When I was 21 and working as a quality assurance representative at a telemarketing agency, I’d recently ended a pretty serious relationship.
Not too long after the relationship ended, my roommate – at my silly, ill-conceived, and misguided recommendation – started dating my ex.
When your roommate is dating your ex (with whom you’re still on friendly terms), it’s easy to feel lonely. Both people who were once allies of yours suddenly become one another’s ally, and you’re suddenly very much on the outside.
If you don’t feel it at first, you will when she comes home early one morning wearing his shirt after a night spent at his place.
And you will, of course, have only yourself to blame. (Which doesn’t really make it any better…but worse, in fact, because you brought it on yourself…)
Around that time, I met a man who worked at the agency as a telemarketer. (Every now and then, even though I was in QA, I had to do some phone sales when they needed extra people on the phones. I was good, too, at telemarketing. Source of pride or shame, I’m not sure…)
The man had a smile that drew you, a sort of southern charm. He’d plant himself cross-legged in the grass with the rest of us after work nd talk, laugh, and have a beer.
He didn’t act old enough to be our father.
He was fun, youthful, a “partier.” Nothing about his hanging out with us felt awkward, the way it would if any other fifty-something were to socialize regularly with a group of twenty-somethings.
He liked to talk about himself.
Often, he would get lost sharing memories.
On his friendly days, he would call me his angel.
When your allies have deserted you and there’s no one else, you can sometimes find someone in the least likely of places. Someone who needs someone more than you do. This man was that person for me.
When he was in a fun mood, I would watch him, study his eyes and face and try to imagine what he’d looked like when he was younger.
Had I been able to travel through time, I’d have liked to go back to meet him at 19 or 20. I had a feeling he would have been pretty irresistible. Fun-loving, flirtatious, energetic, vibrant.
I never forgot him. One of the better times we had together, he took me with him to the house of one of his artist friends and we listened to some music and had a few drinks. Later, he gave me a drawing – “It’s the Angel of Darkness,” he said–and signed it for me–R.R.–with the note, “I love you today – and pray for you tomorrow.”
This is that drawing: