Jilly D.

Epiphany

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on January 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm

My neighbors, Nancy and Jack McKittrick invited me over for New Year’s Eve since a blizzard was expected. Nancy called all the neighbors within walking distance over for a stay-at-home celebration. Around 8 p.m. I bundled up in my wool coat, hat, mittens and boots. Just breaking the drifted snow from the door to the road was hard work. Once I got out onto the road, the plows had gone by and I skated along in my boots on the icy sheen under the moonlight. I brought a bottle of wine and my Scrabble board.492896-R1-00-1

Sam Warren stomped into the McKittrick’s house shortly after 8:30 pm. The orange snow pants, big snowmobile boots, welding hat with ear flaps and those smiling, twinkling blue eyes mesmerized me. Flirtatious and funny for 40 minutes non-stop, Sam left the neighborhood gathering by 10 p.m. He had a wood fire going in the cabin and goats to check on in the storm.  It wasn’t any Unabomber who lived down that lane; it was a sexy, wild, backwoodsman.936213-R1-12-13A

I waited all New Year’s Day 1998 for a sign that this was a sign. There wasn’t any.

My dog, Bob, and I strolled down the lane to find his cabin. We quickly discovered Sam wasn’t there when I riled his dachshund who would not stop barking. Bob and I scurried home.

Despite the “No Trespassing” signs, I continued to walk down the lane to his cabin by the pond. The unpaved road had a canopy of trees and winter stillness. Several times a day for the next three days I tried to create an opportunity to meet by walking down to his cabin by the pond. He was never there during daylight hours.

I wrote him letters. Long letters. I tore them up.

The letters were really written for me, trying to clarify what I was feeling and what that might mean. After the third day of my obsession, I realized he wouldn’t be interested in a 10 page handwritten love note from some strange middle-aged spinster. Neither was I.

956725-R1-16-17AI wanted to see Sam. I had walked around the entire farm. This was the most beautiful place for solitude with nature on planet Earth even in the midst of bitter winter. I knew enough about what I felt and what I wanted. I knocked on his front door in the middle of the afternoon on January 6, 1998.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas. When he didn’t answer the door, I tacked three condoms in an envelope with my phone number on his front door. I waited all afternoon by the phone. It was 5:30 p.m. and getting dark fast.  I was desperate and crazy and more dangerous than the Unabomber. I had never done anything so bold before.

***

Sam’s version of how we met differs from mine. As he retells this story, he returned home to his cabin at dusk, found tacked to his front door an envelope containing three condoms and a phone number with a hand scribbled name; looked like Jim.

Bachelor farmers are pranksters and Sam figured he was made the fool by one or another friend named Jim. He called the phone number.

“Hi. This is Sam,” he said.

“Hi Sam. This is Jill” I replied. My heart was pounding so hard I was afraid he would hear it.

It was Jill. Jill. Not Jim. Jill. It took Sam a few seconds to comprehend. Sam had seen her last at the McKittrick’s house at their New Year’s Eve gathering. Six days ago.

He had been so busy restoring an antique tractor the past few days he hadn’t had time to think about their chance meeting. He knew she rented Bird and Annie’s house. She walked up and down the roads everyday with a scruffy old mutt. Sometimes she’d wave. And smile. Some high society college professor would never have anything to do with the likes of him, Sam thought.

“Hello? Sam? Would you like to come up and talk sometime?” My voice filled the dead silence.

“Yes, but I need to let my dog out, have some supper and take a bath. I’ve been painting a tractor all day and I am covered in John Deere green,” he said.

“Great. I’ll see you around 8 p.m.”

At 6 p.m. his pickup truck pulled into my driveway. He’d let his dog out and wondered if I didn’t have a tub he could take a bath in; if I wouldn’t mind making him dinner.

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  1. I love this. I remember you reading a version of this at BSB. Your zest for life is marvelous. All kinds of things put us “off the grid” but what a place for discovery!

    • Elizabeth, I did read an earlier version of this at Buffalo Street Books in February of 2012. Thanks for the encourage and support to tell more of this story.

  2. Totally riveting. Your voice is so clear, so distinct. I can’t wait to read more. This is unlike any renewal story I’ve read. Unlike any love story I’ve heard.

  3. Oh Jill. The wild man arises, and I’m so glad to know more. And the wild woman in you arose, too–pushing aside all reason and going for what you wanted. What did you cook for dinner? Oh, and a naked hunk in your bathtub? Waiting for more.

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