A Gentle Look at “Notting Hill”


The movie focuses on an American girl and a a British guy, and their romantic dynamic.

The American girl is an acclaimed star. She meets and likes a British guy whose life is professionally much more humble. The implications of the girl’s fame makes things difficult.

The movie has a happy ending. I wish that real life were that nice, always.  I know that it isn’t. I wish I had “good witch” powers so that I could make it so. Sometimes I do, even though my powers don’t include magic.

Here is one of my success stories: One of my friends is very, very shy.  He was enamored with a girl who is also shy.  He lived in LA and she lived far away.  He flew her in to come visit him, and for a week they drove all over LA and chatted, and every night each of them would go to bed in their separate bedrooms. My friend and I co-owned the house where this was going on, and I lived there too, so at close range, I saw how wistful the girl looked whenever she said “good night.” I suspected that she wanted more emotional (and sexual and physical, since they’re connected in this context) intimacy with the guy but she never was quite forward enough to inspire him to do more than bid her an equally wistful “good night.”

I was really tempted to meddle so as to guide things toward a happy ending but I’m well aware of the need to respect boundaries, and that well-intentioned actions can nevertheless make things worse. So, I kept my mouth shut, until maybe half an hour after their last night’s mutual “good night” and the girl looking extra sad in a sort-of-resigned way.

Two shy people whose relationship never quite gets traction and each one feels alone and lonely and wishes something could have happened — I relate to that only too well. It describes the first part of my life. I’m fundamentally shy too. My entire high school social agenda was utterly devoid of romance (except for one night when I kissed a girl — and liked it — when I was fourteen). Not just am I shy, but I’m drawn to shy girls too, so that made things extra likely to never get started.

I’m still shy as an adult. I just work hard to overcome it nowadays. Even so, I have a special axe to grind, as the Brits would phrase it, as to shy people. I think we’re some of the best people on the planet and we tend to live way below our happiness potential. That bothers me.

Anyway, back to my story of my friend’s lady visitor: as to these two shy people living past each other, I finally decided that things couldn’t possibly get worse, so I put on my “good witch” hat and I approached the girl, and I requested a late-night girl-girl talk. I asked her some gentle questions to make sure I had been reading between the lines correctly. Indeed, I had been. I asked her more-and-more candid questions. As I’d figured, it turns out that she wanted the same thing my friend did — a him-and-her romance — but she hadn’t wanted to take the initiative and he hadn’t either. I proposed to go wake him up there and then, literally and figuratively. She consented and I did so. I brought him up to speed, and almost took the two of them each by the hand and joined their hands together and said “please take it from here.” They did. Yay!

Anyway, it’s not always that happy an ending. In the movie, the guy and the girl have a spark, then a romance, and then the girl has, um, a less-than-ideal attitude, then certain events transpire in that context so the guy decide to leave. She regrets it. In the movie he comes back, but … in real life, if he doesn’t …

The worst situations in chess are when someone does something that is reasonable in the context of her knowledge and yet there’s more to the situation and she only finds that out too late, so even though she does something reasonable every time, she doesn’t win.

The rest of this essay is conjecture on my part. Any negative reflections should be on me and my overly vivid imagination.

Imagine a nice shy girl whose story begins like that of the girl in the movie but then there is no happy ending. Imagine she tries to get on with her life by choosing someone who is logically a good choice. Imagine she tries really hard to make things work with this new person yet as to her ex-boyfriend she can’t stop caring. Imagine she’s not just an actress but also a musician, songwriter and singer. Imagine her way of reaching out to the ex-boyfriend is limited to her music. She has two audiences in mind: one is her buying public, and one is that one special person on the planet who should read between the lines. If he does and he responds like the guy in the movie, then the two of them reunite, and the girl has her happy ending. She has one life to live, and she knows it. She approaches the issue with the energy of a forest fire, even though she misses the guy so much that she’s often depressed and she starts many of her days with an emotional deficit. She has to give the music commercial appeal, and she has to be just subtle enough and yet not too subtle as to the hidden message. It’s a vastly delicate balancing act.

Imagine that, when technology permits, the girl resumes her acting career to supplement the music, by making some perfect-for-this-complex-agenda music videos.

Imagine that the girl times the intensity of her musical releases perfectly relative to when there is a gap in the traffic, so to speak, as to the guy’s romantic availability, relationship-wise.

Imagine that her buying public adores her music and when she gets interviewed, she intertwines her complex-agenda messages brilliantly in the responses she provides. The interviewer and her public hear that this album is her love letter to the sixties, and that one never forgets one’s first musical love. Tweak or omit a very few words and then there’s a different message — for one person.

