Episode 1 - One Way Ticket
Episode 1 - One Way Ticket
Episode 1 - One Way Ticket
After Coraline’s death, Julian decides to re-start her show, “Works of Love” while acknowledging his decision to take down the old show and its episodes are controversial, he is grateful for the outpouring of support. The essay he reads is one Coraline had wanted to do about the end of a love relationship with a fun twist at the end.
Written and performed by: Elliott Rose
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Transcript: Episode 1 - One Way Ticket
Works of Love is a RoseCraft Production
This is "Works of Love: The Podcast" I'm Julian Silver. "Works of Love" is a meditation on a theme through listener submitted personal essays, that theme? Love, the possession of and loss of it. To our returning listeners, I know I'm not the voice you were hoping for and I want to thank you all for reaching out when you heard Coraline fell ill. Your letters, your warmth, your kindness, all of it was and is so appreciated, and I take . . . comfort in witnessing how important Coraline was and continues to be to so many people. I think, hmm, I think immediately knowing how much you've affected people in your life as you are reaching its conclusion is more than most of us will experience. And I'm grateful for the gift you all gave her. That being said, I know a lot of you are upset that I've taken down the old show and I've closed the old website. I had a lot of people firmly tell me how I am ruining her legacy. I understand where you’re coming from. However, I hope you can understand that, for just the next little while, I wish to be selfish with her. My therapist, Dr. Jensen, told me that perhaps beginning the show again, can, in some way, help me through this. I hope she's right. Because I still believe love is something worth exploring every week.
The show today is a special one, this essay is the one Coraline wanted to do before she fell ill. Today’s essay is “One Way Ticket” written by Shareen Calvert in Eugene, Oregon.
Every relationship ends until you find the one that doesn't. Sometimes you string it along, actors pretending at the love you once had, the relationship you once had. Actors who no longer realize they're acting. Two Wile E. Coyotes simultaneously running off the edge, legs pumping over thin air, willful ignorance the only thing keeping you afloat. It’s only when you both look down and acknowledge the emptiness that gravity pulls you towards your fall.
Rebecca was my first girlfriend after a series of charmless and (mostly) harmless boyfriends. We first met in college where she was the cool, aloof, should-have-had-a guitar girl (think: Corin Tucker but with no instrument) and I was just your normal outcast Southern Californian. Someone who loves movies and wanted to make them, a member of the cult of In N Out but hates the beach and all the complexes that come with having a non-model body in a city where bikini season stretches over three hundred days.
I knew her briefly in college and even went to the movies with her but then life pulled us towards our own ways until one night at The Reef diner where each of us were getting dumped over dinner.
Amir informed me he hadn't gone to work that morning and had instead moved all his stuff to his new girlfriend's place. He left but was kind enough to leave the check along with the house keys. Rebecca saw me trying to hold it together, slid in beside me, ordered two Tokyo Teas, and told me I looked like, "the heroine at the end of her first act." I asked her, "What happens next?" She smiled and said, "That's up to you, but I think eating some of these fries would be a good way to start."
The last of the summer light faded behind the horizon. The pedestrians walking past the diner window were switching shifts. When I arrived, straight after work, it was other young professionals, families, and teenagers stretching their legs with the freedom a Thursday night allows. Thirty-somethings were getting away from their kids for a brief moment. When Rebecca and I left it was thirty, forty, and fifty-somethings with no responsibilities to anyone except themselves and teenagers who had people at home who didn't notice nor care that they were gone.
Rebecca walked me to my car and looked at the time, swaying gently as she did (she'd finished my Tokyo Tea then ordered two more) and cursed. The buses had stopped running. "I can give you a lift." I said.
"And take me where?"
"Don't have one anymore" she said and laughed. As she drew back I saw the back row of her teeth and her hair shimmering in the streetlight. I was caught by how beautiful the jittery glow from the sodium vapor lights were when they shone on her, when they were possessed by her. "Can I crash at your place?" she said.
That was the first night of our five years together.
The next morning as I was making breakfast I could hear her having two distinct, and loud, arguments in the shower. The first one was with her ex. Surprisingly, the second one was with Amir informing him that he was an idiot. I smiled even if her yelling didn't do much for my headache.
After pouring my coffee I took Amir's key and a sticky note and wrote, "If you feel like sticking around" underlining "sticking" and adding a smiley face.
That entire day at work I knew I should be crying in the bathroom during breaks and having to lie to concerned but clueless co-workers that the reason my eyes were red and my nose was running was because I was coming down with something and not because my boyfriend of a year had just broken up with me and moved into his new girlfriend’s place. But strangely I didn't feel any of that. Instead, in its place was an eagerness to see Rebecca again. And then I wondered if it was strange that I had given her keys to my place but didn't have her phone number.
When I got home she was there, it immediately felt natural. She spent her day working odd jobs she found on Craig's List and she had brought back a keyboard that served as payment for one of the them.
Days passed into weeks, weeks into months. Over our time together, I got to watch as she stumbled through scales and chord until she could compose catchy songs with clever lyrics and post them to Youtube. I'd share them with co-workers and friends. And bask in the reflected glory of knowing an artist.
At one point she hung up a map with Xs over the countries she'd been to. I put circles on the ones I'd been to (the US). She was the laid back one out of the two of us, comfortable with uncertainty. I envied that about her. I still do envy it. That’s why I knew it was a big deal when she kept fidgeting with a flower in her hair as she invited me to her family's BBQ. Now I wish I had preserved and dried that flower.
