Today thoughts of Raegan D’Ann Hunt drifted in to my head, as they occasionally have for the last 25 years or so. I have had the incredible luck and pleasure of dating some magnificently amazing women, and she was one of them for a couple of years (I think) in the mid-nineties. I say “I think” because it’s strange how my memory fades and becomes altered and corrupted over time and often I actually can’t remember exactly how long I dated someone, exactly how it ended, or other such details.
Raegan and I both worked as actors at The Texas Renaissance Festival in the early nineties. Though we had worked there together for a year or two, we actually didn’t know each other as we never worked directly together. Somehow (mutual friends, I think, but I can’t remember the details) we discovered that we both lived in College Station and got in touch with each other saying that we should meet up and hang out some time.
I still remember our first “date” as probably the best I’ve ever had. Now to be fair, I never really traditionally “dated” much in my life, so there haven’t been a lot of things that register as “first dates.” Usually I just meet someone, we become friends, get to know other, hang out as friends and eventually discover we have romantic feelings. I don’t remember this actually being a “date” necessarily either, but then in hind-sight it sure felt date-like. My friend, Ty Southerland was playing an acoustic gig somewhere out of town. I don’t remember exactly where but it wasn’t too far of a drive. No more than 30-60 minutes, I would think. I was going to come sit in with him to sing some harmony vocals. I don’t think I did any playing but again, this was probably a quarter-century ago so all details in this account are subject to question. I invited Raegan to come along.
I was working as a clerk and guitar teacher at Lippman Music at the time, and Brian, the owner, had a Saab he was trying to sell, so in exchange for me taking care of it and keeping it clean and such, he also let me drive it until he could sell it. Raegan met me in the parking lot of Culpepper Plaza, the strip mall where Lippman Music was located and got into the car with me. I seem to remember her wearing a fitted dress and looking very nice. We had the whole drive to talk, and then the gig. I think I just sat in on a handful of tunes so it wasn’t like she was just solo in the audience all night while I was on stage. Afterward, we talked the whole drive back and then just continued talking for hours in the parking lot where her car was parked. If memory serves and I’m not just romanticizing things, she eventually laid her head in my lap and we talked and laughed until the very, very late/early hours. Suffice to say, we had hit it off.
Another such night of all-night talking and laughing at my place led to our first kiss. This was, unfortunately, just before she was heading back home for a break from college. I remember a friend telling her that I must really like her, being a musician who would show up at 8am to help her move out of her dorm for the break.
Raegan was incredibly smart. She was a double major in Nuclear Engineering/Radiological Health Sciences, I believe. Very scholastic and always a top student. She was also creative, fun, funny and just an all around amazing person, as evidenced by me having been in love with her. I always remember her as one of the more magical people I’ve had the pleasure to know.
Very strangely, I don’t actually remember exactly how it ended, or why. My memory is of her going away to some summer program, and it feeling like a soft breakup. I use the term “soft” because I don’t remember an actual definitive breakup conversation or anything dramatic, but just a sort of feeling like “So I guess we aren’t together any more.” It’s so strange to have such an important detail be so fuzzy in the ether of memory. I was working at Sears in the electronics department at the time, and I have this memory of her coming by and us having a conversation out in the parking lot that I believe was our last “Goodbye” conversation before she left for the summer. I don’t remember us really talking or being in contact at all while she was gone which cemented my conclusion that we were no longer a couple. It’s still so strange to me to remember so little about this. Like part of my memory has been erased or something. It’s baffling to me how I can’t remember more specifics.
While she was gone, I started dating someone new. This is also how I know that, to my knowledge, we were broken up. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have started dating someone else. This however led to an awkward encounter that I still sort of feel bad about to this day, not knowing what she thought or felt. Raegan still had keys to my place that I actually shared with my mom. Now I know that might sound weird to a lot of people, but it would be a whole other story to explain why and how it wasn’t at all weird. My mom is cool and at that time it served us both well to be “roommates.” One morning, I was laying in bed with my girlfriend, when I heard my mom saying “Yeah, he’s in his room! Heath, Raegan is here!” I don’t remember what exchange I had with my girlfriend, but I know she was cool about it and quickly left as she had to get somewhere any way. She and Raegan passed each other in the hallway and said hello.
Raegan and I exchanged a long hug. I seem to remember us just kind of catching up for a bit. Not acknowledging any weirdness, I don’t think. Before she left she gave me back the keys to my place. I’ve always wondered what exactly happened that day. What she thought. How she felt. What had been her thoughts or intentions on the way to my place. Had I misinterpreted something or misunderstood us not being together? I am absolutely a loyal man of honor, and even the thought that there might have been some misunderstanding appalled me. I don’t know how there could have been, but it’s so long ago now, all details, thoughts, and feelings surrounding the whole situation are so vague and faded.
I believe the last time I saw Raegan was when I briefly stopped by her college graduation party, which she had been kind enough to invite me to. I had an outdoor summer band gig with my band, “The Voodudes” (which included music store owner Brian Lippman on bass) so I couldn’t stay long, and I remember being dressed in shorts and a cut up sleeveless shirt and apologizing for my attire.
After that, I think we lost touch. Over the years I would occasionally Google her to see if I could find anything. There was never much until I found an article about how she had helped to discover some new gene in the heart or something pretty significant like that. She’s apparently a pediatrician now. At one point, I was actually in touch with her sister briefly and told her to pass my info to Raegan if she wanted to catch up. Her sister told me that Raegan was super busy (as was always her way; she was always a hard worker and known as a “Gunner” among her scholastic peers) and that her family barely heard from her, so it was not likely. I think I remember learning that she’s married with kids now. I still have a decoratively painted balalaika that her father brought back from Russia, I believe. I also have a cool leather mask that was hers that I’ve worn any time I needed that masked “Dread Pirate Roberts” look. I remember seeing Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” with her in the theater when it was released, a movie I still love and that introduced me to one of my top acting idols, Gary Oldman.
I don’t know why of all the times she has randomly drifted into my brain over the years, that today is the day I felt compelled to chronicle this. I hope you’re well and happy, Raegan. I hope you know what a wonderful, unique, magical person you must be to leave lifelong impressions on the people whose paths cross yours. And let us never forget a guitarist named “Vampiro” and a Spanish song called “Refrigerador.” And that pure, innocent, laughter-filled night parked in a borrowed Saab in the parking lot of Culpepper Plaza.