The other day I was thinking about college, and an old boyfriend popped into my head. It was odd because I hadn’t thought about him in years and years, and yet our few dates were super memorable. I thought to myself, this is worth blogging about! So I began to Google him, hoping I could find an image or some bit of info I could include as an epilogue of sorts, i.e. “Paul is now married with 45 children living in Spokane, Washington.”
Well, I found out information, but it certainly was a bummer. Turns out Paul died back in 2007 from Lupus.
It makes me wonder if I’ve already begun to get to “that age” where old flames and friends begin to head to the great beyond. Paul isn’t the first ex-boyfriend of mine to die too young. Back in the 90s while scanning the obits section of my college alumni newsletter I was horrified to see a name I recognized, and recognized well.
It was the name of this guy Andy that I had a crush on for all of my Freshman, Sophomore and Junior years, when we dated on and off. We dated seriously after college for a few months, and parted on not so great terms during the summer of 1988. And now there I was with my stomach pooled around my feet staring at his death notice.
They were both so young. Especially Andy. We were around the same age and I was only in my 30′s at the time I read that he had died. I wondered what the cause had been – sickness or perhaps an accident? I wouldn’t find out until years later that he’d died of AIDS. That made me doubly sad.
Typical of Tracy, I feel the need to share my memories of these two fellows – my version of a memorial to the short time they were a part of my life. For now I feel that I have to start with Andy.
I met Andy my freshman year at the University of Delaware. He was short, and stylish and very, very cute. He had brown curly hair, a great smile, and originated from Long Island – perhaps our shared accents helped us to hit it off. He always had girls buzzing around him, leaving him messages on his dorm room memo board, and walking with him on campus, so I had a lot of competition.
We never did much but “hang out” that first year; ate at the cafeteria a few times, and I helped him type a paper once where I made so many mistakes I used about a gallon of White Out. I was just glad to spend any time with him. If we ran into each other at a party, he would usually talk to me for a good while. I knew he liked me, but wasn’t sure if he was interested in dating me, so I played it cool on the surface. But I’ll tell you – I adored him.
Sophomore year was when we first dated. I’d been seeing this guy Rick who I liked, but wasn’t really nuts over when I ran into Andy. We talked for a while over a few beers, and he admitted that he liked me. Would I be interested in taking our relationship to a higher level? Would I! Where do I sign? This was a dream come true.
Unfortunately, I was scheduled to take a semester abroad in Vienna in just a few months. I’d be away for too long a time to think that the relationship could last. Regardless, we dated semi-casually that fall. It was a good thing that it was semi-casual…Andy wasn’t the best boyfriend. He was always busy, and rarely called – I didn’t see him too often at all. But when he showed up at my door, I’d turn to jelly. Man, there was something about him…
Before I left for Vienna he gave me a little ring to remember him by. It was nothing…just a plain metal wire, really…but I loved it. He promised to write me and I did the same. We murmured “I love you’s,” and I left for Christmas break knowing I wouldn’t see him again until the following fall. I wrote him at least a dozen letters while I was in Vienna, and didn’t receive even one in return. Not even a postcard. And the ring? It broke. I took it as an omen that Andy was probably not my boyfriend any longer.
Enter junior year. It was the first week of school and I was out shooting photos for my intro to Photography class. There was some sort of “welcome back” festival going on, and the quad was crammed with people and events. That’s where I saw him. I was thrilled to run into him so early in the semester. This was the days before cell phones and facebook, and it wasn’t always easy to find old friends at the beginning of a new school year.
I happily ran up to him and gave him a hug. It was then that I saw the girl. He introduced her as “his girlfriend Dana” and I cheerily greeted her, chatted nonchalantly about my summer, and made small talk about our upcoming year. I was trying very hard to act cool; to act as if I could care less that he had a girlfriend. I teased him about not writing me once while I was abroad – that was more to show off in front of his plain Jane girlfriend. I even took a picture of them; Andy and Dana with his dog Rita between him – I could crop Dana out later.
When I got back to my dorm I took the broken ring out of my jewelry box and threw it over the balcony. It soared down three floors and landed somewhere on the grassy slope below. It was my “see ya sucka” moment – the moment I had washed my hands of Andy once and for all.
A few days later he called me. He begged my forgiveness, he was breaking up with Dana, blah, blah, blah. I should’ve laughed in his face! I had proudly cleansed myself of him!
But when Andy was concerned I had a very hard time saying no. He was just so cute…I was really quite defenseless. Hours later we were “back together” and I was on my hands and knees searching for the ring in the grass below my dorm.
Can you believe I actually found it?
Nothing much had changed, though. Andy was still a bad boyfriend, rarely calling and only having time for me when it suited him. So I grew a spine and just forgot about him. There was no big break up or final moment. He just never called and I stopped caring.
Now fast forward to Christmas 4 years later. I had sent Andy a Christmas card…I had sent cards to a bunch of old friends from college that year. To my surprise, he called. We chatted on the phone for hours. He was living in Delaware and working as a high school teacher in Elkton, MD but was coming home to Long Island that weekend…could we meet? That old Andy electric current zinged right through me again, and I readily agreed.
We had a blast. We caught up on the past four years and laughed about our doomed college romance. He admitted that he was a pretty shitty boyfriend back in the day, and I joked that I followed him around like a puppy. He made me promise to come down to Delaware to see him the next weekend which I did.
I still remember that trip. There was traffic on the Turnpike, and I was more than an hour late getting to him. We met at a club, and I can remember walking in full of apologies, and he just grabbed me and kissed me. Oh, he was so handsome. We cuddled and danced (to Anita Baker’s Sweet Love) I remember thinking that maybe it was worth going through all the college bullshit to get to this right now. He’d grown up, and now he was mine.
We dated for a few months, and there were some really great times. We did a walk-a-thon over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge with his school. We played in the snow with his dog. But slowly, the old Andy began to creep back into the picture. I’d drive down to Delaware and he’d forget that he had things to do over the weekend, and I’d spend my time either sitting in his apartment alone, or coming along on some expedition that I had little interest in, and where he had little time for me.
Then during the 4th of July he was supposed to stop by my house on his way up to Long Island. I waited and waited for hours, and he just never showed. He never called either. I finally gave up and went to a barbecue at my sisters. Later that night I got in touch with him. He said that he got a late start and didn’t have the time to stop. What killed me is that he drove right past my street….and didn’t even bother to stop.
I told him to fuck off. I was done wasting my time with him. This time I really did write him off. I hung up the phone and I never spoke to him again.
And there was his name on the obits page in the Delaware Messenger.
It was tough. I’d spent a lot of years having Andy in my life, and it was sorrowful thing to know he was gone. He was a lousy boyfriend, but I think everyone has someone like Andy in their life at some point. Someone, who for reasons known only to nature and God, you are unequivocally attracted to. A person to whom you cannot help being drawn to, like a moth to a flame.