Friday, April 30, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 30)

Her mother handed me a note, it was a poem actually written by Vicki. Her poem talked about living your life, loving all you can despite any losses. Sometimes risking losses makes love all that more rewarding. An additional note at the end of the poem was an encouragement to keep going, and to never give up on life, or love. It was only later I learned that note was meant for me alone, but I read it out loud.

I finished my reading and sat down. Vicki's words stirred me, all thoughts of giving up eased away. She wanted me to continue; to live with no regrets. I talked to many that day, including Darryl and his wife Katy. I also met some of Vicki's friends. I spoke to one who told me Vicki would always mention me when she visited her. Turns out Vicki knew several friends who worked in the fashion industry in France.

I was talking with Josephine when she mentioned she spoke perfect French. I asked if she would translate the phrase, 'Tu es mon amour. Je suis désolé.' She said it was almost a contradiction, but translated it wondering what it meant. I told her it was something I heard in a movie once and was always curious what it meant. When she asked what movie it was from, I excused myself. I went to talk with Kenny and Laura.

I was one of the last people to leave. It was hard saying goodbye to Vicki despite how long it had been since I'd seen her last. Sitting in my hotel room I once again opened the diary of Jenni's. I looked once more to the final entry, 'Tu es mon amour. Je suis désolé.' - 'I love you, I'm sorry'. Both women left my life, yet in an odd way left a message to keep me going. To never give up.

Now you know why Im in Walla Walla. I know I can continue. Despite all potential loss, any love gained will be worth it. I've decided I'm not booking a flight back to Milwaukee but to France. Who knows, maybe that's where Jenni disappeared to. Maybe she was sending me a message. What will I find? Love or Loss? That's what makes life worth living, finding out. Perhaps some day I will tell you what I find out. But that is another story.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 29)

Turns out Vicki had been battling with cancer for the past ten years. Unfortunately, she was loosing her battle with it and wasn't given much time left. She called me to Washington, feeling like she had to. I tried to tell her it wasn't important but she wanted to tell me anyway. Turns out things with Terry didn't turn out well and after he left she threw herself into school and work. She felt so bad over what happened between the two of us and regretted it since the day I left.

She wasn't going to call and beg forgiveness. She knew I would have forgiven her. Ultimately she felt she didn't deserve me. She heard about Jenni running out on me and almost called then, but was too embarrassed to. She regretted not calling, she said she regretted a lot of things. She wanted to tell me all this in person before she past away. She was so weak, that after talking, she needed to rest once again.

I expected her mother to send me away, but she allowed me to sit with her, holding her hand. I sat for a few hours, I would have stayed all night if her mother hadn't encouraged me to go back to my hotel to rest. She told me I was welcome to come in the morning when perhaps Vicki would have more strength. Reluctantly I left. It was early in the morning when her mother called, letting me know Vicki passed away in her sleep.

You can't imagine how the news broke my heart. She already explained she didn't have much time, I didn't realize how short the time was. It was as if she waited to die till after telling me what she needed to. And yet, there was so much more to be said, so much more I wanted to tell her. I knew I was going to draw into myself once more. I was tired of being hurt, and didn't think I could handle much more in life.

I could already feel myself slipping away. I still helped her mother with preparations for the funeral though. We used older photos of Vicki to create a collage. It was her last collage and I was glad I helped with it. I refused to visit her in the casket, I didn't want to remember her that way. As the service started I saw Kenny, Laura and Darryl. Suddenly, and unexpectedly I was asked to come up and read something.

Part 30 of 30

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 28)

Jenni's diary was the only thing of Jenni's I brought along. Along with it, a few letters Vicki had written to me when we were younger, some of her fashion collages, and for the most part pictures. Only a few of us together, mostly all her including one of her from when she was a child. During the flight, I ignored all of them, except the diary. I hadn't opened this, even after her mother had given it to me.

I know it was wrong to look into the diary, but it really didn't matter as it was the same as when I owned it originally with the exception of two additional entries. One was added about a week before the wedding regarding a tough decision she had to make. The final one was made on the day of our wedding. It was written in French, one of her side hobbies was learning the language.

It was just as well there wasn't much to read in the diary, I wasn't in a reading mood. I kept thinking what Vicki told me on the phone. Her news was grave indeed, but I wanted a few answers. Selfish? Maybe, but it had been 20 years. I was quiet, deep in meditation of the situation. Her words hurt me, despite the time past. Emotions filled me and I began to weep, just as a stewardess asked if I required anything.

I needed many things, nothing the stewardess could provide however. The rest of the flight I sat in silence, pondering. Once the plane landed, I made immediately to the taxi stand. Hurriedly I gave the driver the address of Vicki's house. I knew this was going to be awkward but it was something I had to do. Arriving at Vicki's house, I rang the front door. Her mother answered, obviously very distressed.

I wasn't sure who to expect, but it was just Vicki and her mother. Vicki was in a cot sleeping. She looked so peaceful and calm. Her mother went to put tea on so I grabbed a chair to wait for her to wake up. She stirred softly, then opened an eye. A faint smile crept across her face and she said 'you came'. My eyes watered and I replied, 'of course'. It was then I wished she told me sooner she was dying of cancer.

Part 29 of 30

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 27)

I tried hard as I could to put my past behind me. Trying to better myself meant to stop thinking of the problems I had with Jenni and Vicki. The two girls who I loved and both broke my heart. I hadn't heard from either of them in so long, I didn't expect to hear from either of them ever again. But one day last week I received a call, the caller ID didn't identify the person. It just claimed they were from Washington.

Yes, it has now been 5 years sine I woke up. To tell the truth, I have moved on so much that when I saw the call from Washington I ignored it. I didn't recognize the number and anyone I knew from Washington I had no interest in talking with. Then I received a call the very next day. I still refused to answer. There was one last call and this time she left a message for me.

It was from Vicki. She told me if I ever had any love for her in the past, I would call her. She didn't say why, but she said it was urgent she speak with me. I wasn't sure if she was trying to play on my 'compassion' button as Jenni was prone to do in the past, but when I knew her, Vicki never did. To be honest, I had several questions for Vicki and really wanted some answers. I relented and finally picked up the phone to call.

