Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Evangeline Cadence Holt

     It didn’t take long for me to see her. Almost immediately I knew, that girl she’s the one for me. She’s the one… Unfortunately she didn’t know it.
     When I saw her she was twisting at the metals with cut fingers and a bit of blood beading on her hand. Slowly her sure, swift movements molded it into the most beautiful design I’d ever seen. The ring, it was perfect.
     Evangeline Cadence Holt was her name, most people called her Eva-Cade, but she was Evangeline to me. I’d never been a romantic, but she turned me into one. I’d never been sentimental either, but she fixed that, with one look from her violet eyes.
     I loved to watch her work, to see what she would create next. Her designs were magnificent, they were the toast of the town and they were unheard of. If only she lived in a bigger city, she might have been filthy rich by now.
     Evangeline was sixteen when she started her work and she’s only done well. People realized her worth and immediately employed her. She went to school and college and then had an apprenticeship with a metal worker. She could make almost anything, but her passion was jewelry. At twenty-two she was doing pretty well for herself.
     I found her because of my reckless nature. What would you call me? Someone who came into an inheritance, a trust-fund kid? While that is true I still worked. My parents taught me the value of hard, honest work. Which is why I’m a lifeguard in the summer and ski patrol in the winter, and I simply worship the ground she walks on in the spring and fall.
     Evangeline was my inspiration to do something great. She succeeded even though she was a small person from a small town and now she embraced her upbringing and incorporated it into her work.
     So now I’m working on doing something great, I’m just not sure what it is yet, what I do know is that I’ll do it for her…whatever it is.
     “Hey Evangeline!” I said to her as I walked into her shop she barely glanced up at me.
     “Collin.” It was more of a dismissal than anything, but none-the-less she turned around on her stool and looked at me expectantly.
     “My great grandma died a few years ago and left behind a lot of jewelry,” I plopped my bag down on the table and pulled out a box, “I didn’t know her, at all actually, but I figured I’d see of you wanted to recycle some of the stones or metal before I pawned them.” She began eagerly digging through the box and started pulling out different pieces, but the gasp she let out was what made me look at what she was holding instead of her face.
     “Look at this!”
     “What?” nothing special about the purple stone to me.
     “This is a Purple Diamond, a real fancy!” She was like a three year old with a box of chocolates.
     “A fancy?” Her answer was to grab my wrist and pull me down to her level.
     “See, it’s so strongly colored?” she paused, so I nodded and then she went on, “it’s a diamond, which really aren’t rare, but diamonds this colorful are! It’s so beautiful, how did you great grandmother get it?” She turned to me like I would know.
     “I haven’t a clue,” was the only answer I could offer.
     “That’s a shame, I would’ve liked to have known its origin, but no matter. Just look at it,” and that’s what we did. I stood leaning about half way over and we stared at that rock for a good seven minutes until I asked her where the ibuprofen was.
     “Well, I’m glad you found something good out of all this stuff.”
     “Oh there are a lot of good things in there, but I don’t need it all and you should keep some.”
     “Not likely, anyways, I’m off to surf, see ya later!” I walked out feeling pretty good, I’d given her something she’d wanted.
     Surfing was really one of my passions, it was something I was good at and something I knew would give results. All I had to do was push myself and eventually I would be better.
     If only Evangeline was like that. I could push all I wanted, but she wouldn’t budge. Trying to move her was like trying to move a mountain, heck, may as well make it five mountains! Either way, I wasn’t gaining any ground in the Eva-Cade category.
     But of course, thinking about her only distracted me which made me fall in the barrel and that was painful. I surfed back out to the break again and determined that no thoughts of mine would stray to Evangeline, oh snap! I’d just thought her name! And there goes the perfect wave…

     Well, surfing was a big flop. I really don’t know what it is, but I can’t stop thinking about her! I swear I’m going mad. It was like she had taken over me!
It. Has. To. Stop.  …at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself. Well then, on to distraction number two, whatever that is.

     And here I was walking into her shop again, for the second time that day! Yegads, this was becoming a problem. “Hey Evangeline!”
     “Collin,” she replied in the same dismissive tone as last time, but to my unending surprise she turned on her stool and looked at me…incredulously?
     “How’s everything coming?”
     “As well as it was three hours ago.”
     “Well, that’s good then.”
     “Do you need something or are you just going to mindlessly blabber on and waste my time?”
     “Well, we’re just sunshine and daisies today aren’t we?”
     “Stress takes the joy out of even the most innocent of things,” she muttered and turned around.
     “Out of curiosity, what are you making,” I felt was justified by the mass – nee blob – of metal in front of her.
     “Oh, be quiet!”
     “You shouldn’t snap at people, it is after all a legitimate question.”
     “Hard to argue with you there.”
     “What? You’ve admitted defeat?”
     “Well, as much as I hate to say it you have a bit of a point,” Evangeline murmured and gave a small chuckle. “This is a mess, and I think I will have to start all over.”
     “I didn’t know you ever started all over.”
     “Well, no one is perfect Collin.”
     “Right, of course not,” sha-bang! The pedestal was knocked over! And then promptly picked back up. Of course no one was perfect, that is except Evangeline. How silly of me to doubt.
     I left her shop happy, mainly because I had spent time in the presence of Evangeline Cadence Holt and that was enough for me, until I tried to surf again and found it to be quite impossible. What was there to be done if not surfing? It’s not like I had a hobby.
    
     Reading did not come naturally to me, at all. In fact it was so unnatural that I often listened to most books I wanted to read, but when Evangeline told me the title of her favorite book I read it. And now, in an effort to distract me of her, I was going to try my hand at reading again. It was the worst thing I had ever done to myself in my entire life. I am not even exaggerating!
     In my incompetence I picked up the longest most boring book I have ever seen, okay that might be an exaggeration, but! Despite that I tried my hardest, and it was horrible! It was like trying to read another language except I understood the language, but not really. Argh! Nothing should be this boring! This had to be one of the longest days of my life.


***

     And summer faded into fall and I was still a dog sitting by her table waiting to lick up whatever scraps she threw at me, except recently I was being beaten by someone by the name of Damon Daitaro, whom I affectionately referred to as Dee Dee.
     While I was away monitoring the Gold Coast that summer Evangeline had met Damon. Apparently they hit it off real well, but I’m inclined to think she’s just going out with him because she feels sorry for him. Dee Dee is nowhere near as good looking as I am and his personality is lacking. Obviously I’m in denial, but I’ll deny that at all costs!
     Damon was well read. At least that’s what she said when I asked her why she was interested in him (yes! Our relationship had been labeled with the term “friends”); nothing more, nothing less. Well, what had he read you might ask, philosophy! Evangeline didn’t even like philosophy, and I know because she laughed at me when I tried to read some. “Tried” being the operative word there.
     So when I came home, tanned and gorgeous from the Australian coast, the first thing I saw was Evangeline with the sickly pale Damon; the nasty, well read, beautiful (his features were more girly than most men), black haired Damon. Ughhh, just thinking his name made me feel sick.
     “Ya’know, Evangeline, that well read is a terrible thing to base a relationship off of,” I said to her one day. I was in her shop picking something out for my mother whose favorite gift was jewelry; plus, Evangeline gave me a discount, oh yes, that’s how close we are.
     “Ya’know, Cauliflower, it’s really none of your business.”
     “I hate that, you know I hate that!”
     “Stop meddling in my affairs.’
     “Stop being stupid,” oh dear, this was going downhill…fast!
     “Oh, I see, I’m not smart enough to choose someone for myself, they all have to have
your stamp of approval.”
     “No, that’s not what I meant.”
     “It’s too late to retract your statement, Cauliflower.”
     “Stop calling me that! And I didn’t mean you were stupid, I meant that it’s stupid to
date someone because he’s read more than you have.”
     “He’s read more than me?”
     “Oh, come off it Evangeline, you don’t even like philosophy,” she didn’t respond for a
very long time. Instead she seemed to be considering what I’d said, like my assessment of
their relationship mattered.
     “Whatever Collin, we’re really just friends anyways.”
     She gave me the best possible answer I could’ve asked for! “We’re just friends,” those
three words had never made me so happy.
     “Like you and I?”
     “Yes, like you and I, Cauliflower.”
     So maybe I was hoping for a more positive response, but friends was progress.

