June 25, 2004 should have been one of the happiest days of my life. It was the happiest day of my life at the time it happened.
Today, it brings back heartache, pain and all of the associated emotions. It reminds me of just how lonely I am and what little chance I have of finding happiness with someone else in what little time I figure to have left on this earth.
Ten years ago today, I met the lady I thought was “the one”. The lady I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. This was our first date, mind you, but the connection was so strong, the passion so burning between us, it seriously hurt to end the date and go home. And I was hurting for days, wanting to see her again so bad that the two weeks which passed between dates seemed like at least two years.
I never dreamed I would have met someone so beautiful as Renetta Rogers. And I never would have dreamed I would have met her through an online site. And I REALLY never would have dreamed she would have been the one to initiate contact, but sure enough, on June 3, 2004, she contacted through Match.com. To that point, I had a Match.com profile for two and a half years at that time, and I could count the number of replies on my hands. Of those replies, I had met only one. She was a very nice lady, a high school teacher, and we met at my apartment in Hammond (this was during my ill-fated time when I worked at Southeastern Louisiana University in that town, which is 40 miles east of Baton Rouge and 50 miles northwest of New Orleans). We went out for a drive and everything seemed great, but lo and behold, another tenant sideswiped her parked car, and she freaked out. We kept in touch for another week, but it went nowhere, and we never talked again.
When Renetta contacted me, I didn’t know how to react beyond a reply. Fortunately, I went to Baton Rouge that weekend with an NCAA baseball regional at LSU and would worry about it when I got back to my parents’ home in suburban New Orleans, where I was living once again after taking a job with Delgado Community College. When I returned to the homestead at 224 Jaguar Drive in Arabi (a community 15 minutes east of downtown New Orleans, one which would become infamous a little over a year later), I e-mailed her again, she replied, and the next week, we finally started talking on the phone. The conversations were long and involved, and I things were looking very good.
I learned Renetta was a very special lady. A true survivor–literally. She was a student at LSU when she was involved in a severe car accident in 2000, one which by all rights should have killed her. She was in a coma for almost two years, and when she finally emerged, she had to start her life over. Imagine trying to learn to walk and talk again. Worse, try learning how to use the toilet and bathe yourself again at 21 or 22, which is what Renetta had to do. Fortunately, Renetta’s mother, Liz, nurtured her every step of the way. The only drawback was her mother would accompany her in public, which did not faze me a bit. I thought it was a great idea to meet her right away and that would take the suspense away–would she like me or not?
We set June 25, a Friday as the date day. The three of us would meet at a Starbucks in Mandeville, which is across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. I left my home in Arabi early and stopped in Slidell to buy her flowers, then made the drive west on Interstate 12 to Mandeville. I was sweating the whole way. When I got to Mandeville, it started POURING, pouring so much the parking lot at Starbucks flooded. It was one of those gullywashers which are not uncommon to south Louisiana in the summer.
I waited for Renetta and Liz for 20 minutes. Then they arrived. Renetta walked with a noticeable limp from the accident, so it took her a little time to reach me. If she didn’t have that limp, I’m convinced she would have come running at me and may have knocked me down, because she hugged me so hard. The conversation went very well, and while her mother used the restroom, we snuck in a kiss. Not a big deal to most, but here it was, less than four months from my 28th birthday, and it was my first romantic kiss. There would be a lot more of that as the date progressed.
After 45 minutes at Starbucks, we made our way across the street to the Macaroni Grill. No food, but Renetta and Liz wanted wine. Being a teetotaler and knowing I would be driving across Lake Pontchartrain after dark, I passed.
The ride to dinner was something. Renetta rode in my car, and we would kiss every time we would get a chance. We wanted the traffic signals to stay red, because we could get in a longer kiss. Once we got to the restaurant, we started really going at it hot and heavy. We left our table and went to the bar area and really made out, making those around us take notice. They thought we were really in love.
I didn’t want the date to end. Neither did Renetta. She wanted me to come back to their house in Mandeville to stay the night and spend Saturday with her, but Liz said no. I told Liz I would stay at a hotel in nearby Covington and come back tomorrow, but Liz said no. I got lost leaving the restaurant and thought I may never get home, but somehow I found my way back to I-12 and back across Lake Pontchartrain to Arabi.
If I never dated Renetta again and it ended in a normal fashion, I would have been very, very sad for a time, but very, very happy that I had that one date and I got to know her and Liz. Unfortunately, the way it ended still has me thinking what a turd I am.
I’m going to skip all the in between–I will get to that later–and fast forward to April 19, 2009. That was the Sunday night when I finally listened to a voice mail on my cell phone which had been left the previous Tuesday by Liz claiming that I sabotaged her job prospects in Jefferson City, Mo., by something I had posted on Facebook. First, I never, ever remember posting something on Facebook about her like that, and second, did anyone in Jefferson City know me well enough to believe it? If they did, than that’s a crying shame. Liz has never forgiven me, and she will not contact me. I wanted to send her a message today, but I didn’t. I still may do so.
Does anyone think I should send a message? Should I try again?