1 a boy and a girl
“I NEED TO CATCH MY COURAGE SO I CAN KISS YOU,” Trey declared. The ten-year-old boy raced around the basement, grasping at the air with his outstretched hands, then cupping them as if about to catch a butterfly. “Got it!” he exclaimed, and put his hands up to his mouth, making a gulping sound.
With big brown eyes, and the longest eyelashes I had ever seen, he gazed at me and said, “I’m ready to kiss you now.”
I felt the butterflies in my stomach as we walked toward each other and met at the center of the room. I closed my eyes, clenched my fists, and held my breath in anticipation. Then I felt his warm breath on my face as his soft lips caressed mine.
That was my first kiss—and the last time I was to see Trey Thompson, my childhood sweetheart, for five years.
Our moms were close friends so Trey and I got to see each other often and we soon became inseparable. He was two months older than me and we did everything together. Sometimes he would announce to his mom, “When I grow up, I’m going to marry Tara!” Our moms just smiled and laughed. Call it fate, destiny, kismet, soul mates—or being in the right place at the right time—even at that young age we seemed to read each other’s minds, one always knew what the other wanted to do.
There we were, two kids having to say goodbye to each other at his parents’ home in Seattle because Trey, his mom and his little brother, were moving to Arizona. They were leaving as his parents had divorced, and his mom wanted to start over somewhere new. But Arizona was so far away. It might as well have been on the other side of the world as far as we were concerned. We didn’t think we’d ever see each other again.
Saying goodbye was difficult. I was losing my best friend, whom I also had a huge crush on. While our moms were upstairs saying their own goodbyes, Trey asked me to go downstairs to the basement with him so we could have some privacy. When we got downstairs he told me he wanted to kiss me. But we were just kids and super nervous, so he decided to make a game out of it to lighten the mood. Thus, the “catching courage game” was born.
It was now Christmas–time, and I, Tara Carter, was fifteen. My family and I had moved to the tiny town of Sherwood, Oregon. Sherwood is about twenty miles south of Portland. We moved shortly after Trey’s family moved to Tucson five years earlier. Trey’s family drove up through Oregon on their way to visit relatives in Seattle for the holidays. His mom, Jill, called and asked if they could stay with us for a night. I was a nervous wreck.
I hadn’t seen Trey since we were ten. A lot happens between ten and fifteen—we weren’t little kids anymore—we’d gone through puberty. I kept going through the scenario in my mind over and over of what it would be like to see him again. Would he still be cute? Would he think I was cute? Would I still like him? What would we talk about? How tall would he be now? You know, all those crucially, ever-so-important questions teenage girls ponder over teenage boys.
The phone rang. According to my mom they were about an hour away and she gave them directions to our house. I changed my outfit about five times—and then ended up wearing the first one I’d had on—a light purple sweater and jeans. My brown hair was feathered “Farrah Fawcett” style, and I had blue eyes. People often told me I looked like Brooke Shields, so I plucked my thick eyebrows until the resemblance was gone.
I was so excited and nervous that I couldn’t sit still. The minutes dragged on for an eternity. My head hurt from the frenzy I had worked myself into. My thoughts were chaotic: Uh–oh, I see headlights; a car is pulling into the driveway. No, I’m not ready! What do I say? Should I sit here and look nonchalant or greet him at the door? T minus five seconds … Oh, they’re walking up the sidewalk. Ok be calm. No, I can’t sit here. Ok I’ll stand up. Somebody’s ringing the doorbell. Oh God I can’t stand it!
“MOM!” I yelled. Oh good, she’s answering the door. Ok, be cool. The door opens and—Hey, wait a minute! Trey doesn’t have blond hair—who the hell is that?
“Hi, Chad, come on in. How was your trip?” asked my mother.
“Fine. Can I use your bathroom?” replied Chad, Trey’s ten-year-old brother.
“Sure. It’s down the hall on the left.” Why is this taking so long? Where is he? I can’t just stand here. Oh! Here he comes now . . . Nope, that’s his mom. Oh no! What if he didn’t come with them? No!
As our moms hugged each other in the doorway, I walked up to Trey’s mom and blurted, “Hi. Where’s Trey?” All patience and politeness out the window.
“Oh, hi Tara! My, how you’ve grown! Such a pretty girl. You look just like your mother,” Jill said.
“Thanks,” I managed. “Where’s Trey?”
“Oh he’s getting our bags out of the car,” she replied.
“I’ll go help him.”
As I rushed past our moms still chatting at the door I ran right into, you guessed it—“Trey!” I exclaimed, my face flushed, heart racing and neck straining from looking up so high.
“Hey Tara,” he said, all cool and casual. “How’s it goin’?”
I thought I was going to die of embarrassment from running into him like that and not being able to speak, but he didn’t seem to notice. In fact, he seemed a little nervous himself. Now that I had stepped back and really looked at him he didn’t look like the same skinny kid I remembered. Actually, he was very tall—five eleven to my five three. He had broad shoulders and I could see his muscles through his light blue t–shirt (been working out, no doubt). His light brown hair from childhood was now thicker and dark brown, and yes, he still had those killer brown eyes and long eyelashes—even his eyebrows were perfectly sculpted with a little arch to them. He was now ruggedly handsome instead of boyishly cute, and his skin was flawless; not one trace of acne. Geesh, how is that even possible?
I picked up his bag and we walked into the house together, unaware of anyone else in the world, staring into each other’s eyes.
“Two little lovebirds sittin’ in a tree—”
“Chad, cut that out or else!” warned Trey.
“Or else what?” Chad retorted. “What ya gonna do big guy? Huh? Beat me up in front of your girrrlfriend?”
“Chad! You little—”
“Boys! That’s enough,” Jill scolded. “Is that any way to act in front of Tara and her mother?”
“Sorry,” Trey mumbled, as he kicked Chad in the leg.
“Ow!” yelped Chad.
“That’s a warning,” Trey whispered. “You behave or I’ll really kick you hard.”
The next few hours went excruciatingly slow as we ate dinner. Then we sat in the living room and watched TV.
Our parents didn’t make things any easier. They made us pose together for pictures and said, “What a cute couple,” as they cooed and talked about us like we weren’t there. We spoke little and sat on opposite ends of the couch, with his brother between us, for over an hour. I tried to watch what was on TV but couldn’t concentrate because all I wanted to do was talk to Trey, to be with him without our families around watching our every move. This night was turning into a disaster.
But then something wonderful happened. It was time for Chad to go to bed and my mom suggested that Trey and I go into the den to watch TV. Thank you Mom! I turned on the TV and sat down on the futon next to Trey.
Alone at last but we were still shy around each other. I felt like I had as many butterflies in my stomach to supply an entire zoo. We made small talk for a while and he told me what it was like to live in Arizona. We talked about school and sports and interests.
Finally, I boldly asked him, “Do you need to find your courage again?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember? In the basement the last time we saw each other, you needed to catch your courage before you could kiss me.”
“Oh yeah,” he grinned. “I think I see my courage right here.” His hand reached behind my head and closed on the air. “Got it,” he smiled victoriously. And then he kissed me.
We stayed in the den talking and kissing and laughing until sunrise. The old familiarity came back. We were completely at ease with each other. It was magical.
But then he had to go. He had to sneak back to his guest bed, a foldout hide–a–bed in the living room, before his mom woke up. We didn’t say goodbye because we thought we’d see each other in a couple of hours at breakfast. I went to my room dreamily happy and couldn’t wait to wake up and see him again.
However, when I woke up two hours later, I rushed out to the living room and found nothing but a note on the dining room table from his mom. She thanked us for our hospitality and explained that they wanted to hit the road early. The note said they didn’t want to wake us, so they left quietly.
“No! He can’t leave without saying goodbye!” I shouted into the quiet living room.
I was devastated. My wailing woke up my mom. I was beside myself with sudden grief and longing and there was nothing she could do for me. I knew then that my life would never be the same. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew I would never forget him. If there were a way, I would see him again.
2 the birthday party
MY EARLIEST MEMORY of Trey goes back to the day of my 4th birthday party even though we had already been friends for about a year.
It was a rare warm sunny afternoon in May in Lynnwood, Washington. Typically, this area of the Pacific Northwest would be overcast and drizzling so this proved to be a good start to a great day. My friends sat around a little table on the grass, in my front yard, and watched as my mom brought over a homemade chocolate cake with four lit candles on top.
