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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Rindi

I've told you all about Beth, or as much about Beth as I am willing to tell. I will now tell you about Rindi.

I met Rindi at the 1985 Lock Haven Model U.N. "Met" probably isn't the right word. We must have said something to each other over the course of the two-day event, but my mind was entirely wrapped up in Beth and the knowledge that this would very probably be the last time I would ever see her. Rindi - not her proper name, but rather a pet version of her real name that she used then and doesn't use now, and if you know anyone called Rindi you probably can guess what her real name is - doesn't really appear in my memory until the very end of the event. The very end. I had said my last goodbyes to Beth after the final session had broken up, and we were all headed off to our buses and vans to get our rides back home. Rindi approached me - Rindi approached me - and asked me for my address.

I thought fast then, faster than I usually do now. I told her I would give her mine if she would give me hers. She agreed to the trade.

Where Beth was short - more than a foot shorter than me - Rindi was about four inches taller than me. Beth came from an artistic background; Rindi grew up in the country, and spent a lot of time with horses. Beth seemed very worldly and street-smart, while Rindi seemed innocent and naive.

I might have kept in touch with Rindi on and off through the remaining months of my Senior year of high school, but my memory is a little jumbled here, and I think it is possible I am remembering things from talking with her when I was home on break during my first year of college. It is possible that I only established contact with Rindi at a point nearly at the end of my Senior year in high school. The relationship warmed up that summer, and into my first year of college.

We spent a lot of time on the phone together. A lot. It wasn't just all small talk either. But neither of us had a car, so things just stayed on the phone, and in letters. Lots of letters.

I followed Rindi's adventures remotely, from half a dozen pay phones located on my campus (no e-mail, no cell phones - these were the ancient days of the mid-to-late 1980's), and through letters written here and there. She was a year behind me in school. We talked through her senior year in high school, and her two years of college. We talked about marriage (would I be willing to become a Lutheran? would I be willing to get married on horseback?). In my last year of college, we talked about her decision to go into the Navy.

She should never have gone into the Navy. She never should have been accepted into the Navy. She had injured her knee some time before - in a horse-riding accident, thrown by her beloved Niskitoon, I think - and had had arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage. She should have been disqualified from entering the Navy. Her recruiter knew about her knee. He told her to keep it quiet. Another checkmark on his tally sheet, I suppose; what happened to her after she signed up wasn't his problem.

She washed out within a week or two. Her knee, of course. I think they chewed her out pretty harshly for not being more forthcoming.

Some bad things had happened to her before she entered the Navy, things I helped her to deal with. Some bad things happened after she left the Navy, things that couldn't be undone. I was there for her then, too.

I finished my four years of college and made plans to go to grad school in Delaware. In the summer between college and Delaware, Rindi came out to see me.

It was the first time we had seen each other since Lock Haven. She was more beautiful than I remembered. Her hands were rougher than I had imagined - this comes from working with horses, I suppose.

Things happened. Things didn't happen.

It turned out that she had met someone and was going off to live with him. She had come out to see me to say goodbye.

It didn't quite end there. We spoke once or twice while I was in Delaware, over the phone. I wrote one last letter. My cousin ran into someone in college who had worked for Rindi's mother. But I never saw Rindi again.

I found her during a Google search a few years ago. She's married, with children, and living a life that I think she might be happy with. I hope she is.

Maybe she's forgotten me. Her name isn't Rindi anymore. But maybe someday she will search on the name she used to use, and find this entry, and remember a guy who loved her, once upon a time.

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