It was the hardest phone call I ever had to make. I listened intently to what she had to say. I told myself I was not going to take any 'guff' from her and really give her a piece of my mind. I never did get that far, I allowed her to speak her mind first. I've been told at times, that perhaps I'm 'too nice' of a person. After she spoke, the conversation was essentially done. All I told her was that yes, I would book a flight to Washington and come visit her.

As soon as I got off the phone with Vicki I called and booked a flight to Washington the very next day. Yes, despite me saying I would never again visit Walla Walla, here I was 20 years later, returning. It was then nostalgia hit me. I opened a box I had with several mementos of days gone by, one of which was Jenni's diary. I decided to take an assortment of items along with me for the flight to Washington.

Part 28 of 30

Monday, April 26, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 26)

It was not who you might think it was, but close. I opened the door and eying me suspiciously was Jenni's mother. She immediately sized me up and I could hear her thoughts of, 'Wow he let himself go'. I stood for a few seconds in shock. She was the last person I would have expected. Before I could even speak she handed me a bag and told me I should have what was inside. Then suddenly, she turned and left without saying anything more.

It was at that moment, even before looking inside the bag, I decided to change who and what I was. It was almost as if a light suddenly came on and the past 13 years I was living someone else's life. It was finally time I stopped doing nothing with my life. Of course there was additional motivation once I looked into the bag. You see, once again I was in possession of Jenni's diary.

Her mothers motive for giving me the diary was unclear. Perhaps it was her way of letting go? But why give up on her daughter? True, I gave up on her, but Jenni wasn't family. I assumed she ran away from just me, not everyone. Last time I looked inside her diary, greedily. I debated whether I should this time. I placed the diary inside a small box and placed it on a shelf in my closet. Ignoring it.

Not quite sure what it was, but something awoke inside me. I started to watch what I was eating, joined a gym and was persuaded to enter a weight watching class. It wasn't long before the pounds dropped. It took me a few years, but I shed 100 pounds. I was feeling better as well as looking better. As I was working on myself, I also started to concentrate on my writing once more.

I was really starting to feel I was coming alive once more. I wasn't having as much success in writing as I would have liked, but I was writing again and feeling much better. It seems I had woken up from my dream. There was still a few things in my life I had never done, travel was one of them. I had never left Milwaukee, unless you count the time I went to Washington. Yea, funny I should mention Washington.

Part 27 of 30

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 25)

1996 I was still in a dream-like trance. This was my first realization I was dreaming everything. I looked at a recent photo taken of me and noticed, not the slender sort I've always been. I had started to gain weight. Noticing this weight gain shocked me more than anything had in a while. I must have weighed over 250 lbs. Perhaps I must have known that deep down. None of my recent photos was I able to smile any more. But that certainly wasn't the end of it.

I was having problems paying the rent in 1998 as my job didn't pay much and I called in sick frequently. I found buying beer didn't help towards finding meaning in my life. Finally in 1999 I was fired from my customer service job at the mall and searched desperately for a new one. I was several weeks away from getting evicted because my rent was over a month late.

Every time I felt I hit rock bottom, I dropped off another cliff. I thought when I finally found a new job things were going to look up. Turns out I couldn't stand the work or the boss. But it paid the rent so I stuck with it. My life was miserable and didn't change, not even after the new millennium began.

2001 was a horrible year for everyone, 2002 my nights were filled with nothing but television watching, 2003 I found my comfort in a pint of ice cream every night and 2004 I started to slip deeper into my depression. Everything depressed me. I realized I was getting older and had done nothing with my life. I was going to be a writer, but nothing became of it. That brings us to 2005.

At last, everything changed in 2005. Because of my excess in junk food and self pity I now weighed over 300 pounds. Yes, it shames me to this day I let myself go so badly. Perhaps I would have gained more weight, who knows how big I would have let myself get. But that all changed quickly, 13 years after Jenni 'left me at the alter', with a sudden surprising knock at my door.

Part 26 of 30

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 24)

The wedding was at 2:30. By 2:35 I was getting a little worried. 2:40 there were murmurs and everyone was looking around. Finally at 2:45, her mother walked up the aisle. She just came from pavilion Jenni was supposedly in getting ready. She had an envelope in her hand and angrily shoved it at me. I was perplexed and worried. As you might have guessed, it essentially started, 'Dear John'.

If looks could kill, her mother certainly would have killed me. I was stood up, and her mother was angry with me. It wasn't till later I learned why she was so upset with me. Jenni didn't just skip the wedding, she didn't just run away from me, she ran away from everything, everyone. Was it the commitment? Did it have something to do with her abduction of years ago? I never did find out.

I was devastated after she left. Why did she leave? Her family hated me and the note didn't say much. I did my best to look for her, but she didn't want to be found. Something inside me felt broken, and I couldn't fix it. One night in '93 I found myself at the lake, one of our favorite places to walk. With the Patsy Cline song 'Walkin After Midnight' (her favorite song) playing in my head, I fell to my knees thinking of her. I burst out in tears, shattered.

I walked to the nearest pub I could find with a jukebox. The only Patsy Cline song I could find was 'Crazy'. I played it twice in a row crying over a beer. I've heard of hitting rock bottom. That was certainly how I was feeling.

Everything went downhill from there. Is it possible to get lower than rock bottom? I certainly was finding out. By 1994 I was withdrawn, I no longer felt like myself. I stopped writing and put everything on hold. I was working at a mediocre job, making a mediocre wage. Thoughts of Jenni still consumed me and I followed every lead I could. The more I couldn't find her, the emptier I became.

Part 25 of 30

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 23)

As time went on Jenni and I relied more on each other. We became the best of friends. I'd call and talk to her about problems at work, bounce a few story ideas off of her, she'd complain about her parents, she even told me a few details about her abduction. I was so worried about ruining our friendship, but I had to take a chance. I invited her out to dinner and for dessert I proposed to her.

Her reaction wasn't what I expected, though I really didn't know how she would react. Did she say yes? Did she say no? The first question she asked was 'why'? Jenni's always been full of surprises. It took some reasoning with her, but she came around to my way of thinking. We made plans to wed in the early part of '92. The next few months were busy, but not as busy as you'd expect. Jenni wanted a small simple wedding.

I was sort of surprised she didn't want to elope, but that wouldn't make sense. Jenni has always been big on making plans and making sure things go according to her plan. 1991 went by in the blink of an eye and my bachelor days were coming to a quick conclusion. I had trouble helping with the guest list. I knew I couldn't invite Darryl and Vicki was out of the question. I did invited Katy and Missy, though. I think I invited them as substitutes for Vicki and Darryl.

The big day was only a week away but something seemed to be troubling her. I couldn't tell what it was. We were still getting along great, but she seemed distant to some degree. I pretty much chalked it up to nerves because I was getting nervous myself. But for Jenni, this was something new. She was always calm and collected. I asked to make sure she was okay with the wedding and she assured me she was.

Finally the big day arrived. We were having our ceremony in a park and it was a gorgeous day for it. As discussed, it was a small simple affair. Mostly just close family and friends. I had a chance to talk with Kenny and Laura again, so that was pretty cool. I was looking great that day, another plus. If only it weren't for that one thing, it would have been a perfect day.

Part 24 of 30

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 22)

Jenni wasn't suggesting we get back together, she was just letting me know breaking up with me was a mistake on her part. Once again she was sincerely trying to apologize for something she had done. Of course Darryl took it the wrong way, in retrospect I don't blame him. But he was still wrong, there was nothing going on between Jenni and I. He quickly stormed out.

Jenni tried to stop him but he pushed her away. She fell backwards into me, which both surprised and delighted me. As he opened the door he yelled to the both of us we could have each other now if we wanted to. I tried pleading with him it was a mistake but he wouldn't listen. He looked at me and said I was just 'another Terry'. That hurt because I wasn't trying to steal her away. I moved towards him when suddenly everything went black.

I saw stars for a minute and a sensation of floating. I heard a muffled voice as I slowly pulled myself together. Jenni was beside me, making sure I was okay. In his huff, Darryl slugged me. I didn't know he felt that way or I would've been more careful. Unfortunately he played his card and I doubted Jenni would want him after such a deplorable display. I was innocent in what transpired, but I felt guilty and hurt.

Darryl kept his distance from me after that. I don't know if he felt ashamed for what he did or if he thought I was trying to steal Jenni away from him. Jenni and I were not romantically involved. I was afraid to go back down that road. However, we kept our friendship up. For the next few days we kept our distance but suddenly we began to talk once more. It was a few months later and we were close once more.

By the time 1991 rolled around we were once again very close. There were not many people I associated with so it was natural for me to draw closer to Jenni. As for Jenni, none of her friends clicked with her any more, especially Andrea her only friend who hated me. I guess what happened next was only natural. I made the boldest move in my life, maybe this is where I made the biggest mistake of my life.

Part 23 of 30

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 21)

I wasn't sure what her reaction would be. Would she think it was improper for me to call? Would she be okay with it? It's not like I was asking for her hand in marriage, I just wanted to talk. Like it or not, we were old friends. I was endeared to her new persona once more. And yet, why hadn't I called Darryl? Emotions make you do stupid things at times, especially when you're lonely. Regardless, I was elated to find she appreciated my call.

We talked for an hour. I don't recall what we chatted about. I remember wanting to tell her about Vicki, but not doing so. I wondered if Darryl would be jealous I called her. Once I finished with Jenni I decided I to call him, maybe invite him to a baseball game or something. He didn't answer, I found out later he was already on the phone with Jenni. She must have called right after hanging up with me.

They say great minds think alike. I use that more often when someone else just has the same idea as me. Turns out Jenni asked Darryl the same exact question I was going to. I know this because a minute later he called to invite me, saying it was Jenni's idea and she wondered what I was up to. I accepted the invite of course. Some things always surprised me about Jenni. That she was a Milwaukee Brewers fan was high on that list.

The ball game was great, we won of course. It was a good time and I really didn't feel like a fifth wheel as I thought I would. I have to hold onto that memory because it was a good one. Of course everything changes and things suddenly took a turn for the worse, or for the better. I guess it depends on how you look at it. Currently I'm not certain if it was good or not. It certainly wasn't good for Darryl, though he arguably brought it on himself.

After the ball game we were back at my place. All three of us were having a good time and I thought perhaps Darryl was easing off his jealousy. He then left to use the restroom or something. Once he did, Jenni gave me an odd sort of look. She went on to tell me how bad she felt for all the things she'd done to me, and how silly she was. She then told me she wished we had never broken up. Yes, that was exactly the moment Darryl walked back into the living room.

Part 22 of 30

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 20)

I'm not sure when it happened exactly. It might have been when I told Jenni an inside joke which the two of us laughed heartily over, ending with her gently placing her hand on mine. It wasn't a romantic gesture at all, and I didn't take it that way. But Darryl must have seen something else there, true or not. It must have been right around that time Darryl began to be jealous of me.

I remember thinking how crazy he was. There was a moment he actually pulled me into another room to ask if I was 'hitting' on his girlfriend. As far as I was concerned, my relationship with Jenni was strictly platonic. We just had a long history together, and that isn't something you just forget. But to make him feel better, I made up some excuse and left the two together.

It wasn't even a week since Vicki left me and here Darryl thought I was trying to steal his girl away. Pretty pathetic if you ask me. It certainly was a downfall of Darryl's. He was always the leery, paranoid type. I hoped it would be something he could get over with quickly, because I knew Jenni was not the sort to put up with that. Well, at least the old Jenni wouldn't put up with that. Would she now?

The next day Jenni called me. It felt awkward, especially considering how jealous Darryl was feeling. She asked why I left suddenly the night before. I told her I had things to do but I'm sure she understood I was trying to cover. The next few days were not much better. Whatever jealousy had taken hold of Darryl, was not letting go. I shouldn't have cared, but I was almost missing Jenni.