     “Hello Evangelinia! I come baring gifts,” and I had. She’d told me the other day that
she would be working late so I brought her… “in the form of coffee, coffee, more coffee,
and some sugar,” she never had cream in her coffee, I thought it was disgusting.
     “Thank you Collin! I don’t think I’ve loved you anymore than I do right now.”
     Was it my ears or had she said love? “It’s my pleasure.”
     “Gosh, I haven’t even been home yet.”
     “What are you working on?”
     “A commission, it’s a five piece set. One ring, two bracelets, one pair of earrings, and
one necklace.”
     “Why does she need two bracelets?”
     “One is a tennis bracelet.”
     “Oh.”
     “You wanna see?”
     “Sure.”
     She pulled me to a case where the finished pieces were. The were quite beautiful, with
intricate little twist and designs.
     “What’s that?”
     “It’s their family crest.”
     “A table? That’s strange.”
     “I know, I agree, but she wanted the family crest so I put it in, table and all.”
     “Well, they look amazing.”
     “I hope she feels the same.”
     “You’ve got nothing to worry about, she’ll love them.”
     “Thanks Collin.”

     It was fall, what was there to do in fall but surfing? That’s right, I pulled out the
wetsuit and headed down to the beach. It wasn’t difficult this time. I was pulling reverse
aerials, lip slash’s, and backside turns off to perfection. It felt so good to be good.
Especially with all the noobs staring and murmuring to themselves about how good I
was. They were definitely feeding my ego, and I loved it.



***


     Winter took me away from Evangeline, but a short break brought me back
     “Hey, don’t normally see you around this time of year,” Evangeline said when I
came into her shop to say hello.
     “Yeah, I get a break this year. I’m heading back in a week.”
      “Oh that’s cool, how’s Vermont been?”
      “Excellent. Excellent conditions, excellent wipe outs, excellent yard sales, excellent
noobs for me to yell at.”
     “That’s sounds…excellent.”
     “It was.”
      “What’s a yard sale, I mean, unless you’re talking about the literal kind?”
      “Oh, it’s when someone wipes out so bad that everything goes flying, like their
gloves, and goggles, and hat and things,” I replied laughing.
     “Oh, that makes sense.”
     “Yeah, do you do any sports?”
     “I run, and play a little tennis.”
     “I’ll have to take you snowboarding sometime, it’s pretty simple.”
     “Whatever, I’ve seen the Olympics, there’s nothing simple looking about it.”
     “You fly up next Monday and I’ll meet you at the airport.”
     “Sure, Collin, sure,” and so the date was set.

     Monday brought with it excitement and freezing cold temperatures not to mention loads of snow, heaping bucketfuls of snow.
     “Hey Evangeline, how are you?”
     “Cold, c’mon then, let’s get this over with,” she said and began to trudge through the snow.
     We walked to my car where I packed her stuff in. You’d think she was staying for a month with the amount of clothes she had brought.
     “Goodness, I hope we make it up the mountain.”
     “You’re the one who said to come.”
     “Yeah, keep reminding me.”
     “Where am I staying anyways?”
     “I’ve booked a place for you near the lodge.”
     “Where do you stay?”
     “With the other patrollers.”
     “Come on, we’ve got a lot work to do.”
     And “come on” I did. The drive up the mountain was the quietist drive I had ever been privy to. It was terrible to sit by her, Evangeline, and know that I had no idea what to say. I mean, what could I talk about? Snowboarding? Surfing? Dead grandmothers who leave behind jewelry? No. Nothing was going to work, nothing. I was a hopeless conversationalist and it was miserably noticeable.
    Five long sighs later – from both of us – and nothing had changed. We were silent, we were deathly silent, I began to doubt whether blood flowed through our veins at all. Were we even alive? What was life defined by, consciousness? Maybe we were all dead and we didn’t even know it; maybe I should stop asking such stupid questions to myself, and all in my head no less!
     And that was when I noticed that she was sneaking looks at me. You know the kind, sidelong and never really making eye contact. I suddenly felt like a little kid again, afraid to go in the pantry because of the Quaker Oats guy that never blinked or moved, but always seemed to be staring, watching…observing me. He creeped me out and now she was akin to him because she creeped me out, and now I had compared Evangeline to the Quaker Oats guy; I was a terrible person. A terrible, terrible person.
     I decided to sneak my own looks, which sometimes collided with hers. We would then laugh or smile awkwardly and turn away. Wahhhhhhhhhhh! I was certain that insanity was next if I ever made it out of this car ride alive, if I even was alive…
     “Well, here we are,” I said, finally out of that blasted car!
     “Yes, here we are.”
     “I’ll get the big stuff, here’s the key.”
     “Oh, thanks,” she muttered and we walked around to the back of the car.
     “Look,” I said while I pulled in her suitcases, “I’ll meet you back here in an hour, I gotta check in with my supervisor and stuff, so you be ready.”
     “What about my board?”
     “I’ll bring all of that with me, what size shoe do you wear?”
     “Seven.”
     “Okay, see ya later.”
     “Okie-dokie.”
     An hour went by quickly, more quickly than I thought it would. I might’ve been a little late, okay, so maybe an hour late.
     “You’re late,” were the words that I received when knocking on her door two hours later.
     “It took longer than I thought,” I said and stepped in the door with the two board bags and my helmet.
     “Hey, why do you get to look like that and I have to wear this stuff,” she said incredulously when she saw my duds. I mean, they were pretty spiffy, I wasn’t on duty so I got to wear my fancy stuff.
     “What are you talking about? The North Face is a widely excepted brand in terms of snowboarding.”
     “Yeah, but you’re so colorful and stuff.”
     “Well, it’s Burton, what do you expect?”
     “And your goggles have a cool design, mine are plain.”
     “Hey, these are expensive goggles and they’re Dragon. Besides yours are Oakley and they match your outfit.”
     “Yeah, but your outfit doesn’t match.”
     “And you’re pouting about that?”
     “Why don’t I get the cool clothes?”
     “You can’t look the part until you can board the part, it’s a rule of thumb. Think of this as your initiation.”
     “Well then,” long, disappointed sigh, “I guess we’d better get going.”

