You become aware of the land shimmering in the distance and assemble your desire to go there. You look up and see the stars have aligned in their proper configuration to guide you. This is not by chance. Ross Fowler, back on home soil, was scheduled to speak in New Haven on Wednesday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the United Church of Christ near campus according to my member mailing. An informational talk on HRI, open to the public. Please come and bring all those interested. I lived and suffered in the thrill of anticipation. I had to stay alive till then. What if I got run over by a truck the day before and never fulfilled this destiny?
A few days before the great event, I sat on my bed in my slip, freshly showered, resigned to getting through another day at work, rubbing lotion over my neck and nape, massaging it into my legs, taking careful stock of all body parts now, a sure sign of sexual itchiness. Turning on the radio, I punched the national public radio setting; I couldn’t take commercials in the a.m. A soft-spoken voice emanated from the little plastic box, low and slightly hoarse, “We don’t like to think in terms of violations happening here. But obviously, if everyone—and that includes everyone in the U.S.—if all people are to be guaranteed their fundamental rights, then there has to be a single standard across the board.”
“And yet others argue that accountability comes along with these rights,” the host countered. “You don’t think, for example, that a convicted murderer has given up any claim to these rights?”
The first voice again. “No.” The strength of the speaker’s conviction sank in with this simple answer. Most people shouted and strained on the air, desperate to get their point across. This man evidently understood the power of silence.
“Well, Ross Fowler, you’ve certainly given our listeners something to think about. Again, you’ll be speaking more on these issues at . . . quickly, tell us again.”
“At, uh, the Grace United Church of Christ this coming Wednesday at 7 p.m.” Then with an embarrassed laugh, “No excuses. There’s no ga . . .” The show was cut off by the hour tone.
Damn! Damn! It was him and I missed it. Incredibly just missed it. Damn! Unable to move, I sat amazed by my fortune, both good and bad, caught in a radio wave grid of fascination. Late and useless, I carried my excitement around the entire day at work like a present extravagantly gift-boxed, holding it out in front of me, afraid of mussing it up. Oh, that voice . . . again and again I listened to it in my mind.
Jean gave me a hard time about all this. First, I had quietly kept the article on Fowler, carefully removing it from its staples and bending them back down, before shuffling her newsletter back in among the rest of her mail. Later I had excitedly blathered on to her about hearing him on the radio. “I think you have a crush on the man,” she had said. Did he know he had such a fan? She didn’t like what he was doing to me. “This is how stalkers start,” she smirked.
‘Go to hell,’ I thought. Turning my back on her, I eagerly ran back to my Ross-colored world. However, she said she’d go with me to hear Fowler speak, then realized she’d be out of town that day. Thank God for that. I could’ve asked Meredith or Karen or someone from work, but didn’t. I wanted to go by myself, too caught up in the internal drama to deal with anyone else. I didn’t want anyone stepping on my fantasies; I wanted to hold onto them for as long as I could. Leave it all to me. I just needed to hold on until April 15 at 7 p.m.