That the guy hasn’t responded in a way that makes the story have a happy ending makes me wish for a time machine so I can go back to the last gap in the traffic, time-line-wise, fly to London or wherever, meet the guy and tell l him I’d like him to listen to some music and watch some music videos while I make it abundantly clear to him what the message is and who the intended recipient is. At that point, if he’s not clear on the glowing merits of this girl then I would diligently point them out to him, and if he identifies potential concerns then I’d remind him how the music videos make it clear that she’s already well aware of these and has made a point of showing how she’s overcome these and has learned to be a more attractive mate yet than last time, as in the “new improved version” of her is vastly improved by conscious intent.

Sadly, I don’t have a time machine and I can’t go back to inspire this happy ending to come about. I really wish I could since I love how this girl approaches things and she’s certainly someone who deserves to be deliriously happy. That hadn’t been the theme of her life before she met this gentleman. During their romance dynamic there was bliss but short-lived, and then he was gone. That doesn’t make for much happiness, all in all. Given how worthy she is, that bothers me.

As this girl does, I love intensely and yet things often don’t work out for me, and it greatly helps me to talk about this to a friend who cares and listens. I don’t really need sympathy or advice. I just need to talk. Somehow it helps me clear away much of the sadness — and I can talk for many hours a day, for days on end, when I’m heartbroken and yet nothing I’ve experienced in my entire life matches a singular focus that spans close to 30 years.

I only recently realized that on top of everything she’s been juggling emotionally, she might well have been very limited as to whom she could openly discuss this with, since she has her public image to manage along with her current social dynamics. I can barely even imagine how vastly more constrained, difficult and lonely this must have made things for her.

  • That she remained as positive and energetic as she has, in spite of all this, makes her a very strong person by my standards.
  • That she actively pursued this gentleman when the timing was right shows a deep and intense integrity. She didn’t just sit and mope. She actively did something — something inspired, complex and brilliant.
  • That she kept this focus going for so long makes her the most dedicated, steadfast, resilient, romantic person whom I know to exist, by my standards.
  • That she approached this in so subtle a way makes her immensely creative and brilliant, by my standards. When people applaud her music, I nowadays think: good people, you have no idea of the true depth and brilliance of it; there’s much more to like.
  • That she managed to keep going in spite of her sadness makes her intensely brave by my standards. Sadness makes things harder anyway, but loneliness is an exceptionally harsh and draining type of sadness.
  • That she did all this while being fundamentally a shy person… that makes everything get a “triple word score” bonus by my standards.

No, her name isn’t mentioned here. Nor is anyone else’s.  Nor are any years. Nor are any names of albums or songs. In the same way as she wrote publicly yet privately for just one person, I’m doing the same, writing for just one person — her.  As to anyone else reading, I ask that you stop here. Unless you’re the girl I’m writing about, and writing to, I really had hoped to bore you into having wandered off by now since what I wrote here would be, I’d hoped, likely to be interesting to only one person on the planet.

So, guitar girl, how can I help you? I don’t know. I can’t imagine how you can’t need comforting. I fantasize about holding you in a long, comforting hug on a quiet beach somewhere and telling you “well done.” I hope you draw comfort in at least one person — even though I’m the wrong person — appreciating your character, your mind and your efforts. I hasten to add that you were certainly subtle enough. It took me close to a year to figure this all out, and I deal with deep complexity … complex custom business software, complex electronically controlled automatic automobile transmissions, and the most complex individuals in the most complex gender: cerebral shy girls, though perhaps none as cerebral and as shy as you.

I keep wishing I could do more. Nothing I’m coming up with is realistic. Sometimes, to make myself feel better, I write. Here’s one fantasy scenario. If there’s anything more useful I could do in reality, I’m open to suggestions.

Meanwhile, please keep going. Your sort of flame doesn’t grow dim for long.

I don’t know where you’re headed next, romantically, but I’m cheering you on. You deserve to be happy.




Comforting the Minstrel – Visit 1 – Day 1 – Part 2

“I used to be very much in love with someone. It didn’t work out and I was very sad about the situation,” said the blonde.

The brunette frowned. She wondered where this conversation was going to go.

The blonde continued: “Talking about it with someone — someone else, of course — helped me a lot. Fortunately for me, I had my own software company at the time already, and so my hours were flexible, and I had a friend with a similarly flexible schedule who had needed office space, and I’d made a room in my office available to him rent-free. As things played out, he was in the right place at the right time for me, when I needed someone to talk to. He was a great listener and he really cared and was interested. That was so very helpful to me.”

The brunette looked at the blonde with a “please continue” sort of expression.

