Tracking 'em down!
Last week I told you about the online reunion that I had with a guy that I went to grade school with. After that, I figured I'd try to take it a step further and it became my quest to find another old friend. This quest seems a lot more important.
The target's name is Cathy. She was my girlfriend throughout high school and into my first years of college. We went to different high schools, and we met at a church retreat. I thought she was the coolest thing alive, the first time that I saw her. She was about 14 or 15 years old, she looked a lot like Molly Ringwald, and she smoked! I thought that was awesome, especially since I was already a smoker and not many of my other friends would even think about puffing a cigarette (or a cancer-stick, as we so aptly called it). But here was this beautiful girl, standing outside the church and just smoking away. I knew it was destiny!
We did the teenage romance thing for years- we talked on the phone for hours each day, we wrote each other notes, we recorded musical cassette tapes for each other-- our songs! I taught her how to drive the VolksWagon that her parents bought her for her 16th birthday. I was as close to her family as I was to my own. We would take vacations to Bradenton, Florida to visit her grandparents; she'd join me and my family on our annual pilgrimage to Hilton Head every year. We were the "It" couple at our schools- we were practically married. And when it was prom time, we really blew it out! Since we attended different schools, we got to go to 2 proms each year (hers and mine)! After the Homecoming Dance our Senior year, we went to the bar on the top floor of the Peachtree Plaza and ordered drinks. We were dressed like young (very young) business people, having just come from the big dance. No one batted an eye as she ordered a frozen strawberry daquiri and I had a rum and coke. We were babies, but they served us! It was my first drink in a bar, and I shared that with my Cathy. We tested it one other time-- we were going to the Simon and Garfunkle concert (I'm realy dating myself now!) and we stopped at a pizza spot across the street. We ordered a pitcher of beer and we got it! We were only 16, but the drinking age back then was 18 (hard to believe, huh?).
Anyway, after graduation, I moved to Athens and Cathy stayed behind in Atlanta. We still talked everyday and whe'd mail me the greatest letters. She wanted to get married-- I wasn't ready yet. I knew I was gay, but it didn't detract from the feelings that I had for her. I couldn't repeat the history of my parents and go into a marriage that I knew would eventually fail. We parted ways, and within a few months she was married to someone else. She really wanted to be married!
And that's the last I ever heard of, or from, Cathy. We never spoke again after she was married. It seems bizarre to me that we could be that close for so many years, and then one day it was over and there was no looking back.
I decided this week that I wanted to find her and I started searching. I went to the internet and posted messages on boards that I had a feeling she could be involved with. Believe it or not, I struck gold! I still haven't found Cathy, but I did get a nice email from her little brother, John, yesterday. I learned that she has two daughters, ages 14 and 4. She's a "stay-at-home" Mom and makes a good living selling children's clothes on Ebay. I forgot to ask John, but I feel that she is still married to the same guy. John said that he would pass my contact info to her and hopefully she will get in touch with me. I don't know if we'd have anything in common these days- she settled down a couple of decades ago, and I'm still very much unsettled!
I would like to see her, or at least get to talk to her. I've thought about her often for the past 20 years- always with regret and the question of "what if?". What if I had faked it a couple more years? Maybe we would've been married, maybe we would've had kids together. The marriage would've been doomed from the start, but I could've had a son, or a daughter. I loved her, and she loved me- maybe we could've worked through everything else. Who knows? For now, all that I can do is wait. She has my email address now; she knows how to contact me if she wants to.
God, I hope that she want to.