“Okay, Tara, it’s time to close your eyes and make a wish so you can blow out your birthday candles,” declared my mom.
I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes tight, chest puffing out. What to wish for? “Mmm…got it!” I opened my eyes, blew out the candles, and beamed at my friends.
“What a big girl! Good job, sweetie!” my mom beamed back. Then, “Who wants cake?” Everyone giggled and raised their hands. So my mom took out the candles, whisked the cake away, and came back with cake and vanilla ice cream on paper plates for all.
Trey sat next to me, the only boy at the party. He wore a white button–down dress shirt with black corduroy pants. I wore a pink turtleneck sweater, pink crocheted vest and purple tie–dyed pants. His gift to me was a Barbie doll with brown hair like mine and, when I opened it, the smile he gave me was magnetic. Even then.
I found my soul mate before I knew what a soul mate was, before I even started looking. But life has a funny way of working out and things are not always as they seem. Our journey is about love—the purest kind in existence; the kind that, if you’re lucky, you get to experience once in a lifetime—innocent, trusting, selfless, unconditional . . . first love.
First love stays with some people and changes them forever. It is the love we compare everyone else to. We don’t quite get over it because it is so profound, so all consuming, intoxicating, forgiving; the term “lovesick” comes to mind. This is my story, about a couple of kids who fell in love, while life happened nonetheless.
3 pen pals
OVER THE NEXT few months I began to think of Trey less and less. That summer I met someone new, older and exciting. He was a twenty-one-year-old college student with a summer job at 7-Eleven. I met him at 7-Eleven as I also had my first summer job there. I had just turned sixteen, received my driver’s license, and thought I was pretty cool. Everything was going great and I’d almost completely forgotten about Trey.
But one unusually foggy, windy and rainy day in the middle of July, something life–altering happened; something that shook me to my core with an intense fear I had never known. Yet my fear quickly dissolved into peace and the only way I can describe it is as a “religious experience.” I put this in quotes because my family was not religious. We did not go to church, and I had never read the bible.
I was on my way to work in my mother’s baby blue 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit. I had been a licensed driver for all of one month.
The pavement on the freeway was slippery and the rain came down in sheets—we’re talking torrential downpour. I was in the right–hand lane of a three–lane freeway, traveling north on I-5, driving under fifty miles per hour, and following a slow–moving pick–up truck. I signaled to pass him and was proceeding into the center lane when a giant black truck pulled out from behind me and sped up, deciding he wanted to be in the center lane at the same time I did. Only he was driving over seventy. If I had continued to veer into the middle lane, I would have hit his passenger door. To avoid a major collision, I swerved.
In my inexperience as a new driver, coupled with driving in the rain, I over–steered and ran into the curb on the right side of the freeway. Bouncing off the curb, my car then spun around as it hydroplaned and careened sideways across all three lanes of traffic. The front end of my car crashed into the median barrier and crumpled like an accordion. The sudden impact caused the car to move with rapid force across the freeway again—this time backwards. I felt like a pinball in a pinball machine ricocheting from side to side.
I landed on a steep embankment and began to roll forward. I snapped out of my reverie, stomped on the brake, yanked up the emergency brake and turned off the ignition. Then I took out the keys and threw them on the floor just to make sure the car wasn’t going anywhere.
While the accident was happening time seemed to stand still. I went from feeling fear and complete helplessness to feeling calm and observing myself going through the motions. I became a witness in my own car crash. I remember vivid details. I could see the looks of terror on the other drivers’ faces as I passed them by; I could see sheer disbelief in their eyes. It’s as if it was all playing out in slow motion on a TV screen in front of me. I felt like I could even see myself. I consider what happened to me to be an out–of–body experience—I left my body and watched the whole thing from outside, from above the car.
My mom’s car was declared totaled and I walked away with minor whiplash and a faint red seatbelt burn—otherwise unscathed.
Miraculously, there were no other cars involved. Let me say that again—NO ONE hit me while I was bounding across the freeway—not once, but twice, in heavy traffic and heavy rain. They said I was lucky to be alive. Was it luck? Divine intervention? A guardian angel? What about the out–of–body part? I didn’t know and I couldn’t explain it, but I felt like I’d been given a second chance. And what did I do with my chance? I’d love to tell you I invented the cure for cancer or some other amazing, wondrous achievement, but no, I was sixteen. I did what kids my age did: I put it out of my mind and went back to my self–absorbed, angst–filled teenage life.
Two weeks after the accident, my ultra–cool older boyfriend pressured me to have sex with him knowing I was a virgin and knowing I was very naïve and innocent. He took my innocence against my will. When it was over, he threw his bathrobe at me and told me to cover up. He couldn’t stand the sight of me cold and shaking.
I stopped believing I had a guardian angel looking out for me. Whatever seed of faith I had was crushed that night. I broke up with him the next day and never saw him again. I heard he dropped out of college and joined the army. I remember secretly hoping that wherever they’d sent him, he’d been shot.
Summer had ended and it was time for my junior year of high school—yay, not. I got the mail after school, like I always did. Two weeks into the school year there was a letter addressed to me with handwriting I didn’t recognize. The return address was from New Mexico. Who did I know in New Mexico? No one I could think of.
I stared at the envelope for a while before opening it. Then it dawned on me—it was from Trey.
I was almost afraid to open it, feeling nervous all over again. My stomach felt queasy and my fingers were shaking by the time I decided to open it, making it difficult to get the letter out of the envelope. I read it slowly, savoring it. Then I read it over and over again before I was able to write back.
That letter changed my life…as well as the months that followed upon receiving his initial correspondence. Over the course of that year we became pen pals and best friends. We told each other everything—our secrets, fears, and dreams. We became closer than I thought two people could—especially long distance. Here’s that first letter:
Howdy! I’m not really sure why I’m writing you, but I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, so I decided to drop a line and see how you’re doing. It’s been almost a year since we stopped by. There sure have been a lot of changes in my life since then. Right now I’m away at school in New Mexico, a military high school. Can you believe that? Life is a whole lot different here. We get up at 5:30 each morning and don’t stop working until 10:00 at night. It was hard to adjust to the schedule at first. But the place kind of grows on you. Either the place grows on you or your first–sergeant does.
While I’m here, my only contact with the civilian world is through the mail. There are a lot of things I miss, but the thing I miss most is girls. I haven’t seen a civilian girl since I got here seven weeks ago. I must admit that’s one of the reasons I’m writing you. I’d do anything to get a girl to write me. Most of my buddies had girlfriends when they left, so they get letters regularly. It’s starting to get depressing.
It’s a challenge to stay here because I have no rank. I’m an official R.A.T. (Recruit–at–Training). I won’t get a rank until the end of my first year. Until then, I take orders from anyone, from private on up. I must get permission to rest, eat, walk, talk, sit down, stand up…etc. The only privacy I have is during my two-and-a-half hours of forced study time. Some nights I use all my time doing homework. Sometimes though I find time to write letters, like this one.
I’m sending a picture of myself, as you would recognize me, with long hair. When I got here, they chopped most of it off. It’s grown back a bit now but not nearly as much as I had in this picture. I’ll send you a better picture when I get one, whether you write me back or not. This letter is only me saying ‘Hi.’ Don’t feel like you should have to write back. You probably have a boyfriend who might object to it. You would if I lived there. Tell your folks I said ‘hi’ to them too please.
Well, what do you think I did? After receiving a letter like that of course I wrote back—the same day, complete with pictures. I received his second letter a week later. We continued to write to each other for months. Sometimes I’d get a letter every day. As the weeks went by our letters grew more and more serious and we declared our love for one another. We began planning when we’d be able to see each other again.
His letters were descriptive, detailed and well–written. I would read them over and over until I had them memorized. I could picture him at his military school. I visualized myself sitting in the stands at his football games, cheering him on—his number was 38 (his buddies called him 38 Special). He played linebacker.
The letters soon became more personal, complimentary and romantic. Occasionally he would even write to me in French, since we were both taking high school French at the time, “Tu es tres belle et tu as les plus belles zeux. Je t’adore! Nous avons été fait pour chaque autre.” (You are very beautiful and you have the most beautiful eyes. I adore you! We were made for each other). Not bad for a first year student, eh?
Actually, the French writing impressed me—Trey knew I had been on a bicycle tour through France and England the previous summer, the year Prince Charles and Diana got married. I had been so taken with France that I wanted to become fluent in the language and go back one day. As it was, I was deemed the group “interpreter” and only had one year of high school French under my belt. Needless to say, I did a lot of pantomiming and had to look up words in my French–English dictionary often.
