Thursday, January 5, 2012

How we met... and again

It was 1995, and Rob had just graduated from high school. At the recommendation of a teacher, he'd applied to Howard University's Multicultural Journalism Workshop. He was one of 20 selected for the elite program. And Rachelle? She was another.

Begrudgingly, Rob packed an overnight bag and his father dropped him off at the dormitory where participants were meeting. He had no intention of staying, and was merely making an appearance because family insisted he try it out.

Then a rising high school junior, Rachelle was hyped about attending the workshop. Two weeks in a college dorm as a working journalist seemed like a perfect opportunity to hone her skills. And bragging rights for being chosen out of 65 applicants was a must.
Rob ending up staying at the workshop for the duration...

During the day, Rob and Rachelle busied themselves with interviews and how-to sessions at USA Today, and in the afternoons, they commuted together to their respective dorms. They spent several careless hours with their class mates playing truth or dare (though no one really dared take one) on the 50 Yard line of the Howard football field. Trips to Pentagon City were frequent. And - totally out of character for both - the relished in their horoscopes over breakfast in the dining hall. There was something about those fortunes of the stars that seemed to connect them (and it alienated several other participants). Rob and Rachelle talked for hours while Elton John's "The Lion King" soundtrack drowned out other dormer's crazy, unmonitored antics.

The two kept in touch through long letters written in the late night and predawn hours. The occasional phone call - in the days before cell phones and the time of her Dad's strict (or, perhaps protective) "no phone" policies - was cherished.

On occasional weekends, Rob and Rachelle worked for YoungDC newspaper. They sat at adjoining computers in the dusty, archaically equipped "press room" churning out stories. It was, unfortunately, their sole time 'together,' as Rob lived in D.C. and Rachelle in Virginia.

Early Spring 1997. A sociology project required Rachelle to plan a wedding - from invitations to thank you notes. She and Rob actually plotted their guest list together.

Prom 1997. Rob and Rachelle rode in a white limo to the Gar-Field Senior prom. He wore the white tuxedo she'd picked out (and has been teased ever since by close family). She wore a turquoise backless dress and high heels that didn't even begin to bridge their height distance. They ate at Sakura Steakhouse, toured Georgetown in their chauffeured car, and stopped for dessert at The Cheesecake Factory.

Summer 1997. Rachelle prepared to head out of state for college. In the last letters between she and Rob, they agreed to part ways. Their last correspondence was signed "love always."

Fall 1997-Spring 2010. Passing thoughts of whatever happened to Rachelle and to Rob were commonplace. But several moves meant lost or obselete contact information. In several searches, the internet proved useless for Rachelle, who quickly realized that his name was often used and he was virtually hidden from her. If only she'd kept those envelops his letters came in... Because of her employment, Rachelle restricted access to searches for her social network profile, rendering a search for her virtually impossible.

And then came FaceBook... July 2011. An impromptu search revealed no hits for Rob, but he remembered that prom. He joined her high school's alumni association on FaceBook and, though she was not a member, some privacy glitch connected Rachelle to the group. He sent her short a message.

1 comment:

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Goodness...I graduated from college in '95. :) Lovin' the story so much...