Breaking Up With Me is Not Hard to Do: Part Three

The names in this column have been changed. Well, I guess it is only one name that has been changed. I took the name of the girl, found a popular singer who shares the same name, and replaced her name with one from another singer who also performed on the USA for Africa tribute performance of “We are the World”.

According to Special Agent Dana Scully on an episode of The X Files that I watched earlier today, during the teenage years, the emotional and physiological state of the body is in unparalleled upheaval. I can think of no better terms to describe my state of being during my high school years. Everything that happened to me was meaningful, deep, and eternal. I used poetry as an outlet for my soul to speak to the world around me. I had volumes of poems with titles like “The Damning Pain of Existence”, “My Enemy, Moon”, and “Black is My Heart Upon the Ocean Waves”. All these were meant to describe, in a convoluted series of metaphors and alliterative aphorisms (still got it!), my undying quest for true love.

In the summer of 1998, I met someone who changed my poetry. I first saw Tina as she walked into my Sunday School classroom. I still remember being instantly infatuated with her and desperately concocting ways for her to go out with me instead of focusing on the slightly less spiritual matters of the subject being taught. She came to Utah to spend the summer with her older sister who happened to live in my neighborhood. Over the summer, we became casual acquaintances, in that she was casually ignorant of my very existence and I was casually not sleeping at nights trying to figure out how to become acquainted with her.

The moment came as I approached her on shaky knees and muttered out the phrase, “So, do you like Garbage?” I then had to explain that I was referring to the band and not its eponymous refuse. I had tickets to a concert and, with a great deal of trepidation, invited her to come along. Due to a series of events that would best be categorized in another column entry, we didn’t end up going to the concert. However, in a way that honestly escapes my usually steel-trap memory, from the night of the would-be concert on, we started dating each other and she became my girlfriend. I think roofies might have been involved.

After summer ended, Tina stayed with her sister instead of returning to her native state. Our relationship lasted about two years—through our senior year of high school, and into our separate college experiences. Most of what I remember comes in a series of vignettes that are mildly humorous, mildly tragic, and mildly romantic. I don’t think that I made a very good boyfriend, but I attribute it to a severe lack of experience in the field. After all, this was one of only three actual, long-term relationships that I had in my life, and that is including the one which resulted in marriage and the one with Kamea in second grade.

In the year 2000, I left to go on a two-year tour of duty for my church as a missionary. For those of you not familiar, we were the ones with the backpacks, not the satchels. Before I left, Tina and I had the obligatory discussion of how I didn’t want her to wait for me, even though I really did want her to and she thought it went without saying that she wouldn’t. The flow of letters that made their way across the northern border quickly turned into a trickle and eventually, into a drip from a faucet that you figure is not really worth your time to repair. In the fall of that year, I received an ominous plain white envelope in the mail that had Tina’s name on the return address. I opened it and plowed through the first two paragraphs which included a smattering of personal updates until I arrived at the part that I knew I would find.

I took the letter and stepped out on the balcony of our 18th floor apartment overlooking the suburbs of Ottawa. I stared at the main floor overhang that included the remains of various pamphlets and explosive food items with which previous residents had experimented with the laws of gravity. Having associated every break-up with some type of blunt force trauma, I wondered if I could land between the large-print Book of Mormon and the five-month old watermelon remnants. Just before my companion hit the last digit to call the suicide hotline, I came in and announced that we had to head out to our next appointment. I sat in front of Richard the chain smoker and tried to expound the mysteries of God’s ways while my own thoughts swam in a sea of confusion. We knocked on doors and tried to convince people to let us inside while I never felt more the need to be alone. It is interesting because the contents of that letter were not necessarily unexpected, nor were they in any way unkind. However, I felt myself slipping back into the role of “Cameron Smith – Black Phase” poet. I would find myself recovering just in time to hear from my father that Blockbuster had called looking to collect fines from overdue movies checked out on my card. Tina and I had applied for a card together with me as the primary cardholder. Thankfully, the good people at Blockbuster forgave the debt when my father told them I had been out of the country for a year and a half. I was readying myself to return home when I received word about Tina’s impending nuptials. No matter how hard I tried, the break-up just wouldn’t go away.

I eventually recovered and went on to finish my spiritual vacation. After properly acclimating to the rigors of normal earth life, I underwent one of the most humiliating experiences in recent memory. I made my way to Tina’s apartment where I met with her and her mother to collect the CDs that I had entrusted in her care. I said goodbye with a firm handshake after my hug request was dismissed and I wished her the best in her marriage and her life. I then headed directly to the local Fuddruckers where I ordered the 1lb burger. “Um, that will take, like, half an hour to cook,” the acne-scarred cashier informed me. “That’s alright,” I said, “I’ve got nothing but time.” I sat there in the booth, waiting for thirty minutes and then eating the monstrosity over the course of the next hour. I slowly drove back to my parent’s house and, after spending some significant time in the restroom, I called one of my best friends to get her emotional support.

It’s been almost nine years since I received that Dear John letter. I have recently reunited with Tina via the wonders of social networking. She is also a reader of this blog (Hi Tina!). She has a beautiful family and I honestly and sincerely could not be happier for her. Because of our relationship, she was able to go to school here in Utah and eventually meet her husband while I, the admittedly inept former boyfriend, was thousands of miles away. Because of our relationship, I was able to enjoy both the light and dark side of poetic expression. And, because of our relationship and its long-distance eradication, I was able to meet my wife who is fantastic at giving emotional support when I need it most.

Of course, Miranda tried to break up with me several times as well. Oh boy, this is going to have to be a four-parter.


Cameron said...

By way of retraction, I have been informed that the Blockbuster fine is of dubious validity. There was a fine, but it was not incurred by Tina. Unless it was a girl who actually was named Tina. Hmmm.Where's Robert Stack when you need him.

Cameron said...

I officially retract this retraction.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.