When I was Senior in high school (1982/1983) I was in love with a girl who'd just moved to Texas from Georgia. Her "official" role in my life was "best friend," since we were both so completely in the closet that there was never any question of physicality other than the occasional brief stroking of hair, etc. In the summer after my senior (her junior) year, I went to Georgia with her and her family. I remember seeing the Gutenberg Bible at a museum. I remember, in the car with her family in a bad part of Atlanta, me reading aloud some grafitti on a wall: "'Muff Divers'---What does THAT mean?!" and her shushing me. I remember, on the road from Texas, us in a motel room with her parents; her parents ostensibly asleep and us watching "Blue Lagoon," looking for the sex scenes that we'd heard about, with the sound turned down very, very low and me wanting to touch her.
What happened was... I went to college in August '83. We exchanged emotionally heated letters for the next 2 months. In October '83, she "ran away from home" and came by bus to my Austin dorm room. I showed her around the UT campus, etc. And told her I couldn't get an apartment with her because I had a dorm contract until the Spring semester '04. By the end of the weekend, she called her dad to come get her. When I went home for Christmas that year, she'd found a new "best friend" and, though I went over to her house and we exchanged Christmas gifts, the friend was there, and everything was completely awkward.
In the next year, she came to Austin once, with the above-mentioned "friend." Turned out my friend had stolen a large amount of tapes from the mall record store where she worked in Fort Worth and wanted to re-sell them in Austin. Trying to be helpful, I took her to an independent record store; they ended up reporting her to the Fort Worth company and she got into legal trouble. Her dad made amends. (The two things I remember most about this visit: I was a huge Beatles fan, and a Paul McCartney interview had just come out in "Playboy," which I had sitting on my coffee table when G. and The Friend showed up. The Friend was "shocked" to see a "Playboy." G. pointed out the "Paul McCartney" on the cover. The other thing: As the three of us were crossing the street to the Austin record store, the crossing signal started to blink "Don't Cross." G. and her friend were engrossed in conversation, not paying attention to the signal or to me, so they walked on. I saw the blinking sign and, too cautiously perhaps, didn't cross when they did and watched them walk on. They didn't even notice that I wasn't with them. I didn't want to acknowledge the symbolism, but it was exactly a sign of how we turned out.)
I had one later awkward phone conversation with her in the spring of '87. She'd moved back to Georgia with her parents. Her Friend was still back in our mutual home-town; her mother was dying of cancer and she couldn't leave her. G. had done her math--- I was supposed to be nearing college graduation at that point, so could I come out to Georgia... In fact, I'd been goofing around and was nowhere near graduation and couldn't move. (Not that it was my own personal qualities that G. needed with her---it was just...anyone. And her first choice wasn't available.)
The end of the story: G. died unexpectedly of heart/lung failure in 1988. Her friend was with her (her own mom having died in the meantime). I found out G. died when I called her parents' house during Thanksgiving of '88. "Hi, is G. there?" I said brightly. To her father's huge pause. No one had bothered to tell me.
She and I both loved the Beatles. And Frances Farmer. (The movie "Frances" had just come out in '83. We both related. And had matching T-shirts made: "Frances Lives.") We'd both read "Clockwork Orange" and liked to toss around vocabulary particular to the movie, like "groody yarbles." We both dressed weird for small-town Texas and were asked by convenience-store clerks if we were "from here." In the early '80s, there wasn't any real hair-gel on the market that we could find, so she once put a ton of Vaseline in her hair and showed up at the K-Mart where I worked to show off her new "do." It, of course, didn't wash out for weeks. Once when I spent the night at her house (her parents out of town), she was brushing my hair; it was a hot night and the windows and doors were open. She said "What would people think if they saw us." We decided we didn't care. Another night over at her house, I stood over a floor air-conditioner vent---as it blew up my dorky nightgown, I said "I feel just like Marilyn Monroe!" She laughed like I was really witty. Another time she came over to my house when I was in the middle of awful, vomit-inducing cramps; the second she walked in, the pain completely lifted. We also tried exploring various religions together. Her parents, strict Baptists, definitely didn't approve of Unitarians, so we had to lie about the Sunday morning we unsuccessfully drove around Fort Worth trying to find that church...
I don't think I've ever been as close to anyone since then. Yet she completely blew me off, and to this day I have no explanation for it. People talk about your parents affecting every aspect of your subsequent life... I believe that, but I also think G. affected mine just as extremely. As the years have passed, I've realized that she was an opportunist and didn't really love me (once, when her dad found cigarettes in her car, she told him they were mine... She, me, and another acquaintance of hers all smoked; the cigs were the other girl's. Her rationale for blaming me was that her parents LIKED the other girl, so she didn't want to cause any trouble on that front...!! I also have the suspicion that she told her family that I somehow instigated her coming to Austin to sell the tapes...)
For many years after her death, on occasion when I'd be feeling particularly low, she'd appear to me in my dreams; whatever the scenario or however brief her appearance, I'd wake up feeling better about my situation... She hasn't appeared recently...Maybe because I've been thinking more realistically about some of the shitty ways that she acted! Dammit. (And, maybe after watching all of those "haunting" shows on TV, I didn't want to strain her spirit energy by boo-hoo-ing to her about how miserable I was!) ;p
Happy Birthday, Ginny, October 11. With love.