The Heart You Break May Be Your Own
Oh, to be so certain you know what you desire, and how you will go about getting it.
Or maybe you’re in the other camp: you let the world “happen” to you. That way there’s no responsibility for your actions and their consequences.
Lemme explain. Here I am, early December 2011. I’m reading the past and taking the temperature of the present: on the cold side, quiet and solitary. I’m unhappy. I feel stuck, uninspired, unloved, unmotivated—and I’ve been here before. Things could be happening, warming up, heading in a new direction. Or, maybe, that warmer place I want to be is the place I’m already at—I’m just not able to see it yet.
That’s an accurate distillation of the fall and winter of 1976. Sure, a new school year had just started, but so many things were stalling: the ambiguous “relationship” with Linda, the grind of the busboy job—the sort of monotony that can only anguish a teenager.
Yeah, I hear ya—“Hey kid, cry me a river.”
It was just after the Family Project returned from the weekend getaway to Bayfield, that Monday in school, when I first met Kristi Peterson. Later I discovered we shared the same desk in Geometry class, her class being right before mine. That Tuesday she wrote on top of the desk: “Hi Mike (the piano player).”
The following day we were back in the Music Resource Center (aka the MRC) and she was teaching me how to play the flute, since she was in the high school band. It was then I asked her if she wanted a ride to the football game on Friday. She said “OK.”
That one football game set in motion a chain of events that simmered, cooled, simmered, then boiled until early December.
My friend Skeeze rode with me and Kristi to the game, but got a ride home afterward with Loren’s girlfriend Sherri and our friend Sara. Kristi and I went to Shakey’s Pizza in Excelsior. We were alone together. In my car.
Either it was a date, or some kind of scam.
The diary only states that we went to Shakey’s and that I got home around midnight. The fact I didn’t record what happened (and I do remember it) speaks volumes about how I felt.
Near Hardscrabble Point, just off the road that led to her home, we parked and made out. Either we were listening to the radio at the time or the thought just popped into her head, but she quoted a line from Heart’s “Magic Man.” That I remember, but apparently wasn’t so elated about it that I felt it needed to be committed for posterity.
Two days later, a Sunday, I drove to Linda’s house on a whim to see if she wanted to go to evening church service with me. She came to the door, but apologized for not looking nice enough to go and so declined. The diary says, “…we made next Sunday night a date.”
Important side note to the story: While I was attending Calvary Memorial Church in Navarre, the rest of the family was going to the United Methodist Church in Mound, which was Mom’s original denomination. The folks decided to abandon Calvary’s evangelical fervor and hurried back to a more staid, less emotionally challenging brand of Protestantism. Me? I was staying put, determined to “get the girl,” faithful witness to the Lord or not.
Which makes this all really strange because at the same time I’m hanging out with musician friends, drinking (underage, of course) or smoking pot at parties and—for me—church, my religion, is a lovely, smart, and demure blonde who has invaded my consciousness and just won’t go away. It was 100% certain to me that Linda and I were meant to be together.
Meanwhile, the other guy, Mr. Passive, has become the two-headed, fickle Male Monster, the Great Dissembler. Kristi must’ve sensed something because that Monday, on my desk after Geometry, she wrote: “Hi stranger.”
Did she know? How could she know about Linda?
The worm turned on October 14, a Thursday.
Mom said she’d seen in the local paper that Linda was a candidate for homecoming queen at her high school, which was exciting to hear. After all, I had been on a date with this potential homecoming queen.
Eat my shorts, you senior jocks!
That night I wrote in the diary: “I can’t wait until Sunday night. I have so much to tell Linda. How am I gonna tell Kristi I’m going back to Linda? Should I? Everything depends on how Sunday night goes.”
Then Sunday arrived.
The diary says I stayed up late to “write poetry,” and had worked brunch at the Lafayette Club that morning. When I got home I showered, then called Linda. We were still on for church. I picked her up around 7 p.m. in Mom’s tan 1973 Dodge Dart.
After the service, I drove her home and, apparently, did most of the talking. The diary reports: “I tried to tell her I loved her. I told her how angry I was at the [football] game a while back, and I really don’t know what her reaction was. I may have helped or hindered things.”
After I dropped her off, I didn’t go straight home.
I drove to The Soda Fountain, the local high school hangout, where I sat in a booth and ate by myself.