Veronisse didn’t usually walk to school. Her junior high was a couple of miles away, across several neighborhoods, busily-trafficked streets and a rail corridor, and the school busses were regular, close by and dependable. But on this particular morning she felt like walking. Normally one to follow all the rules, work extra hard to please her teachers and her parents, read ahead and get her homework done early, walking to school – – up the railroad tracks, no less – – felt like a tremendous challenge to her usual routine, her very sensible world. It felt like a rebellion. The tracks were just behind the house across the street, no longer in use by the rail lines and thickly edged with trees and shrubs. The early morning sun dripped across her shoulders and bird song filled her ears, little tinkling sounds as her feet wobbled alternately along the iron rails or on the rocky gravel in between the ties.
The voice she heard came to her only that one time, so clear she looked around to see who had spoken. “His name is Roger,” it said.
“What? Who? Whose name is Roger?” she answered out loud, peering through the trees to find the source of this declaration. No one was there.
As with most 14-year-old girls, Veronisse experienced her feelings in her entire body and more deeply than she could understand. She’d never had a boyfriend, never been on a date, and wondered how come boys were so hard to be friends with, all the while yearning and fantasizing about what it might be like to be kissed, to be held, to be trusted and treated as an equal in the way that love implied.
Veronisse finished junior high and then high school, looking for Roger but not finding him, still without a boyfriend or ever having been kissed, or held, or trusted and treated as an equal in the way that she imagined. College came and went, a boyfriend who treated her well until he didn’t and left her for another, trailing her behind him in a heap of resentment, disappointment, confusion and resignation. She finally met a guy named Roger, but he was married to a colleague and not terribly interesting. Veronisse married a man because he asked her to and she wanted to think that was enough.
It wasn’t. Her husband had baggage so heavy that it pulled him right out of their marriage, down a dark well of anger, regret and the learning of forgiveness. Veronisse gave up looking for Roger sometime in her late 40’s.
And then she found him. He was 30 years older than her, married with two grown children and a couple of grandchildren. They met through a photography club and she wondered for months whether or not she was, in fact, grateful to have met him, her heart in nearly as much pain as it was in love. When she asked a friend to do a partner reading of her and Roger’s astrological charts the friend told her she’d never, in 35 years of practicing astrology, seen two people more perfectly matched.
Roger died two years later.
Veronisse remained a rebel.
Cover photo by Max Harlynking on Unsplash