     “Alright, that’s it keep it on your heels, yeah, yeah, good! Yes, that’s excellent, okay now lean a bit, that’s right, swing around, kick your back foot out, yes! Alright now, it’s okay, no, no, it’s okay, that’s right, ease into your toe side. That’s great, that’s great, you’re doing great. Woot! You are toe side master.”
     “Would you shut up!”
     “Why?”
     “Because I just started, I know I’m terrible.”
     “Alright, no encouragement.”
     “Thank goodness!”
     “Alright, we’re gonna go down on the toe side,” I said and took her hands to catch her if she started falling. We went down a little ways, but the speed was killing me. We moved at a snail stuck in molasses pace. “Okay, I’m gonna go a little ways and watch you come down.”
     “What if I fall?”
     “It’s all part of learning,” I boarded down awhile and stopped at the bottom of a hill. “Okay, okay, good! Now stick your butt out more. Bend in your knees. That’s right, that’s right, point with your hand,” I yelled, she turned around to glare at me and fell over onto her back and slid down a little ways.
     “Oof,” was all she said.
     “Are you okay?”
     “Can you help me stand up?”
     “Well, I’m down here, I’d have to unstrap myself to get up there, I showed you how to stand remember?”
     “But my head is pointing down the mountain!”
     “Well, sit up, turn around, and then stand up.”
     “That sounds difficult,” and so the snowboarding lessons commenced.
     At the end of the week she could go down reasonably well and fishtail a tiny bit. It was more than I expected from her anyways.
     “Well, did you have fun,” I asked at the end of the week while we ate dinner.
     “Yeah, but it hurt.”
     “It’s all part of learning.”
     “Well, this is the most painful sport I’ve ever done,” she said and downed four Ibuprofen.
     Evangeline came up for a week the next year too.

***

     “Hello Evangeline,” I said, walking into her shop, “I have lunch for you and I wanted to ask you about going to see the uni tennis tourney tomorrow.”
     “Thank you and yes. I think they’ll do well.”
     “Well, Matt has decided they will, I hope he doesn’t kill them what with all the training he’s making them do.” Oh, did you catch that? Evangeline was going to the tourney with me. That’s right, me! Things had gone from inches to miles recently, and I had a suspicion that it was only going to get better.
     “He won’t kill them, then he’d have no team to coach.”
     “Yeah, I hope he sees it that way too.”

