The long way to a place I'm still searching for

In 5th grade, I had a crush on a tall, shy boy in one of my classes. I didn't really know what it meant to be boyfriend and girlfriend, but when he asked me to go with him, I said yes.
He invited me to his birthday party at his home, and my mom was happy to take me. Besides cake and ice cream, there was lots of running after cattle & running away from the bull his parents had. (No, I didn't grow up in the country. His house was not really par for the course, and doesn't even exist anymore.) Sitting in the barn with him after most of the guests had left, I was nervous, embarrassed, and so awkward. He grabbed my hand, leaned in, and turned bright red.
We never kissed.

I became a band geek in 6th grade. I played the clarinet, although I always had my heart set on being in the percussion section. My dear friend Zelvis played the saxophone, so I was always looking in the direction of the sax section during the class. I formed a brief crush on an outgoing, silly, loud, obnoxious yet sweet, short, skinny guy. He cracked me up with his facial expressions, and I got in trouble more times from the band director than I even want to admit. He was in 8th grade.
We had mutual friends, all in band. We hung out together on weekends, and I often walked over to his house, only a few blocks away. His home was broken. His father was gone, his mother was a bit absent, and his younger brother clung to him. He taught me how to beat Mario Brothers 1 on my Nintendo. He let me borrow his Mario Brothers 2 game.
I worked concessions at his 8th grade dance. He asked me to dance.
We never kissed.
In 7th grade, I had several crushes, but only 1 boyfriend. He was quiet, shy, soft-spoken, baby-faced, and so sweet. He played the trombone. We wrote notes back and forth, he walked me to class, we sat at lunch together, he held my hand.
He is the first person I went on 'a date' with. My mother took us to the movies, and dropped us off. I have no idea what movie we saw. I only know that I spent the entire movie inching my hand closer to his, until our pinkies touched about 20 minutes before the movie ended.
I ached to be near him. I met him at the park on weekends and we talked as he played basketball. But we didn't talk a lot. He was so painfully shy; he blushed if I looked at him for more than a few seconds at a time.
It didn't last.
I was a size C by 8th grade. Boys had officially 'discovered' me. I still had many girl friends, but now I had a ton of guy friends. They came to my house every day. They walked me home. We all called one another. We were all a group. We hung out non-stop.
I was overwhelmed by their attention. I also loved it. I loved that they listened to me, asked my advice, sought me out in the halls, made sure I was okay, called me when I was sick, gave me birthday cards, shared new music with me, threw shit in my hair at lunch........

What I didn't like was deciphering intentions (mine and theirs). I couldn't tell who really liked me for me, and who was just waiting for an opportunity to feel me up. I couldn't tell who I really, truly liked, and who I just wanted to be friends with. It was all very confusing. And frustrating.

