Thanks for the characters, plot lines, and other goodies TBBT, it's all yours. But the rest is mine all mine, MOO, HA HA HA, Glory be to Cow.
7/6/2012 The Elliptical Threads is complete but this is the oldest version with out corrections or changes, the complete final edited version in PDF, ibook and Kindle in on the blog at ellipticalthreads dot com or you can read it directly on the blog along with any fiction or prose I'm currently working on. OSK
Caltech, Physics Chairs Office, 9:00 AM December 23rd, 2024
Leonard Hoftstader PhD, sat behind his desk looking over his wire rimmed reading glasses at the young grad student with the digital recorder and tablet sitting in front of him. He took the glasses off and set them on his desk. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, since the advanced laser eye surgery wearing glasses actually bothered him now. The 45 year old department chair was thinking about where to start.
'Why would you want to do my biography? My life hasn't been particularly interesting in the last few years.´ Leonard looked at the grad student again. She was in her early to mid-twenties with blonde straight hair, about his height, slim and lithe. It was her sparkling green eyes he supposed, and the smile. What was her name again, Samantha something,
"Miss…" He struggled, "Larson professor, Samantha Larson, but everyone calls me Sam"
Leonard smiled, "Okay Sam then, so why the interest in me. My research days ended 3 years ago. Even then my contributions to the Unified Quantum Gravity Theory were relatively minor"
He smiled at her again, not able to look away from those green eyes. Something stirred in him, an old memory, a flame of sorts.
"I really would like to know about your time before the theory was completed. Why did you leave Caltech for almost 11 years before returning? I know you were in England and Switzerland teaching and doing experimental research. What made you come back to take the department chair and hang up your lab coat Dr. Hoftstader?"
Leonard laughed, "If one is the department chair of the Physics department at Caltech you have no time for doing research." He had done his best imatation of Dr. Siebert. "But I was all done. I'd taken my own theories and those of others as far as I could go. I contributed to the unified theory, it was finally enough"
Sam smiled a sweet smile at Leonard, then gnawed on her lip. Leonard's heart may have skipped a beat. "This really isn't a full biography, I'm writing an article for the Caltech Ezine but the LA Times has also showed interest in it. I'm wanting something more personal about you and your journey."
Leonard sat back and started to analyze the possibilities, just as he'd always done. "Don't over think this", popped into his head, but it wasn't his voice, it was HERS.
He looked back into Sam's green eyes. "I'll do it Sam but I'm going to have to respect some people's privacy so I may need to leave a few things kind of vague, and voice only no video."
Sam nodded and Leonard began to talk, Sam turned on the recorder.
"Where do you want to start?"
Sam looked at her tablet, "Why did you leave Caltech?"
Leonard looked into the young eyes, "Because of a girl of course."
Let's call her Penny. You see at that time I shared an apartment with the then not so famous Dr. Sheldon Cooper. We had this 4th floor apartment off Colorado Boulevard. It was really Nerd Central. There was me and Sheldon, an astrophysicist named Rajesh, we called him Raj, and an engineer who's now a PhD named Howard Wolowitz. We were a pretty geeky bunch, we hung out a lot in the apartment playing games, watching movies, collecting and reading comic books. We were all also working on various fields of study.
One day a young lady about your age moved in across the hall from use. I have to tell you though it sounds like a cliché. It was love at first sight for me. I was smitten with Penny. She was an aspiring actress who was beautiful, funny, street smart, and outgoing. Everything I was not. We became fast friends, then later lovers. We were together the first time for almost 9 months. Then I made the perilous mistake of telling Penny I loved her. Well that was the end of us for almost 2 years, though we tried to remain friends. We started dating again in 2012. It was really working out well, we went slowly. We were so close and getting closer all the time. I could see her being my wife, starting a family together.
Then she got her big break, this is where I'm going to be a little vague. It was a new sitcom based and being produced in New York. She wasn't the star, but the part was in the regular cast and she would work every week when they were taping. We both decided it could work, we'd skype, she's would fly home whenever they went on hiatus. It did work for a while, though we were both miserable without the other. Then she stopped skyping as much, she seemed distant. I knew things were over when her friends Bernadette and Amy packed up her apartment so she could have her things shipped out. Howard, Bernadette's husband told me that Penny was dating one of the shows co-stars.
Penny was becoming a very successful actress. Her character was beloved, she had fulfilled her dream. Penny was a star. Now you see why I kept things vague, Penny is not her stage name and I won't say what the show was.
As you might imagine I was crushed. In fact crushed would have been an improvement. I was two steps above suicidal. I had lost the love of my life. She wouldn't talk to me. She wrote me a long letter about how she was the wrong person for me. How she wasn't worthy or smart enough to be my partner. A lot of pain was suffered, and as I think about it now, probably on both sides. That December about this time of year I was at rock bottom. You see Penny had loved Christmas. She was the first person to make it a real holiday for me. I told Dr. Cooper I was moving out and Caltech I was taking a Sabbatical.
