It was in The Summer of 1971. We were in a large Art in Life course, me trying to stay in school and she there not wanting to be alone after losing both parents. A friend of mine introduced me to her and I promptly blew her off because I had my eye on someone else whom after all these years I can't remember a single thing about while recalling exactly what this girl was wearing.
My friend pulled me to the side after class and told me I had screwed up in Biblical proportions. She said that girl you are chasing will never take you home though she probably will take you to her bed, but you will never name it past the front gate. Your hair is too long, your clothes are too wrinkled and your car is a joke. She said I just put a trophy in your hands and you let her her slip back into the water. You are an idiot!
My friend was right of course on all accounts. I actually did get the invite home but on the the Thursday before we were to leave on Friday, something came up and she had to leave right then. Leave she did and we never spoke again. Summer turned into fall and I would rarely get a glimpse of the one that got away. Turns out, her smile was brighter than the Sun and she had a voice with that beautiful Savannah patois. I was still chasing ex cheerleaders and playing in a league I was just a guest in,
Just before Christmas break I saw the girl with the voice and the smile. I said we should get together after the break. She shot me right in the heart, and said "But I don't have any cheerleading outfits at home" Boom! She so very sweetly told me to eff off and nearly drove over my foot as she pulled away, taking the smile with her.
Now this was 1972, no internet, no Google, no Facebook, just a dial up phone and a list of every guy in my dorm from Chatham county and their home number. Call #5 got me her whole name,,#6 an address and an unlisted number and #8 said forget her, she is back with her high school boyfriend. Today, I would have stopped right there but I wasn't quite 20 yet and paid it no mind. Armed with an address and the wrong phone number took off to Savannah with some small trinket, I drove the 55 miles
In record time, Carter be damned! Got there circled the block twice to get my heart rate down, parked, walked up the circular stairs and rang the bell. She answers the door with eyes like saucers with the boyfriend's arm draped around her neck. Awkward! But I quickly recovered and asked about Shelly, the matchmaker from paragraph one. She said that Shelley and her family normally went to the islands for Christmas but she would get me her number. She scribbled something on a page and put it in the pocket of my best flannel shirt. The BF was a good dude and I drank a few of his beers. We may have shared a cigarette or three too. Having long worn out my welcome, I tried to stride back to my car but I'm sure it looked like a slink.
I limped back to Claxton, got home, burned a fat one under the dormant grapevine went inside, threw my clothes into a pile and tried to sleep. The next morning Mother handed me a piece of paper with Shelley's number on it, I am about to toss it but she said, i think there is a note on it. It was a note! It had her home phone, her dorm room and she said call when we get back. It even had a smiley face! However, it was 3 weeks to winter quarter. Everyday drug by. Finally the day before we had to go back, I went back a day early. Soon it was time for Happy Hour and quarter draft Old Milwaukee. Five minutes at my corner and I feel a tap on my shoulder, I turned and there she was. We talked until it hurt. We were inseparable for two years. We moved in together and the world was my oyster. Life was good, oh hell it was marvelous,
I get home one day before her which was very odd even for the early 70's and Atlanta traffic. Something was off, the apartment was spotless but posters were missing as was her side of the closet. Then I see it, THE NOTE. I love you but I can't keep doing this. Don't look for me, I can't be found , it was November. I get a call from her Christmas afternoon. We both cried and then my blood turned cold. She'd met someone but she would never forget and we would stay in touch. I never heard from her again.
I never fish without a net again.