He was friends with guys in this group of friends I had. He made me laugh until I cried. He wrote me perverted, sexually charged notes, but they always cracked me up; never made me uncomfortable.
He had the softest, gentlest hands. I can honestly say that he was my first kiss. Sure, others had kissed me on the cheek, tried to kiss me but chickened out, and there was even one or two that forced themselves on me and DID kiss me, but in my mind, they didn't count. HE was my first kiss.
He moved away right after 8th grade, right at the beginning of the summer. He swore he would write. He swore he would call. He did neither.
I cried for weeks. I ached for him, in so many ways. I worried about him.
When he showed back up our freshman year, I ran into him in the hallway of our high school. He was tan, handsome, and just as goofy as ever. I was angry. He had left, left me, like I was nothing, and here he was, after 5 months of silence, chit-chatting like NOTHING HAPPENED? I never talked to him again. I have no doubt that he would have been my first serious love if he hadn't moved away for the summer. I would have made sure of it.
I have no idea where he is now.
I met him when I was in 7th grade, but we didn't see each other too much at first. He was a year older. By the time my heart had been broken by the ass that moved away after 8th grade, we were seeing each other daily. He came over with the others. We all swam in my pool. He wasn't as loud as the others. He wasn't obnoxious. He cracked me up, even when he wasn't really trying to. He invited me over to his house to hang out with everyone else, in spite of the fact that I was younger than him, or that I had a boyfriend. He was thick, dark-haired and dark-eyed, quiet but not shy. It took all summer, but by the time I was a freshman, I realized I had fallen for him, hard.
My freshman & sophomore years are filled with memories of him and I, some painfully heart-wrenching, others so gloriously happy & silly that I will still smile about them when I am old & feeble:
Playing Sonic the Hedgehog in his room, for hours; Pearl Jam songs; swimming in his pool, throwing shit at him; stealing his Alice in Chains tape for months at a time; talking on the phone until we both fell asleep; watching scary movies, sitting on his bed; Cindy Crawford posters on his walls; writing poetry, sitting on the floor of his bedroom closet; wearing his hats & shirts, smelling his cologne in them; being one of the first people he visited when he got his first vehicle; waiting for his calls; hating his silence; crying when he said he didn't want to be with me; shame when walking by him & his friends in the halls of school; his father's laugh; his mother's cold silence; falling asleep on his bed, watching stupid movies; waiting for him to ask me out.
All these things happened, but never at the same time. Never the way I wanted. We were both on different paths, but our paths converged so many times. We were young, confused, and I guess we never could figure it all out.
I met him through the one mentioned above; they were best friends. I got his number from someone else, and called him crying, wanting to know why his best friend didn't like me, didn't want me, was ignoring me.
We hit it off.
It was never intentional. I didn't mean for him to fall in love with me.
I didn't mean to love him. Although it was definitely wonderful to love him.
We were on and off, only because of my indecision and my love for the one mentioned above.
I don't know how all 3 of us survived that time of our lives. I loved them both, in real ways, for different reasons. By my junior year, I was done with all of it. I was sick of hurting both of them. I was sick of being hurt by both of them. It was such a mangled mess that I broke it off with him, and never looked back....for several years. I DID love him, and our paths DID cross a few more times before we both lost touch, but it couldn't last......we had ruined it for all of 3 of us, the instant I had called him.
I met him when I was almost 17. It was a hard, dark, lonely time in my stupid teenaged life. He was younger than me, by 2 years. I remember standing at my locker, and feeling someone's eyes on me. When I turned around, he was across the hall, staring. When I caught him staring, he blushed, but did not turn away. He maintained eye contact, and amazingly, smiled. There was weeks of this before I finally broke a mutual friend, begging for him to introduce us. I shouldn't have been nervous or worried.
We met in the hall. We were both late to class; the bell had already rang. I was so down that day; I was staring into my locker, when he said my name. I turned around and there he was, same smile, same shine in the eyes.
I fell hard for him. My friends made fun of me, since he was 2 years younger than me. It was I who picked him up when we would get together; he didn't have his license. He was quiet but not with me. He was silly, goofy, kooky with me. He was so brilliantly talented with music. He was one of the first in well over a year that I allowed to read my poetry. I opened my journals and my heart to him. He wasn't like any of the others. He didn't dress like them, he didn't act like them (other than the quiet part). He acted as though I was fragile when we were together, but helped me break myself when I needed it. He taught me to skateboard (I sucked). We talked on the phone for hours. We laid on my driveway & stared at stars while telling one another our deepest thoughts, our strongest fears.
I took his virginity. He broke my heart. Twice. He deserted me when I needed him so badly, the first time. The second time he deserted me, he fell deep into drugs. I couldn't forgive him, for years. I spent YEARS hurting because of him, because of us. I still get angry & disgusted when I think about how we ended. I still ache when I think of his eyes, his voice, his devotion, his dreams.
My senior year, I was so ready to be done with high school and all of the bullshit. There were boys I had serious crushes on, but nothing ever happened. I didn't know how to assert myself, how to let them know I really did like them. By this time, my reputation was a disgusting, mangled mess of lies, and I just didn't care anymore.
I had a dear friend who always attempted to make me feel better. She had been friends with me since most of these high school dramas described above. She knew how I hurt. She wanted to see me happy.
She started trying to get me to assert myself. And honestly, I don't remember what she said, did, or suggested, but slowly, I started to feel assertive.
My first attempt at being STRONG and ASSERTIVE and FORWARD with a guy was horribly successful. I actually grabbed a guy's ass (in his tight Wranglers) and told him I liked it. Within a few weeks, we were together non-stop. Within a month, we were a couple.
I asserted myself with the wrong person. I asserted myself with a dangerous, careless asshole, who had no idea about the history I carried within myself. I asserted myself with a person who cheated on me, berated me, humiliated me, hurt me, hit me.
I made the wrong decision.
It didn't last.


Anonymous said...

Wow. You have amazing memories!

I had one kinda boyfriend (and 2 rejections I gave to 'could have beens) in high school. Course...I also met hubby when I was in high school...so that's probably why. LOL

Papasan said...

Elements of your post really made me laugh since I had more than one high school "girlfriend" that I never even kissed. I just didn't have the courage to put myself forward...and I never wanted to be "pushy".

The one I remember most was a girl I dated when I was 14. We'd flirted, tickled and gotten grabby for a few weeks before we officially decided that we were "dating". I immediately gave her a little speech about how I'd never take advantage of her. Perhaps the dorkiest single moment in my life (and that's a long list).

Three weeks later, I still hadn't kissed her, so she dumped me for a guy who would. Incidentally, she recently found me on facebook. I was a little surprised that she bothered.

Even though I had more real experience by the time I met my wife, fact was, I still hadn't changed much -- it was a relief that she was assertive and kissed me first. It all worked out in the end...

CP said...

Wow- such vivid writing!

Hmmm, my stories just pale in comparison.

PS- How do I comment with our new blog address???

Anonymous said...

Amazing that you remember all this. Pretty much all I remember about MY past girlfriends are when they broke up with me! Nice post DL. Seems like you needed to get that one out of your head!

the girl with the pink teacup said...

I feel like I just watched an amazing film of your life as a young woman. This post was beautiful, passionate, and bittersweet. Thank you for sharing.


Chibi said...

"I didn't really know what it meant to be boyfriend and girlfriend, but when he asked me to go with him, I said yes."

Heh, this reminds me of my first attempt at asking a boy out in grade 7: I had one of my friends do it for me (*rolls eyes*), only to have him ask "Go out? Where?"

Evidently I've always had issues with being the one to make the first move. ;)

TUWABVB said...

WOW - thank you so much for sharing those thoughts in such a beautiful way. I'm blown away by this post!