Dear Lisa

Who knows if I actually sent the letter.LisaLetter2

Likely, I’ll never know. But there’s proof it was drafted, in the diary on Aug. 19, 1978: “Dear Lisa—Saturday Night Too Late Have to tell you I’m writing this letter (a real quick one) because of a little pain that I’m going through…”

That late summer pain stemmed from the growing distance between me and Debbie. She’d cancelled another date after her grandparents arrived in town. The diary entry elaborates: “I keep believing that there is a deeper reason—Our future seems to have changed, but I don’t know yet. I still want to go to the State Fair together…”

Lisa was my closest friend, next to Mary Geyen, a sophomore from my high school. Mary and I became friends during the final months of my senior year. She was a slender brunette with a wry smile, always thoughtful and smart. She was in love with her high school sweetheart, Bruce KenKnight, whom she eventually married. We used to hang out at her parents’ house, watching Battlestar Galactica and philosophizing about the universe, life and love.

After the Saturday rejection, instead of visiting Mary, or even Lisa, I “went over to J.D. Borgheiinck’s … we had some Millers and talked poetry and music—ran into Harv [and] bought a bottle, cruised around Mound. Help—alone and trying to Prove It All Night.” While Jim was a huge Springsteen fan, it always seemed to me he focused too much on The Boss’s more grandiose side. I was beginning to appreciate Bruce’s more contemplative side—but it’d still be a good couple years before The River would be released and songs like “Drive All Night” would put a shiver down my spine.

Mary and her classmates were heading back to school on Monday, Aug. 28, 1978. I was still working late shift at the factory, Running on Empty blaring from my bedroom stereo before I headed out. On Aug. 21 the diary states: “I keep thinking about Autumn and high school, and football games and girlfriends and meeting people in the halls—This is all behind me…”

Orientation for my University classes wasn’t scheduled until Sept. 8, so I had time to think and keep working. Dad insisted I continue to live at home for my first year and commute with him to campus in his International Scout. I wasn’t warm to the idea, but was willing to give it a try.

That same day, a Monday, Camp Shamineau buddy Bob Nelson called and we caught up with news. He’d stopped over at my house the previous Thursday, where we hung out in my bedroom listening to Jackson Browne and Heart and looking over camp photos. Bob, a tall, fetchingly handsome blonde guy, was painfully shy around girls. I confessed to him that keeping things together with Debbie was proving difficult. “Hold on to [her],” he told me. “She’s nice … really sweet…” But how, I needed to know. “I wish we could hold on,” the diary adds. “I didn’t talk to her today either, like I should have. Bob said that I should ask her out one more time and if that doesn’t work: Make Waves! But not until then.”

It’s easy to see now that there were far too many “shoulds” in that relationship equation. The hard truth was that maybe Debbie and I weren’t right for each other. The sweet moment had passed that magical evening on the playing field at Shamineau. Holding on was only strangling it to death.

Dear Lisa lastSo Bob and I jumped into Dad’s fishing boat and motored in the direction of Kehoe’s boat landing, to gas up and grab some munchies on a fine summer’s day. Once we’d tethered the boat at the dock, we went inside, where a “beautiful girl at the counter sold us some snacks.” Plunking down at a booth near the windows overlooking the lake, we talked again about the girls in our lives.

As soon as we started chatting, half a dozen soon-to-be juniors from my high school walked in, laughing, clad in bikinis and filling the air with the scent of cocoa butter suntan lotion—my prom date, Sally Olsen, Sue Churchill, Tami Hainlin, Julie Farmer, Sharon Mahoney and Lynne Roiland. The diary nails our reaction:

“Bob almost fainted. So did I.”

~ by completelyinthedark on June 21, 2013.

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