A single past (part 3 of 4).

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The first slow-dance that Phil and I shared was the final song of the Valentine’s Day Dance our freshman year of high school.  I don’t remember what the song was but it was 2005, so, use your imagination.  The dance was, inappropriately enough, held in a local bar that closed down for the event and we swayed and smiled. In that same spot, eight years later, I would be dancing with less-than pure intentions with a guy I never thought about during third period math class.

Our first kiss was behind the Museum in town.  We were seated under a tree and were joking about something (I don’t remember what) when he looked at me and simply told me to kiss him.  I did.  It was nice.  We did it again and his tongue came into my mouth and, in shock, I bit it.

The relationship wasn’t solid.  I still maintained my short-term dating style with Phil but over a course of four years.  I loved Phil, yet I was afraid of love, so even though he told me he loved me on a few occasions, I never admitted it back to him. Eventually he stopped saying it to me.  A small part of me is hoping he reads my blog so that he can just know that there was a time that I was in love with him.

We hugged a lot when we were together.  I was afraid to kiss him after the first incident.  I’d get over that by senior year when we weren’t together but tended to find each other in the dark room during photo class.

In preparation for this segment I went through my email to read our old correspondences.  There weren’t a lot but there were some that proved we were close once.  One conversation involved me just checking in with him to see that he was okay when he didn’t show up for school one day.  Another were a series of fractals that he sent to me on Valentine’s Day.

valentine's day

Hearts

This boy is the smartest person I knew at the time (he’s still pretty high up on the list).  He was teaching himself physics our sophomore year and I tried to get Chuckie to teach me something about it just so I could impress Phil (sadly, I think I just embarrassed myself with both of those boys).  He also is extremely talented with a camera in his hand.

He made me an earring once.  He never finished the pair so I would wear it on one ear and just part my hair in such a way that you couldn’t see that my other ear was naked.  I keep the earring in a keepsakes box on my desk.

At the Junior Prom after-party, a drunken me got separated from her friends and confusedly wandered around the bonfire.  Phil found me and held me until we fell asleep in front of the dwindling fire.  When it got too cold, he took off his peacoat and laid it over us like a blanket.  Looking back, that was probably the first time I realized I felt safe when I was with him; in a way he was home.

I don’t know who ended it for the last time.  We never had dramatic break ups for the whole school to witness.  We weren’t those people.  Our breakups tended to be simple, to the point, and with educated reasoning.

A friend of Phil’s died at the end of the summer after our graduation.  All I wanted to do was comfort him the way he had comforted me at that prom party.  I didn’t because this grief was too big for any of us to handle and I didn’t know then that comfort is the same in all arenas of life. I regret not going to him to this day.

Phil never tried to change me.  He never needed me for anything but who I was and didn’t complain when who I was compromised our relationship.  He was the first consistently inconsistent boy in my life.  He was also the first person to tell me to pursue my creative writing career (I have it in writing).

A small part of me wishes I could go back and love Phil as fully as he loved me.  I think my life would be different and I would be less afraid of love.   I don’t think we would have made it past high school either way but I think I could have learned a lot about love and relationships from Phil if I had just given him the chance.

A single past (part 2 of 4).

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I can’t listen to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” album without thinking of Tommy.  He was short-lived but also at the height of my hormonal stints.   Most of what I remember about Tommy came from before we even dated.

Tommy, for me, was the anticipation of dating.  It was the flirting, the day dreaming, and the excessive contemplation of everything he said over uncooked cookie dough with my friends.  When I started crushing on Tommy, I had recently moved my bed near the window of my room, I’d stare outside and listen to “Don’t Know Why” and “Come Away with Me” over and over again on my disc-man.  I’d wish I had some instant way to send him a message right at that moment (text messaging wasn’t big yet) that didn’t require me to log on to the family computer.

The worst thing about this relationship is that I don’t remember how it started.  I can’t figure out who asked who out, where we went for our first date, or how I felt afterwards.  I’m guessing this is the beginning of my aging process and my memory is, apparently, going first.  I’m going to assume that I was asked out over AIM.  That was the norm at the time and I’m sure I wasn’t any different.

The few moments that Tommy and I did date are still precious to me.  They’re also straight out of a 7th Heaven episode (but with less making out on the couch).  Tommy would take me to the movie theatre, we’d share some popcorn, and I’d put my hand on the armrest, hoping that he’d get the hint and take my hand, because holding hands was the most important thing for us.

But, like I said, it was short-lived.  It was a “Summer Lovin’” scenario and it “happened so fast.”

Still, I can’t look back at these relationships and not stop on Tommy.  He represents the innocence of relationships – a time where holding hands was enough – and it’s sometimes a trait that I miss when I’m dating now.

I broke up with Tommy on the phone.

For no justified reason, I just broke up with him.  He was the beginning of the boys I would break up with just because I didn’t feel like playing anymore – I used to have a three-month relationship tolerance…actually I still do.

A single past (Part 1 of 4).

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Chuckie wasn’t necessarily the coolest guy.  He would grow up to play the bass clarinet and he’d teach himself the mandolin; he’d become a miller; he’d work with computers; he’d remain a smart dude.

And, like I said, he wasn’t considered the coolest guy, but I think I liked him because his quirkiness matched mine.  How does that song go? “That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images…” Yeah, it was something like that.  But, I was “cool” by association and tried to keep up appearances (this was middle school, you guys), and I strung Chuckie along.

He’d give me a necklace and I’d break up with him by letter.  He’d ask me to slow dance   at one of our middle school dances and I’d hide in the bathroom.  He’d become my secret admirer and I wouldn’t give him the time of day.

I was a bitch.

Or I seemed like one because I was afraid to be as openly quirky as Chuckie.  He was comfortable with the fact that he wasn’t like everyone else.  He didn’t need to fit in.  I did.  All my friends fit in (and they never required me to be like them but I was afraid to not be like them) and I wanted to fit in even though that was tiring for me to do.

Chuckie and I broke up three times that 7th grade year.  We got back together one last time at the of end of our freshman year.  Not much had changed.  Friends were the same; I was the same, scared, hormonal me; and Chuckie was more himself than ever. But we gave it a go.

It lasted about a month.

He was the first boy I kissed.  He was the first boy I got drunk with and then drunkenly kissed.  He was the first boy I let get to first base (that’s the one with the boobs, right?).

But the thing is, I never fully appreciated Chuckie for who he was – I do now.  Although I couldn’t see it then, I learned to embrace my personality from him first.  It would take me until my sophomore year of college to begin seeing that being weird was normal.  Everyone was weird.  I think that if I had to do it over the only thing I would have done differently is be myself.

I don’t think we would have worked out either way.  I never felt myself love him.  But I think he’s the one that taught me the most about myself, even if this was realized through drunken reminiscing, years after our final break up.

Our last conversation, about a year and a half ago, Chuckie told me that I had been a bitch (not in those exact words) when we tried to date.  It made me realize that I was more horrible than I initially thought (I tried to apologize but he said it wasn’t necessary to apologize to someone who loves you).