April 2, 1980
I arrived in Massachusetts a week and a half ago.
After I left Destin, I drove up to Myrtle Beach and spent a night. Over the course of that first day of driving, I recalled the previous few weeks with Melanie. I could still taste her on my lips, and smell her perfume. My thoughts have lingered on her since I left, but that first day was overwhelming. I had found someone who had been an oasis in the desert, but ultimately I knew she was just a mirage, and I couldn’t let myself indulge in the fantasy of her.
She asked me to stop by the hospital and see her on my way out, which I did. When I got there, I had her paged, and she came down to the lobby. Even in scrubs, she was pretty. We spoke for a few minutes, and she asked me to call her when I had a phone number and an address. I nodded in agreement.
“I had a great few weeks with you,” she said, holding my hand.
“It was amazing, thank you so much.”
She laughed at my statement, thinking I was being overly polite. I wanted to tell her that there was a good chance that she saved my life, but I knew that she would either think me hyperbolic, or that perhaps it would give her some hope to latch onto. I couldn’t give her any false hope.
When I stopped at Myrtle Beach, it was too early for their seasonal traffic to have picked up. I was able to get a cheap rate on a room. The room wasn’t as nice as any I had so far in 1980, but I knew it was only going to be one night.
After a restless night of sleep in between dingy sheets, I awoke early, and decided to grab some of the continental breakfast. Then I was back on the road.
At the end of the second day of driving, I had made my way up to Philadelphia. After settling in, I grabbed a Cheese Steak at a place near my hotel. I sat at one of the laminate covered table tops, and watched the different characters come through the door.
I have to admit, one of the things I hadn’t thought about much before coming back to 1980, was culture. I had assumed it would be “the ‘80s” but most of it had felt like what I imagined “the ‘70s” to feel like. Sitting there looking out the windows of that sub shop, at Philly, I couldn’t help but feel like I had jumped further back. It was much moreso “‘70s” feeling, than any of the other places I had been so far. I felt like I was in Rocky.
I thought less about Melanie than I had in days, and so I was able to sleep better.
The next morning, I got ready to leave, and could already feel that the air was much crisper than I had become accustomed, I decided to go get some clothing more appropriate for the weather. Stopping at a JC Penney outside of the city.
I arrived in Lynnfield in the mid-afternoon that day, and found a hotel. I spent the next few days, looking around for different places to stay. On the third day I found a duplex that was renting the left-side apartment. I had to wait until the first of the month however, because they wanted to clean it and get everything taken care of. So I moved in yesterday.
Moved in, might not be the right word. I didn’t really have enough clothing to even fill two suitcases, and had only accumulated enough books to cover the back seat of my car (reading has been a major life saver before, and since Melanie).
I hadn’t thought about furniture, so I went out and bought a bed, and some sheets. They won’t be delivered for a couple of days. Last night, I slept on the floor. Not comfortable, but without having been nearly starved to death, and dumped in the freezing ocean, it didn’t have the lasting effect of the bus ride to Vegas.
I was able to find a couch that was being listed in the want ads, and offered the guy $40 (he was asking for $20) if he could deliver it. Turns out, he’s two blocks away from me, and when he gets out of work, I’m going to meet him at his place and we’ll carry it over.
So far today, I’ve walked around neighborhood, and drove around the city, and haven’t found much of interest to me. I chose this city because it’s close to where the 1980’s version of my family are all living. My mom should be living up at Salem State right now, my father in Lynn, my mom’s parents in Reading which is the next town over, and my dad’s mom is in Billerica.
My first priority is to get a job. Then, I will start to figure out how to best interact with my family (clearly I can’t tell them who I am, but I want to try to befriend them). Finding a job is turning out to be tough. I have a license, a birth certificate, and a social security card (all of which have matching records in their varying offices, I’ve been told), but I don’t have any proof of my education. I can’t just go and show off my theoretical physics skills.
My hope is to get a job in construction, and go to night school to regain my college credentials, and eventually finish my Ph.D. thesis. That will give me some focus that I’ve been missing, and hopefully help to resolve the issues of my long fits of loneliness and boredom.
Speaking of loneliness, I sent Destiny a letter updating her on my whereabouts, and I called Melanie at the hospital. Her voice sounded strained, and she assured me it had just been a difficult day, and she had a patient die on her for the first time.
She said she had gone on a date with one of the other interns, but didn’t think it was going to happen again. There hadn’t been any connection.
After about 20 minutes, I told her I had to get some things done around here, and that it was great to hear her voice. Somehow, despite myself allowing myself the distractions of books, and the business of getting established hadn’t faded my longing for her. I hope that working, and school would. I need something to make me feel like I’m living, rather than passing through my own life.