Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, May 18

We can talk about the streetlights

In the September of the year I turned twenty-one, I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. I had decided to take a semester off college, to clear my head.

I got a job in a gourmet bakery as their delivery driver. I would bring the cakes and rolls and confections to the local restaurants. On alternate Thursdays, I would drive to Richmond, delivering specialty cakes to a few restaurants.

It was also my job to make the dinner rolls. After I finished my deliveries, I made the dough for the next day. It would just be me and one other person in the bakery. We would also make any random dish that needed to be prepared—lemon squares, brioche, brownies, sesame noodles, vegetable lasagna or whatever.

It would usually be Betsy or Demi that I worked with. Both of whom were older than me—late twenties—and both of whom appeared wildly romantic to me.

Betsy was house-sitting for a couple who spent their winters in Africa. Their home was filled with the stuffed heads of all manner of animals. When I say filled, I don’t mean one room. Most of the rooms had five to ten heads. And I don’t mean deer and deer and more deer. There were Lions and Rhinos and Croc’s and little strange animals whose names I didn’t even know. Betsy and I would hang out and watch movies like Easy Rider and Dr. Strangelove.

She had lived in Italy for years, but had come back to be close to her sister who had given birth to twins with identical birth defects and required constant medical care. She told wonderful stories of life in Tuscany among artists whose names I recognized.

Demi was funny, a single parent, and came from a family whose name I also recognized. She lived in a nineteenth-century farm house, next to a church and behind a cemetery. I would come over and she would feed me tomato chutney that she had made. She would say things like, ‘The Dali Lama was sitting in that chair last week, and ate this same chutney. He was very nice.’

I would look down at my chair and then at her, remembering that the Dali Lama had been in town the previous week, and that she had taken a few days off, and I wondered why she was working at any bakery, gourmet or otherwise.

In December, I left to resume school, this time in Chicago. I left Charlottesville, left with unfinished business and on bad terms with almost everyone there. Everyone I cared about, anyway.

Part four of Nashville:



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