Wednesday 25 February 2015

The Evolution of Love By Kindell C Lewis

The evolution of Love by Kindell C Lewis

Dedicated to Travis Graham. Thanks for letting me take “our” story, elaborate, exaggerate and just plain old make things up. I am forever grateful for your love, loyalty and friendship.


As I sit beside my mother in the town I grew up in, I can’t help but have an attitude. Begrudgingly I write the name of the sermon and nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God with all my heart. Sermons just really aren’t my thing. I have no concerns about my salvation. After all, I am Jesus’ favorite sinner.

Like a teenage girl I begin to scribble ridiculous things where my notes on the Ten Commandments should be. Things like my husband’s name, smiley faces and hearts. This is not exactly a normal thing for a thirty something year old woman to do. Maybe technology really has rotted my brain. I hate it when my dad is right.

Right on cue the devils tool of choice for communication aka the iphone, vibrates signaling a new text message. My mother shoots me an annoyed look. I return the annoyed look and add a glare.



I smile to myself . Good old James. He was my first love and my friend of 25 plus years. James had shown me happiness that I never knew existed and heart ache that I thought would surely kill me. James is the reason that I know love can grow, change and evolve. There is more than one kind of soul mate.

I officially check out of the sermon and wander down memory lane.

1992 Gold River Middle school, Oregon. Christmas Dance

Seventh grade was rough. I was an awkward gangly girl. I had glasses, braces and very little confidence, so it was no surprise that I was left sitting on a chair by the back wall of the cafeteria. I watched the popular kids dance and laugh with each other, as Cindy Laupers Time after Time blared through the speakers.

Soon the music shifted gears and Garth Brooks Shameless was playing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my classmate James Garrison walking through the groups and clicks, scanning the crowd. James always stood out to me and this night was no exception. He was dressed in wranglers a nice button down shirt like the bull riders wear.  a Stetson cowboy hat and boots completed his look. Despite the fact that we were definitely country folk, not many kids dressed the part. I admired James for his originality. James was cool and funny.  He spoke to me every day in math. In fact we had held hands on a fieldtrip to the Oregon caves in sixth grade.

Suddenly I realized James was now walking towards me- straight towards me, with a purpose. With a tip of his hat he asked me to dance. Had he been looking for me that whole time? I’ll probably never know.

One hour and a few slow songs later, James whispered “Alice will you go out with me”?

I blushed and nodded as James pulled me closer. We swayed together in a perfect moment. In the background Madonna’s Crazy For You played……

Back in the present moment, Pastor Matt has finally cracked a joke about how Love Thy neighbor does not outweigh the all-important Thou shalt not convent they neighbors wife. I chuckle a sincere little laugh.  Pastor Matt is no comedian but he certainly is one of the genuinely good preachers on this side of heaven.

Buzzzzzzz The Devil is blowing my phone up today! My mother glares. I up the ante and return with an eye roll.

The screen displays a new text from James. “so do you give up”

My reply is “never. More please.” This is our code that more lyrics are needed to properly identify the artist and song in Name that tune.

The next reply is verses that I recognize almost immediately. The song has tumbled through countless a.m. radio stations for decades and blared through elevator speakers all over north America.

“Tender love is blind, It requires a dedication what we feel needs no conversation. As we ride it together uh huh, making love to one another (uh huh)”

I reply “Islands in The Stream; Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers.”

Of course. Classic rock and classic country are the only two genres that James really knows. Just like our little corner of southern Oregon, James preferred to stick to the familiar. Nothing wrong with that. I, on the other hand had to see what was out there. I needed to experience new places, different cultures. In fact I only came back twice a year to visit my family, and of course James.

My turn for name that tune…what to text ..what to text…

I allow my mind to wander back down memory lane. The rest of seventh grade was a blissful blur of all things James.  Receiving a rose on Valentines Day, wearing his jacket in the cold a first kiss at a football game, holding hands on the way to class…Looking back now, clearly I was losing my identity in James.

The cutesy memories soon give way to the painful.

It’s the last day of school. James has asked me to shoot hoops with him. I find this odd, but am excited to spend time with him”

As he dribbles the ball I watch his face. James was frowning. What was this?

“Alice” James began as he tossed me the ball.

“Yes , James”? My heart was beating so fast and hard that I could taste it. I throw the ball effortlessly into the basket.

“Good shot Alley…” James did not smile. He sits down on the blacktop and signals for me to join him. I ldo.

“Alice I think that we should break up for the summer. We’ll never see each other. You’re going to New York with your folks and well….ya know, “

“ok James” I say stumbling to my feet and sprinting towards the girls room, fighting back tears the whole way. I hear James call out after me,

“Alley! can we still be friends”?

That was the first night that I really noticed the moon. I cried for hours.

Back in the present, I am surprised to find that my heart still literally aches at the memory. Suddenly I know the perfect song for name that tune. I take out my phne. My mother sighs loudly. I raise the stakes and walk to the bathroom.

I text James.

you were so blind to let me go. You had it all but did not know. No one you find will ever be, closer to all your dreams than me.


Surely this gem of Mariah Carrey’s from 1993 will have him stumped. I return to my mother, and my seat.

