I’ve finally gotten around to reading the title GQ article today. I stop in the doorway of my son’s room, brandishing the cover with a smile and his girlfriend, Erika, said, “She’s in love.” Gabriel corrects her, “Oh, she’s been in love for a long time now.”
He says it true… let me explain.
I’m sure others have a Keanu story – that moment in which we become cognizant of his “whoa” factor. Mine occurred sometime in 2003, I reckon.
Let’s backtrack a decade, though, for some context. I’d just gotten married in 1993, to a California native. In April, after exchanging vows on a Saturday, with most of my belongings already packed, a moving van picked it all up on the following Monday and I left my old life behind in Montreal for a new one in California.
Okay so it wasn’t quite to the swaying palm trees of L.A. No… more like the pungent smell of a wall of garlic that assailed me every time I opened the door of our apartment.
My husband and I were standing in line at the movie theatre, waiting to be let in to the movie Speed, and we started chatting with another couple in line who mentioned that the lead actor was a Canadian, like me, and swoon-worthy. I rolled my eyes, determined then that I would purposefully ignore this dude, because who is impressed with beefcake? Not I.
Fast forward a decade…
2001 onwards, life is just kicking me (maybe all of us?) in the proverbial balls. By the spring of 2002, my marriage is a-crumbling. We’d made it to 9 years and it looked unlikely that we’d be making it to a decade. I’d been having a really hard time at the job that I’d been in for almost five years. My husband had injured himself in a gnarly crash after riding the Lake Elsinore motocross track. Between work, financial, health, life and other personal stressors, I had what I called my Big Meltdown.
I left the former job and started another one. We lived in Wildomar and the new job was in Pasadena, making my round-trip commute amount to about 4 hours, give or take. Needless to say, that wasn’t sustainable. I had heart ablation surgery and shortly after, before we could lose the house we owned to foreclosure, we sold it and split up for what would amount to be about nine months.
In August, I got a job in San Diego near Del Mar and my son and I moved into an apartment close to where I worked, with his elementary school and after school care within a ten minute commute radius from my work place and where we lived. We were set, I figured, in theory at least, but between the job losses and changes, the rupture of my marriage, the multiple moves, I now admit that I would regularly cry in the shower, because I needed to keep my shit together between showers, for my six-year old son. The new job lasted about eight months, after which the apartment had to be given up because I couldn’t pay my rent and still have enough to live while on unemployment insurance.
But before all of that went down, I spent a few months working with a motley crew of people. Halloween came around and some folks dressed up in costumes. One coworker arrived all leather clad and had these wraparound shades on with her hair slicked back. I was like “What are you?”, which garnered an incredulous look.
“I’m Trinity,” she said, probably wondering which rock I had been stuck under. I had no idea what she was talking about. She told me that my mind would be blown by the movie The Matrix.
I think it was at about this time, with a whole lot of time on my hands and the internet at my disposal, that I ran into an interview with Keanu. Contrary to my previously held impression, he came across as articulate and intellectually curious. Also, he liked motorcycles, hockey and was Canadian. Also, HE WAS KIND TO HIS MOTHER AND SISTERS! He became, in absentia, my ex-pat compadre.
After giving up my San Diego apartment and then being in limbo while sharing my husband’s one-bedroom apartment until his year-long lease expired (and waiting for him to decide whether we should make another go of it as a couple), our family got back together again, and relocated to Orange County. That fall my husband would crash his brains out yet another time on the same track as before, and within two weeks of that my mother, my only living parent, would die of a massive coronary infarction.
Keanu, despite never having crossed my path, saved me a little that year and in the years that followed. I felt a crushing isolation, a continued sense of failure within my marriage, and yet just knowing that he existed within relatively close proximity was strangely reassuring.
Time has come and gone. More moves and changes between then and now have occurred, yet Keanu still rules. He’s found a way to make a life on his own terms, continues to be curious and creative, and despite all the detritus that life flings at him, he seems oddly optimistic.
Now if that isn’t worthy of admiration, I don’t know what is.
I don’t think I have room in my life for another person; I certainly don’t in my closet. The truth is, I lead a pretty hermit-like existence, and I like it that way, even though there are times that I wish I could share thoughts on books, or bounce ideas for creative projects, off of someone while we lounge on the sofa peaceably sipping our coffees, comfortably sharing space and silence.
So when folks ask me whether I’ve been dating, I invariably respond with “Nope… I’m holding out for Keanu.” And you know, it’s kind of true.