Passive Echoes

From October to November, 1970


"Marcia remained persistent. After a few days of anger and disappointment she once again regularly attempted to communicate by approaching me outside of the main office where she worked between classes. My training and personal preference was to compose away from the piano, unless writing a piece specifically for the instrument. 

Hence, I intentionally perched myself near the office where she worked to sketch and compose as well as to be as conspicuous as possible to her. Marcia would make petty excuses to leave her work assignment in order to see if I was at my usual location.

She confided to me when we were reunited that she would especially dress up for me and wear perfume to attract my attention, and in all honesty it always worked. She would approach and ask me how I was doing, or what composition I was working on, and would receive only one or two sentence responses.

However, the scent of her presence was intoxicating and occasionally she would catch me "eyeing her" as she returned to the office. As she stopped to open the door she would always look back and on several occasions our eyes briefly met. She would smile and quickly wave to let me know that I was so busted!

We played those love games. Deep inside, Marcia knew that there was still something remaining of my professed love for her and I knew that her feelings ran deeper than she wanted to let on. Recently I listened to a song by the absolutely fantastic bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding entitled 'I Know You Know' that truly expressed what we both felt in the fall of 1970 (Marcy and I recently saw her perform live). 

The lyrics of the entire song (in 'Show More' section on the video link) are applicable, but especially the final verse which states in part: 'The way you look at me when you think that I am not looking, I look at you that way too, you just don't know that I do... I know that you know, you already know.'

Additionally, the 'bridge' of this song aptly describes my posturing when she would approach me. In part it says: 'I wait for you to open up, but it's not a bore, you're just what I've been looking for, why do you keep your head in the sand?'

Marcia was determined to establish a dialogue of sort that could lead to an actual conversation. I remained livid and refused to speak with her extensively about our relationship or anything of substance. This too was a first, in that I had never refused any similar obvious "come on" from a beautiful woman."

Larry permitted his pride to prevent him from responding to Marcia's numerous overtures towards restoring their mutually warm and considerate relationship. Not understanding the reason for the sudden change in his attitude and treatment of her she took the initiative.


"Soon after I became seventeen, Larry gave me nothing but heartache, disappointment, and grief. He truly hurt me by his cold unresponsiveness to my overtures and efforts towards reconciliation. Seeing him on campus almost daily had the effect on me that I feared, it rekindled dormant feelings.

He had really matured in every respect, very serious, focused, but guarded and isolating himself from everyone. This was no longer that "silly, but cute and intelligent boy that made me laugh and smile" that I knew in 1968. He was rapidly becoming a mature man in every sense of the word and I discovered that my feelings for him were also changing to something far more serious.

Larry's intelligence had always been a 'turn on' since the beginning of our relationship. I sometimes tease him now that when I first met him I thought him to be just an "intelligent thug". However, as I became better acquainted with him and communicated with him, especially through our letter exchanges, I became attracted to his sensitivity and affection. He had a truly loving heart.

During the fall of 1970, something else became quite apparent to me. It was the emergence of an intense physical attraction to him, unlike anything I had ever experienced before with any guy. I had always felt that he was very handsome, but this was a different and unique attraction. He is the only man that I have ever felt a sensual attraction for. This magnetism coupled with my admiration of his intelligence, quite confidence, and resoluteness made him almost irresistible. 

Ironically, I now longed for that which was a turn off years earlier, his maturity and seriousness about our relationship. In retrospect, I needed his indifference and coolness towards me to shock me into confronting the serious feelings and love for him that I had suppressed and resisted for a long time. I had taken his love for granted while I 'had fun' toying around. Now I deeply feared that I had lost him forever and I had no idea what to do to recapture his heart.

Near Commons

I was older, a freshman in college, and was wearied of silly and foolish boys and their games. Larry was a refreshing and unique young man who was very independent, outwardly self-confident, and not needing nor concerned about pleasing anyone but his teachers. I felt that I was finally mature enough for a long-term and committed relationship with him.

Regrettably, those desires went unfulfilled at the time because he was seemingly no longer interested in me and had become embittered and intolerant of people in general. His countenance and overall demeanor conveyed to all students at NCSA the message to stay away and not invade his space.

It was known that we were acquaintances and girls and some guys queried me about him. There were a few that knew that we were seeing each other for those three months in 1968. My uneasiness about his attending school at NCSA involved my internal conflicts and perceptions about myself and an unfounded fear that somehow Larry would think less of me.

Larry's being accepted to NCSA as a composition major was a remarkable accomplishment, especially as a high school student to study with the head of the entire music department. I was very proud of him. I sensed that he aroused a measure of jealousy among a few of the male black students. Not only because of his good looks, but because of his status as a composer.

Although I did not like the fact that girls were inquiring or the way they looked at him, I still attempted to portray Larry as a friendly and fun person once he permitted you into his world. But truthfully, I no longer understood or knew him. For me it began another year of fruitless and insignificant relationships. Similar to Larry, I was becoming rapidly embittered with people."

It was Marcia's desire and intention to seriously pursue their relationship because she felt that she was now ready, no longer flighty and over the irresponsible phase. Marcia was beginning to "Fall In" love with Larry, but was striving hard to resist it because of Larry's ambivalence and aloofness. 

Although Larry was very cognizant of her romantic interest, he was unsure of her intentions and would never compromise his stance for a shallow or short-term tryst with Marcia. This went contrary to the desires that Larry had longed for. He wanted to be "almost irresistible" to her and she was providing him with all of the signals that he had become such. As stated earlier poet Robert Frost wrote: “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

His spurning of her wrought a rebounding effect of flighty behavior by both. Neither of them were as mature as they initially thought and certainly were not primed for a serious commitment in 1970.

"In my lonely hours of weakness, days of despair with no hope, when troubles seem as withered pastures, beneath dim moon's melting snows..." 

Larry had recently penned the above words as ideas for a poem he was sketching. Forlorn and despondent because of Marcia, he found solace and refuge only through creative expression. Prior to Marcia leaving UNCSA in 1971, Larry had begun work on a new composition, a symphonic poem entitled “Scenes from the Wintery Haze.” He had written the initial theme and had dedicated the composition to Marcia, with the words above under the dedication.

The symphonic poem's dedication actually was a paragraph in length on the final page of the sketch, "Un petit billet-doux", in the words of her favorite foreign language. She almost discovered this when she quietly approached Larry from behind while he was sketching and orchestrating one afternoon.


“I was very depressed and was approaching Larry with the intent of laying my head on his shoulder for comfort. Six months earlier I would not have hesitated knowing that he would have taken me into his strong arms and comforted me. However, Larry had changed, so I decided to resist this impulse and simply asked what he was working on.”

Larry quickly concealed the cover sheet which had the dedication prominently displayed below the title. For years after they were married he still possessed the original cover sheet with the dedication and the question “Why??!” underneath her name.


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