Jennifer Pt. 3 - The NC Debacle
The following reflection was written in 2003, when I was between 25 and 26 years old.
And so it was that I finally gathered my money and money from my parents and bought a plane ticket to North Carolina to see Jennifer, who I was convinced was the one for me. I had wanted to drive but my parents were afraid my car wouldn’t make it and they bought me a ticket instead. I got on the plane and felt sick the whole way. It was nerves and the size of the aircraft and everything. This trip was everything to me.
When I got to the airport, Jennifer was waiting with a black friend of hers whose name I can’t remember. There were no hugs or signs of affection. There was a simple hello and then we got into her car and listened to No Doubt, which I’d never heard before, all the way back to Greensboro. Her friend was singing and moving about in his seat behind us, sort of dancing while sitting down. She and I talked a little, but mostly we listened to music.
When we got to UNCG I met a slew of friends and we ate dinner at a common area with a food court. I had a sandwich from Chick-A-Fila, or however it is you spell that.
We hung out with her friends most of the night and it wasn’t until very late that we went back to her room. This is when I expected the magic to happen. Despite the overwhelming lack of attention she’d paid me all night, I thought maybe she would make up for it now that we were alone. All of her teasing about how I was going to sleep on the floor… I thought it was just teasing. She’d really given me the impression that we, the two of us, were something.
I did sleep on the floor though and I slept poorly. When she got up to go register for spring classes the next morning I was asked to stay in the room because her roommates (they all shared a common room and a bathroom) didn’t really know I was there and I might frighten them. I watched MTV as my bladder grew heavy. For the first time, I saw the video for No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and the lyrics seemed prophetic to me. This whole visit wasn’t going as I’d planned.
Eventually I chanced a visit to the bathroom and eventually she came back, all in a fit of anger because class scheduling wasn’t going her way. She wanted to go see her parents back in Asheville. She might have invited me along. What I remember is that during this stressful time for her, which was probably the worst time in the world to bring it up, I brought up the subject of what was going on between us.
The long and the short of it, from her side at least, was that I had misinterpreted everything. We were friends and that was it. I was crushed. I had invested so much emotion and money and time into this and here she was, telling me I meant nothing to her.
We decided it would be best if she dropped me off at my Aunt & Uncle’s house in Fuquay-Varina. I called my Auntie Lil. She knew she was my lifeline if anything went wrong. That’s probably why my parents had stopped complaining about me going. They knew I had someone to turn to if it got fucked up.
Jennifer dropped me off and Lillian’s office and finally, I got a hug. She took off before I went in. She didn’t want to meet Lillian. Lillian didn’t want to meet her. I was like another son to Auntie Lil and she was very angry at this girl who had done this to me.
I spent the rest of my time in North Carolina at Lil’s, watching MTV in her house while she was at work and Christle was at school. Billy was up at college in Massachusetts and Uncle Bill… well actually, I can’t remember where he was, but he was probably away on business.
Lil and Christle took me to my first Olive Garden on the final night and they made me feel at home and when I went home that weekend and my Dad picked me up at the airport he was nice enough not to tell me, “I told you so” or talk to much about it.
I spoke to Jennifer one or two times after that and people around Bradford wanted to fly down and kill her. My friends were very protective of me. It was nice to be home and it was nice to feel loved in some way, but there was still something I was after and I hadn’t gotten it in North Carolina the way I’d expected to.