I gave Darryl and Jenni a few days to themselves. It was rather a bore as I didn't have other people to talk with. I wasn't going to settle for Katy or Missy either. Well, a bit of a personal joke there, I never hung out with either girl. I started to miss Vicki once more. To clear my mind I concentrated on writing and attended to a story I was working on. But before the week let out I buckled and gave Jenni a call.

Part 21 of 30

Monday, April 19, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 19)

The next day I was up fairly early. Couldn't sleep much during the night especially after I thought I heard someone break in. I called Darryl to see if we could get together again, with another day behind both of us, we were likely better company. Several hours later I was back at his house.

It wasn't long before there was a knock on his door. Darryl called out the door was open and suddenly Jenni walked in. She told us she snuck out of her house as her parents wanted to keep an eye on her. She reassured us she was fine; she remembered everything, but she would be okay. What she did next really shocked me. She came over and gave me a nice warm hug.

I think it shocked Darryl more than me, his wide eyes were telling. At the time I couldn't tell why he was shocked, it was only a hug. In retrospect I suppose I can understand, considering Jenni and I used to be a couple, but that was over. She let go, but thanked me for giving her the diary. I dismissed it, almost upset I had to give it back to her. Little did I realize I would one day have the book back.

Jenni then went on to tell me how sorry she was for being so mean to me before her abduction. Now I've known Jenni for along time, but this was the first time I could recall her apologizing for anything, sincerely. Somehow I thought after getting her memory back she's be right back to her old nasty self. But some certainly changed in her. Reminded me of the woman I once loved. What happened to her that caused such a change?

Whatever it was, she never told me. Ironic, how something could change you so profoundly, yet never want to talk about it. Sure, perhaps she discussed it with her psychologists, but after she regained her memory she stopped seeing them. I started to do more with Darryl once again. Jenni was still always with him, believe it or not I didn't mind. She almost took my mind off Vicki leaving me.

Part 20 of 30

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 18)

He asked what she was talking about and I related the story of how we broke up and I kept her diary because she never asked for it back. He worriedly asked why I didn't bring it. It was the way he asked it, it almost seemed rude. Reluctantly I reached into my back pocket and produced a small book. The cover was soft, with a pinkish color. Though she was still out, I placed the book in her relaxed hands. Wondering what, if anything would happen.

Darryl and I watched, as if we were expecting something magical to happen. Had this been a fiction story I suppose she would have sat up immediately, with full recollection of her abduction, but this was not fiction. We continued to watch her in silence, as odd as that might seem, till there was a knock on the door. Darryl informed me he called her parents. That did little to lift my spirits as her parents hated me more than she ever did.

For the most part, Jenni's father was indifferent towards me so I was relieved when he alone came to get his daughter. Darryl explained everything that happened, though he hardly seemed to be listening. Once Jenni was gone I decided I had to confide in Darryl about my trip to Washington. I needed to talk to someone about it and really didn't want to be home by myself.

This time it was Darryl who was indifferent toward me. As I told him how Vicki was seeing someone else he was pacing about, obviously thinking of Jenni. As I told him about about Terry he threw out a 'that sucks' line but it still didn't seem like he was following me. I told him about the plane trip to Washington and it didn't register with him. Obviously he was distracted far more than I could deal with. His predicament was terrible I know, but I had my own problems to think about.

I'm not even sure he knew exactly when I left. Later I felt like a jerk for doing so, but my problem seemed worse than his at the moment. At least he still had Jenni, I had no one. Even most of my friends were gone. Darryl and I got along great but lately our time together was less and less. The more time he spent with Jenni, the less we would spend together. It's possible I was feeling a little jealous.

Part 19 of 30

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 17)

I arrived home at two in the afternoon. I threw my bag in a corner when I suddenly noticed a blinking light on my answering machine, an indication of a message. I was hesitant before listening as I wasn't sure I wanted to hear what Vicki had to say. I decided to get it over with as soon as possible. However, the message wasn't from Vicki, it was from Darryl. He asked if I knew anything about a diary Jenni once owned.

I wondered how Darryl knew about the diary, I never told him. I guessed Jenni mentioned it to him, somehow she recalled owning it. I could have lied about hanging onto the diary, but I wasn't that sort of person. The only reason I held onto it was because she never asked for it back. If there was any chance the diary might help unlock her memories I would have to help. Almost reluctantly, I called Darryl back.

I hoped Darryl wasn't going to answer the phone, but he picked up immediately. He asked where I had been but I opted not to tell him about my trip to Walla Walla. The last thing I wanted to get out was how I impulsively wasted so much money on something so fruitless. Jenni was visiting him and asked about the diary. Either Darryl didn't hear her or assumed I did, either way I ignored the question and told him I would be right over.

Darryl still lived with his parents back then and they were only a few blocks from my house. I decided to walk over as I was in no rush. The fresh air and walk would do me good. Besides, I wanted to clear my head before having another run-in with Jenni. I know she changed but I still saw the same person who broke up with me a few years ago, before being abducted.

I arrived at Darryl's house half an hour later. I was shocked to find she had passed out and was laying on his couch. He told me she was acting irregular for a few days, especially after her psychologist suggest she keep a diary. It was then she remembered owning one. Suddenly she sprang up mumbling something incoherently then looked directly at me and asked if I brought her diary. She fainted away again as Darryl looked at my empty hands.

Part 18 of 30

Friday, April 16, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 16)

Originally I was bummed the flight back to Milwaukee was so early in the morning. Now I was grateful. I gathered my belongings as fast as I could. I was determined not to break down but these emotions were hard to bottle. I could feel my face flush, as I called the cab to come pick me up. I made it to the hotel lobby before I began to tear up. I wiped the tears away quickly and checked out. Stepping outside I placed my bag down to wait for my ride. Suddenly everything hit at once and I screamed out, "NO!"

I felt foolish for my outburst, foolish I couldn't contain the emotion sweeping over me. I felt foolish for thinking there would be some last minute reprieve of Vicki stopping me before I left, telling me of her love and devotion. Time for that was running out and I was coming to grips with that not going to happen. The cab stopped in front of me and I looked around, hoping beyond hope she would show up. She didn't.

