Part 2 of Act 2, Alan & Sara: a Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance in 3 Acts
After driving through the night and resting briefly at Mike’s house, I headed over to the airport to pick Sara up at 6am Tuesday morning. I would’ve made it on time, too, if I hadn’t nearly headed to the wrong airport. Damn you, Dallas.
I ended up arriving 15 minutes late and found Sara sobbing in the terminal. She’d been crying her eyes out the entire flight only to arrive and find no one there to pick her up. It took a few minutes of calming and cajoling to get her to let me touch her, much less to drive away with me.
We headed back over to Mike’s house to rest up a bit before heading to Austin. Sara explained how she simply needed to get away from there as soon as possible. That lead her to find a red-eye flight away from her old life. She didn’t know I’d have to drive several hours to get to Dallas, but at least she knew not to fly to El Paso, the first red-eye ticket out of the Bay Area the counter agent offered. That might’ve ended things right there.
Back at Mike’s place, we snuggled and cuddled and rested briefly that morning. Sara still wanted to call back to California to quit her job. She’s just packed up a box of her stuff and left — no notice, no conversation, just out the door and gone. So she felt like she had to speak to her boss and called from Dallas to quit.
At one point that morning, she somehow — and I will admit I don’t remember how — ended up on the phone in the living room partially wrapped in a blanket. That’s how Janie, Mike’s sweetie, managed to first meet Sara by finding this half-naked stranger in her living room on the phone. Sara felt rather chagrined, but Janie took it in stride, having already been told by Mike to expect us. You might say our reputation was starting to precede us a bit.
Exchanging hugs and kisses and thanks and good-byes with Mike & Janie later that morning, Sara & I left Dallas to drive south to Austin.
Now, I-35 south of Dallas runs through flat, empty prairie land for close to a hundred miles. Sometimes pretty in spring and swept in majesty during summer, this stretch instead gave us a wet, drippy, cold and gray day for that early December drive. Sara’s mood, buoyed somewhat back at Mike & Janie’s, began to cloud over again, not unlike the gloomy overcast skies.
At one point, she started questioning what she had done, nearly babbling as she rambled, “What am I doing? I just walked out of my…my…life. I quit my job — by phone, no notice, nothing — and left everything behind. Everything! And for what?” she looked over, sobbing as I tried to look reassuring as she went on. “I hardly know you…I didn’t even really know who you are…I don’t even know what kind of man you are…”
“Don’t you know?” I interjected, grinning, “I’m a madman.”
Panic swept over her face in an instant and I knew that was the wrong thing to say.
“PULL OVER!” she shouted, leaning away from me and grabbing at her door. She would tell me later that visions of being raped and killed and dismembered with her body parts strewn there along that dreary highway filled her head at that moment. Only the fact we were on a desolate stretch kept her from fleeing the vehicle.
Another joke fallen flat.
I tried to tell her I simply meant that I was fun and funny and creative and whimsical and, well, I didn’t want to use a word like crazy again, but you, wacky. It took me a full 5 minutes to get her to calm her down enough to let me touch her again. I reminded her that she’d known my brother and Joanie for years. She’d met my parents. Slowly, she started to relax just a little. After about 10 or 15 minutes of quiet talking and calming her down more, we continued on down the road to Austin.
We had known each other not quite a week yet.
Back in Austin, the “plan” was simple: get through the rest of the work-week. Then, there was this huge conference I had to work on the weekend, providing presentation support all day both days. So, we planned to fly back out to California on Monday, pack up all of her her stuff, and get her moved back to Austin the following week
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch (where I worked), my boss, Cathy, and another woman working with us there, Candy, stepped in, insisting they wanted to meet this woman who had so completely swept me off my feet. They took her out to lunch that Friday — without me, the one condition they imposed.
Afterwards, I anxiously awaited their comments.
“Oh, she’s wonderful,” Candy said after they returned. “And a perfect match for you, too.” She smiled and added, “It’s good thing, too — we would’ve hated to have to kill her….which we would’ve done if we had to, because it was already obvious we couldn’t change your mind about her, and we weren’t about to let you make a mistake.”
Sara had turned on the charm for them despite becoming sick at that lunch, with a dizzy spell making her stumble as they left the restaurant. “Get her to a doctor,” I was sternly ordered, so we headed over the minor emergency room. Indeed, she’d gotten an ear infection that left her light-headed and impaired her balance, and was also basically drained from the week’s events. We went back to the house and tucked her into bed.
That evening, I made her soup: Greek egg-lemon soup from a simple recipe I’d learned along the way. Sure enough, that homemade soup proved restorative, and she rested up through the weekend as I worked the conference.
To this day, that soup is our cure-all whenever Sara’s feeling sick or just plain down — the warmth and the smell takes us back to her first days living with her own personal soup-making madman.
Next: the California Raid as we continue Act 2 of our Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance