I graduated from junior college, went away to FSU, came back home for a summer, and graduated from university before I wrote to Janine. It had been at least 3 years of no contact.
During this time, I was busy, of course, but I don't remember ever particularly thinking about her or longing for contact with her. I don't remember wondering if she was thinking about me, if she was sad that we didn't have any kind of relationship, if she was regretting that she had desserted me when I was a baby only to come back into my life and effectively dessert me all over again. I don't know why I decided to write to her after I graduated. I don't know why she kept promising to come up to Tallahassee to see me, only a five-hour drive, only to never come. I moved to NYC and then on to Oregon and back to Florida before seeing her again one Christmas toward the age of 30.
During this long interval, we wrote to each other only a few times. I don't even think I gave her a forwarding address in NYC or Oregon or wrote to her at all when I was living outside of Florida. Seems odd that I could just disappear for years and not give one thought about any of it. Sound familiar? I thought it did!
To be fairer to myself, only when I left Florida did my anger towards my dad and stepmom really surface, an anger that took over a big chunk of my life that was otherwise filled with work, a boyfriend, the daily stress of living in big cities, and what seems like constant moves from place to place.
During that Christmas visit and the one visit after that but before the car accident that would eventually lead to her death, Janine wasn't working much and was obsessed, instead, with hanging out with Clearwater's elite band of homeless rogues. For a couple of years at least, she was working on writing a book she later titled "Road Dog Warriors," a book about their lives that never got published. During this time, too, she was dating one of said warriors, a much younger man with a penchant for drugs, alcohol, and violence and who thought nothing of stealing her money to buy drugs and cheating on her with anyone and everyone else who ever came along.
The only things I remember about her boyfriend were that he was terribly beat up looking and looked aged beyond his years. He had a broken arm from some recent altercation and was missing most of his teeth, probably from a combination of drug use and poor hygeine. During that visit, he was badgering me to dance with him, and, when I told him no, he told Janine to make me dance with him. I remember taking an almost instant and intense dislike to him. I remember not wanting to ever be around him again and was glad when he finally fucked off for greener pastures, though Janine would continue to have on again/off again relations with him whenever he needed some money or a place to stay.