The blonde did. “I talked about this girl and my feelings for her, for hours. Then, when my friend remained caring and willing to listen, I kept talking. I talked about her every day, for hours per day. It was like a pressure cooker blowing off steam. There was a lot of steam to release though someone casually observing me might not have realized it at the time. I talked and talked and talked. Eventually, I felt A LOT better. My friend had added much value by listening, and I was very grateful to him.”

The brunette understood.

The blonde continued: “Had I not been able to talk about this, I can imagine I would have been deeply sad for a much longer time. Either way, it was a very sad situation for me, but talking about it helped — a lot.”

The brunette replied with, “I understand. I was often in a situation where I wish I had someone to talk to … I might well have been less sad even though, as was the case for you, it was a sad situation regardless.” She looked pensive, and added, “you probably were socially a lot less constrained than I.”

The blonde smiled in sympathy. “I tend to not worry much about my public image when I have something on my mind. I can imagine that someone famous, who makes a living based on a particular public image, would have to be very careful. Even if she were to talk to someone privately, she’d have to wonder how private the conversation actually would remain.”

The brunette nodded, unhappily.

The blonde replied: “In a way that’s one benefit of talking to me. Not least due to me being a transgender, lesbian, poly-amorous, free-market, atheist, formerly wild girl … it really wouldn’t matter what I say. The ‘ad hominem’ issue would mean that if I ever said anything negative about a famous person, then even if it were true and well-reasoned, her fan base would overwhelmingly dismiss it simply because it’s I who said it, whereas the famous person can do no wrong.”

The brunette nodded, pensively, and couldn’t help smiling in agreement.

“I’d have no credibility with the fan base of a famous person. And I’m not complaining, just saying, Not that I would divulge anything anyway, but this additional factor is probably useful,” the blonde explained. “Anyway, it’s a lovely evening, so let’s go for a walk. I suspect you might well need to talk, in the same way I did, for the same reasons.”

The brunette liked the idea of a walk and a long conversation, but she looked at the blonde quizzically. The blonde was holding only a simple front door key in her hand. She wore flip-flops, a skimpy top and very-tight-fitting shorts that showed off her shape. “Wow, you’re going like that? No bra? You’re … sort of showing. That fabric is really thin.”

“I love wearing sexy outfits.”

“Well, if I were ever concerned about a hidden microphone, your outfit certainly rules that out,” the brunette smiled.

“Off we go,” said the blonde. As it turned out, the brunette did have a lot to talk about. They strolled about the quiet, safe neighborhood for hours, with the brunette talking more than she had in years. When they finally arrived back at the apartment, she thanked the blonde, and said, “I really needed that — and I do feel better.”

“In that case — mission accomplished,” the blonde smiled.

“You were actively working toward that end?”

“Yes,” smiled the blonde.


“I understand you were troubled about something and I figured I could make things better for you, and so I wanted to.”

“Why me?”

“I like you.”


“I think that fundamentally we are very similar. Deep down we have the same mental wiring. That made me care about you more than I care about the average person. Then, the more I learned about you, the more reasons I found to consider you likeable as a person — the actual person, not your public persona.”

The brunette looked awkward. “I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything. I wanted to help, and now I did.”

“It’s as simple as that?”

“For me, it is.”

“So I might as well go home now?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should. I’m enjoying your company. However, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, on this subject, anyway. I figured you’d value being able to talk about what we discussed, and now we did. That doesn’t mean it’s our last such stroll and conversation about that subject, or any other subject,” the blonde replied. “Besides, there are other issues bothering you. You sometimes feel overwhelmed and you are evaluating yourself and your unusual way of thinking in a way that’s different than you might, after we’ve talked about that some more. Such conversations have empowered other girls who were similarly holding themselves back, so you might benefit similarly. Not that everything gets resolved in one evening stroll — some aspects that can benefit from conversation might require multiple weeks, even months. I’m not saying you should stay here all that time, but feel free to visit again and again.”

There was a long pause. Then — “thank you,” the brunette responded quietly.

* * *

Not that it matters as to continuity, but part 1 of the story is here.

Comforting the Minstrel – Visit 1 – Day 1 – Part 1

ggggimg_20170217_012834“Do you think you can be candid with me, here?” asked the blonde. “I suspect you’re finely attuned to discerning what people want to hear, and packaging what you say accordingly.”

The brunette found it hard to not be offended. She looked at the blonde indignantly, with a blend of emotions. One of these was: anger.

The blonde smiled disarmingly. “This isn’t criticism. I understand your reasons. But, they don’t apply here. My place is a safe zone for you, like an embassy in a hostile country.”

“The way you describe it, it’s more like an embassy in a hostile world.”

