A couple of weeks ago I had one of those “sorta psychic” experiences that happen to me every once in a while. I was at a barbecue and in the course of conversation I mentioned some people that I haven’t even thought about for years and haven’t seen or spoken to for more than half a century.
When my brothers and I were young our parents had a very successful catering business in the Boston, Mass., area. When they were working nights we were looked after by the Robinson family. My brothers, David and Gary, were just a bit older than toddlers and couldn’t wrap their mouths around the word Robinson so Mrs. Robinson became “Robin” and we called her husband “Daddy Al.” They had three children. Darlene was my age and her sister, Sheila, and her brother, Al, known as “Sonny,” were a couple of years younger.
Less than a week later I received this comment on the “My Books For Sale @ Amazon.com” section of this blog: “Do you remember “Robin” from your childhood. Darlene and Sheila are trying to contact you and David.”
Naturally I got in touch with them immediately and a few days after that Darlene and I were talking to each other, face-to-face, via Skype for the first time in at least 55 years.
When you’re looking for someone out of your past it’s much easier to find men via the internet than it is to find women. Women get married and change their last names. Men keep plodding along with the names they were given at birth.
Everyone, it’s said, has one great love in their lifetimes. If they’re lucky they get married and stay together for decades. For some of us, though, they find that love but, for one reason or another, it doesn’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t their great love of their life. It just means you went in different directions.
The great love of my life was a girl I met in Chicago when we both worked for the same publishing company. Her name was Caroline (Carey) Boettcher.
We lived together for several years, but she, like most women, was looking for someone who was “responsible.” Not a 30 year old drifter with a great love of boats and adventure. She was a responsible person who went back to college and obtained a Master’s degree. I went out and putzed around on boats around the country and in Europe.
For the first couple of years after we’d made the “big split” I thought about her every day, even though there was no contact between us. One night I had a dream in which she appeared and said she wanted us to get back together if I’d move back to Chicago. In the dream I answered that I couldn’t do that. I loved living in New Orleans, had friends there and wouldn’t leave. That dream was my acceptance of the finality of the breakup. Strangely, two days later I got a phone call from Carey asking if she could come and visit me. I said no, it wasn’t a good time and told her of the dream.
About a year later she contacted me again, saying she was moving to California and would like to see me again before she made the move. I was ready see her then and she came down for Mardi Gras. It was wonderful. We went to see the parades. We saw Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers and Marcia Ball at Tipitina’s. We made love. The afternoon as she was packing to return to Chicago this Freddy Fender song came on the radio…
Throughout our time together we loved to dance and we came into each other’s arms and danced to the song, tears streaming down both our cheeks remembering what we’d had and what would never be.
That wasn’t the last contact we had, though. Carey moved out to California and settled in Marin County where she lived on a houseboat. One night I got a call from Carey’s mother. It seems that Carey had become a “Moonie,’ and was about to get married in one of Sun Yung Moon’s mass weddings in New York. She asked me if I’d give Carey a call and try and talk some sense into her.
I made the call but it was to no avail, of course. She talked about “the man I’m about to marry.” She didn’t even know his name. They’d never met! I’d asked her three times to marry me and now she was getting married to someone she didn’t even know. It saddened me beyond words. That was the last time I’d ever spoke to her.
Over the years, since getting a computer and going on line I’ve searched for her. I can’t believe, with her strong feminist streak, that she’d have stayed married, and if divorced would she have reverted to her maiden name? If she remarried who’d know what name she carried? Naturally I Googled her using her maiden name. There were a lot of Caroline Boettchers in the U.S. There were a lot on Facebook, but none were the one I knew. I found a couple of people bearing her brother’s names in the Minneapolis area where she came from and I wrote to them, but they were all dead ends.
Having heard from Darlene Robinson after all these years I made another search for my long-lost love but still nothing. So I’m putting this up with all kinds of SEO (Search Engine Optimized) tags to see if someone who knows, or knew, Carey might stumble across this post and contact me. I’d simply love to know whatever happened to her.