I tried to figure out why I had done what I did. Back in Milwaukee the handwriting was on the wall certainly enough, I guess I had to find out for myself. I'm the kind of person who would have kept believing things were okay. I would have kept making excuses for her. In a way it was for the best, how I learned what I did. I knew that, but it didn't make me feel any better.

After arriving back at the airport, I looked around one last time. Knowing nothing was going to come of it. I paused, hesitated and closed my eyes. I fought back the last bit of emotion I was feeling. As much as I tried to stop myself I had the final hope that perhaps I'd have a message from Vicki on my answering machine back at home. Something to look forward to. I dismissed the idea, anger starting to swell inside. As I walked into the airport I swore nothing would ever bring me back to Walla Walla Washington.

You might think I was going to say Vicki showed up at the airport just as I was getting on the plane. Of course you'd be wrong. Nothing happened the entire trip back. I looked forward to getting back home. I tried to decide what would be better, resting up at home or finding out what Darryl was up to. I needed a friend and hoped he would stop by without Jenni, she was the last thing I wanted to deal with that day.

Part 17 of 30

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 15)

The taxi was a good 20 minutes away from her dorm room but I was so sad and depressed it seemed like hours. I felt so foolish for leaving so suddenly but what was there really to talk about? If she wanted to spend her time with Terry, I was going to give her the opportunity. If she wanted me, she'd come to me. Either way, I would know before the plane left Washington if she was going to be part of my life.

My flight didn't leave till the afternoon, the next day. Normally I would take the opportunity to explore the city, that day was an exception. I wanted nothing to do with Walla Walla and was certain if I left, I'd never be back. Dinner consisted of a bland room service chicken dish. Each passing hour I hoped the phone would ring, with Vicki giving me something to hope for. As each hour passed without her calling, it dug deeper into my heart.

I ate a mediocre room service meal for dinner and laid on the bed hoping the phone would ring. I reached for the phone twice, each time setting it back down before dialing a single digit. For hours I laid there, thinking of Vicki. I really don't know how long it was before I drifted off to sleep. I dreamed of her, holding me in her arms once more. Suddenly there was a sharp pain in my back and she began laughing.

I released my grip on Vicki and turned around to see some guy standing there. He had thrown a knife at me and was holding another. Vicki encouraged him on and he threw another at me. Just before it struck, I awoke with a start, still dressed but sweaty. It was past midnight and the phone hadn't rung all night. I realized then, Vicki and I were over. And yet, this was not the last time she left my life.

I barely slept the rest of the night. I tossed and turned for a while till I decided to turn the radio on in hopes it would get my mind off of Vicki, it didn't. First song playing was 'I Know There's Something Going On' by Frida, followed by 'Take It On the Run' by REO Speedwagon. I wasn't going to wait for the next song, I turned the station to a classical music format and slowly drifted off to sleep.

Part 16 of 30

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 14)

For a second all thoughts of anything wrong drained away. I was back in Vicki's arms where I needed to be. It felt good and I didn't want her to end the embrace. But the thoughts crept back and I relaxed as she did also. There was an awkward pause for a second till she asked why I didn't call in advance. I wanted to tell her I called several times. Instead I opted to ask who Terry was.

The question visibly shocked Vicki. She took a step back and averted looking into my eyes, a clear sign something was wrong. She told me it wasn't what I thought. Of course that was obvious, I didn't know what I thought. I then told her I called several times but no one answered or Laura told me she "was out". It seemed she was avoiding me, another sign something was wrong.

Standing in her doorway to discuss the situation was awkward for both of us. She invited me to sit at the table just inside. Her next comment was certainly obvious, if not redundant. She told me she met someone. She assured me they were just friends and I would probably like him if I meet him. She paused, perhaps feeling the anguish this caused me. Reality sank in and I knew things were never to be the same.

I'll spare you the rest of the conversation. To be honest, I'd rather not dwell on it. Essentially we talked for half an hour or so. I told her I could tell it was something more than just a simple relationship or she wouldn't have been avoiding me. She broke down in tears and told me how sorry she was and she never meant to fall for him. I was probably more understanding about it than she would have thought.

My one biggest fault has always been being too nice of a guy. I told Vicki where I was staying if she wanted to talk more, but I was leaving. I couldn't handle the information and thoughts of her tears being simply crocodile tears filled me up inside. I didn't know if that was true or not. I didn't know if she was sorry or not. But more importantly, I didn't know if she loved me or not.

Part 15 of 30

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 13)

As soon as I was finished eating I decided I couldn't wait any longer. I found a pay phone and rang up her room one more time, this time Vicki answered. I told her what I had done and where I was. At first she seemed shocked, but I guess I can't blame her. She told me to stop by. No sooner had she finished the words, I was in another taxi heading towards her dorm room.

The taxi was a good 20 minutes away from her dorm room but I was so hyped it seemed like seconds. As I walked into the dormitory I expected a reception area or check in desk. As far as I could tell there were none, just a plaque on a wall listing several rules. The first rule stated no visitors after 9pm. I didn't bother to read the rest, I just continued on my way. I walked up the stairs to the second floor when someone suddenly called out to me. "Can I help you?"

Standing before me was a girl, the floor Captain I was guessing. Hesitantly, nervously, not knowing what to expect, I told her I was there to see Vicki. Not that I was afraid of her or anything. I think I was a bit more embarrassed than anything. I sheepishly told her I was Vicki's boyfriend who decided to stop in and visit. Her next words cut me so deeply, "You must be Terry. I've heard a lot about you."

I've been called many things in my life but Terry was not one of them. My shock must have shown on my face because her demeanor suddenly changed and she pointed me in the right direction. I knocked on her door, hoping beyond hope what I feared was not accurate. I tried to recall if Vicki had any family named Terry. But no, I said I was her boyfriend, not her cousin.

Suddenly I felt sick. In the short walk to her dorm room I tried to imagine how I might have gotten this wrong. How this was some big mistake. I rapped on her door gently, as if I didn't want her to hear me. But she knew I was on my way. I knocked two more times harder. Vicki opened the door and threw her arms around me. She kissed me gently on the cheek and told me what a surprise it was to see me and how thoughtful I was to stop by.

