Perking Me Up

Commentary: Alphabet Soup

Our relationship began in the early ’90s, when I was still living in Des Moines and she was in New York City. I’d never been further east than the southern tip of Ohio, so her cosmopolitan ways and the big-city backdrop that punctuated my time with her were mysterious, exciting and a bit intimidating.

I know my demographics appealed to her — I was in my last year of college, a quintessential Midwestern gal (except for the lesbian part), fairly smart, attentive to world events. But really, those characteristics didn’t matter to her; she was interested in me as an individual, as long as I continued to be present for her each morning.

She didn’t ever address me by name, which bothered me only sometimes — mostly at night, when I would toss and turn and dream of playing a bigger role in her life. I often woke up thinking about her, or would turn my attention to her shortly after waking up.

She was married then, and everyone seemed to think it was a happy marriage. They had a baby around the time I first got myself all wrapped up with her, and later they had a second kid. I didn’t let the marriage bother me too much; I guess I figured she needed to maintain a certain public profile. And I think on some level I knew she really loved the guy.

A few years later, in 1998, he would die at a tragically young age and I was there to bear witness to her pain. I can’t know if I was any comfort to her, but I tried to be a steady presence and continually sent good thoughts her way. When she was ready to resume her routine, I was right there waiting.

I lived in the Washington area by then — I had been in a three-year relationship with one woman, who turned out to be my ticket to D.C., and was involved in a second relationship. Neither of my partners objected to my ongoing extracurricular relationship, but it’s not like I gave them any choice.

She occasionally came down to D.C. — she was from this area, and had spent the early part of her career here, but that was before I moved here and well before I got involved with her. During these visits, we never managed to be in the same place at the same time, and it always seemed like I was learning about her visits after the fact. Or I’d hear about it while she was here, but it was never convenient for me to try to meet up with her. Like, I might learn at 8 a.m. that she was down by the White House and would be there until 9 or so, and there was no time for me to get ready and get down there. So I would lament these missed opportunities, but they could not be helped.

I had a particularly memorable visit with her in the summer of 1993. I was in New York covering the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and I made time to stop by her studio. She was working when I arrived, and I didn’t want to interrupt her, so I waited patiently for her outside. At one point she came out and said she had to go finish up but she’d be back out later. I didn’t know if I should believe her. Sure enough, she came out — she was with this guy, not her husband, some big beefy guy who looked like he wouldn’t put up with any bullshit.

We were on the sidewalk near Fifth Avenue, and of course people were milling about. Everyone seemed interested in talking to her — she was just that sort of person who attracted attention and drew people to her — but when she talked to me, I felt like I was the only person alive. I have to admit I lied to her then, I guess because I wanted her to remember me and really love me. “You’re my journalistic idol!” I told her, and immediately felt bad for fibbing.

She was a bit taken aback. “Well … good!” she said, and she scribbled a note for me on my subway map. I waited until later, when I was alone, to read it — clearly it was a private communication and she didn’t want everyone else there to know what she had to tell me. One of the onlookers was kind enough to take a photo with my camera — it’s the only one I have of us together. She was having what I considered a bad hair day — a bad hair month, really, verging on a bad hair year. I just wished she’d go back to the hairstyle that first attracted me to her, but it seemed she wasn’t interested in my opinion on the matter.

For the past year and a half, we’ve spent almost no time together. She is a certified morning person, and I work nights now, so I don’t get up early enough to spend time with her. Our paths rarely cross. I still love her — that hasn’t faded a bit — but it’s just so hard for our schedules to align.

I recently learned that she’s making herself more available to me soon, changing things around so I can spend time with her in the evenings. I fully expect we can pick up where we left off. I know she’ll be up for it. There’s been quite a bit of buzz about her lately so she’s sort of this hot commodity right now, but I’m certain she’ll be happy to take me back and to be an active part of my life again. Meanwhile I know she’ll rise to the challenge before her with flair, with aplomb, with a panache that will silence any naysayers.

I’ll be able to spend most evenings with her, and I hope to do just that. But between each encounter, I can look at that photo of us from the street in New York, and re-read that note on the subway map from 1993.

“Best wishes,” she wrote. “Katie Couric.”

Kristina Campbell is a longtime Katie-worshipper who fully intends to shift allegiance from NBC to CBS. Come along, won’t you? Alphabet Soup appears biweekly and its star-struck author can be reached at kcampbell@metroweekly.com.

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