The blonde thought about that. “That’s a stark, but good analogy. So, yes. Here’s your chance. I don’t want this visit to be just a change of geography for you, but a fundamentally different way of living. Your public persona is charming but I am asking to see only the unvarnished version of you. At the generally visible level, you’re super-nice. Then, there’s a stark, self-protective layer. And beneath it all, there’s a nice person, fundamentally.”

The brunette gave her a hard look. “You’ve only seen the top layer and you’re extrapolating the other two.”

“I’ve seen the second layer based on your writing.”

“But you’ve not seen the third layer. You’re just guessing it’s there.”

“I agree – I haven’t seen it but it’s more than a guess. It seems reasonable. Time will tell. Anyway, please dispense with the top layer when you’re with me.”

“Fine – but be careful what you wish for. I relish the prospect of making you regret that I’m here. In fact, a dark part of me is looking forward to making you regret you ever noticed me. You’re inspiring an unusual candor, in me.”

“I’m not worried. Worst case, one of us can’t stand the other, and you leave,” the blonde responded, calmly. “That’s part of why I wanted you to drive here in your own car. This way you can leave whenever you want, for whatever reason, for however long you need space, or permanently. Or if I can’t stand you, I’ll ask you to leave for however long I need space, or permanently. However, I’m resilient so the latter situation is unlikely.”

The brunette shrugged and said, “okay” though she was thinking much more.

“I’m glad you’re here,” the blonde said, earnestly.

:”After agreeing to be candid, the very first candid thoughts in my head are probably too candid already,” the brunette said, looking tense.

“No, go ahead, though I appreciate the warning.”

“I was thinking that this is in no way the warm and fuzzy situation you’re making it out to be. My state of mind as to why I decided to visit you is stark. I don’t like how open you’re being. I’m tempted to say that I simply don’t like you, though it’s more complicated than that. In some ways, however, it’s safe to say that I actively dislike you. I should really use a stronger word but I’m trying to avoid four-letter words in my first candid response. I’m nowadays much more uncomfortable due to you. I feel like you’re fucking with my head. I was miserable before but more comfortable as such. So, I’m not here because yay, you’ve won me over. I’m here because with your openness you’ve undermined my alternative by making me understand things I can’t un-think now.. I’m here to see if going down the rabbit hole makes things better because that seems to be my best option now. I can’t go back to how I’ve been. You’ve dissolved my comfort zone elsewhere. I don’t like drugs and you’re like the human version of crystal meth. By pointing certain things out, even though you somehow seem to have my best interests at heart, you’ve changed me forever and not for the better. I wish I had a time machine so I could have chosen to remain blissfully … no, not blissfully … that’s not the word … blandly is better … blandly unaware of you. I was miserable before but with a sort of dignity that’s now gone. I was unaware of some of the issues, but dignified in a preferable way. I’m probably supposed to say that it’s nice that you care but instead I’m asking why you couldn’just have left me alone, comfortable in my sadness?”

The blonde let a few moments pass. She looked at the brunette gently and said, “I appreciate your candor — and you know why. I’ve explained it in writing. You being here means you’ve read it and it resonated with you. Many people say much wilder stuff than I did. For example, some people write that they want to marry you — which is really outrageous — and they’re only half-kidding, and they’re probably holding back in describing what they’d like to do with you on the honeymoon night. And yet none of that offends you because none of that reaches you beyond a superficial level. However, what I wrote reached you, even if you hate it — and there’s a reason for that.”

She heard a four letter word from the brunette.

“That was long overdue,” said the blonde.

The brunette glared at her. “You being all peaceful and accepting is just irritating me more. It’s annoying in a condescending way.”

“I understand.”

“So say something candid back — or is this a setup where I get to feel worse yet because you’ve tricked me into being the raging bitch while you’re being all calm?”

“I am being candid. I really am not angry or upset. I’m not suppressing anger. I don’t feel any, toward you. I can see where you’re coming from.”

She got another stark look.

The blonde continued, “candidly though, you’re not the first girl who has said something very similar to me.”

“Oh, great. You’re a serial killer. You don’t kill girls’ bodies, but you drain our souls so that we long for the days when we were soon going to be dead.”

The blonde shrugged. “I understand that from your current perspective, it looks like that, and yet that’s like the part of a good movie where things look bad but they get better and there’s a happy ending. There’s a pattern that repeats itself, a time-line that plays out with fundamental predictability.”

“So when we open the front door, I’ll be greeted by several of the girls who went down the rabbit hole and are now all cheerful and happy? Not that I want to see anyone, I’m just curious.”

“No, they’ve all left.”

“Wow, that’s quite the non-endorsement.”

