PART 2 – BEST LAID PLANS

This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: After months of putting him off, I met Billy and we had an electrifying connection. Click here to start with Part One.

Fate in the form of a ski wreck almost saved me. For our second date, Billy wanted me to visit him at his place in Lone Tree. “The house is not typical,” he said. “It’ll show you a lot about me.” I was about to leave for a week of skiing with friends at Vail, but said I could stop by Lone Tree on my way home.

The first day on the slopes, conditions were perfect: blue sky, emerald trees, brilliant sun and fresh powder. By afternoon, I was skiing as well as I ever have… I was in the zone… I could handle anything.
I followed a friend down a groomed run and then he swerved right and zipped through some trees. He knew the mountain better than I, so I figured he was taking a short cut to another run. Without stopping or slowing down, I turned the way he had, only to find myself in a patch of big bumps and trees so close together it would be hairy to turn. I saw a groomed slope on the other side of the trees and decided to shoot straight for it. When I came blasting out of the trees, I hit a bump I hadn’t seen, flew up in the air and then I’m not sure what happened. There was a blinding pain in my chest and then I was flat on my back with my left knee twisted unnaturally and one ski broken off.

I could not move. I tried to sit up but any movement hurt and made me nauseous. Shit, what have I done? A strange man with soft brown eyes was kneeling over me, telling me he’d called the Ski Patrol. “I think you landed on your pole,” he said. “May I examine you?”

Who are you?

“I’m a cop and an e.m.t. Can you move your neck?” I did. No pain there. “That’s good,” he said, “and there are no bones protruding.”
Ten minutes later I was flying down the mountain strapped to a sled, crying out with every jolt. Then I was lifted into a waiting ambulance and driven to the ER, where they took x-rays and said I had a jagged break in my collarbone but my knee wasn’t broken, although maybe I’d torn a ligament. They wrapped my shoulder in a figure of eight brace to immobilize it, put a sling on my left arm and told me to see an orthopedist as soon as I got back to Boulder.

But how would I get home? One thing was sure: I wouldn’t be stopping by Lone Tree to see Billy. I couldn’t drive, my friends and their kids were staying in Vail for the week, and even if one drove me home, how would I get my car back?

As it happens, I had another man named Bill in my life then, a friend who was 20 years younger. We’d met at a party, gone hiking a few times and he’d become the kind of treasured person you call when you’re in trouble because you know he’ll drop everything and come help. I will refer to him as Bill the Good, to distinguish him from the Billy I’d just met, whom I later named Billy the Bad.

When I told Bill the Good about my wreck, he offered to take two buses from Boulder to Vail so he could drive me and my car home. Then I called Billy the Bad, told him I’d broken my collar bone and wouldn’t be able to visit as planned.

Bill the Good showed up the next morning and by noon we were at the orthopedist’s office. The doctor examined me and went over my options: he could operate, put metal screws in the bones to hold them together as they fused and I could be active right away, but he would have to operate again a year later to remove the screws. Or, he said, I could go home, keep the shoulder immobilized, and “there’s a good chance it will heal without surgery in about two months.” I chose the second option, went home and after taking pain pills, went to sleep.

When I awoke the next day, I considered my predicament. I couldn’t lift my arm at all. I couldn’t put weight on my left knee. I couldn’t drive, and needed help to get dressed and undressed, to remove and replace the figure 8 brace and to brush or wash my hair.

Figure 8 Brace – complex to remove and replace

It’s times like this, when you live alone, that you realize the price of not having a spouse or partner and not living near extended family. Your friends love you but they’re busy — with work and their families — and they have limited time to give you after the first day or two. But Bill the Good stepped in. He also lives alone, works loose hours and offered to stay in my house as long as necessary so he could help me in the morning and at night, drive me to the doctor and shop for supplies.

Relieved, I went back to sleep. When I felt strong enough to check my email and the phone answering machine, there were three calls and a cascade of emails from Billy. He said that after I’d told him about the accident, he’d packed a suitcase and driven to Boulder, gone to the hospital but couldn’t find me. He didn’t know my address and I wasn’t in the phone book, so he’d rented a motel room and called again in the morning. When I didn’t answer, he’d driven back to Lone Tree.

TO BE CONTINUED

Please leave a COMMENT. What would you do if suddenly unable to take care of yourself? Do we need to create support systems, especially as we get older, and how do we go about doing that? Other thoughts?

This blog is based on a true story, but I’ve changed names and identifying details to protect privacy. I’ve also, in a few cases, compressed time or altered elements to serve the narrative.
The title “Sex Love Enlightenment” is an homage to Mark Matousek’s book, Sex Death Enlightenment.

 

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18 thoughts on “PART 2 – BEST LAID PLANS

  1. Tracy

    Of course we need support systems however there are those of us that think we will always be strong and conquer all obstacles; I have no friends that I can call near me so I have to be strong.
    Being single so long it tends to alienate us from strong bonds of friendship that we once had as a couple.Walking up to a friendly couple at an event doesn’t exactly endear you to them; I’m a threat to the woman.
    So, I learn to live alone and continue to enjoy life and not think about what could happen if I don’t stay healthy.

