Dearest Rachel –
I could have easily switched this part and that about work in chronological order. As it was, I did write you that crucial letter before I was actually situated in the position that ultimately became my career. But that was when I expected to have to write you off, along with pretty much the chance of any serious relationship of my life that I had developed in college, as opposed to determining whether to proceed with a future that included the two of us together.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We spent a lot of time together in college, none of which was as boyfriend and girlfriend. We were just… friends. Nothing more. You didn’t seem to be interested in more. And I saw no reason to push the matter. Sure, I would loop my arm around your waist as we sat in the TV lounge watching Doctor Who or whatever other movie you and/or Elizabeth had queued up in there, to which you offered no resistance.
The way you told me about it later, at the time, you simply said you felt ‘safe’ with me. Somehow, without getting any reassurance from me, you knew that I wasn’t going to try anything that you weren’t willing to let me.
And, admittedly, you were right. But you had no real way of knowing that. For all you knew, I could just be another upperclassman on the make, trying to score with an underclassman, just like the guy two doors down in my dorm.
I know this is a bit of a tangent, but bear with me. Julia was one of those “clients” of mine when I was studying – completely independent of any classes – about aromatherapy and massage (and this was before the concept of aromatherapy was even a thing, as far as I knew. All I did was mix certain essences into warm oil, and use it as part of the massage process. I also included some of the oil-and-essence mixture in a little ring I set atop my desk lamp, where the heat from the bulb would fill the room with fragrance. In hindsight, I think some of my “clients” also felt safe with me because… well, what straight male does that sort of thing?) during the latter half of my college career. She would talk to me about this fellow named Dave who roomed a couple doors down from me who is trying to put the moves on her. And he was a pretty slick customer, I’ll admit. But for some reason (maybe because she wasn’t interested, you narcissistic horndog), he didn’t ever make any headway with Julia. And he was vocally upset about it, to the point of occasionally referring to her snidely as “Frosty the Freshman.” Dude could be mean if he didn’t get what he wanted, is what I’m saying. And my point is, I could’ve been like that, and you wouldn’t have known.
But you took that chance with me.
And even if nothing comes of it, I’d still be grateful.
But something did come of it, didn’t it? Once I graduated, I did what I’ve been doing unconsciously ever since leaving junior high school, which is to say burning bridges behind me. It used to be that, after having a, shall we say, less than stellar experience in one school or another, I would allow myself to forget most of what I was leaving behind (In fact, I’ve gotten a bit too good at that, to the point where I forget a lot more than I really wish I would. It’s part of why I’m writing to you so much – it’s so that I will remember, rather than unconsciously leaving you behind as my memories, trained as they are, fade away).
This time around, it was almost as much to escape the university and their constant pleas for financial backing. Now, this was long before Photoshop existed, but I did what I considered to be a credible mock-up of a newspaper article suggesting that I’d been in a fatal automobile accident,and send a copy to the registrar (although I should point out, it didn’t really work. Or maybe it was the fact that I – or rather, we – got in touch with them later on. Either way, they weren’t fooled).
I also sent a copy of the fake article to you, noting how I was putting university life behind me, and moving on. It was then that I made that fateful observation, that while I knew my chances of finding someone to be in life partner were more or less behind me, and it wasn’t likely to happen at this point, if I had a choice among all those girls that I had known in college, I would’ve chosen you to spend my life with.
It was a heavy statement to lay upon you, more than you should have had to handle coming out of the blue like that. I fully expected you to have an adverse reaction to it, to respond in fear and revulsion. I expected a flat refusal, and that to be that. But at least I had said my peace, and I could be content with the “No!” that I fully expected to receive.
But you didn’t say “No.”
Instead, you wrote back, telling me how my letter made you cry. I’m sure at some point I will have to find that letter – because I know I still have it – to confirm the details, but you had been hoping that I would say something like this. Now, I have found a letter from your family’s Christmas card from 1989, where you were telling all those that would receive it about how you were not looking forward to losing me to graduation even back then.
It’s strange. All the time I knew you, in college at least, I was of the understanding that you simply weren’t interested. It wasn’t anything personal about me, you just weren’t interested in boys. Which, now that I think about it, is another completely different story, for another time. but the thing is, those kind of relationships didn’t interest you during college. But somehow, once I had left (at least, according to Ellen) there was some kind of switch that flipped in your soul, and you actually wished to have me back.
And here, somehow, I had come back to you. Looking for you. And you were grateful.
Meanwhile I, despite expecting nothing, had gotten my own wish in turn.
If I ever thought it was God’s will that we should be together, I never heard Him say anything directly. It only worked out so well that I just assumed it was meant to be. And I would assume you came to the same conclusion.
And that, I would say, was the end of the story. Only of course, it wasn’t: it was just the beginning. And there are so many more stories to tell, and so little time to tell them, before my memory takes them away from me. But for now, we can pause here. I should hope I still remember when the time comes to tell the rest.
つづく (to be continued…)