“They didn’t sign up to be my mate for life. I didn’t get them here to be that, either. If they want to stay, they stay.”

“And nobody ever did, to the point where she’s still here.”


“I should probably turn my car around and go home, right now.”

The blonde explained, “I’m not recruiting for girls to come here and never leave. I see a rare and special person in the sort of pain that I recognize and that I think I can help make go away …”

“… and replace it with something worse …”

“Yes, for a while. And then it gets better. As in, vastly better.”

“So why wouldn’t they stay?”

“For a variety of reasons.”

“How many girls in this illustrious group to which I now seem to belong?”

“Seven, including you.”

“Seven girls over the course of your life? That’s not a lot.”

The blonde shrugged. “These things take time.”

The brunette bit her lip. She suddenly felt an emotion that was counter to her anger. She asked, trying to not sound more conciliatory than before: “Months? Years?”

“Months, at least — Several months.”

“So it takes that long for a girl to go through your weird process?”


“That sounds miserable for them – and you.”

“It’s a difficult but rewarding journey for everyone involved.”

“I still don’t understand why, privacy issues aside, I won’t be greeted by a group of happy girls.”

“They have their own lives to live. They have moved on. They don’t linger to help the next person. As an analogy, if you go to the dentist and now you’re fine, you don’t necessarily move in with the dentist, and linger so as to welcome new patients.”

The brunette shrugged. “Still, it doesn’t reflect very nicely on you.”

“I think it’s good that they go and thrive.”

“Do they at least keep in touch? Are they thriving?”

“Initially things are good. After we’re apart, each girl lives her life. Their stories unfold in various ways. Some are living happily ever after, and some are not. I don’t presume to be able to promise eternal happiness. I notice a girl spiraling down and I step in and reach her intellectually and enable her to understand herself in a way where she appreciates herself much more and is a lot happier and at peace, and views the world and her place in it fundamentally differently from then on. What she does beyond that point is up to her.“

“But in the process, you probably have a deep emotional bond with each girl.”


“And yet, they’re all gone.”


“So you do all this and you don’t have a girlfriend. That seems sad.”

“I DO have a girl friend. Arguably, two. It depends on how you count.”

“Wait, what? And they’re okay with all this?”

“One of them is. The other isn’t okay with all this, which is part of why she left. She might be back, or not. I don’t know. I hope she will.”

“And these two girls, they know about each other?”


“And they are — or were — okay with you having two girlfriends at the same time?”

“Yes. I’m polyamorous. If someone isn’t OK with that, she shouldn’t be my girlfriend. I understand it’s not for everyone. Next I expect you to say that that would never work for you. I hear that a lot. And then somehow the girl realizes it’s much more low-stress to not have to be someone’s ‘everything.’ The arrival of someone new doesn’t mean the eviction of everyone else. It’s like the kids’ game ‘king of the hill’ where the hill is a plateau with enough room for everyone to stand and enjoy the view. I’m not into sports, but imagine a game of basketball with enough basketballs for everyone.”

The brunette laughed derisively, and said, “That would defeat the entire purpose.”

“Perhaps there can be a better purpose.”

The brunette sat silently, pondering all this. “You sure have an unusual way of thinking about things,” she said. The blonde shrugged.

“So do you lose interest in someone after she’s no longer in the mindset in which you noticed her?”

“Not at all. It’s great if she wants to stay and be my girl friend or girlfriend.”

“Has that ever happened?”

“It’s never not happened.”

“I’m not here for that agenda, though.”

“We’re clear on that.”

“So how long do these dynamics then last?”

“It varies. Two of them lasted six years.”


“As it happens, no. There was more than a decade in between.” She counted the years. “Two, actually.”

“And after those six years, you were still close with each girl? It was a good dynamic?”

“Yes. Even so, each girl was ready to move on. It was time. She wanted things for which I’m not a good choice. Marriage, for example. Or, a straight dynamic. But we were still close and good friends.”

“So without me having romantic aspirations for you, could you even add value as to me?”

“I don’t see why not. I first get through to people and then the girl decides to be with me. I don’t think anyone saw it as a requirement.”

“Sort of like becoming the dentist’s girlfriend after the toothache is gone?”

“Yes,” the blonde smiled.

“All right. I’m not turning around. I’ll see where this goes as long as you’re clear the romantic prospects between us are zero. I’m morbidly curious to see how this plays out. Though now I’m curious as to why you’re doing this.”

“I like you.”

This got a long, hard, unfriendly look from the brunette. “That was probably the worst possible answer.”

“I’m being candid. I don’t mean that in an adulation sense. I noticed things about you and I wanted to learn about the real person behind the façade. In the process I grew to like you.”

