Rosemary, who believed in the universe


I was depressed, living in a small fishing town in Washington when I met Rosemary at the farmers market. She ran a booth, selling hand-knit scarves she’d made with her sister. Earlier that day, I had considered throwing myself into traffic just to feel something and see the world go crazy with sirens and paramedics yelling for me to breathe again.

But then there was Rosemary. Speaking to her was the first good thing I had done in over a year. She told me I should write a jazz song about the farmers market, because it was ripe subject matter for a classic standard. When I told her I didn’t write jazz songs she told me, “Everyone writes jazz songs, silly.”

I didn’t get her number.  But I serendipitously saw her the next day and the next day and the next, all in random places; the top of a foothill; a campfire on the beach: drinking a flask on the deck of the ferry to Vancouver Island.  “The universe is good at putting us in the same place,” she said.  The following day, I left the country to work in an orphanage outside of Delhi.

Two years later I ran into her at a counterculture festival in New Mexico.  Smiling, she said, “Hey, don’t I know you?”  We spent the weekend sharing stories and sleeping next to one another beneath mossy trees and starry skies.  The last night, I tried to kiss her but she pulled away.  “It’s not the right time,” she said.

I was back in Washington when I awoke to Rosemary in my bedroom, kissing me on the lips. She was an excellent lock picker.  I’ll never know how she knew I was back from South Africa that winter; I hadn’t told anyone. If I hadn’t been engaged, maybe something could have happened between us – we both believed in every fiber of our beings that we were meant to be together. I guess the universe doesn’t serve those who hesitate.

Last I saw Rosemary, she was living in a yurt near Coquille, OR.  She had a beautiful, talkative 2-year-old son named Sailor and a nice boyfriend who grew some pretty decent dope.  Looking at her there with her boyfriend and son, I felt cheated by the universe that Rosemary put so much faith in. I was too late.  People often say, when referring to the sad times in our lives, “This, too, shall pass.”  I’ve learned that that saying cuts both ways.

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