I woke up one morning on the trip, and the first words out of my mouth were in French; I decided to challenge myself to speak only French the entire day. Breakfast consisted of pain et confiture de fraise avec café au lait, and it was très délicieux (bread and strawberry jam with coffee & milk; very delicious). After breakfast, we biked to Chartres, where we visited the medieval Cathédrale Notre–Dame de Chartres, built circa 1145. It was the most beautiful cathedral I had ever seen.
We were two weeks into a six-week bicycle tour through England and France. By this time, we had already been to several museums, churches, and cathedrals; so when I say the Chartres Cathedral was the most beautiful of them all, please believe me.
At fifteen years old I had never seen anything like it and completely lost myself in the beautiful architecture and exquisite stained glass windows. There were endless lit candles, as well as organ music, and even chanting nuns. It was a strange day to decide to speak only French, but at the moment, I was so awe struck that I was rendered speechless anyway.
My friend Lisa soon caught on to what I was doing and decided to make a bet out of it. If I could go the entire day without speaking or writing in English, she would buy me an Orangina. But if I screwed up and even uttered one word in English, I owed her one.
Word about the bet spread quickly, so everyone had their ears open and tried to make me speak “their language.” John Lemming, the group’s leader, bought us all a pâtisserie and took a group photo; he said our final destination for the day was Versailles.
The first mistake of the day was when our fearless leader took us down a one–way street—the wrong way! A car sped toward us and he crashed into it, dented it, and somehow remained completely uninjured.
Once we finally got out of town—we headed for Rambouillet. What a nightmare. There were tons of bugs on the narrow, two–lane road and it was the hottest biking day we’d had so far. I wore a Snoopy tank top and blue shorts and was soon covered with bugs. Every few minutes I had to stop and wipe off my sunglasses—it was so gross. There were also many semi–trucks on the steep and curvy road. I choked on their exhaust fumes as they passed me.
A trucker in the oncoming lane was driving too slow. The trucker behind him decided to overtake him. But he didn’t see me and pulled ahead into my lane—heading straight for me. He was going downhill and I was going up on a steep incline. There was no shoulder on the side of the road—it just sloped down the hill—but there were a few trees jutting out along the hillside. I had milliseconds to get out of the way, so I aimed for a tree, plowed into it, then quickly hugged it as the truck driver barreled past me, a mere centimeter from my bike and body.
I thought for sure I was going to be flattened like a Bugs Bunny cartoon and quivered with trepidation at my impending death. Once I realized he was gone and I was still in one piece, I summoned all my false bravery and yelled the only two French curse words I knew—over and over while shaking my fist. Unfortunately, there was no one around to witness my stunning display of courage and I couldn’t tell the group when we all met up because of my stupid bet with Lisa. I didn’t know how to say, “I almost got run over by a semi” in French and they wouldn’t have understood me anyway.
When I finally reached Rambouillet and the outside café where everyone was waiting, I kept my cool and said, “Je ne sais pas” (I don’t know) when anyone asked me a question I couldn’t answer. I loaded up on some energizing chocolat and we were off.
We had to take a busy highway all the way to Versailles, thirty-one kilometers. With eight kilometers left, and the others way ahead of me, I fell and skinned my knee. But then I realized John was behind me because his daughter, Mindy, got a flat tire. We tried to hitchhike but to no avail. No one wanted to stop for three people with bicycles.
We stopped in a small town to fill up our water bottles and use the bathroom, but we had to catch up to the group. John patched Mindy’s tire and we rode as fast as we could to Versailles. He complained that I was too slow but my knee was killing me. Still, I managed to bike through the pain and we soon reachedthe Château de Versailles.We locked up our bikes and looked for our group.We walked all over and didn’t see them anywhere.
We got back on our bikes and rode to the center of town and then to the other side of the Palace—which was enormous. At last we found Doug, one of the kids from our group, riding on the other side of the Palace. He was sent as a scout to look for us. We followed Doug to the rest of the gang, who were waiting for us at a nearby café. I was never happier to see them! And yet, I couldn’t even tell them about my ordeal.
