Thursday, September 18, 2008

Piles of Ashes


Before I went home for Thanksgiving I had one last meeting with Diana. It was brief. She came back after the two week suspension to pack up her stuff and move home. She had decided to transfer rather than deal with what would happen if another policy infraction took place. I'm pretty certain she wasn't even going to say good bye but I ran into her at the elevator. I helped her load the car. A hug. A kiss on the cheek. Mutual well-wishes. Never saw her again. I don't believe I ever heard where she ended up going to school.
Jackie borrowed Beth's Mustang to come down for the concert in December. She also brought a friend along. You have to understand that Jackie didn't have a lot of girlfriends. Frankly, she got along with guys better than other girls-- a fact I understand better in hindsight than I did at the time. Her best friend Sherry was off at school and most of the people she worked with were older. But, she had a girlfriend from high school days who had a sister who went to my university and so they both were going to stay at that girl's apartment off campus. That was problem number one for Wil. See, I was pretty sure Jackie could stay in my room without anybody ratting us out to Jill the RA. And, even if they did, Jill was a friend. She would be cool, right? It isn't like we would be doing anything illegal in the room. We would just be, um, sleeping together. But, I guess we actually wouldn't be, would we, since Jackie would be staying off campus. Great.
Oh well, at least we would be together most of the time she was visiting. We did get to spend a good deal of time together. And we hung out with some of my friends. She was very quiet whenever anybody from my college world was around which I didn't think much about. She was quiet when we were alone-- which was not at all like Jackie. That bothered me a bit. Everything just seemed a full bubble off plumb. The concert was great. Roxy Music opened which I enjoyed. Jethro Tull was bombastic and Jackie enjoyed the show. Sunday morning the Mustang was ready to head north. We hugged good-bye briefly and had an uncustomary quick kiss which I chalked up to our audience of her friend. And then Jackie said, "Love ya!" and jumped behind the wheel. Off they went.
I got up to the room and took out a piece of paper.
Dear Jackie,
Love ya?
What the hell is that? "Love ya" is what girls say to each other around here when one of them has to go to class.
Please tell me what is going on. I wish you'd had a better time down here. It was nice to see you.
Love ya,
Wil
-----------------
Every day through the next two weeks I checked my mailbox at the commons hoping to hear something from her. I checked the whiteboard next to the hall phone constantly to see if anyone had taken a message for me. Nothing. I got home for Christmas break and my parents wondered why I wasn't going over to see Jackie right away. I told them what I hated to admit to myself. It was over. I never heard from her again.
Until 24 and a half years later.
Yes, that's right, 24 and a half years later Jackie wrote back to me.

22 comments:

Coquette said...

Wil,

I just love your blog. Particularly the historical non-fiction aspect of it. All these things that happenned before I was born... ;)

Way to tack on the cliffhanger. I assume the next post is Jackie's letter. (Please say yes...)

L. said...

I am absolutely intrigued at this story. The thing that makes it interesting is I can make a few guesses as to Jackie's behavior, and you also drop a few hints in the narrative. But the cliffhanger. Whoah.

I love that you're telling the story from a mature man's perspective, looking back (I'm assuming you're mature, of course) because there's all kindsa insight - and a nice restraint in the telling.

That is all. Carry on.

Ms. Inconspicuous said...

Oh no. I know this was quite some time ago, but I'm still covering my eyes and hoping things didn't happen like that...

(Kinda like whenever I read Romeo and Juliet, I always hope that *this* time, Juliet will wake up just a little more quickly...)

pitseleh said...

my sad heart. how, oh, ok. i get it.

can we fast forward 24 years for what the letter said?

Wil said...

coquette- I'm so happy to provide a glimpse into the ancient world for you. ;-) Thank you for reading.

Ms. I- But things did happen that way... at least that's my side of the story. Rashomon perhaps.

piseleh- time travel? Your wish is my command. But who said anything about a letter? I said she wrote back to me.

Distracted said...

LOVE IT! I'm a sucker for the 'reconnecting after a lifetime' stories. Not sure why ;)

Kyra said...

I'm in shock. I didn't think *this* was what happened. And thank goodness you will step out of chronological order for us dear Wil!

You know how impatient I am. I hope we don't have to wait long for the next post.

Wil said...

pitseleh- Sorry for leaving out the "t" above.

distracted- Reconnecting after a lifetime... yes indeed.

kyra- Nothing like going from the penthouse to the outhouse in just a few weeks-- that was me. Shouldn't be too long no.

suburban hotwife said...

Wow, the USPS still had your forwarding address after more that 20 year?!?
;)


Can't wait to hear about the reply. I have been suspicious of something like this since an email from you a month ago...

!SH

L. said...

Hm, I could have sworn I posted a comment much easier... so either you moderated it as wildly inappropriate or I hit the wrong button.

Anyway: I was just remarking on the effectiveness of your narrative style. Not to mention your years-later mature perspective. It makes for intriguing storytelling. More omniscience.

I am also dying to hear the reason for 24.5 years.

College Reader said...

WOW! 1st your a wonderful storyteller. I see a book deal here -- where are the agents when you need them?
2nd As a college student, I definitely come from the dorky side and never get to see any of this -- its interesting to read about the other side of college. I'm going to ferret around and see if i can land some of those party invites -- thanks for the inspiration!

Tiffany Cavalli said...

MMMMMMmmmmm... Wil... i just love reading about young people in love. it just seems to have such a freshness and innocence about it! and then you drop the bomb about her contacting you Years Later! Amazing boomerang love? Love Tiff

Cate said...

I always hated 'love ya'. It seemed so fake and insincere, and I suppose that is why Jackie used it.

I also suspect that Jackie had found another boy back home and we will hear about it when she emails you 24 and a half years later.

It's only a guess but as my friend Rachel just emailed a boyfried from 16 years ago, it seems like the thing to do.

I really am sorry it ended this way.

Cate xxx

Wil said...

SH- That would be something if the USPS forwarded me a letter from then. I had moved 17 times in those 24 and a half years-- give or take a move.


L.- Thank you for the compliment. As for comments-- I didn't delete or edit any but I have had them disappear before. I guess it's a google thing.

college reader- My solution is easy-- less laptop/ text, more drinking and tailgating. Unless you're one of my kids-- in that case hit the books, slacker! Glad I could give you a glimpse at how life was in olden times. ;-)

Wil said...

Tiffany- Fresh and innocent I might have been. Today? Not so much.

Cate- Why do I even bother writing this stuff? You always have it all figured out ahead of time. Maybe. :)

Coquette said...

Wil-- I tagged you for a meme. Wanna see your chicks!

pitseleh said...

come on then!!!!

i want to hear both sides of the correspondence.

asweetnectar said...

I can't wait for the reason for the 24.5 years! I have some catching up to do with your blog!

Cheating Wife said...

Interesting....very curious about the nature of that 24 year hiatus.

Hmmm.

Tiffany Cavalli said...

Wil... i think i was tagged to be your chick in the meme! Wow! Coquette is a schemer and a match maker..! Maybe she read that i like older guys! :-) Im away in the reserve and gettin an eye ball for blogging on the weekend. :-) love Tiff

Tiffany Cavalli said...

Hi Wil.. Just poppin over.. its a bloggy world and the sun is up and shining on this side of the planet, and its an amazing day! wishing you a great week. Love Tiff

ez cheese said...

"Jethro Tull was bombastic"

Were they really saying bombtastic back then?