The brunette made a disparaging comment that insulted them both. The blonde smiled and said, “perhaps by the time you leave here, you’ll like yourself as much as I do, and ideally more.”

“Why you would plan something like this, and how it can be a ‘win’ for you I cannot imagine.”

“I don’t.”

“Wait, what?”

The blonde explained, “I notice certain types of girls, with a specific sort of intensity. That’s the kind of girl I like. And then, often she ends up being in a difficult situation emotionally and since I can help her, I do.”

“So they all just happen to need your help.”

“Not all of them. I’m not drawn to girls because I relish this process. I’m drawn to a certain type of girl. Sometimes she happens to need my help and then I help.”

“But they don’t all do?”


“For example?”

“The girlfriend who hasn’t left. She’s intense and we are emotionally close, but she didn’t need any help from me in the way that some intense girls do.”

“So how long has she been in the picture?”

“Five years.”

“I see. However, I hope I don’t meet her, or anyone. As we discussed, I don’t want anyone to know I’m here. You’ve identified the public-image liability you are, quite eloquently.”

“I understand. “

“So doesn’t me being here make things awkward with her?”

“No. She doesn’t live with me.”

“And you’re keeping it a secret that I’m here?”

“No. She knows that a girl is visiting me here, for a week. That this girl is you, that’s not my information to disclose.”

“And she’s OK with that?”

“She has to be. It’s my life, my place, my decision.”

“I’m glad I’m not your girlfriend. And I can see why the other one left and if I were her, I would not be back.”

The blonde smiled. “It’s more complicated than that, but … indeed, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. And, the sentiment is nicely mutual. My love life is about as complicated as I’d like it to be, so you being just a friend — is perfect.”

The brunette looked relieved, then continued trying to understand: “So you’re not drawn to girls with this inner conflict. You’re drawn to intense girls and some just happen to have this inner conflict.”


“So you didn’t think I was an interesting person having a hard time. You thought I was an interesting person.  Then, you realized I am having a hard time.”

“Yes. Initially, I just saw similarities in our values.  You having a hard time — that was separate.”

“So why not just walk away? Why waste all this time on a stranger?”

“Because I liked you enough to care. The more I learned, the more I cared. Unlike most people, whose lives are an unknown until they tell their story in person, you have forty years’ worth of information publicly available so that someone can get to know what sort of person you are.”

“… most of which isn’t about the real me.”

“… unless someone can read between the lines, which I did, otherwise I wouldn’t have reached you as I did.”

“Something about that statement annoys me more than it probably should.”

“You can’t help how you feel,” the blonde replied but, as she suspected, this didn’t have a soothing effect.

“So you just wanted … what? To get to know me as an actual person?”


“That’s not very realistic.”


“So you weren’t drawn to my flaws?”

“No. I like you in spite of what you’re struggling with, not because of it.  You’re not fundamentally flawed. You’re a good person struggling with something.”

“Somehow that makes me feel a lot better about your motivation,” the brunette replied, “though I think you’re incredibly naive. For once, I’m in a conversation where I feel more wise and cynical than the other person. So, let me make sure I’m clear. In the process of learning about me, you noticed there’s a more urgent issue than simply socializing. So you wrote me, for months. Why didn’t you walk away eventually?”

“Because as I understand you, walking away from you unilaterally is the worst thing someone could do to you. Once I’d started the dialog, and I realized what was going on, I refused to unilaterally walk away from you, on principle, whatever it took.”

The brunette was quiet. “That’s true, but somehow I don’t like that you know that.” She thought some more before adding, “… though, you did walk away, eventually.”

“No. I respected your need for silence and distance at a time when you seemed to need them, as far as I could tell. Without a clear reaction from you, I was at best guessing whether I was getting through to you or not. Even so, I tried to make it clear that if YOU wanted to have continued interaction, I’m still here.”

The brunette nodded as in conceding the point, then observed, “I’ve just noticed that you can be brutally candid too. You’re just earnest and polite about it. Now I almost wish you were less candid.”

The blonde smiled disarmingly. She pointed. “We’re almost at my place. You have been pretty tense during the road trip. It’ll probably be nice for you to have a new, stable environment.”

