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Me and Christina, in all our German dance group glory, back in 1999.

The worst phone call I've ever received


Pardon the self-indulgence for a moment, I'd like to share a little bit of my life. I guess, if nothing else, it's a form of self-therapy, but it's a story I'd like to share.

Christina was one of my closest friends. We had a relationship that, to this day, I've been unable to match. There was friendship. There was attraction. There was romance. There was trust. There was love. It was a special bond formed through the years because of our mutual participation in a German folk dance group.

She was the first girl I ever asked to dance, on a Sunday afternoon in 1990 at the old MECCA. Even at 12 years old, I knew she was special. I dug up whatever courage a pre-pubescent boy can muster, walked up to her, looked her square in the eye and asked.

She paused for a second, cracked half a smile and replied "no." That moment was the start of a special friendship.

We had our "Labor Day Weekend" fling (each Labor Day Weekend, our groups would attend a national convention/festival). We were the "it" couple for a weekend and for the next few years, we talked all the time – at least, as much as we could in the pre-Facebook/free long distance cell phone days.

We wrote letters. We instant messaged each other. When we could talk on the phone, we'd spend hours talking about everything and nothing at all. We spent a week together when the Badgers played in the Rose Bowl in '99. She wore my Wisconsin hat and jacket, hung out with my friends and adopted Wisconsin as her team.

For two people who saw each other but once a year, it was an incredibly close and personal relationship. One that had a lot of promise ... but we'll never know.

Ten years ago today, she was killed, brutally, accosted by three punks and left to die in the mountains near Asuza, Calif.

I was living in Oshkosh, in the middle of a normal Saturday night. My friends and I were at French Quarter, about to make our way to another campus haunt. Earlier in the day, I had broken my phone and was using a loaner provided by one of my friends.

Those who went to school in Oshkosh will understand my description. Walking out of the Quarter, around the building past the gyro shop and Domino's, I finally checked my phone and found I had missed about a dozen calls from one of my friends in California.

We'd been on somewhat bad terms for a few days but as I was putting the phone back in my pocket, it rang again; the same friend calling.

"What did I do now," I answered.

That's when my friend spoke the words I have never, ever forgotten.

"I don't know how else to say it," my friend said. "Christina's gone. She's dead. She's been killed."

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Talkbacks

sandstorm | Aug. 19, 2011 at 11:32 a.m. (report)

Andrew, great tribute to your friend/friendship! must have been tough to write, but many of us appreciate your sharing as it makes us appreciate our own friendships that much more. thank you.

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olderwiser | Aug. 19, 2011 at 8:21 a.m. (report)

Consider this a wonderful tribute to your dear friend Christina. It made at least one person (me) think of her with admiration and take a minute to realize how truly important, yet fleeting, friendship can be.

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mippers | Aug. 18, 2011 at 11:23 a.m. (report)

Thanks for sharing such a poignant, personal story. I can tell from your writing that she meant the world to you and that speaks volumes about the kind of connection and relationship you had.

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