Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Girl for the Trees

A few people have asked about the identity of the girl in the picture. Maybe it’s the defiantly displayed middle finger. Most likely it’s that I’m in a picture with a girl…and we’re touching. Whatever the reason, she’s a good story from my life, so I’ll share. Her name is Nancy.

Since I was on the unintentional five year program at Cedarville and my first core group of friends were a year older, I needed to find a new core after my Junior year. Thanks to my best friend Eric, I was able to find a core in the broadcasting department. Part of that group was Nancy. At first she was on the fringe. Even more than me she strayed from the Cedarville standard. Her penchant for go-go boots, and the provocative put off many of the yuppie raised students. Lucky for her, those in the broadcasting department were the black sheep of Cedarville. Actually, it was lucky for the broadcasters.

It wasn’t till after the first quarter of my Junior year that I actually got to know Nancy. The broadcasting department went on it’s annual retreat to a kids camp. The goal was to help clean up the place, and get it ready for some kids. For some reason one of the groups consisted of Nancy, myself, and every other goofball in the department. Thank goodness we were only put on raking duty. We didn’t do too much damage, but we didn’t do much raking either. I think we lost a rake to the elements, but that was about it. Nancy and I bonded on music and movies over that weekend. One movie though led us to be friends. Nancy loved disco, Manilow, and basically all things 70’s pop culture. Her main crush though was John Travolta. Even before “Pulp Fiction” she was all about Travolta. So, when “Pulp Fiction” did come out, she had to see it, and see it often. At that time, Cedarville students were not allowed to see movies at the multiplex. That of course didn’t stop Nancy and me. I can’t even remember how many times we saw that movie. In between our viewings of Royales with cheese and severed ears our friendship grew.

We started hanging out more. We’d actually go see other movies. We’d edit our projects together blaring Manilow and the Bee Gees till 3 in the morning. Giving each other the middle finger was our sophomoric and endearing way to greet each other. Still, she was distant. A close friend of hers died during my second senior year, and it shook her pretty hard. She struggled with eating after that, but her wall was too thick to accept help. She also had a life outside our group that she never let many into. Even though she was a blast to hang out with, and we had a certain bond, she was never willing to share. Not that I was the sharing type either. That’s probably one of the reasons we were friends.

I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my dating life. I may have said or done the wrong thing, but it never really bothered me much. If it wasn’t to be, it wasn’t to be. As long as learned from my mistakes I was happy with that. Nancy though is a regret because I was never able to find out what could have been. Something or somebody always got in the way of me asking her out. She would have a boyfriend or had a crush. When she was single I’d have a crush. That’s my own fault. Nancy and I met up in D.C. for spring break but my mind would be so caught up in another girl I didn’t see what was in front of me. Even when I was over that, I’d hesitate because we both had self destructive leanings. I also thought she was too cool for me. I didn’t think I measured up with her cool friends at the time. Again that’s my fault. I didn’t get a sense of what could have been till after I graduated. On a whim I decided to visit Cedarville after I graduated. I was living in Columbus at the time, so it was only an hour and half drive. Most of my friends were out of town at the time, but Nancy was there. We hung out that evening and made plans to have breakfast before I went back. Not to be an inconvenience I broke into an old professor's office and crashed on his couch. We met for breakfast at Perkins, and she did something I’d never witnessed before. She shared. She opened up to me, and I shared in return. We discussed our fears of the future, and our dreams. We said goodbye in the parking lot, and she gave me hug. She then said she wished she’d known me better. Talk about a kind word with a dash of pain. Even though I went to most of our friends weddings and get togethers, I never got to see her again. I’d get letters every now and then. Some only had a drawing of a middle finger. Last I heard she was married with kids, and living a good life. She’s still the only regret of my love life. I never really saw her among the others till it was too late. She taught me to be more comfortable in my own skin. She also gave me an idea of what I’m looking for. So maybe it’s not really a regret but more of a constant curiosity of what might have been.

There was one other minor regret. Eric later told me that Nancy and her best friend had asked Eric if he and I wanted to go skinny dipping with them. Apparently knowing what’s best for me, he said I would probably not want to. Thanks Eric.

Nancy also had one of my favorite celebrity sightings. After she graduated, she stated working for CSPAN. She would set up the cameras for the House and Senate meetings. Walking down to a camera, she was singing “Staying Alive.” Behind her she heard someone start singing with her. She turned around and sure enough it was John Travolta. That could only happen to Nancy.


bobby said...

This post almost made me cry. So much bittersweet. If you ever write an autobio, the chapter about Nancy shoud start: "A close friend of hers died during my second senior year." Perfect.

And I hate to burst your bubble, but that celebrity sighting didn't happen. I mean, come on. John Travolta at CSPAN? Was he lost?

Bradford said...

No he was at a Senate hearing or something. She was setting up the cameras on Captiol Hill. He was there to speak about one of his causes.