It was a little brisk this morning, and you could feel that summer was starting to slip away. Shifting gears with the change of colors. We walked along, my little friend and I. She seemed quieter today, a little reflective.
“Is everything okay”, I asked. ‘Yes, just thinking”, she answered. If I wasn’t mistaken, I would have thought she was mad.
“Mind if I ask what about?” There was a pause as we walked along, and then she said his name. I was a little stunned. I hadn’t thought about him in a very, very long time.
“What were thinking about him?”
“That you should have listened to me, I told you he would leave”. “I told you not to let him get close that it would hurt too much”.
I had met him first in Junior high at a curling rink. There was a party to celebrate our victory. He had brought a stereo system to play music, I remember. Something had happened to it, and it wasn’t working at the end of the night. He was in a panic, and I could see he was almost in tears. “My Dad, is going to kill me”. My heart felt for him and I remember thinking that I liked that he could be so vulnerable, especially with other guys around. I am sure he didn’t even know I existed at this point.
It would be at least a year before our paths crossed again. This time it was in high school, and we had some mutual friends. A bunch of us had gone to a McDonald’s for lunch, and he was behind me in the lineup. He started to rough house with a friend, and bumped me. I turned around to look and smiled. He looked at me as though for the first time, and said “Sorry”. “No problem”, I responded. He gazed into my eyes until it was uncomfortable, and I looked away and turned around. “Wow those eyes”, I thought to myself.
After that, he sought me out and turned on the charm like only he could do. I was a little baffled at first, he had girls swooning over him. What was he doing talking to me?
And when he asked me for a date, I was as nervous as could be. In no time at all, he had me mesmerized. Totally and completely. There were at least two girls that I knew that openly adored him, so I really couldn’t figure out what he was doing with me.
He had charisma like I had never seen before. And to be honest, I was paralyzed at the thought of falling under his spell.
We officially started to ‘go around exclusively‘ and it filled me with fear. He was openly affectionate, and I was scared stiff. Scared that he would capture my heart and crush it.
Knew this would happen without a shadow of a doubt.
He held nothing back, and maybe that was the beginning of the end for me. He let me see his heart, his wounds, all of it. I on the other hand, held everything back. He would joke with me, that my theme song should be “Foreigner’s Cold as Ice”. ‘You could sit a little closer you know”, he would chide.
I tried with every fiber of my being to not let him into my heart, until I couldn’t anymore. I remember as clear as day the night I told him that I loved him. He said it to me a number of times, and I could just never bring myself to reciprocate.
And then I did it. It just slipped out in response. He almost lost his mind with joy. I never felt so scared. There was no turning back now, he knew.
We went out for a year, he was so full of life and fun. A bigger than life personality. When we were alone, I did open up a little more. I secretly wondered if that was why he was drawn to me, the pursuit of the impossible. Romance could be his with any number of these girls without having to work this hard for it. But we had fun, and I trusted him until graduation approached and he started to make some questionable personal choices, that I found quite risky.
With much conversation, we mutually decided to break up.
“I’ll just get this stuff out of my system, and then I will become a pilot, you can be a stewardess and we will get married and have beautiful children, he said”.
And so it was done. And I could have lived with that. But I wasn’t about to be let off that easy.
Six months after we graduated, he was in a head on collision. Died at the scene, a few days before his 19th birthday.
It’s not the length of life, but depth of life. Ralph Waldo Emerson
I snapped back to reality at this, and said to her “Why were you thinking about this?”, I asked.
“You didn’t cry”, she said.”I wanted to cry”. “I needed to cry, I hurt so bad”. This time she yelled it at me.
Tears welled in my eyes, “I know you did, I am so sorry. I was afraid that if we started we wouldn’t be able to stop”.
We walked along for a while.
I was beginning to realize that I knew all along that she was there, but I had been trying to ignore her. Her feelings were too much for me, always had been. I knew though if we were going to make our peace, I would need to start to allow some of the feelings to be felt, and I might just have to listen to what she had to tell me.
“I really am sorry, and hope you will forgive me”, I said. I reached for her hand and was relieved to feel her little hand in mine. We walked home in silence.