“Someone who met you wanted you to have this.” Dr. Gerry, whose last name I can’t remember, was handing me a piece of paper, inscribed with a short verse. “Blue eyes, 98⁰ Fahrenheit” or something like that, it began, then unfolded in the words of a modern Shakespeare in love. What I couldn’t fathom is that these words, according to Dr. Gerry, had been written by another student at the table the day before. “Do you mean, John?” I asked. “I hardly even talked with him! I was just saying hi and being friendly!”
And yet, here in my hand was a poem that revealed the infatuation of a man smitten. I laughed to myself, asking an imaginary Eros, “You mean real people write these kinds of words? About me?”
It was true. A very real person had written those words and continued writing them in songs for the next several months while I reveled in the magic of having a boyfriend. Apparently, I was not confused about my sexual orientation anymore because I had attracted John. He had just entered the college as a junior at 25, having bounced around in jobs before deciding that what he really wanted was to become a chiropractor.
In 1975, Chiropractic was derided as nothing short of quackery and I was leery of getting to learn much about it myself. John invited me to come with him to a weekend conference on the topic, however, and I was intrigued. In John’s company, I learned that Chiropractic was indeed a valid modality of healing, worthy of consideration along with Modern Medicine.
For the next two months, John’s infatuation delighted me. I would go over to his room in the men’s dorm after studying and watch him as he came out of his Transcendental Meditation sessions, another strange and new practice that John introduced. He loaned me his copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, which I timidly read with only minimal comprehension of a worldview radically different than my Catholic one.
I learned, probably from Mark, that the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was hosting a Strauss Birthday Party, featuring waltzing in the foyer after the concert. I didn’t know how to waltz, but I imagined that waltzing with John Kurtz would be a dream evening fit for a movie! He accepted my invitation and admitted that he didn’t know how to waltz either, but he was willing to learn!
For the next few weeks, we taught ourselves how to dance. At the time, I was doing a project for my Embryology class that had me taking hourly photographs of developing fish eggs. I had a key to the Biology Lab so I could go there through the night for the week of my project, and I borrowed a record player (remember those?!) from the college library. In between photography sessions, we figured out our waltz steps in the spacious lab. By the evening of the concert, we were ready. I, of course, had sewn a new dress, this time borrowing a pattern from a dorm-mate Faye. I believe this was the only other time I had occasion to wear that maroon corduroy cape I had made for my date with Dan Patterson five years before, but it was perfect for the evening!
When the concert ended, we glided into the foyer waiting for the dance to begin. To my surprise, I actually saw someone there I knew! There was Kathy Spinnato, my old neighbor! I said a quick hello, but was soon whisked away by my ambitious dance partner, John. We discovered that we could waltz out on our own on the balcony, then even further from the crowd into the back of the concert hall. We didn’t miss a step as the usher escorted us out of there. We didn’t want the dancing to end, and stayed out on the dance floor til the last note faded.
That night, John squeezed into my single bed with me, and we slept soundly, not even noticing that we had forgotten to blow out the two-foot high candle that John had given me. Luckily, all it did was burn down lower, but the glow in my heart remained.
After the Christmas break, I moved from the dormitory out to the Cincinnati Nature Center for my internship. John visited me just once out there, driving his red sedan out to the woods to tell me that he had decided to try to make up with his former girlfriend, Mary. After he left, I cried for a while, and then wrote the one song I penned during my friendships with my two songwriters, Linda and John. I was sad and disappointed, but soon realized that those few months of song, dance, and infatuation had been a satisfying chapter to heal my heart and assure me that I could indeed have a relationship that felt “normal” to me.
I thank John Kurtz for that fairytale relationship, and always smile when I remember waltzing on the balcony.