     The day for the tournament was bright and sunny and hot, I felt sorry for the competitors. I picked Evangeline up and we talked the whole way there. Not about anything important, just stuff. In fact most of it was boring, really boring. We talked about work, oh yeah, fun stuff for me to hear about her work. It was all, “so then I had to take apart the links and start again. Then the crimp came out at the end so I had to fix that, and when I did that I forgot to put the ring back on so it couldn’t fasten. It was terrible”. Yeah, funnn stuff.
     Of course I’m sure my work stuff would be interesting to her too. I could say, “there was too much foam on the rail, and the nose was too narrow and the base was too wide and it was pretty much a dinosaur of a board. Ya’know? I could hardly even turn on that thing”. My surfboard talk would be beyond her, no doubt.
     The tourney went well for the most part, several of our players won, and a few players from the competing universities won, but, considering that it was our invitational we did really well. Matt and Hayden pushed the team near to death, and we didn’t watch the women’s matches. No one really cares about their matches anyways.
     Overall, it was a fun time. Evangeline and I watched quietly and cheered when we should, but not excessively, that would dock points from our player.
     “So, Steven looked pretty good today, it’s a shame he didn’t make it to the consolation.”
     “Yeah, I think he was having a bad day,” she replied wiping her forehead clean of sweat.
     “You can’t afford to have those in tennis, I hope Matt and Hayden don’t kill him for it.”
     “Those glorified tennis coaches need to get over themselves.”
     “And yet those glorified tennis coaches have the best team in the state.”
     “Yup.”
     “That’s all?”
     “I decided to make it a one-sided argument and let you run with it, so…run.”
     “Hang it all, I’m not going to argue with myself.”
     “Unless it’s about what to eat for breakfast.”
     “That’s different, it’s more of a discussion anyways.”
     “Whatever Cauliflower, you’re crazy and we both know it,” and that was the final assessment of my sanity.
     I dropped Evangeline off at her workshop and drove away to my lifeguard seat where I part-timed in the Spring, I was supposed to be on duty in five minutes, and the beach was twenty minutes away…oh well.
     The water was flat; I’d seen more bumps on glass, even so, there were still a few dumb surfers out there trying to catch a wave. Grommets is what we call them, those noobies who aren’t good for anything but a laugh, which is what I got every time they tried to catch an almost nonexistent wave on their short boards which they obviously didn’t know how to ride. I felt like going out there and telling them to get long boards, but then I’d have to talk to the grommets and that was degrading in and of itself.
     The only time you communicated with them was when you were one: yelling at them to get off the beach because they can’t surf. Two: yelling at them for coming in on you and stealing your wave, which real surfers never did, or three: yelling at them because they were wasting every good barrel on a long board, when I needed to practice my tricks on my much more agile short board. They really are just a bunch of annoying Surfies who don’t know left from right.
     They weren’t really surfing clean today either, which meant that hadn’t been surfing long. They were dropping in practically on top of people and creating some nasty wipe out. I was just waiting for that one person to hit their head, or cut their foot. Then I’d have to go in and drag them out before they bled to death, that was lots of fun.
     While contemplating life without grommets I realized what my great thing was. I saved people’s lives for a living. I did it life guarding and I did it ski patrolling. I drove people down the mountain when they had serious injuries, or minor ones, and I did it when I pulled a drowning surfie or swimmer from the water or people with minor injuries.
     It was cool to know that I was worthy now, I may not have been known nationally like she was, but the people that I saved knew me by name, and the respected me just as much as jewelry-type people respected her.


***


     It hadn’t been too long since I got back from Australia that I noticed my progress with Evangeline was, well…progressing. We were much closer friends than last spring and she seemed like she was becoming more receptive to my feelings for her, but she still called me Cauliflower.
     She started calling me that to annoy me, and it worked, it still works, I hate it. It’s especially awful because there are no demeaning nicknames for Evangeline. I mean what do you call her that’s mean? Eva, Evie, Angel, Eve, Angeline, Evan, Geline, Line, Evangel? Nothing was working here.
     Either way, we were becoming closer and friendlier and happier with each other, and I didn’t know when I would finally tell her that I’ve loved her since day one, but I knew that when I did she would agree. She would argue first, and she would laugh at me, and she would make fun of me, and she would tell me I’m stupid, and she would tell other people about it and about how silly I am, and maybe I’m convincing myself to never tell her. Nah. I’ll tell her, eventually.