are only ten students signed up. None of them are Southern Baptists. The local preachers made sure they got the word out to “God’s people” well in advance of Fall 83 semester. We sit anxiously, wondering if Mr. Bullock, the principal, is really going to allow us to take Greek Mythology.
“Did you know she used to be a real-life, practicing witch before she moved here?” Laura Booher (Ms. Most Likely to Succeed) said to Amanda (the brace-face.)
“How old do ya’ll think she is?” whispered Amanda Lee, in her strongest Southern accent.
“Well, she is seventy-two, I heard. And she’s from New York City!” Beth Hudson, the cheerleader responds, blinking her big brown eyes and twirling her perfect black curls. She ends every sentence biting her hair. Is she some kind of half-feline half-human that eats her hair? Does she have to wear her pep squad uniform to class?
In my mind I vocalize for her, “Watch out, guys! I am about ta’ cheer for ya’ll.” I make up dialogue for her in my mind.
Not only with Beth, but with all the students. I seem to have some concentration problems just watching and listening. A running interior monologue for them seems more interesting.
I do not have friends. I have people that talk to me. The only person that likes me is Cosmetology Kathy. She is a girl who dots her “i”s with hearts. Concerning Ms Happy God Bless Her Heart Beth, she probably had no choice about being so d-r-i-p-p-i-n-g sweet. Her mom is the girl’s PE and cheerleading coach.
“My uncle heard they might th-th-th-stop her from teaching,” Lance Combs responded (aka Mr Straight-A lisp boy.) Lance, yeah, I kinda had sympathy for, because he gets called “Queer” a lot. He is not a homosexual though; he is just smart and shy. I do not have enough sympathy to actually talk with him. He often brags about something called Mensa. I have no idea what that is, but think he is really smart. The football jocks like to knock his books out of his hands in the hallway. “At least he didn’t have Scott Denton pegging him in the back of the head with spitballs in homeroom. It evens out,” I think.
Back to where I am going with this story:
I do not take anything these classmates say seriously, because they all make fun of me. Truth is, I ask for trouble. It is the dyed blonde rat-tail that is braided halfway down my back and dressing like Duran-Duran in Goodwill clothes.
There is this girl who looks foreign, that no one knows. The only definite fact is she is not a local. She is wearing a green soccer shirt with white Helvetica letters that say “Frank” on the back and “St Francis” on the front, and she is wearing patent leather shoes. I imagine she has a pretty cool closet. She is also wearing two leather belts. looped one over another and is wearing purple lipstick. She, like Mrs. Jones, the teacher of Greek Mythology, is beautiful and mysterious.
I write a note on a piece of paper, wad it up and throw it at her. I do not bother with, “Hi, my name is and welcome.” It reads, “Where did you get those crazy shoes?”
She shakes her head, scribbles something down on the crumpled paper, grins. She throws it back at me. It reads, “Why?” I write, “Who are you?” She draws a smiley face on the note and writes, “This isn’t how you’re supposed to write letters, jackass! It’s Alesia, Frank is my last name. Meet me after class if you like.”
I immediately found a soul mate.
Our note writing and flirting stops when Mrs Jones enters the class like a graceful raven. She wears all black with silver jewelry and has a haircut like a man. Her hair is lightning white and she has emerald green eyes. I don’t remember seeing anyone around here with green eyes. We all have blue or brown eyes. Compared to her polyester teacher friends, she stands out like a giraffe on a dairy farm. She is mysterious and and beautiful in my rebel mind of fifteen. She is a Rock Star!
This is the best day I have ever had in my life! Not only have I met Alesia, this out of town girl, I have seen my first adult human, outside of television, who seems somewhat from my same planet.
I am grateful for Alesia’s continued presence in my life. She provides a bridge for me to Davyd before I knew him, when I carried him in my mind as a hope for what I might find, and she provides comfort to me now, as another who truly understands the depth of this loss. But we must continue to remind each other that we haven’t lost him. He is with us.
I turned over one of the letters he wrote to her many years ago, and my heart jumped as I read this postscript: “It kind of feels like we’re in two separate dimensions between a wall of jello and a tube of Crest gel. The only way out is to call on me.”
Happy birthday Alesia!