Monday, December 19, 2005

The One That Couldn't Be Mine

My pulse is absolutely racing tonight. A very exciting event occurred. I was sitting here at my computer pissing away my time as usual while The German drowsed in front of his new 42 inch monstrosity in the living room and VanGoghGirl played with the mountains of toys spread out across her room. She had just finished talking to her cousin in New Orleans when the phone rang and she brought it to me to answer (after checking the caller ID to make sure it wasn't any of her squeaky-voiced tweenie friends, of course). I didn't recognize the name or the number but I answered anyway since this hurricane has spread all my friends out to all parts of the country.

The voice on the other end of the phone took me back over a decade. When I was a student at HellOnEarth High School, I ran with a rather raucous crowd. Skipping school, drinking, partying while each other's parents were away--we did it all. Throughout those crazy years, I had a couple of boyfriends. The most significant of these was a guy I met in eleventh grade.

At the time I was dating a guy we called Duck. A lot of his close friends were acquainted with the girls in my little clique. I first met Spoogie while on my way to a party where he knocked me down on the grass in what was supposed to be funny but was not at all that in my view. Despite such an introduction, we soon became pretty good friends. After we had been friends for a while he managed to prove to me that my boyfriend also had another girlfriend. As you can imagine that left me feeling a bit piqued since I was absolutely crazy about Duck.

Spoogie did his best to cheer me up. He would come around after school to pick me up so that I could hang out with my friends (who went to the neighboring high school) a little bit before I had to be home. He and I soon became a couple. It was a very complex relationship. I'm quite sure that I was never the only girl that he was involved with. Most of the time that we were together he lived with another girl and her family. I know, it seems kind of slimy but what can I say? I was young at the time. Besides, the other girl knew about me too. I don't think Spoogie knows this but I used to talk to her on the phone sometimes. Perhaps one mitigating factor in her mind was the fact that Spoogie and I never had sex. She was closer to his age--I was a few years younger--so, I'm sure I must not have seemed like much of a threat in her eyes.

When I started at HellOnEarth a lot of my girlfriends were virgins. By the time we got to eleventh and twelfth grade, most of them were not. In my clique the girls were all sleeping with the boys. I never looked down on them for that. It was their decision to make and they were comfortable with themselves so that was that. However, I just didn't feel the same way. I dated some boys and did my share of kissing but none of those corny lines or adorable faces impressed me enough to want to go to bed with them. I suppose that my religious background probably had a lot to do with it too. Going to our congregation three times a week was more than enough to instill a heaping dose of "catholic guilt" on anyone regarding the sins of fornication and "loose conduct".

The only person that made me want to change my "flowered" status was Spoogie. To understand why I have to explain what my life was like back then. My mother had just gotten married to a man who moved into our house with five of his eight children. My own father distanced himself from me and my brothers and I suspect that it was because my mother's marriage left him feeling replaced. So, even though I was struggling to handle puberty and peer pressure, I had no one I felt comfortable with enough for me to turn to them for guidance. Spoogie filled that role. He encouraged me to stop skipping school and drinking and getting into trouble. At the same time, he also helped me let loose and have fun when we were together because I knew I had someone looking out for me and my best interests. I guess that's part of the reason he wouldn't sleep with me. He knew that I wasn't ready for that and wouldn't have felt good about myself if I had gone through with it even though I loved him. So, he simply refused. I did try all sorts of ways to change his mind and there's nothing in the world that could induce me to ever discuss that sort of thing here but the fact remains that none of my attempts worked. At the time, I didn't understand why he wouldn't be "my first" but now that I look back on it, I think the reason why I am still so crazy about him is because our relationship never did take that route.

After I graduated from high school we sort of drifted apart. I met VanGoghGirl's biodad and I got pregnant for him. Spoogie seemed to resent the fact that the guy who came after him was not nearly as noble-minded and he detached himself from me completely. It really hurt to lose him like that because he was one of the few guys in my life that I felt I could trust. A few years later, a mutual friend told me that Spoogie had gone to jail. She gave him my phone number and he called me. We wrote to each other a bit but lost contact about six months before his was due to be released. I moved to a new place and lost his address and though I asked my mother to let me know if he called again, that never amounted to anything either.

About a year ago, VanGoghGirl's biodad told me that he saw Spoogie at the home of one of his girlfriend's buddies. Of course, that hater wouldn't help me try to find a way to get in touch with him. A few other people I know told me that they had spotted him a few times in various spots but no one had any news on where he was staying. Then Hurricane Katrina struck.

He was one of the first people that I thought about. I had always felt that as long as he was in New Orleans, I'd see him eventually. Suddenly that hope fizzled away. I posted on message boards asking for information about him. The German was sympathetic. He understood how important this was to me. We posted requests for information about him on every evacuee and survivor message board we could find. I even filled out the Red Cross form for the missing. Unfortunately, I got no response regarding him even as we did eventually find some of my step-dad's family using the same methods.

Then two months later, I opened my e-mail box to find a message with Spoogie's name as the title. It was a really short message from someone who said she was his sister, asking me how did I know him. I immediately fired off a really long e-mail explaining why I really wanted to get in touch with him. You see, when he was incarcerated, he sent me some photos of his children and asked me to hold them for him. One of his sons is now deceased and I wanted to give them back to him because I worried that he might have lost everything in this storm, like a lot of other people did. I know my mother was more worried about the pictures that she left behind than she was about her actual house. I wanted to let him know that what he had trusted me with was still here for whenever he wanted them back.

I checked my e-mail all day long but got no response. Everyday I looked through my inbox hoping that I'd see another e-mail from his little sister but again I had no such luck. So that brings me to this evening with him asking to speak to me. I recognized his voice immediately. It's crazy that after all this time he sounds exactly like he did when we used to go out on the Lakefront and talk about our problems for hours. He was pretty amused by the message I posted on the missing list requesting information on his whereabouts. We talked for almost an hour.

It turns out that he did try to ride out the hurricane. Fortunately, he survived it. He's taking care of his mother right now because his father is in the hospital. We tried to catch up as much as possible. I had to tell him about the cancer when he asked me about why I dropped off the map shortly before he got paroled. I asked him about his kids. I knew that he had two sons (plus his son that died) but I also found out that he has a daughter. She's 13 years old and so is one of his sons. That really blew my mind. That's only a few years younger than I was when I met him. Of course, VanGoghGirl is 10 now. So, I guess he and I are both getting older a lot quicker than it seems.

Because of the hurricanes, he has to start all over like almost everyone else from New Orleans. I really wish there was something that I could do to help him. He did so much to support me when I was young that I don't think I will ever be able to find the words to express how big of an impact he had on my life. I've always wanted to imagine that I meant as much to him as he did to me. I don't know if I could convince myself of that no matter how much I want to believe it. He was so charismatic and handsome that there was always a string of girls in his life at any given time. I don't know where I rank in his hierarchy of past relationships. He says that I should know that he always put me first. I don't know. I can't help but think about how things might have been if he had actually ever given me the chance to be all that he needed. That's all in the past now because The German is the man I intend to marry but I really hope that I can grow old with Spoogie still in my life. Just having him to talk to would give me more comfort than I've had in a long time.

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