Leonard looked up to see Sam staring at him, teary eyed. He could have stopped right here but she wanted to go on. He realized he was almost in tears himself. He excused himself for a bathroom break. He went in his bathroom that was attached to his office. Washed his face and went back to his chair. Sam looked like she was better so he continued.
I had contacted Oxford and arranged for a research and lecturing position there. I sold or gave away everything I had been accumulating in my life up to that point. My friends got most of it. I kept my clothes, a few books and a blue blanket with sleeves that Penny had gave me. I left for Oxford on Christmas day 2012. I had a four hour layover in New York, I thought about calling Penny, but couldn't think of what I would say.
I spent two years at Oxford teaching and doing particle research. For those two years I had a few dalliances with the occasional grad student but nothing meaningful. The scars were pretty deep. I tried not to, but I kept track of Penny via the web. She married a musician, it didn't work out apparently, she was divorced and back on the west coast doing a new show the next year.
In 2015 I was offered a fellowship at CERN and I moved to Geneva. I worked really long hours. I was immersed in my research and experiments until I met Liisa that year, that's with two i's. She was a school teacher in Geneva. I'm not sure what it was but we fell in love. It wasn't like with Penny, less intense, comfortable I guess. She took me for who I was scars and all. We married the next year. It was a really good time in my life. I had a wonderful woman that loved me and interesting research that I was passionate about. Then she got sick, ovarian cancer. I was with her until the end, chemo therapy, radiation, experimental therapy. None of it worked, she died on June 15th 2022.
I spent several months finishing my work, rather numb I might add. Then I decided it was time to come home. Though I grew up in New Jersey, I knew Pasadena was home. I talked to then President Siebert and he offered me the department chair and I came home in May 2023. I took an apartment near the university and settled in, but it was never quite home. This fall I rented my old apartment off Colorado Boulevard. I had asked the property managment company to call me if it ever went vacant . So I've come full circle, or maybe more of an ellipse. I remolded the apartment, adding a gourmet kitchen, I'd taken classes in French cuisine when I was at CERN. I had a wine cellar built into the kitchen, but the rest I had decorated pretty much as it was when I was there before. Probably a little less nerdy than before but the same layout.
I've basically came home, my living room right now contains a Christmas tree I've yet to decorate. I have my old room back, and found my spot in the world. Though there are some differences. I have a place in my heart for French wine, and Scotch whiskey now.
Sam looked up from her pad, what happened to all your friends?
Well as you know Dr. Cooper had a leading role in creating the combined theory. He received his Nobel prize and is now at Cambridge with his wonderful wife Amy. They are expecting their second child in March. Dr. Wolowitz is still at Caltech and he and his wife Bernadette have been together for 12 or 13 years now. They never had children but have two dogs and a cat. Professor Rajesh Koothrappali, Raj is back in India, single as far as I know.
Penny has been through rehab, though I never really believed she had an alcohol problem. It was how she dealt with stress. She has been doing smaller parts in movies the last few years and some voice overwork also. She never married again and had no children but that's as far as I know. I really try hard now not follow her since we both live here again.
"Thank you Dr. Hoftstader that was a wonderful story"
Leonard smiled and nodded, it was early in the afternoon now. He felt tired, exhausted in fact but he felt he needed to add one more thing.
"Sam, I can tell you one thing, though I loved my wife. She was wonderful, and caring. The love of my life was Penny. She lives in my heart every day and that pain and longing has never gone away. I fear sometimes I live to much in my past. But it was the best time in my life."
Samantha thanked him for the interview and left. Leonard put his glasses back on and went back to the budget and research profiles on his laptop. The interview he had given went out to Caltech and then the LA Times online within hours.
Apartment 4A, 7:30PM December 23rd 2024
Leonard had been home about an hour. It had been a rough day. He set in his chair beside the couch. He never sat in the "spot", on the couch that had been Sheldon's, even though this couch was much nicer, dark leather and very comfortable. He would lay on it but never sit in the "spot". He was settled down in his chair, jazz playing in the background, nursing a glass of single malt scotch. He was amused about how things he would have never thought enjoyable back then were now.
The knock on the door startled him. Bernadette and Howard were coming over tomorrow. No take out anymore, but he would cook them a wonderful duck tomorrow and pair it with a rich Cote Rotie red wine he'd been saving. He put his scotch on the coffee table and headed for the door. He opened it and almost had his first stoke.
The women looking at him had a hat and glasses on. As he stood there she removed both.
"Penny", he muttered. She gnawed on her lip and stepped through the door and put her arms around his neck. The hug lasted, she just held on.
She finally pulled back and stared into his eyes. There they were those sparkling green eyes.
"I've never stopped loving you either Leonard, now let's get your tree decorated."
Aside: Love can come full circle? Back to where it started, that look, that feeling. I hope someday it will. Still.