Part 14 of 30

Monday, April 12, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 12)

Yes, Katy was still pining for Darryl, just as much as Missy was pining for me, or my attention at the very least. It's always been hard to ascertain which is more irritating, her lisping speech or grating personality. Missy is a girl (I'm reluctant to use the word woman) knowing what she wants and thinks she can attain it. She's always reminded me of a sad puppy seeking to please it's master.

Of course Kenny has always been a character. If I were to write about him, I think I'd have to change his name in an effort to 'protect the innocent' as they say. There was a gentleman several rows up from where I was sitting on the plane, he had an odd look to him which was hard to place. It wasn't his messy hair either. Though that was odd enough. The entire trip he looked as if he had just woken up, though I never saw him napping.

I'm certain I was concentrating on other people during the flight as a distraction from what I was truly thinking about. Was I doing the right thing in going to surprise Vicki? I weighed the pros and cons back and forth. She's be overjoyed to see me and realize how much she meant to me, she's be upset I was intruding in her space, she'd love it, she'd hate it. I almost turned around and got on the first flight back.

To be honest, the biggest reason for not turning right around was it was a paid for round trip ticket and as I said before, my funds were limited. This was my first time to Washington so I really had no idea where I was going. Once outside the airport I hailed a taxi. I had no luggage, except for my backpack, as I was just staying the night. Didn't need much for one night in a hotel. The taxi driver asked where I was headed and I gave him the address of Vicki's dorm room. A second later I gave him the address of my hotel.

1990 was really the year I began to drink coffee on a more regular basis. I'm not sure if being in Washington had anything to do with that or not, but I certainly drank a lot of coffee on that trip. Once checking into my hotel room I called another cab and gave him Vicki's address. A second later, I asked him to take me to the nearest cafe. I convinced myself I was feeling a bit peckish and needed some nourishment before confronting her.

Part 13 of 30

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 11)

I was so excited as I packed my bags for the trip. Vicki was really going to be surprised. I'm actually surprised I managed to save for the air-flight. I was a man of little means and the only work I had was through a temp agency. So scheduling time off was easier than saving for it. I called one last time before I left for the airport but Vicki was still not answering. I'd try once more after landing in Walla Walla.

As I was racing out of the house, the phone began to ring. I noticed from the caller ID it was Darryl. I really had no time to chat with him so I opted to find out what he wanted when I got back. Keep in mind, back then we didn't have cell phones. Sure we had car phones and cordless phones but the cell phone technology was a few years off yet, or at the least very hard to come by.

I really didn't tell anyone where I was going. Not that I had to check in with anyone either. I've always been known for my impulsive behaviour. Of course, this may have been one impulse I should have ignored. But it may have been just what I needed at the right time. I'm sure I won't have to tell you what happened next, though you may certainly be aware I will.

The flight to Washington wasn't interesting in itself, but I quickly took a fancy to writing down notes on a few of the people I saw sitting in the plane. I hoped to retain as much information as I could to use the next time I decided to do some writing. About the only good thing to come out of that trip was it helping to ignite a flame inside me for writing once more.

If I were to write a story of my life it would certainly be filled with many characters. Characters are essential to any captivating story. All the latest mystery behind Jenni could certainly inspire me to write a book or two. Katy, with her sing-song type voice always conjured up a mental image of a Homer-style modern day Siren; ever luring Darryl towards her.

Part 12 of 30

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 10)

Despite her remembering only things from before her abduction, she still was a kinder person. It was hard to understand so I guess I can understand her parents wanting to find out what truly happened to her. She mentioned to Darryl that one specialist suggested some sort of item from her past might be the key. Used as a sort of 'bridge' to close the gaps in her brain.

It was suggested the item should be something fairly personal. Jenni of course was not a very personable person so her parents were at a loss what to give her. They tried her High School yearbook, old photos of the family, even a toy she once played with. None of these items worked. It was then I remembered I still had something of Jenni's in my possession. And quite possibly, very personal to her.

Jenni never asked for her diary back, when we originally broke up. To be honest, I almost forgotten I still had it. Once I did recall, I debated giving it back to her. Sure, the specialists said it might help, but they also suggested many other tactics, none of which worked. I ultimately decided not to give her the diary. Perhaps it was to retain my one victory I achieved at her expense. Did this make me a clod? At any rate, I didn't really think it would work.

I pulled out Jenni's diary once, but that was about as far as it went. There wasn't much information inside, so I didn't see how she could miss it or how it might help her. I decided to keep her diary to myself. By 1990 I was almost back to calling Jenni a friend. It was sort of awkward as Darryl was her boyfriend. Turns out he was almost as adamant as her parents to figure out where she was during her abduction.

As the year moved along I tried to concentrate less on Jenni & Darryl and more on my relationship with Vicki. Suddenly she was harder and harder to get a hold of. She seemed to be doing a lot of studying at other friends dorms. Usually I could get Laura on the phone but even she was suddenly hard to reach. I decided the best thing to do was book a trip to Washington and surprise her. In retrospect, I wished I hadn't.

Part 11 of 30

Friday, April 9, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 9)

I was ultimately going to help Darryl, but not till after Vicki finally left for college. It was a sad day for me. Saying goodbye at the Mitchell Airport just tore me apart. It was all I could do to prevent myself from breaking down in tears. She told me to be brave and assured me our relationship was merely being put on hold till we could be together once more.

This was the last I was going to see Vicki for several months. It was sad to watch her leave. Even sadder considering she was entering a new chapter of her life and I seemed to be stuck in a rut.

I had two decisions to make. I could be mopey for the next several months or I could make the best of my situation. I decided to swallow my pride and spend time with Darryl. I know it meant having to spend time with Jenni once again, but it seemed better than being a social hermit. I almost assumed Jenni would treat me... the way she always had, but with her amnesia she was actually fairly pleasant.