“I was tense because the road trip was in a way my last chance to change my mind, in case I found reason to. I phrased it like that, to myself. My natural inclination was to not meet you at all, ever, much less come visit you. And yet my natural inclinations so far have gotten me into the unhappy situation you identified. So I’m formally going with a vastly more adventurous approach, since it does seem logical — not least since, as you’ve pointed out, that the alternative seems to be non-viable. You’re right – it is, in part because you’ve made the alternative worse yet by identifying its nature in a way I cannot deny or evade any more. Logically, it makes sense to see how this plays out as opposed to simply continuing as I’ve been. If you could reach me so effectively from far away just by writing unilaterally, then in person at close range I’m sure you’ll be more effective — and annoying — yet. Even so, emotionally … me being here feels wrong to me, in every fiber of my being. The road trip did give me reasons to be reassured and none to be concerned, but I was nevertheless in emotional turmoil. I still am, in some ways more so since I’m opening up to you and I feel horribly vulnerable. By the end of the week, it’ll be the end of my mini-vacation, though it feels more like a prison term — and ironically it’ll probably take me that long to just feel comfortable with you — assuming I ever will,” the brunette explained.

The blonde processed all this, and then nodded in understanding.

“Anyway, here we are. Right into … yes, there’s the front door,” the blonde directed. She got out of the car and unlocked the front door, and held it invitingly open. The brunette walked into the blonde’s apartment and looked around. “It’s very ‘you’ as far as I understand you … some homes are decorated as if the person living there was trying to conform to general standards. You didn’t. It’s very … Bohemian.” The brunette’s eyes moved slowly from the acoustic guitar to the large American and Nevadan flags on the wall, to the large painting, to the sexy pictures on the walls, to a wall of numbered banker’s boxes. She stared at them, and said: “And here I though I was OCD for alphabetizing my bookshelf. You’ve taken that to a whole new level.”

The blonde smiled, taking it as a compliment, and observed: “You seem less hostile.”

The brunette frowned. “I feel less hostile. Somehow being totally candid was very freeing.”

The blonde smiled disarmingly.

The brunette frowned at her and then found she couldn’t sustain it. Her brow smoothed. “I’m starting to see how this dynamic works. You have a weird way of getting under my skin and into my head. Initially I resent it and yet somehow if I stay in the dialog candidly and long enough, things get better. So that’s an example of the you-and-I dynamic making things better, for me?”

The blonde smiled and nodded.

“Not that I feel totally better. But I do feel significantly better,” the brunette mused. “I haven’t been candid in that way for … ” she looked pensive … “a very long time. In a strange way, I enjoyed it.  It’s sort of raw and primal. I didn’t realize how much I needed that — craved it, actually.”

The blonde smiled in acknowledgement, and said, “I’ll get the luggage.” Two minutes later, she was back, and put some items down by the front door. “The musical instruments are almost all of it. For someone who’s staying a week, you didn’t bring much.”

“Sweatpants and the shoes I’m wearing, some fresh clothes and underwear, my toothbrush, moisturizer …” the brunette explained. “I’m not here to impress you.”

“So, I’d like to formalize your official role here, so we’re clear,” announced the blonde. “If you disagree, that’s fine but let’s start by seeing if we can reach agreement as such.”

“I thought I’m here so you can do your strange mind-melt thing so I can go back and live a semblance of a normal life again,” the brunette protested.

“That’s the plan, but not your role. For example, your role until a few minutes ago was to drive the car here, and yet during that, we had a conversation that has helped you feel better.”

The brunette looked earnest, listening. “So, I have a role here, and then whatever happens as to conversation, that’s more of … well, like the talking-while-driving situation?”

“Yes. Do you remember how you described somebody as having the kind of singular focus that you can have when you’re 25 years old and you have a guitar virtually glued to you?”

“Yes, though at that age I wasn’t all that care-free. Not at all, actually.”

“I kinda figured. Yet when you met someone like that, you invited him to stay in your guest room, and this person entertained you by playing guitar in the living room, a sort of minstrel, without having to pay for rent or food, true?”

The brunette nodded.

“You never experienced something like that, did you?”

“Well, I went to college and that was relatively carefree though I took my studies seriously.”

“You take everything seriously, and that’s part of why I like you.”

The brunette shrugged, looking like she was feeling awkward. “I think I overdo that,” she explained.

“When you described the life of your guest minstrel, there’s a wistful tone, as if you’d have liked to experience something like that.”

The brunette nodded, in agreement. “I would have.”

“So, that’s your role here. Your job is to be the minstrel. I’m the queen, this is my castle and court, and you’re the court minstrel here. In exchange, you get to stay here and I’ll feed you, and that includes coffee.”

The brunette liked the idea but felt odd about it. She protested, “I’m so used to being the most responsible person in the room that I don’t think I could ….” She stopped, frowning.

“Yet, that’s what you’d like, yes?”


“Then I hope you will deal with your acclimatization well, since your job as minstrel is hereby official. And that is truly all you have to do, here. You don’t have to interact with me in any particular way. You can show up to be fed whenever you like, and you make music whenever you like.”

