July 9, 2010

Thoughts about Isaac

Issac was handsome, rock-climber, outdoorsy-type boy who went to my High School. He had a red Volvo and a labret piercing and a big, kind heart. Isaac was a Taurus.

Issac and I started hanging out in my second year of college, just after my first awkward (and messy) college relationship and my brief flirtation with mind-altering substances. I felt a little bit lost then, trying to figure out who the girl was that I wanted to be, and Issac gently worked his way into my life, helping me feel more like myself than I had in a long time. He taught me how to rock climb and cuddled with me on the couch; He showed up to my house some evenings just to say hello, without expectation or warning. Isaac made me feel safe, comfortable and taken care of, and he was handsome.

Slowly Issac and I fell into some sort of domestic routine. He worked at Mogul Mouse by day, selling snowboards and goggles and wax while I went to school, hovering over petri dishes and test tubes and big, heavy books. Each evening, exhausted, I would make my way home to start my homework and figure out something to eat. Sometime around 6 or 7 p.m. he would show up at my house, again unannounced, and I would feed him dinner if he hadn't eaten, trade stories from the day with him while we cuddled on the couch, only to fall asleep shortly thereafter. This happened every single day for a month or two, he would work and I would go to class and we would re converge later in the evening. I never asked him to come over or even stay, he just decided to on his own. I felt blessed to have him in my life.

One evening, without warning, I found myself alone; Issac had not showed up. He was never obligated to come to my place, but I had been so used to our routine that I started to worry. I figured a simple phone call would clarify and I could go about my evening in peace, but when I called he did not answer. I waited for a while, and still no call and no Isaac. I wrestled with my own conscious; do I call him again or just wait for him to return mine? Was everything ok? Why do I feel so horrible?! My young heart felt worried and rejected and confused. I called again. Still no answer. A few minutes later, I called again. And then again. And again. I felt frustrated that I was acting needy, that I was being "that girl" that calls a million times because she needs to know right now what is going on. But I *did* need to know, and so I kept calling.

At some point around 1 in the morning, Issac must have turned his phone off, because my calls started going straight to voicemail. I felt horrible, not only because I did not know why he suddenly disappeared without a trace, but also for allowing myself to obsessively call him like a complete psycho. Older me would have just given him some space, knowing that we would catch up when he was ready, but younger me hadn't learned that lesson yet. I went to bed and cried hot, angry tears. Needless to say I didn't sleep much that night.

I struggled through my classes the next day. I had hoped to hear from Isaac in the morning, explaining that he had lost his phone or that he got caught up with family or something. Instead, there was nothing. No explanatory phone call, no email, no note, no Isaac. My heart sank. I waited until late in the evening to try phoning again, the dread in my stomach creeping up into my throat as I punched in the numbers. To my surprise, he answered on the second ring.

I asked him what had happened, trying (and failing) to conceal the hurt and anger in my voice.
He told me that he had been hanging out with friends.
I asked why he couldn't simply pick up the phone to tell me he wasn't going to be there.
He told me he didn't think it was a problem.
I told him I had been worried and hurt that he didn't call.
He told me that he shouldn't have to call me every time he chose to do something different.
I told him I felt disrespected.
He told me that that was my problem.

"Then don't bother calling me until you decide to have a REAL relationship," I screamed, slamming down the phone. It was the only time I have ever hung up on anyone. It certainly didn't make me feel any better. Looking back now I realize how young, emotional and inexperienced at relationships I was; I was just a kid who was needy for love. I really wish I had handled things differently.

I didn't really see or hear from Isaac again after that, save the random sighting around town once or twice. I always wondered what happened, if I had said or done something wrong and the crazy calling was just the final act that pushed him over the edge. He was literally in my life one day and out the next and the abrupt manner of it all was maddening. I had always hoped that I would meet Isaac again as an adult so that we could have the closure conversation and perhaps salvage a friendship from the whole wreck. In my mind I pictured us awkwardly bumping into one another at some function, forced into small talk for a while before sheepishly admitting how silly the whole thing was. We would end up getting a beer and appreciating each other as having grown from this whole experience. In my head, that was how it was supposed to go. It won't ever turn out that way, though.

Isaac is dead now.

I only found out about it a year after the fact. I had been home on vacation, catching up with some mutual friends of ours. I asked them about him, about how he was doing. The stunned looks and awkward silence that blanketed the space between us told me everything. They were shocked that no one had called me.

Isaac had gone into the Air Force about a year after I slammed the phone down on him. I guess he was riding his motorcycle to the base one morning, really early, around 5 a.m. He had been speeding, and when the police tried to pull him over, he sped up instead of stopping. No one knows why he was being evasive, but somehow he lost control of his bike, hit a ditch and crashed head first into a tree. He died instantly.

I was sad to hear that Isaac was gone, and it was difficult for me to comprehend. It was my first experience losing someone with whom I had shared a piece of my life and it was strange for me that the thread of our interactions would cease. I would never have closure. I would never know what he had been thinking or feeling that day. I would never get the chance to apologize for being psycho calling girl. Issac was gone.

I am bringing this up only now because he has been on my mind lately. I do not mean to trivialize his death; I was obviously a small, barely significant blip in the grand scheme of his life, and there are others like his family and close friends that I am sure miss him dearly. I have just been thinking about what this whole experience has meant to me and needed to express it somehow. I know know why it is so important to treat others with kindness and understanding and to mend fences when broken; the person might not be around tomorrow. It has also taught me, though, that I will constantly have room to grow and that I must forgive myself for doing or saying things that I am not proud of. Sometimes we will never get closure, and we just need to accept that fact.

I hope Isaac was in a good place when he died. He loved working with his hands, and I like to think it brought him joy working with planes every day. I hope his family has found peace after loosing one of their own; something that is never easy. And I am thankful for the short but rich time that we spent together; he will forever hold a place in my heart.

No comments: