After the fiasco with Bobby. I was happy it was close to final exams. My mind and my days were kept busy with writing papers and preparing for exams. No matter how busy I kept myself Bobby found his way back into my thoughts. Every day when I returned home from school or work I would rush to my room hoping to see the light flashing on my answering machine. Every day I prayed hoping to find a message from Bobby. After three weeks with no messages, no funny postcards, no contact at all, I knew I had pushed Bobby away. I didn't blame or hate him, I would have run from me as well. I had crossed the line of normal in Annapolis when we last spoke on the docks.
By the end of May I was re-introduced to the man who would become my daughter's father. June was a busy month, my life was starting to get back to normal. I had two men in my life, working 30 hours a week teaching gymnastics, attending all the home O's games and what little time I had free I was hanging out with my friends again. No matter how busy I was, how occupied my brain was, every morning I would look at the postcard taped to my mirror and wonder what Bobby was doing? A smart person would have removed the constant reminder, but I couldn't. No matter how many times I told myself I messed up, Bobby wasn’t coming back, I still could not let him go. I still hoped and prayed.
I had two wonderful men in my life, yet I would not allow myself to get close to either one of them. I could kiss them, but nothing more. In the back of my mind I believed once I crossed the line with another man, that would be the end of any possibility of Bobby. Whenever my friends and I would head to Annapolis to hang out I found myself scanning the bars searching for Bobby, hoping he had come back to visit his brother, his friends. I prayed for one more chance encounter, an opportunity for me to apologize to him for being so insecure. For basically being an idiot. Why I did not pick up the phone to call him, I cannot explain. I imagine it had something to do with fear and pride.
Summer break was slowly passing without Bobby. Towards the end of June my friends and I were enjoying an evening together at the Afterdeck talking and drinking. At one point Leigh made a comment about how she was so happy I was smiling again, I was moving on. She loved me, she loved Bobby but I was not right for him. Everyone started laughing in agreement, I am not sure who but someone added, “Here, here” as if to toast her statement. I couldn't understand what was so funny, what they were all agreeing with? Was it so wrong that I had been with Bobby? Was it funny that I cried for weeks over him? Was I that unacceptable for him? I excused myself and headed to the bathroom so I could breathe. As I stood in the bathroom staring at myself in the mirror I wondered what was so wrong with me? Were they correct? I could not be mad at my friends, after all I even thought Bobby was too good for me, he was out of my league. I hadn't heard from him in almost two months, I needed to accept the fact he was gone. As I stood there looking in the mirror, Cathleen came into the bathroom, she always read me like no other. She knew. She smiled and told me it would be okay. To make me laugh she said, “Hey Dinker, you are doing alright. You have a baseball player with soft lips and a football player with a nice ass!! Who needs lacrosse?” We both walked out of the bathroom laughing. In the back of my brain I realized when it came to Bobby no one really understood what I was feeling. How could they when I did not even understand?
July 11, 1984 my twenty first birthday I was sleeping in when I was awakened by the dogs barking and knocking on the front door. I looked out my window, saw a delivery van. Someone had sent me flowers. YES!! I was so excited when I signed for a huge bouquet of Gerber daisies. My favorite flower! I closed the door, held my flowers with delight. I grabbed a vase, filled it with water. I removed the card, placed the flowers in the vase and carried them to my bedroom. I placed them on the corner of my dresser, near my bed. I was so excited as I belly flopped on my bed with the card in hand. I was anxious to see who sent me my favorite flower. I pulled the card out, my heart stopped. I had to catch my breath, the flowers were from Bobby! I stared in disbelief. He had remembered my birthday, my favorite flower. He remembered it all from a late night conversation during spring break. I smiled as I read the card,
"Denise, Happy 21st Birthday. You were my favorite birthday present. I wanted to be the same. This was my second choice for your present. Bob"
I read the card several times, was I reading it correct? I stared at the be underlined. Was he saying he still wanted to be with me? Or was he simply being nice on my birthday and trying to be funny? I never threw out his note from spring break. I had folded it neatly and tucked it safely in my jewelry box. I pulled the napkin out, smiled as I opened it and read his message once again. There under the message, his phone number. I held my breath as I dialed, waited as it rang. After several rings it went to his answering machine. I hung up. I had no clue what to say. I didn’t want to sound like a moron. I had to think. I collected my thoughts, took another deep breath then redialed. This time when the answering machine picked up I was ready, I told Bobby I loved my flowers, thank you. I could not believe he remembered my birthday. I was curious if the flowers were his second choice for my present what was his first? I couldn't wait to hear his voice again. Then like a fool I added he could call anytime, the phone rang only in my room. As I hung up I pounded my head on my pillow. I said out loud, “What an idiot! Now you sound desperate.”
To calm myself down, be more patient, I reminded myself it was the middle of the week, Bobby was in school. It might be a while before he called. I had planned to go shopping, spend my birthday money. Instead I stayed home, laid out in the backyard. I even opened my bedroom window and placed the phone on the window sill so I would hear it ring.I was taking no chances, I didn’t want to miss his call. Evening was approaching, I began to get ready to go out. As I headed out to celebrate my birthday I was worried, there was still no phone call. That was not a good sign. Surely he was home by now. I refused to be sad, after all he remembered my birthday, he sent flowers, that had to mean something. I told myself he would call. When I came home late that night I smiled when I saw the flowers, then felt my heart drop when I realized there was no flashing light on my phone. He didn’t call, there was no message. I fell asleep that night confused and hurt. Bobby sent me flowers, didn't that mean he wanted to see me, talk to me again? Did I interpret the card incorrectly? Was he just being a nice guy on my birthday? Later I would find out he never got my message, he never knew I called. He would tell me when I didn't call he even called the florist in Odenton the next day to make sure the flowers were sent to the correct address. They informed him I was the one who signed for flowers. He believed when I didn't call, I wanted nothing to do with him. The rumors he heard were true, I had found another Academy guy.
