Dearest Rachel –
In an effort to avoid working on my impressions of the worst day of my life, I’m going to tell a story. You, of course, already know this story, but it needs to be told nonetheless.
It’s the story of how you came to see me as more than an arrogant jerk, and how you determined that we could be friends.
The story of how we came to be lovers, and how bringing you home turned out to be the best thing I ever did in my life, is for another time. First things first.
It all started, as so many of our stories do, with a song.
Well, maybe, I should begin with a little bit of context. You were a brand-new freshman looking for a group to worship with. Coming from a Baptist background, you sought out the Baptist Student Union – except it wasn’t called that, since the acronym had already been claimed by the Black Student Union. So, the group settled for BASIC – Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
(I think I had created the logo by then, but I can’t seem to find a copy of it out on the web. In fact, I can’t seem to find the group on the IWU website at all. Maybe it doesn’t exist anymore.)
In any event, I was never really supposed to be a part of this organization; I had never been raised Baptist (of course, I went to a Lutheran school without being Lutheran, and was attending a nominally Methodist university without being Methodist, so…), and had been recruited by the campus chapter of InterVarsity. But they met on Friday evenings, and I would occasionally either travel home, or be going out with… other people… that night. So, as BASIC met on Wednesday, I could attend regularly, and they were close enough in doctrine and camaraderie that I was more than happy to do so.
The thing was, when I left home for college, I had decided to make myself a little more outgoing, in order to meet people. I think I may have overcompensated a bit, in all honesty. Combine this with a background of having studied what I believed (the better to hold my own against the Lutheran pastors, who would challenge both me and my sister in turn, and to whom I gave as good as I got), and I was the ‘well, actually’ kid.
This did not sit well with you. What is wrong with this guy who keeps interrupting the teacher? Correcting him, even! Even if he is an upperclassman, he’s acting like some kind of know-it-all!
Point is, you didn’t like me all that much.
And from that perspective, I guess I can understand.
I did try to talk to you, from time to time. You were one of the few of any of my circles who was as regular t breakfast as I was, and I was happy for a familiar face among the (admittedly sparse) crowd. And, not wishing to seem rude yourself, you allowed me to approach you, although not too close at first. I was still a fairly strange creature in your mind.
And I was still loudmouthed and rude.
But one day…
You had come to school with a handful of favorite albums, but no turntable or stereo to play them on. After asking around, you found yourself at my door, asking to borrow my stereo for an evening.
I certainly had no problem with this. After all, any time a girl is in a guy’s dorm room, that’s always a win. Sure, I can listen to your music. Maybe get to know you a little better.
This was the album
and, after listening to the title track and a few innocuous others, this was the song:
The thing was, and I explained my story to you, I had lost a friend to cancer not too terribly long before. She was not truly a close friend, as she was a painfully shy girl in her own right, and kept to a handful of close female friends to which I was not party, but her death had shaken me. To this day, I remember the name of Petra Weiss better than almost any of those that I spent the whole of my high school career with.
I cried as I told you about losing Petra. And I think you cried with me.
And you decided that, maybe this obnoxious junior had some hidden depths to him. That maybe, just maybe, he was still worth getting to know. And maybe, to be friends with.
I have looked up this song in the years since, and have been woefully disappointed. It turns out that there was no actual ‘Honey’ the songwriter was commemorating, no actual friend-to-all-living-things gone-too-soon that he had fallen in love with and then, just as suddenly, lost. The song itself, while charting at Number 1 (by the original singer, one Bobby Goldboro) a week after I was born (and certified gold the day after I was born), and awarded Song of the Year by the CMA that year, has also been called ‘the Worst Song of All Time‘ by at least one critic, and I can see why. It’s schmaltzy, emotionally manipulative…
…and I fell for it completely. Because I had lost someone before I heard it.
And now, you are my Honey.
The one who cared for everything and everybody. The one who cried at a sad Doctor Who story. The one who could be smart and dumb at the same time. The one who was endearingly clumsy…
…and the one who left too, too soon.
And Honey, I miss you. And I’m being good.
And I’d long to be with you, if only I could.