It was one of those “share 5 things about yourself or your relationship” things on Facebook. I never participate but love to read them. My dear old friend, Biff, fell into the trap this week and while perusing the comments left by his friends who followed into that hole, one really caught my eye. The candor, the choice of words – the clear importance this person places on relationships resonated with me for obvious reasons. What I found really staggering is the clear connection still found in loves long gone and the admission that each of these people – lovers or friends – have forever altered who he is.
I have never met this person. I am re-posting this with his permission. Aside from a few minor edits for easier reading and the changing of names, these are his words.
Share five relationship things eh? Hmmmn... Ok. I'm not married, or close to it, so I shall reveal some important relationship events to me. In reverse:
When I left for college, I had started dating a spunky brunette, Abigail, a fireball with an extra tank of kerosene! I know, I know I was young- but young love is still love! We wrote letters and talked once in a while, best of friends with benefits, best indeed! We last talked at Easter about my birthday in May, I was going to be flying home that day and we were going to catch up that night. My flight was on time. I landed at BWI. Hopped into the car for the ride home. On the way we came across a car accident. Mangled metal. Glass everywhere. Somber EMT's going about cutting a car open... I found out later that that was her car and that she had been struck by a drunk driver. The tears that streamed down my face tried to fill the void in my chest to no avail. Every birthday, I blow my long gone friend a kiss & never have I ever driven drunk.
My sweet Tara, New England gal, Mayflower Blue Blood with strawberry locks. Loving and kind: a true gem. Six months to our dating, her mom passed away. A year to the day of her burial, the house she and her younger twin sisters grew up in burned to the ground. Their father lost his mind and shut down as he fell down from all of this. Meanwhile the twins were prepping for college. The young ones were sad, lost, hurt, confused about what their future was going to be, where would they live, how to get buy...So Tara & I became the guardians of twin teenage girls: signed their loans, moved them from Mass to Va, clothed them, fed them, gave them a home and a sense of stability. In the process of this, we lost each other. We lost 'us' as we became 'all of us.' It was a tough, honest move for us to part ways, and we are better because of it. Some years later, on the night before her wedding, two things happened:
--> The fiance's mother came to me with a ton of town folk to meet and thank me for having been a good man to Tracy and the twins for all those years. It was humbling. She also wrote me a lovely birthday card because my effing ex had to get married on the first available spring day, yes my birthday..We had never met prior and now I cannot go to Boston without saying hello.--> Tara’s hulking father reached over at the bar and lifted me up onto his 6'8" frame proclaiming, 'This my friends & family that do not know is Texas! Yes, THAT TEXAS!! This is the man that took care of my girls when I could not! This is the man I had hoped was going to be my son in law!', Humbling and crazy all at the same time.
Ahhhhh Ellen! All 6'3" of javelin, discus and volleyball Latina Amazon! We drove from El Paso to San Diego to go to a football game and chill with her family only to find out that her cousin’s daughter was having her Quinceanera that weekend. We rode with the family to Mexico City. Partied like it was our birthday and danced til dawn! Still drunk from the night before we went out into the city, ate and drank and drank some more. We passed out at the house & woke in a panic: it was Sunday and we had to get back to school. So we limped our besotted selves to the train station, boarded, napped, woke, napped again until we arrived in Juarez and strolled to the border to march into El Paso to eat and pass out in our bed. It wasn't until I was in the middle of my Physics lab at 10 the next day that I remembered that the car was still in Cali. Some eight years later she waited for three hours to see me for 15 min at an airplane exchange at LAX in order to meet my momma.
Lena! Lena! Lena! A PhD student studying nuclear physical chemistry from Lebanon. Whip crack smart Mediterranean beauty. She had to teach her grade school classes from under the desks because of the constant shelling going on, it was a civil war after all. On one of our outings with her other 'refugee sisters' (a Serbian & an Iranian) we decided to stop at the Georgetown Diner for late night drunken eats. The diner was busy busy busy! Amidst our joking & eating, the table behind us started speaking (in Arabic) 'highly' of Hezbollah: they are great... they will do so many things for our people... they will liberate the Middle East and unify the Arabs... getting applause and cheers from most of the room. Lena started yelling back at them in Arabic & some poor fool chimed in for her to 'shut up' in French, where all three of the women went off, cursing every soul in the room that supported terrorist regimes. Lena hoisted herself on top of the table to make sure EVERYONE could hear the three of them curse the room out in Arabic, French, Farsi and English. By now, I too am standing, waiting for the onslaught as Lena calls them brave cowards because they are here in the US and not back at home working towards a solution. At that moment as half of the room stood up, two of DC's finest strolled in quelling the issue by accident before it popped off. She finished her degree and went home to help rebuild Beirut from the rubble it had become into the Paris of the Middle East once again.
While in school in El Paso, I dated & loved a young woman, Jacqueline. Long legged, West Texas, red head: Slue-Foot-Sue to my Pecos Bill. Sweet, sunny, funny & smart. We got stuck in a highway close in Colorado due to snow and called her ma to say we were not making it back for a few days until the pass was clear. Her ma told her, “I know he saved you when the arroyo flooded and y'all were tubing, or when you passed out at that party before you started dating and he carried you home and slept in a chair to make sure you were going to be ok, or for that matter the rock climbing incident in Big Bend, or his getting stung by scorpions helping you and Jan out of that mineshaft hole you fell into in Arizona, or the sun stroke he stopped y'all from getting at White Sands... look Jackie, if you get pregnant we won't be mad, that's how much I love that boy. He's done a good job thus far of keeping you safe or helping you when you can't help yourself.' We should have gotten hitched, and our lives are different because of that. My ma & pa became ill and I had to return to DC without a true idea on a return to Texas... The two of us were heartbroken and did not speak for several several years. While traveling to South Carolina for a wedding, I stopped for some gas & thought I saw her drive away. 'I'm tired', I thought to myself. A minuet of a minute later I heard a car crash and called 911. We drove by the accident: a truck ran a red light and T-boned a car, the EMT's were busy talking to the driver and cutting the auto away. 'Whew!', 'Thankfully they are ok', I thought as I drove off. Not being able to get Jackie out of my head, I wrote her a letter and mailed it from the Carolina border. A few months later I received a phone call. As it turned out: that was her in the accident. We were in the town next to where she was living. She was driving down the highway thinking she had seen me at the gas station.
My life is strange…fun, funny, sad, honest, humbling, loving & strange. And I would have it no other way!
So to my new friend, Texas – we may have never met but I feel like I know you already. May your journey continue to fun filled with such wonderful people, may you continue to share your stories…and may you and your Big Susan’s laugh long and loud.