By 1990 I saw Vicki only a few times. Our calls became less and less frequent. Several times I would call and Laura would answer to tell me Vicki was not around. It almost came to the point I felt I was intruding in her life. Then, just as all hope seemed lost, I'd receive a call from her which reassured me. One single call could spur me on and I'd continue to hang on.

As my time with Vicki became less and less frequent, my time spent with Darryl and Jenni continued to increase. As summer rolled along I learned Jenni's parents were taking her to more and more specialists. They were determined to 'unlock' her mind - to find out what happened to her during the time of her abduction. The only thing Jenni could remember were things just before the abduction.

Part 10 of 30

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 8)

I don't recall why we went with a Hawaiian theme for our graduation party. It was something about saying goodbye to our class and hello to the future.

I couldn't fight the feeling the biggest chapter in my life was coming to a close. I knew this day was coming, I was almost at peace with it. Somehow being at the graduation party just ignited all my feelings at once. You know how much I love a good party, but a feeling of dread overcame me. I left the party suddenly without saying goodbye to anyone.

Perhaps leaving without even saying goodbye to Kenny or Vicki was rude but I didn't care. I just had to get away from every thing. Maybe I felt my life was coming to a close and I was choosing to leave before it left me. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but I've always been a very emotional person.

Vicki wasn't leaving for a few weeks so we spent as much time as we possibly could. Each passing day was harder and harder for me as I knew the time to spend with her was getting shorter and shorter. There were several days I wasn't even able to spend with her as she was having 'family' days with her parents before leavings. That was the most frustrating. I'd end up calling Darryl but he just wanted to talk about Jenni.

Darryl was doing his bit to be as good a friend to Jenni as he could. I warned him what might happen if she were ever to remember everything. You see, with her amnesia she was a kind, gentler Jenni. She almost had the same demeanour of when I first started dating her. I was afraid after regaining her memory she'd be more like the Jenni I grew to know, only worse.

Part 9 of 30

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 7)

We still had a few months to go before we graduated Hamilton High School, but we had our future planned out. I would visit her in Washington whenever I could and she'd be back during all school breaks to visit family and friends. I know hindsight is 20/20 vision but were we foolish to think such a long distance relationship could work?

It's almost pointless going to school the last week. What is there really to do? Everything is pretty much all summed up and most grades have already been logged. Obviously, I wasn't the only one who thought that as classes were thin the last week of school. Then suddenly, someone was found wandering the halls of the school, someone who shouldn't have been there. Let me tell you, it shocked everyone.

Darryl was the first to find her. From his report she was just walking around aimlessly, as if in a daze. Why was she wandering around the High School? My guess, it was the first place she came upon or possibly she had good memories there. Who knows? What made this more interesting was Jenni had amnesia. She didn't remember anything about her abduction.

So once again, Jenni entered my life. Just as Vicki was leaving, well sort of. Vicki and I promised we were going to keep our relationship going despite her attending College so far away. I was determined to make sure Jenni was not going to be there to mess things up for me. Even if I had to keep Darryl at arms length. You see, in life's strange twists of fate, Jenni took a liking towards Darryl. Darryl was, of course, immediately smitten with her.

I had no time to deal with Jenni though, to be honest, I was quite grateful for that. Graduation came, along with a graduation party. Little did I know this was going to be one of the last times I would see Kenny. Nothing traumatic happened to him, we just drew apart. Laura was leaving with Vicki in just a few days so I assumed I'd see a lot of him before Laura left, but I actually didn't see him again for a long while.

Part 8 of 30

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 6)

They say time heals all wounds. I was far from being wounded to my soul, but it was nice to be surrounded by my friends; Vicki, Darryl, Kenny and Laura. Even Katy and Missy took my mind off of Jenni's plight. Those two girls were always chasing me and Darryl around. Trying to get our phone numbers, asking where we lived, now those were some stories I could tell. Vicki was certainly never jealous of Missy. I think she knew I was a good 'judge of character'.

As 1988 came to a close and '89 began, I started to do more things with Darryl than with Kenny. Sure, Kenny was always a joker, but he took things a bit too far at times. I've always retained a semi-morbid sense of humor, but I found it in poor taste to be making jokes about Jenni's abduction. Darryl's sense of humor was much the same, but knew when it was time to be serious. I don't recall him making any jokes I'd claim were in poor taste.

As 1989 continued school was putting additional pressure to concentrate on working hard with college in mind. Higher education was never primary in my mind, one of the reasons Jenni took offense at. There was a college fair being held in our gym auditorium we all had to attend. I went with the usual, myself, Kenny, Vicki & Laura. I didn't look too hard, but Vicki and Laura found one that interested them. How I wish we hadn't gone.

I could tell Vicki and Laura had news they wanted to tell me but were unwilling. Every time I brought up college to them they'd get quiet or change the subject. Once again, I was fooled into believing things were set in stone; they were not. By the time of our graduation I finally found out what Vicki was trying to keep quiet. The college she was gong to attend was out of state.

You would think Vicki and I were going to break up but we did what we could to make sure that wasn't going to happen. I mean, Walla Walla Washington isn't that far away from Milwaukee, is it?

Part 7 of 30

Monday, April 5, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 5)

All good things come to an end, as do all bad things. No matter how much Jenni continued to bug and annoy me, I refused to talk about it with Vicki. However, she soon discovered what a twit Jenni was being. One of the funniest moments of my life was when Vicki dumped her milk over Jenni's head, in front of the entire school cafeteria! Jenni wasn't much of a problem after that.

Vicki and I got along so much better after that. No more problems, no more 'situations' that needed to be taken care of, just two people as happy as could be. Well, I say no problems, I guess I mean no problems between the two of us. Because something truly tragic and frightening happened in 1988. My Senior year of HS was starting when I received the shocking news.

No matter how much I hated her, no matter how much I began to loathe her. I would never wish this upon her, or anyone for that matter. Well, I'm ashamed to say I had a brief 'serves her right' thought for a moment buried deep deep down, but that was extinguished in the twinkling of an eye. No one deserves this, no one should have to go through this with a loved one. Yes, 1988 was the year Jenni was abducted.