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  2. Anonymous

    You should always have a plan B to go to if you are living alone. If you don’t have family, then you need to know your neighbors or make friends in the nearest community.

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  3. Anonymous

    Dear Sara,

    I have been thinking about just this subject of late….I am currently visiting my 83 year old widowed mother in Arizona. She has many friends who have outlived the men in their lives and now they depend upon each other for support when things go wrong. When my mother broke her arm last month, I flew down from the SF Bay area to help her out and was simply amazed at all the women who called and stopped by with words of sympathy and offers of support. (She lives in a retirement community). I know that I could not count on the same outpouring of support in my own life – like you, my friends have jobs and their own lives and families. So, I pray that I can stitch together some sort of support network that will be there when I inevitably “fall” one day as well. I suppose this is the price that we must pay for our “independence” for all of these years – too many people forget that we too have the simple human needs for connectedness and support when a crisis befalls us.

    I am beginning to see how “Billy the Bad” was starting to look like a “white knight” to you….I’m anxious to read the next installment of your story!

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  4. Anonymous

    I have felt empowered living alone, making my own decisions – and mistakes – but at least they are my own. All my “friends” are married, busy on the weekends. They seek me out during the week for coffee or lunch, mention they are jealous of my freedom from a demanding husband,obnoxious children, intruding in-laws, PTA meetings and social commitments that are boring and tiring.
    Then, when I took a fall and needed help getting to the hospital. I found myself unable to call these married people. My children weren’t available to answer their phones, my boyfriend was an hour away on some type of “alone time.” I had to call an ambulance and wound up paying over $3,000 to recover from this accident because I have no health insurance. My deceased husband made and lost millions before his death and left me with close to nothing. Relationships! I spent 27 years caring for him – the last two years were 24/7 care because he was so ill. I raised his 4 children, in addition to my 3, and now have no one to call! Everyone still remains busy with their own lives, calling me when it suits them, and sometimes that suits me as well. But it IS lonely. At least the loneliness is better than “togetherness” with the wrong person. I feel I have rambled, and what is my point? I’m not sure. Well, maybe the point is that life is lonely no matter what. People are really not trustworthy – except for me, of course, but I’m the only one who knows that!

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  5. Anonymous

    It’s true, isn’t it, how threatening single women are to married women? What does that say about their relationships?
    I’ve been trying hard to find that elusive, “self-made” family to bond with, but I’m 61; people have long-standing friends and it’s hard to “break in.” I was very lucky to move into a building where a neat, artistic woman my age lives, who has a great attitude about including me in her little clique of friends- but the friends don’t know me as she does, and don’t think to include me in their holiday potlucks. She tries to pull me in, but has a tiny place, can’t entertain there and feels awkward asking the others if I can come. So- I’m still on the outs and it’s like pulling teeth to find the little “family” that I dream of.

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  6. Anonymous

    I guess I wanted to learn more about Bill first and felt a little lost moving to this park. I am 59 and live alone and had pretty major cancer surgery about 18 months ago and just managed. I do agree — no fun but none the less managed. If I needed, I could call a neighbor or even my daughter but she has her own family and life to take care of.

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  7. Anonymous

    Gee, I’m wondering if this ‘isolation’ is the reason that those 55+ communities are popping up everywhere. Are we searching to create our own support-systems? Is that what happens at those communities….do they take care of eachother if something goes wrong?
    Sara, please stay away from BB !

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  8. Gayle

    Thank goodness for Bill the Good. I rent out my guest room so I have someone who could help when she’s around but I also have some good friends/neighbors would I know I could count on to help me. You absolutely need a network of good friends you can call on for situations like this. But to have a good friend you have to be a good friend in return. I am blessed to have some very good and dear friends.

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  9. Anonymous

    You were blessed to find the good Bill. Friends like that are few and far between. It concerned me that Billy went to the extreme that he did attempting to locate you after only one date. Am looking forward to what He does next.

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  10. Anonymous

    I find passion in many forms, the very least of which from a man. And I also can enjoy thoroughly my own company, and I can appreciate the kindness of friends without feeling beholding to them. But it would be nice to have a “someone” to call, when there’s a big bug in my house, or when the grocery bags are too heavy for one trip inside. Otherwise, I just don’t get the conflict here…someone lovely and helpful or someone who just turns you sexually. Heck there are toys for that!

