I’m on a roll with the High Fidelity Series… We’re now up to Darryl. Let’s set the scene:
It was my 21st birthday, which happened to fall on a Monday. (Completely unfair, I tell you!)
A bunch of my girlfriends took me out to the only bar that was happening on a Monday night, and I think it was disco night.
After several drinks, Amber and I were standing together and admiring a guy dancing. He was tall, with straight brown hair that fell into his eyes, and he was dancing all by himself.
‘I dare you to go dance with him,’ Amber said.
Amber and I had this deal between us in college that we had to unconditionally accept each other’s dares. And man, did that get us into some interesting situations.
I think I muttered, ‘damn you’, as I left her and started dancing with him.
We were instantly attracted to each other. After the bar closed, he asked if I wanted to go get breakfast at Denny’s. So we did. He held my hand over the table, and we talked and talked and talked. We talked until the sun came up the next day.
Back then, I thought it was love at first sight. And I honestly thought I was in love with him until I came to know the all-encompassing love I now know with my husband. That was just child’s play. But let’s just say that my 21 year old self fell harder and faster for Darryl than I had for any other guy.
The only problem? The man lived in Buffalo, New York. I was living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. You couldn’t really live farther apart while still being on the same continent.
Darryl had been working a summer job in the Grand Canyon, and was on his way driving back to New York, when he stopped to visit a friend that lived in Las Cruces.
He extended his stay to spend a few more days with me. Those were wonderful days that felt like a dream come true, and at the end of those days, as we were watching the sunset over the Rio Grande (I kid you not), he told me in tears that he thought he was falling in love with me.
He left, and called me from every gas station that he stopped at (remember this was before cell phones were popular). Once he returned to Buffalo, we racked up some really impressive phone bills and we chatted online for hours each day. We were chatting in Telnet, people. I’m an Internet pioneer.
We decided that we had to see each other again, and I booked a plane ticket to go visit him. The weekend I spent with him was amazing. I actually stayed at his parents’ house, but I’m never going to forget when we went to Niagara Falls at night, where he started talking marriage and children.
Leaving him to go back to New Mexico was horribly painful for me back them. My heart actually felt like it hurt. I was actually considering moving to Buffalo to be with Darryl.
Buffalo. Can you imagine? I was miserable enough in Detroit — can you imagine how unhappy I would have been in Buffalo?!
Upon returning to New Mexico, we kept up the phone calls and chatting. I remember him singing Richard Marks’ song Right Here Waiting for me over the phone. Ha! I’m not making this up.
He then asked me to come back out to Buffalo to go to his best friend’s wedding. He was going to be the best man.
But I was in college and on a very limited budget. At that time, it cost over $400 to fly to Buffalo, and I didn’t have that kind of cash, and well, he didn’t offer to pay.
After that wedding, the phone calls got fewer and less frequent. He all of a sudden became very busy. And then, when I called him on Christmas Day to wish him a Merry Christmas, and he broke up with me.
On Christmas Day. Was that really necessary?
I got seriously depressed after that, and cried myself to sleep for many nights. If I could only just go back and tell myself that it would all work out. It might take another 7 years, but it’ll all work out for the best.
But I can’t, and I was literally haunted by the loss of that first ‘love’.
I later ran into Darryl’s friend (the one he had been visiting), and found out that Darryl had started dating the maid of honor from that wedding that I was supposed to go to.
Oh, the irony.
And after that, I closed my heart off to other guys. And I couldn’t stop thinking about Darryl. I mourned as if he had died. Dramatic, yes. But true. I can honestly say that he hurt me more than any other man. Which is strange, because we only knew each other for about four months, but it was a very intense four months. I guess distance will do that.
For years afterwards, I looked at my birthday as the anniversary of my meeting Darryl instead of a reason to celebrate. I was haunted by him, and thought of him constantly. I wrote him endless letters that I never sent.
Until one day… It must have been four or five years after we had last talked that I finally decided to contact him. I was living in Detroit at the time, which was only a 4 hour drive to Buffalo, and I had many daydreams about me driving to Buffalo to see him one more time.
When I wrote Darryl, I had actually been dating The Man Now Known As The Ex for over a year. RED FLAG!!! (We’ll get more into RED FLAGs in the next entry.)
I told Darryl in that letter that I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and before I committed even more to The Man Now Known As The Ex, I wanted to first of all know what had happened from Darryl’s point of view, and also see if there was a chance of us seeing each other again.
A few months later, I got a letter from Darryl in the mail. I remember getting it out of the mail box and starting to shake when I saw the return address.
I ran upstairs to my apartment and ripped open the letter. It was a very sweet letter. However, it started out with him telling me that he had married that woman that was the maid of honor in that wedding I chose not to go to. He also had one child with another one on the way. He was happy, and I guess I was glad to hear that, even though I was disappointed.
He then said that he agreed that he had done me wrong and that I had a right to know exactly what had gone wrong between us. He said that he recalled a phone conversation (one of the hundreds) where he had asked me if he decided to move to New Mexico if he could live with me.
During that conversation, I told him there was no way that could happen. My parents were putting me through school, and I knew that if I up and moved in with a guy that I had known for a matter of months that all hell would break loose. Plus, it was against my beliefs at the time. I was only 21 remember.
Well, although he hadn’t told me this in advance, but this was a make-or-break question for Darryl. If I had said yes, he was going to pack it up and move to New Mexico to be with me. If I said no, then we were over.
I didn’t know this when I answered. I imagined that he could move to New Mexico, live with his friend here, and we could date like normal people before jumping in like that.
So there you have it. Years afterwards, I finally found out what happened. In that letter, he encouraged me to contact him via the e-mail account that he shared with his wife, but that was really just a bit too strange for me. I’m not a home wrecker. I got my answer, and it was enough to help me move on with my life.
In retrospect, I know that Darryl was looking to get married and have a family right away, and I really wasn’t ready for that, even at 21. I also never would have been happy in Buffalo, I don’t care how in love I thought I was.
Now, I have a love that is much deeper than what I thought was love with Darryl, AND I get to live in a land that I love. After spending 4 years in Michigan, I now know how important that is.
I guess everyone needs to get their heart really trampled on so that they can appreciate it when someone treats their heart with care.
Now you can read the song lyrics of Insensitive and know a bit more of how I was feeling back then.