The news really hit close to home. True, we were no longer friends, but it was still someone I knew and this was simply terrifying. There were many days I wondered what became of her. What horrible things could be happening to her? Was she murdered?

So many mixed emotions. All the times she humiliated me or called me stupid in front of her friends, I still have the scar from the fire-engine she hit me with in kindergarten. And who would tell me if anything was ever found out? I couldn't imagine Jenni's mother calling me, she hated me. And her friend Andrea hated me even more so. Was it wrong for me to be so concerned about someone who hated me?

Part 6 of 30

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 4)

I'll tell you about this tragedy taking place, but first want to include a bit of additional background information. With the hope you'll better understand why this is so traumatic to me. You see, Kenny was right. In 1987 I WAS a mopey person. Vicki was a big help in alleviating me of that. Once again I had someone I could rely on to be there for me. Someone to listen to me, and fill the empty void in my life.

Vicki, I have never before set my eyes upon a woman as beautiful as her. She was as tall as I was and had light brown hair, considerably much lighter than Jenni's. She was into art and photography and fashion. I claimed it was the reason she fell for me. Of course Jenni would snidely remark that was more a form of bad taste rather than good fashion sense. Jenni never did get my jokes.

Sure, Jenni was still in my life. Not as a friend. Not by any stretch of the imagination. We were in the same word processing class every year and 1987 was no different. It seemed every day Jenni thought of some new way to irritate or annoy me. I can't recall the number of times I complained about her to Vicki. Jenni did this, Jenni did that. I'm telling you, Jenni was awful!

Anyone else use these old style Word Processors? Yes, that's my teacher in the picture. I actually got her to pose for this. Vicki inspired me to be more bold when it came to taking pictures. I never would have brought a camera to school, much less ask anyone to pose for me if it weren't for Vicki.

Two things happened to make my life miserable. Vicki was getting tired of hearing me go on and on about Jenni, and somehow Jenni figured out Vicki was getting annoyed listening to me complain. Sure, call me crazy but I'm certain Jenni decided to drive a wedge between Vicki and I, just because she was evil. She wanted me to feel as miserable as she was. It couldn't have been jealousy, she broke up with me!

Part 5 of 30

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 3)

Then the inevitable happened. Why is it such a bad idea to forge a relationship so early on? Because you are still discovering yourself. As Jenni and I did so we realized we were drawing apart. I became more of a joker as she became a serious stick in the mud. Our relationship soured and we grew to despise each other.

When you break up with someone, you are supposed to do that ritual of exchanging back personal items. "I want my records back" is the classic line. I asked Jenni for any of my writing's I had lent her and she asked for nothing back. She said she doubted she would have left anything of value at my house. I suppose I should have reminded her she wrote an entry in her diary at my house and accidentally left it over.

As the rivalry between the two of us deepened, I couldn't help but to wonder if she forgot about her diary and thought she lost it, or the entries in the diary were not that important to her as they mostly centered around me. Yes, I was a cad. I read her diary. What do you expect? I was 16.

In 1987 the big news was Reagan challenging Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. But for me, there was even bigger news. Yes, 1987 was when I met Vicki. Kenny told me about her and invited me along next time him and Laura went out. I was hesitant, for obvious reasons. It seemed he was trying to 'set me up'. He claimed I was mopey since Jenni and I broke up.

You probably think the great sorrow suddenly filling my life has something to do with Jenni and nothing with Vicki. But you'd be wrong... so wrong. The bits about Jenni have been to describe my thoughts and feelings leading up to the tragedy. Of course I'll describe it, if I can do so without breaking down in uncontrollable tears.

Part 4 of 30

Friday, April 2, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 2)

I've always heard kids like to torment and tease each other as a form of endearment. That may be true, because Jenni and I became somewhat friends for a few years. But in 1978 (at the end of 2nd grade), her father took a job in Florida. This was the first time Jenni left me.

It shouldn't be hard to spot me. I'm almost exactly in the middle. As usual, almost by myself. Not hard to spot Jenni either. She's the one who looks like she's up to no good.

When you are a child things seem unchangeable. Whether someone arrives in your life or leaves, it seems written in stone for good. Flash forward 7 years. I was beginning my sophomore year in HS. Leaving my home-room I discovered Jenni was in the home-room right next to me. I wasn't certain if I should be glad or sad. Our relationship was always strained, at best.

Anyone that knows me, knows I'm the quiet and shy type. Perhaps it was this, or I was just using that as an excuse, but I decided not to call out to her. I decided it was perhaps for the best. Chances were she was going to be as annoying as she always had been. I headed towards my first class when she called out to me, using my nickname of course. The nickname she knew I was not keen on.

Sometimes I think back and wish I had kept going to my first hour class, I should have just ignored her. But then again, there were many good memories I had with her. To be honest, we became really good friends. So much so, that by 1986 you could almost say we were dating. My Junior year of HS we were a recognized couple.

Part 3 of 30

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Love & Loss (Part 1)

Every feel like you've been walking around in a daze? Feels like that for me today. Sometimes it takes horrible news to awaken you. Is that for the best? How can it be? Yes, I received terrible shocking news, the kind that just makes you want to cry. But how can I even begin to explain it?

Back in school, many many years ago. My classmates called me Erick. Don't ask, it was a weird situation. But to explain whats going on in my life I almost have to start at the beginning. I mean the VERY beginning. That's where I first met Jenni. The girl I would later love, and love to hate. I told you, it's kind of complicated.

Jenni and I went to kindergarten together. She introduced herself to me by smacking me in the head with a toy fire-engine. I don't really recall why she did it. Knowing how lippy I was back then, I probably said something that offended her. I learned quickly it didn't take much to offend her.

If Jenni could find a way to annoy me, she would. I'd insist she called me by my given name and she'd insist on calling me Erick along with everyone else. Knowing how much that annoyed me. Every Friday, the teacher would reward one student by letting them bring in one song to play during nap-time. Jenni would bring in Gordon Lightfoot - The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Knowing how much I hated that song.

Even now it's hard for me to listen to this song. Kind of makes me want to cry because of the topic of the song, and the emotion that's attached to it for me.

Part 2 of 30