Months went by with pretty limited communication between Skunky and I. He got busy with school, friends, and work...and so did I. He would call me every once in a while to check up on how I was doing, and we'd have good conversations. But I stopped initiating contact for a while, and things started to feel a little bit more normal in my life again.
Now...I have to explain something different about the school that I went to. They worked on a "trimester" system instead of a quarter semester. So I went to school for two of the three semesters, from January to August. My 'summer break' was the months September through December. Not everyone did this, some kids went to school September through May, and still others went from April to December. They did this to allow more students to come to this particular school.
My track, the "Winter Track" allowed me to be home through the entire holiday season. That is...if I could afford to make the 3000+ mile trip across country. This particular year...it turned out, I could not. So I would spend the holidays in Idaho, by myself, just working.
I really don't remember how the topic came up. I know that Skunky looked forward to me coming home during my time off, and I'm sure that during some conversation he expressed his excitement to me, and I had to tell him that I wasn't coming home, that I couldn't afford it. Of course you all know what Skunky did when he learned of that. That's right...he offered to pay my way home.
I know that I didn't give him an answer that conversation. I wanted to go home very badly...all of my friends were leaving for the holidays, so it really would just be me, myself, and I together in Idaho over Christmas. But I was uncomfortable with the thought I taking money from Skunky. I mean...I wouldn't even let him pay for dinner or any of our activities when he had come out to visit me! I knew how money changed things...and that if I accepted the money not only would Skunky have an emotional investment in me...he would have a financial one as well. I didn't want to ruin this poor man any more then I already had.
I think it was a couple of weeks before I got back to him. A couple of weeks of crunching my finances and coming up with the same conclusion every time ( nope, no money to go home!). A couple of weeks of listening to everyone around me make plans for the holidays. A couple of weeks for work to give me loads of projects that were to be completed through the holidays, so I would be kept busy.
I finally called him back and told him....yes. I would be very grateful if he would loan me the money to come home for Christmas. I think it was around October-ish that the tickets were actually bought. And then things got busy for both of us. It was a couple of weeks (well over a month) before we would actually talk again after he bought the tickets.
I came home from work and had a message on my phone from Skunky. He wanted me to call him. I fixed myself some dinner, and settled down on the couch in the living room of my apartment and then called him back.
" Hi." Uh oh....I could hear the hurt in his voice already. Little warning bells started ringing in my head.
" Hey, what's up? I got your message, I was at work when you called."
" Yeah. You're hard to get a hold of lately."
I paused. He had called and left messages a few times lately that I didn't get back to. I was really busy with work, you know retail during the holiday season! It wasn't on purpose...I just always ended up putting off calling him for later...
" I know...I'm sorry for that. Things have just been really busy at work lately and-"
" Yeah...I see how it is with you, Jen. I thought you were different, but I see now that you're just another one of those girls who bleeds a guy dry, and then leaves him hanging in the dust."
I was shocked. And very hurt. I could feel my breath leave my body and a roaring pain replace it. As tears sprung into my eyes, that roaring pain turned into a burning anger. This kid doesn't know me! How dare he presume to be my friend, and yet say something so cruel.
And without even another word to him, I hung up.
I stormed into my bedroom and closed the door, pacing the small space to release some of my anger. He called back almost immediately and I didn't answer. He called back after that, and again I didn't answer. On the third call back I decided I had something to say to him.
" How dare you..."
" Jen, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it-"
" How dare you say something so mean to me! I can't believe you would even think that, Skunky! That shows to me just what kind of a person you are on the inside. You are selfish and judgmental! This is the VERY REASON I didn't want to take the money from YOU! I KNEW that you would feel I owed it to you, that this would suddenly in some twisted fashion mean I would HAVE to be your girlfriend. Well let me tell you something, it doesn't. The only thing that I owe you right now is the money, and you will get that back as soon as possible! And then I NEVER want to talk to you again!"
I hung up on him again and he didn't call back. Believe it or not, within a few days I called him back. I was so mad at him, it took me a while to cool down enough to hear that little nagging voice in the back of my head that said " Jen....he loves you. He spoke out of hurt, he thought you really were avoiding him."
I called him back, and it was an awkward conversation. He couldn't apologize enough, and talked about how he had been in hell the last few days over what he had said. I accepted his apologies, but things felt different between us now. Different because there was a little piece of me that wondered if he was right, if what he said was true about me. I made some rules for myself that day...mostly to protect him more. I didn't want to be that for him...and that meant that I couldn't let him get any closer to me then he already was.
That would turn out not to be the end of this incident, however . He asked me to call him when I got to New Hampshire, and I told him that I would, and maybe we could get together.
The weeks passed and the next thing I knew, my Dad was picking me up from the airport. We had a leisurely ride home. I came into the house, said hi to my Mom, talked for a few minutes and then headed upstairs to take a shower and wash off the feeling of travel. During my shower I got a phone call and they left a message. When I got out, I check the message. It was from Skunky...a nasty one calling me dishonest for not calling him when I got into town like I said I would. At this point I had been in New Hampshire for maybe and hour and a half. But I had forgotten that he had bought my tickets, and had my itinerary. He knew the exact minute that my plane landed.
I called him back that minute, and gave him a royal chewing out. I told him that just because he bought my tickets did not mean that he now owned me. I told him exactly what I had done in a little over an hour in New Hampshire, and that it wasn't dishonest of me to putting off calling him until after I had showered and unpacked, that I hadn't even seen all of my family yet, and they were infinitely more important then he was! I told him that I would not talk to him again until after Christmas ( which was about a week away) and even then he would be LUCKY if he got to see me before I went back to Idaho.
And that was that. I did agree to see him. Two days before I left to go back to Idaho he met me at a sandwich shop near my house, and we had lunch. He apologized for the message again, and that he understood what I was saying about him not "owning" me just because he had helped a friend out. He said that he had never felt like this before, that he had loaned money to friends in the past but had never reacted harshly before. I shrugged it off, I didn't really know what to say. And neither did he. We parted with a hand shake, and it would be a very long time before things started to feel normal between us again.
He never asked me about the money again... and I never did pay him back.:) The day that we got married I asked him about it as we were driving up to Myrtle Beach, where we would spend our honey moon. He laughed, looked down at the rings on my finger, and said " Jen, I think your debt has been repaid."
Next up: Skunky joins the Navy!
Only your soul can hear what's in my heart
1 month ago