As I drift back down memory lane I try to recall more details about James and I, but most are not sharp and clear like the first. There’s a blurry recollection of phone calls, being asked to be his girlfriend again, me breaking up with him, James breaking up with me, and a whole lot of kissing.  I mean Serious kissing.

The next clear memory I have its summer time in Southern Oregon and it’s HOT. I am standing in my parents garage which is detached from the house staring out the window. I am 14. I watch as James comes into view, pedaling through the heat down the long driveway. James used to ride his bike 10 miles just to make out with me. That’s pretty hardcore.

My phone catches me off guard buzzing loudly causing me to jump. My mom throws up her hands dramatically. I am guessing this is a sign of surrender.

James has not only named that tune (Someday) he also even knows that it is Mariah Carrie.  Touché my friend. I smile and reply “your turn”

In high school I didn’t see much of James. There were just so many boys and so little time. With contacts and my braces off it turns out my mom wasn’t lying my whole life; I was decent looking. I recall seeing James driving around with a teeny tiny girl that wore wranglers. I remember being happy for him. I also recall driving 100 miles when I was 19 to hug James on his wedding day. I remember going to see his first daughter after she was born.

Fast forward to 2003. My mother had told me that James’ wife, who at one time was my friend had abandon him without warning. Out of compassion and love for my friend I write him a letter. I tell him that my heart has been broken too. I implore him to stay busy. I recite cliché’s about how it’s always darkest before dawn, time heals all wounds and that this too shall pass. I am not sure how to reach James so I mail the letter to his mother’s house. 508 Sunshine Ln. I will never forget that address. Two days later my phone rings. James has received my letter and would like to see me.

We are now in our early twenties. We have the bright idea to start dating. A couple of weeks pass full of forced phone calls, binge drinking, complaining about our ex’s, and a couple of awkward sexual encounters. Next thing I remember I am sitting across from James on the floor of my apartment in California at his request. “Alice- you know how much you mean to me, and I love you like no other, but….”

I can not believe that this is happening again.

Tears burn the back of my eyes even in the present day. I literally shake my shoulders and whisper to myself in Spanish “sacordadae” which means shake it off.

My next memory is of James sitting on my couch, shot gun across his lap. I am on the floor fighting heroin withdrawal. My stomach sends me into convulsions every few minutes as I shiver and sweat at the same time. There’s a knock at the door.  James jumps up to answer, casually bringing the gun with him. I am too sick to fight him.

I hear James telling whoever’s at the door.

“Listen man, it’s nothing personal but I mean it. Stay away and don’t come back. Alice needs to get off the drugs and really so should you”.

The door slams shut.

“why are you doing this to me James”? I hear my 22 year old self whine. “You don’t even love me. Let me live my life as I please”.

I will never forget the words that James said next.

“That’s where you are wrong, Alice. I love you more than you know, in a way that you don’t understand”.


The memory and those words remind me to thank Jesus for freeing me from the life of a junkie. Also I take a moment to Thank God for James.

James has text me that he can’t think of any lyrics at the moment that I wouldn’t instantly know. Of course he can’t. He only knows ten songs. He passes on his turn.

My fingers fly across the buttons as I type out the lyrics that are also a coded message just for James.

“sure I think about you now and then, but it’s been a long, long time. I’ve got a good life now. I moved on so when you cross my mind…I try not to think about what might have been . Cause that was then and we have taken different roads. We cant go back again. There’s no use giving in. And there’s no way to know what might have been.”

His reply takes less than ten seconds.

“too easy Alice. What might Have Been. Little Texas.

So wanna meet at the Park, 3 o’clock”?

“I’ll be there” I reply.

Thus ends our texting and our game of name that tune- at least for now.

*Two hours later I am sitting on a park bench where James and I once spent hours kissing and talking about everything under the sun. Today I sit next to James’ new girlfriend Lilly. I like her. She is sweet, funny and for once, age appropriate. I hope that this one really is THE one.

A few hundred feet away James and my husband Fernando are shooting hoops on the basketball court. On the surface, The two look like complete opposites. James is only 5 foot 9 dressed casual and is handsome in a quiet, all American way. Fernando is 6’5 and always dressed to the nines even to play basketball. He has southern charm mixed with Mexican confidence and eyes so pretty they should belong to a Latin miss America. Back in Texas Fernando is nick named Barbie by his friends due to his ridiculously good looking face. However on the inside, these two are very much alike. Compassionate, humble, and genuine. The two are laughing almost to the point of hysteria. After a few minutes of ease dropping, Lilly and I figure out what is so funny. Even though James is as white as John McCain and clearly my husband is half Mexican American, they are exchanging good natured gringo and Mexican jokes. This makes my heart smile.

At this moment in time I realize that I am so very fortunate. I am grateful for the way my prayers have been answered. All those times I cried out and begged God to make James love me were not in vain. James has loved me for 25 years . And I have loved him back.

There were times in the past few years  when we could have given our relationship another  chance, but then we wouldn’t have Lilly. We wouldn’t have Fernando. My oldest son would not be enamored with James’ oldest daughter . (At least I hope he wouldn’t) My younger son, and James’ younger daughter wouldn’t be thrilled to see each other if they had to hang out more than twice a year.  We wouldn’t have memories like today . After all, sometimes the deepest love is not a romantic love. James and I will always have our friendship and our ever evolving love. To me that is the greatest love James could have ever provided for me.





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