Monday, July 23, 2012

my diane keaton

Her name was Linda.

And she was the center of my life.  For several years in the 80s.

Like most relationships.  This one started a bit lop-sided.  Rather than the hunter, I was the pursued.

And, as a change of pace, the role reversal was somewhat exhilarating.  But, as is true with most things in life, prelude can be its own omen.  That goals easily won have shallow roots.  But neither of us noticed -- or cared -- at the time.

It was love.  And love needs no reason.  In fact, it helps if reason is tucked away under the bed.

I thought of her this week while watching one of my favorite films -- Radio Days.  Woody Allen's paean to the golden days of radio. 

For 88 minutes Woody Allen does what he does best.  Serves up compelling tales of the human condition wrapped in nostalgia without resorting to bathos.

Near the end of the film, Diane Keaton makes a cameo appearance as a night club singer. 

As I watched her low key performance, I realized she reminded me of Linda.  That is a bit odd because I first saw the film with her (Linda, that is) in 1987.  And I do not remember making the connection then.

But, in my head, it was Linda up there on the screen singing -- bringing back a Niagara of memories.

Embarrassing her 12-year old daughter by spontaneously dancing at a restaurant.  Joining up in the evening to share a plate of pot stickers.  Attending opening nights in Portland along with the rest of The Blob.  Laughing hysterically in the car at malapropisms.  Acting out assigned roles when visiting with each other's friends.

It was several years of pure joy.  She quickly became one of the women I should have married.  Especially when I lost an election, turned 40, and suffered a law partner breakup -- all within three months.  She alone can take the credit for me being here tapping out this bit of my past.

At least, my perception of that past.

Because for all of the Dick Van Dyke Show scenarios, it was not a perfect relationship.  Not by far.

I was far too self-centered -- to the point where it seemed as if there was only one person in the relationship at times.  She was too combative.  And there were other issues.  Issues that could not be resolved and will not help the rhythm of this tale by discussing them in detail.

The last time I saw her was when we returned from a trip to San Francisco.  She had made the sacrifice of giving up Thanksgiving with her family to meet my English friend Bob and his girl friend.

What could have been more romantic circumstances?  And we played our roles well.  Seeming to be the happy couple.  But it was far more Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?  than High Society.  By the time we flew to Portland on Sunday, it was over.

Dead relationships are like zombies.  Even when the spark is gone, they keep stumbling along.

When I decided to bury it, I took the option that men learn in Cad 101.  I moved away.  No notice.  No discussion.  No closure -- in the contemporary jargon.

What was the point?  It was over.

About ten years later, I got together for desert in Sellwood with her two daughters.  It was an Nora Ephron moment.  Plenty of laughs.  Lots of thanks.  A tear or two.  They were very kind to me.  All things considered.  You could almost hear the wistful soundtrack.

And then came the bombshell.  They wanted to know if I would be willing to talk with their mother.  If they could convince her to meet.

I agreed.  But it never happened.  Linda was not interested.

That is probably just as well.  Old romances do not rekindle well.  Even disguised as friendship.  Not when the emotional rifts are deep.

But what I have is memories.  And, even if I have burnished them past reality, they are part of who I am.  For better or worse.

Maybe that is why the closing lines in Radio Days made me smile.  Ruefully.
I never forgot that New Year's Eve...
when Aunt Bea awakened me to watch 1944 come in.
And I've never forgotten any of those people...
or any of the voices we used to hear on the radio.
Although the truth is...
with the passing of each New Year's Eve...
those voices do seem to grow dimmer and dimmer.
Share a moment with me and the marvelous Diane Keaton.

Here's to Linda.


Kirsten said...

I think this is one of your best posts. You shared from your heart and you were so truthful. Very touching. Thanks for sharing.

Andean said...

Que sera sera.

Steve Cotton said...

Not really.  I consciously subverted that relationship.

Steve Cotton said...

My pleasure.  I thought a change of subject matter might be refreshing.

Shannon Casey said...


Steve Cotton said...

Thanks.  It probably says something about me that I can write batter about relationships than I can live them.

min said...

You could least say,Good bye.

irene said...

Who is Edith Efron?

Steve Cotton said...

Yikes!  This happens when I write from memory.  Edith Efron was a conservative media critic.  Of course, I meant Nora Ephron,

Steve Cotton said...

At the time it would have served no logical purpose.

Irene said...

I thought maybe you meant Nora Ephron, but you sometimes come up with references that are not mainstream.

Steve Cotton said...

If I remember correctly, Edith Efron was the leading light of TV Guide.  Hard to get more mainstream than that.  But she was certainly the wrong reference for the scene I was scripted.  It needed the Ephron touch of pathos.  

Colin Hayward said...

Really enjoyed this post! The world over, a couple of people + time tend to make most relationships fairly complicated. Interestingly, it's practically a given that the outside observer can learn something about themselves when they read a piece like this. Thanks!

Steve Cotton said...

A complex relationship it was.  I suspect an outsider would have seen it was dying far before either of us did.  And like a Chekhov play, it probably could not have played out any other way.

KJLatsch said...


Laches1 said...

It's amazing how the passage of years makes the memory fade.  I have strong recall of this relationship not seen through the vaseline glaze of time and distance.  No, Steve, this is not one of the women you should have married.  really. . .

Steve Cotton said...

 You cannot deny, though, they were some nice times.  And I was happy.

Steve Cotton said...

 And that, of course, is another tale.

John Calypso said...

 I was thinking Nora had yet another sister I had forgotten about ;-) Aside from Amy, Delia and Hallie.

min said...

Happiness, you can only find in a moment.
Life can be very interesting at times,if you want to call that

Confidence ,about knowing oneself and relation with the world and others
It might create true happiness in ones life.

Steve Cotton said...

But I am always happy.  Especially, on my own.

Steve Cotton said...

This is what happens when I write without a research assistant.  And an editor.

min said...

I agree,You can be happy on your own.
But to me shall myself with someone who is special to me ,it brings me a great joy in my life.

If you are willing to pay the price of being
in love. I am talking about,being painful at times.

Everyone has their own path to live by
There is not a thing wrong with that.

Take care!

Marilyn said...

I wonder why it takes us so long to realize relationships are dying?
I relate them to a huge tree bent almost to the ground from natures forces. Bent unwillingly, tossing, turning, maybe even dying some. To watch it hurts, forced to bend, but after the storm it is upright and ready for what nature will bring again. Ebb and Flow......Steve, thanks for this one, very touching....Marilyn

Steve Cotton said...

I suppose we all hope that relationships will get better -- even when experience tells us otherwise.

min said...

 Dear Steve,
Don't post my reply.
Might be little personal.

I have been reading your Blog for long times.

And I feel ,I got to know ,little bit about you.

I have had many pain my life,start with moving from Korea as very young age,Leaving the nest?
Don't ask, why I left.

Lost many loved ones,after the moving.
Thought , at times,Life is so hard to bear,
Giving up is the only answer.

You are very thoughtful,caring person.
You have so much to give to others.

Please,Don't give up on relationships!
Every one is different.
Every relationships  is unique its own way.

Take care,