May 28, 2014

To All The Girls I've "Loved", Before...

I hear that you're married now.  The 'perfect Christian wife' is, I think, how you were described- with some degree of amazement, from the person doing the describing.  I wouldn't know.  You're one of the few people I can't find on social media.  Can't see how you've changed like the rest of us.  How time has taken its toll on you.  Your young self is, therefore, immortal.  Like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, or Kurt Cobain, you haven't had to suffer the indignity of growing old.  (In my mind, of course.  I certainly hope that you have, and will continue to, grow older in real life).

All I can remember is couples' skating with you when my own date for the night "had to be home early".    Or the relationship defining chat where I understood you as asking me to wait for you and you understood something very different if you heard what I said at all.  Or canoeing in the lake chasing soccer balls because it was a way to spend time with you.  Or making a fool of myself in front of you fighting with my own friends,  because you represented something that I wished I could be and I had so much confused feeling for you that I took it out on the people I wanted to escape from.  That's okay, they all left me in the end, so I guess I got what I had coming to me.

But mostly when I hear things like that I think of you the first week of school, the first time we met.  My mind was spinning then with the possibilities and freedom and plain limitlessness of it all.  It felt like all the limitations that I'd understood for myself weren't true anymore.  Like I'd been living in the neck of a bottle and the cork had been pulled and suddenly I was out of the bottle, outdoors, on a sunny day. When the President of the school made that corny speech, where he said, 'these may be the friends you will have the rest of your life', 'these might be the people you marry', we were sitting near each other, and my innocent young heart was still soft, trusting, and romantic enough that I believed with at least half of it that it was true.  Fate.  Destiny.  And do you know, even when we lived together years later, I don't think I ever told you about that.  Well, I'm telling you now.  (Also, when I had that "contest" to name my Aloe plant, and you won the prize to go out to lunch with me?  That was rigged.  Still, "Spike" was a pretty fitting name.)

So into that I remember you walking, a part of some Freshstart 'getting to know you' group.  Under the pine tree next to Old Main.  You wore some crazy purple one-piece shortsandblouse, that to my cycling mind looked like a racing skinsuit combined with lingerie.  It's the only time I remember you wearing anything like that in all the years we knew each other- maybe I was hallucinating.  But that day I just remember thinking, 'Well, this is... different'. I was realizing that I'd entered a different social strata.   I would have to recalibrate myself.  I wasn't in cow-town anymore.  But it's funny to think of you as that girl- which is what you undoubtedly were at that time.  Eighteen is a child and we certainly know that now.  But in that moment, you were perhaps the most beautiful and sophisticated woman  I'd ever met.  Truly.

I remember one more thing, and it is a cherished memory from that time of my life.  They'd gotten a soft-serve ice cream machine in the cafeteria.  And on the spur of the moment, standing next to the Cap'n Crunch and that meager salad bar, I said, "hey, I think something's wrong with this ice cream.  It smells funny.  Here, smell..." and gave you the old ice-cream-poke-on-the-nose trick.  Me.  With you, of all people.  I look back on that  moment in amazement.

I'm amazed because I'm just not that person anymore..  Not really.  And I guess you probably aren't either.

And, of course, we can't be.  It would be sad and twisted and ultimately wrong to stay those people, as so many teen movies taught us all.

"Oh, when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I'd always wanna be there"

sang Bryan Adams, but you know what?  I just can't agree with the next line.  Those were not the best days of my life.  They were life changing, wonderful years.  But would I rather be there, or be watching Spirit, Stallion of the Cinammon with my daughter?**

I'd want to be with her.  What I have now was only a seed and a potential then.  It felt exciting to be at the start of something.  But now I live in its fruition.

**  I know that isn't its name.  But it is at our house. As the reader may not know, Adams does all of the music for this animated classic.

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