Todd IM’d me while I was at work today and reminded me that we’d been friends for almost 10 years now. That is, 10 years ago today, I was in Wales, and we met pretty much after after I got back.

As happy as I am to have been friends with Todd for 10 years (I am), thinking about Wales made me a bit melancholy – not just for missing the country that immediately and ever since felt like home to me, but for what it represented to me at the time.

Now, what I’m about to divulge is my deep, dark secret. Well, not dark, and not especially deep – it’s only a secret because it makes me sad to talk about it, and because I am certain enough most people will consider it a sign of moderate insanity. Of course, it may not be secret at all – at this point, I can’t remember who all I might have told over the last 10 years.

The reason I went to Wales was to meet my “fated bride”. I was interested in Wales anyway, by the time I went – it’s British and Arthurian and all that, and while I was there I fell in love with it – but I went particularly for her. Remember how I was set on going to North Wales, to the Bangor campus? That’s because I thought it was where she was. When that program fell through, I switched to the South Wales campus of Swansea, but visited Bangor as often as I could. Remember how I made a big deal of going my sophmore year? I wanted to go that whole year (95-96), but that was expensive, and you aren’t supposed to be able to study abroad your sophmore year anyway. So I took an extra class to be a Junior, unit-wise, my second sophmore semester so I could qualify for the program.

Let’s back up for a bit. This started back in ’94, as I was graduating from High School and coming out of serious, persistant depression. (Jill might remember this depression because I refused to listen to her practice her guitar – missed notes hit me in some kind of obsessive-compulsive nightmarish all-e’s calculation that was worse than 100 nails scraping a chalkboard, but she was very kind about it and even offered that tonal errors could be particularly jarring to a mathematical mind, giving me an excuse other than being an ass.) Remember those pictures I drew? They’re not only the germ, the seed for my Coera-Ohida serious, they’re a fantasization of what was going on in my mind at the time. The one woman, the goodly woman, was my fated bride, and the other was a face thrown over temptations to de-virginize myself and thus unravel the fundamental requirements for satisfying my fate.

Who was this fated woman? Bethany Rebecca Jones. “Beckari” to her friends. Redhaired. One year older than me. Her mother was a university art professor, and just a little bit snippy. Her father had a moustache and smoked a pipe and retired young. I forget their names, now, but I thought I would get along with with her dad. He would be in my corner, and teach me how to get along with her mother. I used to draw pictures of Beckari, even while I was dating Pam – it was a bit of an obsession. Hmmm… I’m digging them out of an archive now. Here are a few I kept: [Link] [Link] [Link] [Link] (See, I dug her back up again recently to keep the wound oozing.) Granted, these are post-adolescent fantasies, but that was about the most personality and individuality I could put into the female form then (Seductress Beckari aside). Can’t say I’m much better now.

But this is where the madness lies: I used to talk to her – regularly. Every night for years. During the day, when I was alone. I’d ask her test questions if I was stumped. We’d talk about things I didn’t know about, but she did. I worried that I was mad – certifiable type – so I’d pose questions to her that I was sure I didn’t know the answer to, then check up on them. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t talking to myself, and for about two and a half years, I was absolutely certain I was not. The majority of our conversations were of a personal nature, but as I was solidifying plans for Wales, she described some of the places at the university, and I was even able to see them through her eyes. When the brochure arrived for the university, I wasn’t terribly surprised (though I was terribly pleased) to see the places I’d envisioned photographed, and matched in detail. We discussed the way we would meet and how we would know each other. And when I went to Bangor, I kept my end of the bargain. Or at least, I kept some very small portion of it – the bare minimum, and almost more than my stunted courage could manage.

Of course, I never met her. I wondered over it, I worried over it, I cried. I rationalized. I decided since I’d kept my end, she’d chickened out, or we hadn’t gotten dates straight, or something like that. But I never really heard from her again. There were maybe one or two brief conversations, but nothing like the hours-long in-head talks we had before. We decided to give it a rest for a year or two, and if it was really fated, we’d meet again when we were both State-side. But I didn’t.

Now, ten years away, it’s easy to dismiss those years as the product of what is still an over-active imagination tinged with mental imbalance. It might even fit some psychological pathology profile – I haven’t had the heart to investigate it. But at the time, it was a devastating blow to a world-view I’d come to believe in with even more faith than I had in Christianity. And it still makes me sad to think about.

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