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August 8, 2005

Farewell to my first true love...


This is the photo that has been my desktop picture on and off for many years. That's my true love, Peter Jennings. You may have heard of him?

I know, I know. It comes as a surprise to you that I've had this massive love affair with someone all this time -- since I was 14 years old! -- and you didn't know anything about it.

You see, over time, I learned to keep it on the downlow because everyone has an opinion. Oh sure, you see a guy on the news once or twice and suddenly you think you KNOW him. You have this opinion of him. But you're not like me, who LOVES him and KNOWS him and sort of OBSESSES over him.

Frankly, I didn't want anyone else's opinion of My True Love.

He came to my house every evening, ON TIME, and told me all about his day, his day with The World, and I loved him. However, I learned early on not to mention it, my love affair with Peter Jennings, because I saw the look. The look in people's eyes. The one that suspects you'll end up in a psycho ward upstate wearing padded clothing and eating mashed peas.

When I heard the news this morning that my Peter Jennings had lost his battle with lung cancer, I just sat down on the bathroom floor and cried. I haven't cried that hard in... I don't know how long. Peter Jennings was with me throughout my entire childhood, my formative teenage years, the young adult "I'll be a reporter and change the world!" days, and every night after my husband left, Peter and I would hang out. Talk about Iraq. Shoot the breeze. During last year's election coverage, I drove everyone bizonkers by insisting that we watch only ABC, because .. you know. Peter Jennings.

I have a framed photo of him on my desk at work. Yep. People have stopped by to chat, seen the photo, and actually asked if that was my husband. I decided from the get-go that if someone was too BLIND to know who THE GREAT Peter Jennings was, then I would happily lie.

"Oh, is that a picture of your husband?"

      "Yes, that is my husband."

"Oh... is he older than you?"

      "Yes. But he's Canadian."

My coworkers thought I was just being goofy, me and my framed picture of Peter Jennings. But you don't understand. I LOVED THAT MAN. I was far to lazy to be a really good stalker, but if I would've laid off the sauce, I bet I could have been a contender. Yeah. I coulda been a contender.

He had all the qualities I want in a man: smart, compassionate, tough, tall, handsome as they come, dapper, driven, funny, eloquent, hard-working, completely self-made. Committed to his work, trying to change the world a little bit at a time. Plus, did I mention he was Canadian? You know how I feel about Canadians.

Some people felt all broken up inside over Jerry Garcia, some were bereft by the loss of Princess Diana. (Um, Peter, close your ears for a minute, because I'm about to really embarrass myself.) You are my Princess Di. I am so, so sad that you're gone. These past few months that you've been trying to get well have been awful... each night I hoped for a little glimpse of you, but there were only stand-in anchors. I really thought you'd beat this. It never occured to me, ever, that you would die. I've known you my entire life. You are the person who explained the Berlin Wall to me. How can you be gone?

Peter Jennings smoked, until he was about 45 years old. Then he quit for twenty years and on September 11, he started smoking again. I had quit, too, just like Peter Jennings, but started again on September 11. From then on, I smoked my way through some of the very worst days of my life and I kept saying to myself that I would quit... when the trial for my stolen car was completed ... when my divorce was final ... when this project was over ... when things got less stressful....

You know.

So I quit. Today. Farewell, Peter Jennings, my one true love, and farewell smoking, my longtime companion.

I think Peter would be proud of me. I think he'd see what an effect his life and death have had on me, and he'd be pleased... after the restraining order was firmly in place, of course.

So long. I loved you both.

Posted by laurie at August 8, 2005 9:29 AM