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  11. Samantha

    OK, I actually wanted to comment to your first installment, but could not seem to reach this “comment” page then. Like some of the other readers, I think Billy T.B.’s description of himself as having been in 2 marriages but never having been loved was a tip-off that he is, at least, not the most mentally healthy of individuals. However, I cannot criticize you, since I have been involved with a married, separated, spontaneous and childlike man for the past 6 years…he is 12 years my junior, he is no mental heavy-weight, he is a carpenter: I have an advanced degree, come from a pretty intellectual milieu, and am a performing musician here and in Canada…sowe are definitely different, but I crave his company, and besides having amazing sex that has never simmered down, he and I hae become pretty good friends. And yet…??..I do have moments, even weeks, of doubts about this “relationwhip”.
    Installment 2: I also live alone, in the country, do not know my neighbors well, as we have little in common and they, like me, live in the country because I think they do not want to spend alot of time socializing or having to deal with those around them. Very luckily for me, my stepson and his family just moved onto my land: tho we do not see each other in a chatty, everyday way, I know they would help me if I had an emergency. I have gone through a couple of flu-bouts since living here alone(this is six years, before that, I was in a marriage for 23 years), and I agree, it is no fun being alone when one is suffering! what to do? LOng=term, I’d like to have another little house on my land and invite a younger, self-sufficient adult and/or family to live there, trading some of the money they’d owe me for help when I need it.

    –Samantha M.

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  12. Barbara

    Even if you have a partner you may not be able to get the help you need. Either the other is physically incapable or their life that supports the whole cannot accommodate the needs of the one needs help. I read an article in the New York Times recently that showed new living situations developing where 2 singles without family nearby live in a home that honors each of their needs for privacy and lifestyle. They share a common area but have their own private living/work spaces. Architects should consider this new genre for designing as more of us are living solo but would enjoy the closeness of a trusted one when needed.

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  13. Barbra

    yes, that is the most frightening thing: becoming incapacitated when you live alone.
    I have driven my self to the ER with one good eye.

    Fortunately, I have a friend like Billy the Good and a couple of female friends that I could call on.

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  14. Sara Davidson

    Hi all. I’m really grateful for your comments. Since this is like a first draft of a book, I can incorporate your feedback in future versions. For example, one “anonymous” on April 13 said he/she wanted to know more about Billy before hearing about the ski accident. Good point. I’m particularly interested in how Billy is coming across, and my behavior with him. I want to present the full, nuanced picture. So please keep those comments coming!
    And if you don’t mind, choose a name to use. When it says “choose identity,” click on “Name,” then fill in whatever you like. That way we can refer to each other’s posts.

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  15. Barbara

    Good Bill and Bad Billy…choices about friends and lovers. As for Bad Billy my first husband was so beguiling that I was attracted to him. I was fresh off a hurtful relationship when the man I was living with for 3 years had been sleeping with another woman for over 6 months and the only way I found out about that was when he said he had crabs from our waterbed and I didn’t have them. So I jumped from one bed to another and got married a year later. There had been a voice in my head telling me this was not the right thing to do but PRIDE wouldn’t let me break up with him before the marriage. It took me one kid and 9 years to get out of that marriage.

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  16. slohabob

    Dear Sara, Here’s hoping the gets through. In the email I sent you yesterday, I said I went to Cal in the 1960’s, I’ve lived in Hawaii (on the North Shore of Oahu) for about 20 years, I’m a writer and I’ve been married to the same woman for 34+ years. It really is possible to have an enduring marriage/love relationship/romance, but it’s also one of life’s challenges. The secret is as follows:

    DON’T EVER QUITE NO MATTER HOW BIZARRE IT GETS!

    Here’s hoping you’re doing well. Aloha, Bob

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  17. veek

    well, first things first – how come you didn’t pursue a relationship with the good billy? he sounds like such a warm and considerate person. but i digress.

    i think when we live alone, either by choice or circumstance – it is a time of great growth and discovery. i have not lived alone in forever, but when i did i really came to understand what i am made of. it was incredibly liberating and empowering. of course i was much younger, and completely healthy at the time.

    i think even when we live alone, there is always a need for a sense of community in our lives. sometimes family can fulfill this need but in the absence of that there is one great way that i have found to build a community – and that is through volunteering. volunteer in any way you can, for whatever cause speaks to you. you will meet people who are in greater need than you, which is always humbling. you will meet people with whom you instantly have something in common, which is comforting. you will meet people with whom you have practically nothing in common, which is inspiring. i’ve never had a volunteer experience where i didn’t actually get back more than i gave and it is through volunteering that i have built and will continue to build my community during the second half of my life.

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  18. slohabob

    Dear Sara, I had actually planned on having my name be “alohabob,” but since I committed a typo, I might as well go with “slohabob.” It seems to me that many people are in denial about how important having other human beings in their lives can be. More than that, having loving relationships with others is extremely important. One answer is to live in some kind of communal/group living situation.
    Most of the communal experiments from the 1960’s were relatively short-lived, but I know of at least three communities that have survived and, from what I can tell, are still going strong. Living in a group doesn’t have to be about joining a cult or having sex with a bunch of people; it’s about living with and getting along with others. Aloha, Bob

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