"I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floatin' around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it's both." - Forrest Gump
It's English 10. Cara, Pamela and Tegan (I think. Tegan, you were in on this, right?) were teasing/comforting me as only friends-who-know-too-much-about-you can. The boy I had a long-time crush on was unable to attend our Youth Group's Valentine banquet, so they were playing a little game to see if they could figure out who would be a suitable date for me. Despite my complete lack of confidence where boys were concerned, I was playing along (sort of.)
The game was this: while in a lull before class, they were looking around the room and pairing my first initial with the last initial of the males in the room. A little "just-a-date's-not-good-enough-let's-see-if-your-names-would-work
-if-you-got-married" to break up the afternoon. Of course, because we were, after all, teenagers, and my friends seemed to enjoy getting a rise out of me moreso than was healthy, they were putting my initial with all the boys I would be least likely to want to accompany me, or would be least likely to want me to accompany them. Go figure.
"TL," said Pam.
"I'm not Chris's type."
"C'mon, guys, that's enough."
Finally, they stumped me.
"TW," said Cara.
I peered around the room earnestly. I knew the first and last names of everyone in that class, and the middle names of some, but I could not, for the life of me, think of the person to whom they were referring.
"Are you guys just making this up, now?"
"No, TW," chirped Cara again.
I could see realization dawning on the faces of my other two tormentors, so I knew that this must be a real person. I looked around the room again. Still nothing came to me.
Just then, the teacher called the class to order. We faced forward in our desks and paid attention (as much as one ever pays attention to a substitute teacher). In actuality, I was doing a mental role call in my brain of every person in the room, and some that weren't. Finally it hit me like a paint pellet right between the eyes.
"Garrett Watson?!" I exclaimed in a hyperventilating whisper, leaning toward my friends. "You're kidding, right?"
"Is there a problem, Miss Hilman?" came the imperious voice from the front of the room.
"Uh, no," I mumbled, to the titters of my friends. Sheer glee filled their eyes and I felt the heat rising up my neck and into my face. I spent the rest of the lecture alternately glaring at them and fearfully glancing across the room at Garrett, afraid he somehow knew about the terrible game my friends had been playing.
Just in case Garrett should ever find this blog through a random Google search or something, I just want to say: the only bad part about this was that you really weren't my type. Really not. As I am sure you would agree that I wasn't yours. And possibly, just maybe, I might have thought you were a bit immature in grade 10. And my friends, if asked in the right conditions, under a full moon, with no less than a pack of wolves surrounding them, threatening them with certain death if they told an untruth, might have agreed with me. In the years since then, I have only seen you a few times, but I am sure you have turned into a delightful man, as I know your mom and I've always liked her, and thank goodness we don't stay at the maturity level we are at in Grade 10, eh?
- End side)
Well, this wasn't enough. They [my so-called friends-turned-torture-masters] couldn't leave well enough alone. They decided, after this delightfully humourous episode (on their part, at least), that my nickname should henceforth be "T.W.". Apparently the fifteen or so other nicknames I had already collected that year weren't enough. (For someone as seemingly un-popular and socially inept as I was, my friends sure thought I deserved a lot of nicknames. Maybe my real name is too hard to say. Or remember. Or something.)
Later on that night, we were at a youth group event at our church, and Cara was enthusiastically regaling my second-cousin Laura with the Tale of Talena's Torture, and had just got to the part where they had decided to call me "T.W." from now on, when Laura pipes up with "What's the "w" for, Windstick?"
To this day, I'll never know why she said that. But the reign of "T.W. Windstick" was born.
It became one of my more commonly-used nicknames. To my relief, most people shortened it only to "T.W.", and as long as they didn't ask where it started, I was fine. (I think Cara was the only one who insisted on adding the "Windstick" until we lost contact sometime after high school.)
With a nickname like that, you would think that it would die off at graduation. But apparently, that little episode in English 10 was the foreshadowing of things to come. (I wonder if we were studying the parts of a story that day?)
My first serious boyfriend was Richard Wadsack. By "serious", I mean that we dated for longer than three weeks, and before we broke up, the word "marriage" had crossed our lips--probably more enthusiastically over his than mine, as I was only 18, and he was 26. (My dad probably would have given me stronger lectures about the age gap, if only he hadn't also been dating a 26-year-old at the time.) At any rate, I had only met him once at a conference, and after meeting him again after exchanging phone calls for six months, I realized I was not ready for the type of relationship which he was (Duh! I had just graduated!), so we "broke up." (Thank goodness. I really can't imagine having the moniker "Wadsack" my entire life. Although the last time I spoke with him, he had found some other lady who had willingly taken it on, and I am so happy for them.)
My next brush with the letter W got me closer: I found Mr. Wright. After dating for six months, Dean and I actually got engaged. It looked like the fulfillment of the "T.W." prophecy was close at hand. However, after some rough times, and some serious soul-searching, we also broke up. That's a really long story I don't want to get into, but it looks like destined to be Mrs. Wright, I was not.
And then Jason. Jason had been on the perimeter of my vision since grade 10. (How close to the same time as the "Night of the TW Windstick", I don't know.) Sometimes so far on the periphery that I couldn't see him at all. But we did have one date in that year. I had asked him out--I don't think he had really even noticed me before. He is, after all, four years older, and had spent the majority of time that I had been part of his church's youth group away at college and summer jobs and all that. We went to a movie. I don't remember which one. But I did write in my journal afterwards, "Now Jason. There's an open door that I am not sure if I will ever go through. He's a nice guy, but I don't know if he would ever want to date me."
We barely spoke for the next five years.
To make a long story a little shorter, we got to know each other when I accompanied him on his third trip to India. After developing our friendship for a year and a half, we were engaged.
And on May 27, 2000, "T.W." became a nickname no longer. It was my monogram for life.