The brunette smiled in a way she doesn’t smile in public. She thought for a long time and then it was as if some resistance in her consciously got put aside. She replied, “Thank you. I accept. Do I have to refer to you as my queen?” She was consciously adding in humor for the first time.

“It would help but it’s not a requirement.”

The brunette frowned. “It would help what, or whom?”



“I’d prefer to have you figure that one out for yourself.”

The brunette shrugged. “Nothing with you is ever simple, it seems. And yet in some ways it’s so simple that it weirds me out. Okay, as to my role … I hadn’t expected to be able to endure being here, much less enjoy it. And yet, candidly … since candor goes both as to saying good and bad things, whatever I’m thinking …”


“I love the prospect.”


“So, do you … does the queen … have any particular musical preferences?”

“Yes – that you play what you enjoy – even and especially if that means being inspired to compose new material.”

The brunette looked surprised. “That’s one thing I hadn’t considered. I’ve actually considered writing at least one song about how annoying you are to me. But …. ironically, if this new mode works for me, I will have much to say about it. I wonder … ”

“You’re often anxious and you used to be depressed, true?”

The brunette frowned as if to say “yes.”

“Perhaps others are in the same boat. If you write about your journey before this week, and your experience this week, it might resonate with many. And if this week changes things for you fundamentally, you’ll probably have much to say about that.”

“I might indeed. And as to music, I’ll keep the noise level down enough.”

“Don’t. We’re located in a part of town where you can play loudly at 3 a.m. and it’s unlikely to bother anyone.”

“Wow, really?”

The blonde explained how many of the neighbors within likely earshot were businesses that were unlikely to have anyone there, after hours.

“I like your place even more now,” said the brunette. “And, thank you. I accept my appointment. I’ve always assumed the role of the responsible girl, ever since … well, actually, always. It’ll be fun to simply be the court minstrel.”

“I figured. It’ll be interesting to see how you react to being on a vacation from your old life, truly, for the first time. So when you compose, I ask that you don’t do it on the premise that you’d better be earning a living so you might as well start your next album in my living room. Do it for your enjoyment. If later that makes money, great. Don’t get me wrong — I love how responsible you are and I value earning a living, but my intent here is for you to experience a whole new way of life, and if I let you, you might well undermine that plan, albeit unwittingly.”

“You know me surprisingly well,” the brunette admitted. “And wow, this is a huge change for me. Huge!” she added in spontaneous emphasis, and added, “thank you.”

“It’s a ‘win’ for me too. I like having you here.” The two girls smiled at each other, simply, warmly and sincerely, for the first time.

“I’ll put your luggage in your room,” the blonde offered, and saw a fleeting shadow of emotion in the brunette’s eyes before she expressed her gratitude. The blonde stopped and gave the brunette a long look, and prompted her: “Candor, yes?”

The brunette looked awkward. “I might regret to agreeing to be candid. In fact, I do already.”

“If it’ll make it easier to not look at me, look at the sexy picture on the wall and pretend it’s the girl’s thoughts you’re explaining to me.”

“That seems odd but … well, it actually makes it easier. Wow.”


“Well, she’s afraid she’ll be misunderstood if she says anything so she’d rather say nothing.”

“But that wouldn’t be candid, so … let’s hear her out. She gets to clarify things as much as she likes until she’s certain she’s been understood.”

“That’s reassuring. Well, she … she spent the last two nights, during the road trip, in a bed by herself. And she wished she weren’t sleeping alone. And so for the next week, she’d prefer to not be sleeping alone. And I … I mean, she … she really means this literally. Not sex. Nothing sexual or sexy, just sleeping — literally, sleeping. She’s feeling very much intimidated and overwhelmed and she needs comforting like she never has before, in a sense. She’s still not even sure she likes you and she’s concerned that she’ll be misunderstood if she asks to sleep in your bed. But she also suspects you understand her well enough to be able to comfort her there, once you’re clear that that’s the agenda, and the only agenda.”

“We all need to be comforted, and it’s much easier when two girls are in the same bed.”


“I’ll go put her luggage in my bedroom, or in what’s now her bedroom too.”

The brunette smiled, and said, “She’s very happy about that.” Then she had a sudden thought. “What’s her name, the girl in the picture?”

The blonde thought hard. “I’ve never named her. I should. Her name is … Leah.”

“Leah is looking forward to bedtime, to being comforted. And she means that literally. She’s had an emotionally rough day. And she plans to wear a peignoir. She’s very proper and she is just on vacation here, and has her old life to go back to.”

“I understand,” the blonde replied.

* * *

Part 2 of the story is here.