* Making a comparison between Vietnam and a crush on a girl might not seem like the most tactful thing to do, but hey I did it. Essentially what I meant was in the same way that having served in Vietnam has the power to define someone's life, this girl defined mine. Which maybe shows you I needed to get out more.
I was surprised to bump into her at the New Year’s Matthew Good Band show at Skyreach. I knew she was in town, as we have several friends in common. The day before I had burned a CD for her, at the request of one of my friends. I wouldn’t have done it to give to her myself, even if it was her birthday. I’ve been down that road before, and I can’t afford to be lead down it again.
We talked for a bit, after giving each other awkward hugs. In circumstances like this I slip into a glib sort of non-speak. Talking in circles about nothing much. I’m not sure why I do it, but she brings it out in me.
“So what should I call you? Jeffery or Kelly?” She asked.
“Whichever. People call me a lot of things mainly dick head, stupid jerk and the sort.”
“Which would you prefer?”
“I don’t really care, as long as you don’t call me dick-head in front of my mother. She doesn’t like that sort of language.”
“Which one would you prefer?” She repeated.
“You can call me Kelly I guess.”
She asked me what was new, which should have been a lot since I hadn’t seen her since the summer, and I haven’t had an actual conversation with her for a few years. But in all honesty I tried to think of one new thing that I could tell her. Really I desperately wanted to be able to say one thing was new. It’s the same with seeing anyone from my high school past, I feel desperate to have at least one accomplishment that I can talk about.
But I have nothing.
She thought I was hiding information from her. As though since the time she left for Toronto my life had blossomed into a series of events that made a television mini-series seem ordinary.
“Seriously, I’m not just being coy.” I explained.
The two friends I was with had departed to a distance away, thinking that I was making headway in picking up a New Year’s date. Of course I wasn’t, even if I were the sort of person who was able to pick women up in hockey arenas and at rock concerts I wouldn’t be making headway here.
This girl was my Vietnam. For about four years I was in love with her. Or what I assume is love, but was probably more like unrequited infatuation. I had told her that I loved her at one point, in an attempt to get her to return the sentiment. Like the American military in Vietnam I couldn’t seem to extract myself from the situation. We were friends, and that’s all she wanted to be. The problem was that in being friends I wanted more, and even when we hung out doing platonic things I was going crazy with a mixture of love, desire and all sorts of other feelings.
Our relationship would go like this. We would be friends. Then I’d finally have enough of this and ask her to be my girlfriend. She would say no, and reply that we were too good of friends to risk something like that on a relationship. So then we’d be friends. Then I’d finally have enough of being friends and ask her to be my girlfriend again.
This process left me emotionally drained by the end of my second year at OUC, when she decided that she wanted to forgo a degree in political science, and study music in Toronto.
It was an unwinnable war on my part. She was a deep believer in God, Jesus Christ and speaking in tongues, or at least went to a church where they did. I was an atheist, and at that time I was dogmatic on the issue. If I had business cards back then that would have been on it (Jeffery Kelly Simpson Professional Atheist). She was adamant that I was going to go to Hell. Further she said that she couldn’t be romantically linked with someone who had forsaken the Lord and was going to Hell. She could be a friend to the damned, I suppose, but nothing more.
Going to OUC was probably a mistake on my part. I ended up with almost the exact same group of friends, as almost all of us went from OKM to OUC. Nothing against my high school friends of course, but through them I ended up remaining friends with her even though at that point the cycle was obvious to me and I should have had the helicopters leaving the embassy by then.
The first Valentine’s Day at OUC I sent her flowers, as though that would bridge the religious schism. She liked them, said I was sweet and a good friend and that’s about it. No matter how many resources I committed to the task of winning her heart, I was fighting a loosing battle.
This of course makes me look like a complete goof. To be fair to me, she never articulated her position. Typically what would happen was that I would ask her out and she would say, “Oh, well I’m not really ready for a relationship now. But you’re sweet and if I am ready for one later…” She would leave it open.