A week past and still no phone call, I debated about calling again but I was convinced if I did I would definitely be seen as the crazy desperate girl. Previously, every time I was with Bobby I had one type of melt down or another. He had to think I was a nut. Yet I also remembered, I knew, every time I fell apart, he listened. He was gentle, sweet, so understanding. Was he that way with everyone? Or only me?
July ended and August began, still no phone call, no letter, no postcard. Not a single word of any type from Bobby. It was definitely time to let go. I began to believe it was a dream that was not meant to be. We were never going to be together again. I removed his postcard of the “white sands” of Pensacola from my mirror. That only lasted for about twenty minutes, I found myself taping the postcard back up. I have no clue why but my mirror seemed empty without it.
As usual, Annapolis was booming back to life in August. The atmosphere always seems to change towards the end of the summer. Plebes are finishing their first grueling summer at the Academy. Fall sports begin to practice. Annapolis is once again littered with men and women in white uniforms. I was doing my best to push Bobby to the back of my brain. By this time, my ball player and I were just friends. I never felt any sparks. I found myself wanting to hang out in Annapolis more then Memorial Stadium. The good looking marine, the recent Academy grad with the nice ass, when we hung out, he made me laugh. When I was with him, he made me forget Bobby. We would ping jokes off each other. It was like we had been friends for years. I decided it was time to trust again. It was finally time to let go and see what happens.
The end of August Leigh had an engagement party. She was lucky, she was going to marry her lacrosse player. The love of her life. I envied her. After her party, my marine and I drove to a birthday party for a mutual friend. As I rode in his car, with the wind in my hair I finally felt like I might be happy, at peace. I felt free. I remember looking at him thinking he may not give me goose bumps but he makes me laugh, he makes me smile. I feel safe with him. Being with him isn’t bad, this might be good. He might be what I need.
After the party several of us went back to his apartment to hang out a bit longer. That night after our friends left, for the first time since spring break, since Bobby, I jumped off that cliff, I let another man in. He was tender, he was sweet. He was I thought exactly what I needed.
September my marine was busy working at the Academy, waiting for his slot at Quantico. I was back in class, it was my senior year. Weekends were spent at Navy Football Games, Riordans, Armadillos and weekend parties. All seemed right, yet the storms were beginning to brew, my life once again would be thrown into a turmoil by the end of fall.
It was after the Navy-Virginia football game. I can’t remember the exact date, but it was after the first home game of the 1984 season. Navy lost. That Monday between classes I ran home to grab a paper I had forgotten that morning. For some reason instead of heading inside to grab my paper, I decided to check the mail first. I pulled down the mailbox, sitting on top of the mail was a postcard of Whiting Field, Florida. When I first saw the postcard after all these months it took me by surprise. I felt like I had all the wind knocked out of me. I did not need to flip it over, I knew instantly who it was from. I caught my breath, then smiled. Looking at the postcard, I knew Bobby got helicopters. He was flying, he was going to earn his wings of gold and I was happy for him. I ran inside grabbed my paper, stuck his postcard in my purse and headed back to school. When the professor's voice started sounding like blah blah blah, I was tuning him out thinking about Bobby. I took his postcard out of my purse. I sat there staring at the front of it for a few minutes before I finally flipped it over.
“There is a very handsome Navy pilot from Jersey who is..”
I stared at it thinking who is what?? Moving on, flying high, living his dream, eating PBH (peanut butter and honey)? I could think of a million ways to end the sentence but how did he intend for the sentence to end? It was then that I suddenly felt sick. I ran to the bathroom and began to throw up. When I got home I read the postcard one last time, then placed it in my dresser drawer, as I did I said. "I am sorry Bobby, I do miss you. I can’t do this, I finally let you go. I am not that strong."
A few weeks later after working late, I headed to a party that had been going strong for a quite a while. Upon my arrival I was met by my marine’s best friend (who was drunk). He stopped me, he wanted to talk. He made it perfectly clear that I was not the girl he envisioned his buddy spending his life with. I was too nice, I was cute but I was not the “Miss America type” that his best friend deserved. He deserved the perfect woman and that was not me. He very proudly announced he was already working on my replacement, she was with him now. I walked downstairs to see a very beautiful girl standing with her back against the wall, my Marine’s arms on either side of her braced against the wall. I watched as he bent his elbows and leaned in to kiss her. The nightmare I never wanted to repeat was happening once again. I ran up the stairs, out the door. When I reached my car I began throwing up for the third time that day. It was then that the realization hit me, I was pregnant.
Over the next few days I avoided my Marine's phone calls. I had to make a decision. I spent the next few nights with my door closed, sitting on my bed crying, trying to figure out what to do? What was right? Should I call my Marine, force the issue, see if he is a gentleman, see if he wanted to get married? I knew I cared for him, why else would it hurt so much when I saw him kiss another girl? The third night of my great debate, I opened my dresser drawer to grab my writing pad. I was going to do a pros and cons list. When I pulled the drawer open, sitting on top of my writing pad was the postcard from Bobby. I picked his postcard up, laid down on my bed and placed it on my chest. When I closed my eyes I was back in Pensacola. I was back in Bobby's arms. It was then I had my answer, I knew. My marine was sweet, he was gorgeous, he was funny, he was everything a good man is. He was everything a woman would want in a husband. His best friend was right, I was not the woman for him and he was not the man for me. He was not the man my heart yearned for.
(Use the links to the left to continue to part 5)