Going away to college opened up a whole new world for me. All of sudden there were all these new people around who knew nothing about me. I could make myself over into a whole new person if I wanted to. But of course transformations like that don’t happen overnight and sometimes they don’t happen at all.
For me it was a gradual process but I did slowly find myself trying new things, meeting new people, and making new friends. I found that there were guys out there that liked me and even wanted to go out with me. I went to a Chicago concert with Larry, slow-danced with Tim from my English class, and joined a basketball club and went to games and events with a great group of guys.
Eventually I started dating one of these guys from the basketball club and it wasn’t long before I was in love. This was a brand-new experience for me. I fell hard and fast and I knew he was “the one” for me. [Of course, looking back almost thirty years later I see this differently but at the time, well, my vision was somewhat rose-colored. I should have known that starting a relationship on April 1 was not a good omen.]
The summer of 1987 I was young, foolish, and in love and experiencing new things. My best friends were not around that summer so I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I was feeling and doing. This was also back in the pre-email days when my primary method of communication with family and friends was writing letters. And so I wrote a letter to my friend H to tell her about my new life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t satisfied with just writing to her about my relationship or how I felt or how it felt being in love. No, I decided to get creative and make up a story about it and see how far I could take it before she realized I was kidding. I had the actual facts at the end but within the first page or two of my letter I composed a fictional account of how I came to fall in love and get pregnant and how I was going to have his child and it would be all right Yes, I said I was pregnant. Why? I have no explanation. I don’t know what I was thinking. I then assumed that by adding a “Just Kidding!” postscript everything would be all right and we would all get a good laugh out of it.
I wasn’t there to see my friend read the letter, but I know she didn’t laugh. By the time she got it, I had almost forgotten that I sent it but I remembered when another friend asked me about it. Not only had H failed to see the humor in my letter, she had shared both the letter and her opinion of the letter with others. I apologized and the situation seemed resolved. When I went home for Christmas a few months later I tried bringing up the subject of my love life (I was still so very much in love after all) but it was an unwelcome topic of conversation for H. She didn’t want to hear it.
I wrote a second letter. I’m sure you’re wondering whether I learned anything since the last time I wrote a letter. No, probably not. In this letter I apologized one last time for my foolish and stupid behavior. But then I went on to express how hurt I felt by what I perceived as her rejection. I don’t remember the details now but this letter was essentially a Dear John letter in which I said that if couldn’t talk about the love of my life with her, then we probably wouldn’t be talking much at all. I wrote it, mailed it and went back to school.
I prepared to live the rest of my life without this friendship that had been such a huge part of my life. I gave her up because I couldn’t find a way to incorporate her into my new world. I thought about her often: sometimes with anger (how dare she put me in this position), but always with regret (if only I hadn’t written that letter). It would be years before life (and our mutual friends) forced us back in the same place at the same time.
To be continued…