I sat in silence as we ate our usual delicious dinner of yogurt, bread, cheese, pâté and ham. I was eager to get to the campsite so I could take care of my knee and put this day behind me. But when we arrived at the campsite, they were full. Fortunately, John sweet–talked them into letting us camp there anyway. We set up our tents at the top of a steep hill, far into the wooded area, separated by the crowded trailers.
I rinsed my knee off in the sink at the campsite restroom. I had to pick out little pebbles and debris and it stung. Without thinking, I cursed, “Shit!” Guess who walked in right then? Yep, Lisa.
“Ha! You said shit! You lost the bet!” she pointed at me and cried out with glee.
“Oh come on! That was the first non–French word I’ve said all day, I swear. You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today. I should have won that bet!”
“Nope, the day’s not over. Fair is fair and I heard you,” she smiled triumphantly. She was right, what could I say? The next day I bought her the Orangina, otherwise I never would have heard the end of it.
It was uncanny how Trey could read me. He always said just the right things. And he was quite the flatterer too, “As soon as I got your letter it felt like the sun came out from behind the clouds. Now I’m having a great day and I won’t let anyone or anything get me down.”
In another letter he took a more serious tone, “I love you! I’ve loved you all along. I would have said so earlier but I didn’t want to scare you. All I’ve done since last December is think about you. I am so glad I got up enough nerve to write you. If you really love me like I love you, then nothing can keep us apart too long. I can’t stop thinking about you and how much I want to be with you.”
Then another, “I want you so bad. Well, I really want you good, but I’ll take you anyway I can. You are very special to me and I feel more for you than any other girl that ever existed. I use you for my motivation when I do something that takes effort, like weightlifting. I love you. If not for you I would feel empty. Like you said, I don’t have any patience, but I would wait for you forever if I had to. Thank God I don’t! We will be together before long, I promise. T–N–T is perfect. You light my fuse! I’ll write you again tomorrow just to show you that I would do anything to make you happy.
Often, he would recite lyrics from songs he knew, “I’m listening to the stereo thinking about you. Again. I love to put the thought of you to music.
‘Finding love this time
Gave me peace of mind
Knowing how real love can be
More than just a fantasy’”
And then there was the dream he had repeatedly about being late for our wedding because he couldn’t find the church. Or the one where his best friend picks him up in a tux and takes him to the church. He sees me in my wedding dress and is too speechless to say, “I do.” The fact that he had dreams of us getting married showed me how real our relationship was to him. We were much more than just pen pals, more than a couple of teenagers writing thoughts and feelings on paper. We really loved each other and I could tell him anything. He told me over and over how special and beautiful I was. I was certain that he was the only person in the world who understood me. Our parents didn’t understand how serious we were. No one did. He signed many of his letters, “T–N–T you light my fuse” or “I love you forever.” I believed him.
And then—the letters stopped. He stopped calling me too. I sent a Christmas card to his home address, but when I didn’t hear anything, I got worried. I knew he went home during Christmas break, but I didn’t understand why he broke off contact so abruptly. I called and left a message on his answering machine Christmas Day, but he never called back.
When school started again in January, I called his military academy. The cadet who answered the phone told me Trey never came back from Christmas furlough. He didn’t know the situation, but was pretty sure Trey had dropped out.
What? I was sure there must be a mistake. I wrote to one of his good buddies there but he didn’t write back. I tried to reach him at home, but no luck there either.
I had no idea what was going on and couldn’t believe—no, wouldn’t believe—that he would stop writing without an explanation . . . just like that. I was sure something was wrong. I even thought it might be some kind of conspiracy at the military school. Perhaps I’d seen too many movies.
Two more weeks went by and still nothing. Finally, I tracked him down in Arizona, at his mom’s. When he answered the phone he was withdrawn and distant, uncommunicative. The pregnant pauses on the other end of the phone were unbearable. This was not the same person who had written me those beautiful love letters—couldn’t be. Maybe the body snatchers took him?
He admitted on the phone that he had stopped writing. He said his life was complicated and busy. He did drop out of military school and was back at his old public high school. He’d let his parents down.
He’d hated it at that school and had been miserable there. His mom didn’t make life a picnic for him back home either. He said he’d disappointed her. He was down on himself, too, and said he didn’t feel like writing anymore for a while. He had to get his life back in order and figure out what he was going to do next. I told him I understood and felt sorry for him. I gave him space and I stopped writing for a while, too.