I thought she invited me because I had a car and her family get-together was in the boonies or that's what I told myself.
Her uncle's property was four acres. I admit, I judged her family quickly, they struck me as the Eastern Oregon types who didn't take kindly to OSU grads. But they were laid back, just like Rebecca, and the thing that struck me was how much love they had for each other. If my family were to have a family reunion we'd spend most of our time quietly wondering if everyone was as uncomfortable as we were.
But after barbeque and the unsafe discharge of fireworks I found myself alone with Rebecca’s brother Thom. He and I watching the last embers of the bonfire as Rebecca was in the treehouse setting up our room for the night and the rest of the family asleep either inside the house or in one of the five campers. Thom tossed me a beer, which I dropped, and said, "So you're the Shareen she's been talking Mom's ear off about."
I didn't know she talked about me. And then he said something, a kind of wisdom uncluttered by academics or neuroticism, a simple clean statement of someone with a deep familiarity with his sister and her ways.
"She's the kind that goes out. You seem like the kind that wants to come back. I hope you two meet somewhere in the middle."
When I went to the treehouse she had placed the blanket flower I’d noticed on our hike, on the sheets. I asked her if she told her mother that we were an item. She hemmed and hawed but eventually admitted it. Then she said, "Would you want to be my girlfriend."
I kissed her as a way of answering and that’s when I realized I had wanted her to ask me that so many months before.
And that's how our relationship started.
And it was a great five years. After getting my Masters we went to Portland where I started teaching. We bought two cats: Momo and Appa. In our new place she hung the map in our living room. No more Xs added to her list. Still only the US circle for me. She brought up joining the Peace Corps together. Saving up for a year and spending a summer traveling. Going to Australia to find those fabled Drop Bears. Anything. And I wanted Nothing. What use did I have for traveling? Everything I needed was in Portland. She wanted a weekend trip to Vancouver but I had papers to grade and conferences to attend. She wanted to go to bars in the Pearl District with some musicians she met and I wanted to look at condos in Nob Hill. She wanted to try a sensory deprivation tank and I insisted on cooking classes held at the local co-op.
She started staying out late, visiting bars and playing music. She joined a band and they got enough of a following that they toured the Northwest. The reflected glory of an artist dimming on me a bit.
The tour got extended. She called home every night until she started calling home every other night. Whenever she’d get home, Appa and Momo would be unusually affectionate with her dropping everything and rubbing their faces against her. I learned it was them marking their scent on her, to make her a part of the group. I tried to do the same but she smelled like the Los Angeles desert. She smelled like the Pacific ocean that laps against the San Francisco docks. She didn't have Portland on her anymore.
She told me her bandmates were going to New York to try their luck out there at the end of the year. As summer ended she was at home but further away then when she'd been on tour.
The vocabulary of couples is interesting. It’s two acting as one. “Let’s go”, “We should do that”, “We’re going to have so much fun.” Our vocabulary changed. "Let's go " was replaced with "I’ll see you later". But every night we'd fall asleep in the same bed and I'd like to imagine more than once we shared the same dream. I know we didn't. But I imagined we did.
December came and she put her key on the table along with the note I'd written all those years before. She showed me her ticket to New York and I cried and she cried and then the cats meowed and we fed them and they were quiet as we continued crying Three weeks left before she would walk out the door and never come back home. I spent a week red-eyed and runny-nosed, telling co-workers I was sick. Then, one day she said, "Why don't we live these next two weeks like it was the rest of our lifetime together?”
I asked her if she wanted to go pick out a Christmas tree with me. She agreed. We took a cooking class together. She joined me as I met with the realtor in Nob Hill and said she could imagine me in the condo and remained silent when I said it would be cozier with two.
She packed while I was working. Sending her stuff to New York , to her future roommates. Little by little our apartment became my apartment. The last day we watched Sideways and held hands while drinking Pinot Noir. Her flight was a red-eye so we laid in bed together and I counted the seconds. Driving to the airport we played all of our songs and when we got to airport the airport lights caught her and I saw again how beautiful light was when possessed by her. We embraced and kissed and lingered. I pretended like I wouldn't give her her luggage. We kissed again and I sat on the hood of my car as I watched her walk slowly away, never looking back.
And that’s how our relationship ended.
I drove home in silence, my heart beating heavy and hard enough to propel some tragic orchestra . My phone rang. It was Rebecca. I cleared my throat and picked up. She was laughing. "My flight's tomorrow."
At least my second act ended with a punchline. It would’ve been too sad without it.
Julian - Outro
That was “One Way Ticket” by Shareen Calvert.
A kind of sad delight took me on this story. It being Coraline’s last one is of course, hard. However, seeing that even towards the end she could choose a story that had a punchline was indicitivate of her spirit. It’s also my guess that even even if the relationship ends we still love those people we shared so much of ourselves with. I read a poem recently “25 Lives” by Tongari. And there’s a line I’ve fixated on. “Even if you don’t exist I am always in love with you.” I love you Coraline.
And listeners, I know there is always a love reaching towards you, even if you aren’t aware of it.
I’m Julian Silver and this has been “Works of Love.”
This episode of Works of Love was written and performed by Elliott Rose
Anyway, if you have any thoughts about today's essay please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at @worksoflovepod. And if you want to contact us via e-mail we're at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just a reminder we're not currently accepting essays as we have quite the backlog however if you want to say "Hi" please feel free.
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