Saturday, January 21, 2006

I'll Remember You...

Almost 10 years ago to the day, I realized my feelings for a boy and I never thought how much my "relationship" with him could change my life and shape who I am. As the cold snap hits Minnesota, I find myself recollecting and reminiscing about that time, happy to have experienced teenage love and saddened to know that I have aged, I have changed, and nothing I do now will bring me back to being 17.

His birthday is Monday. The date, like many others, is etched in my mind forever. I can't even begin to imagine what he is like today, years later. I don't want to think of him as a career man, a married man, or a father. All of these are possibilities. I look at those I've met now and realize that he would be their age and it just makes me feel old. I know I am not past my prime and neither is he, but there is a difference between late twenties and a teenager.

I've nicknamed him "Charlie" on this site in previous posts. It is a fake name and I don't know why I hide his name. Maybe it is because I never told him how I felt for him. My memory is probably clouded and I think I'd like it to stay that way.

I met Charlie through bowling. This should come as no surprise, all of the guys I knew in high school were bowlers. Charlie was on my high school team and the first time I met him, I forgot his name. I got him confused with another new team mate. He was this quiet, shy boy who didn't talk much. That changed.

One day, on the way to practice, he was alive. He was vivid with excitement and just loving life. There was passion in his movements and a sparkle in his blue eyes. Those eyes were swimming behind his glasses and he had the most horrible hair cut ever (until he changed his hair again - then that was the worst!). He made me notice him that day.

Months went by and we continued to bowl together. Then we started going out after bowling. It was simple times. A night out could consist of playing pool or driving around with the group. Our group was innocent and dorky, playing games of "Truth or Dare" where the worst dare was the howl at the moon. Our truths consisted of questions like, "What is your favorite color?" and "What do you want to do when you grow up?" As I said, lame.

For New Year's Eve that year, the group headed to Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America. There are not many activities that under-age kids can do on New Year's and still be safe, but we found one. The time at the amusement park was actually pretty cool, riding rides and running around after our regular curfews.

A few weeks later, the group got together again for a Friday night out. We had a huge tournament the next morning, but that meant little. We were supposed to go bowling at a teen night place in Coon Rapids, but instead we drove around all night. There were stories told and secrets shared. I can remember that night with such clarity. There were only four of us that night. Liese, my best friend all through school, was there. Charlie was there. Charlie's best friend also tagged along. Our simple game of Truth or Dare actually got a little more intimate that night, we discussed "deep, dark secrets" and such. There were some less innocent dares, although looking back they were still pretty innocent. Liese knew I liked Charlie and dared me at one point to ask out the guy I liked.

I did. He did answer me that night. I think we officially went out for five hours. We shared a kiss at the end of the night, after everyone else had been dropped off. It was the first kiss that ever meant anything to me.

This whole story sounds so lame now. If you're still with me, I appreciate it. I haven't told this in a long time and just wanted to finally share.

After I got home, I tried to sleep. My stomach was full of butterflies. I was on Cloud 9 + three thousand and excited about the fact we were "dating". We'd been dating before that, but neither of us put the official words on it.

In the morning, I got up to go bowling. I had leagues first and then the tournament started. Our high school team was divided up for the tournament into two teams, our coach hoping to take home a couple of trophies. Charlie and I were on different teams. On the bright side, I was on the team that had the more experienced bowlers and the team I was on did much better in the tournament, but it still felt crummy to be on a different team.

The inevitable happened and we had to play the other team. The other team knew that we had better bowlers and so they tried to derive a strategy to increase their chances of winning. They wouldn't talk to us. I took this as a sign that Charlie was no longer interested. It was a bad call on my part, but the call I made.

The team I was on ended up winning the tournament. In all the excitement and tension (because high school bowling tournaments are so stressful - man, I was a nerd), I didn't get a chance to talk to Charlie throughout the day.

Then I let Liese take control of my love life. Her solution? A blind date with Bobby Ray which is now labeled in my history as the second worst date ever. It was first until the date with Pete night. Charlie took this as a signal I was no longer interested. And because we were both chickens and inexperienced in dating, neither of us said anything.

The school year continued and Charlie and I kept flirting with each other. We were inseparable and our parents thought we were a couple. All of our friends did too. He would be so sweet. He complimented me and stuck up for me and just made me value him as a friend even more.

That summer, I went to Germany. The weekend before departure, my friend Renee had a party. It was the lamest party ever, but we were trying to make it better. My friend Michelle and I had a plan to drop off some bikes and then head back to the party and spend some time driving. That's what suburbanite kids did back then, I guess. Well, we left Renee's and had three stops to make. Two were in Fridley and one was in Michelle's town. The trip took about an hour. During this time, my parents called Renee's house to see when the party would be over. My instructions were to come home right away after the party. I don't remember why anymore.

My ex-boyfriend and Renee's current boyfriend (another bowler - Paulie, actually) told my parents the party was over. So when we arrived back at Renee's, I had a message to call home immediately. I ended up in no trouble with my parents, explaining to them that we were just dropping off bikes and that we were under the impression that the party was still going on (and especially since it was still four hours before my curfew) but they wanted me home right away.

I have never been as angry with someone as I was with Paulie. I got in the car with Charlie and his best friend (whom I am not creative enough to give a fake name to right now) and lost my temper. I was upset and yelling and furious about why Paulie didn't trust me to come back to the party. Charlie said, so sweetly from the back seat, "I don't know why anyone wouldn't trust you. You're such an angel." This, of course, made the teenage girl cry because it was so sappy and sweet. I took the boys home and then went home myself.

When I went to Germany, I found myself missing my home and my friends more than I thought I would. One day, when it was really bad, I called back to the States on the calling card and finally got ahold of Charlie. We spoke on the phone for 45 minutes (yes, the phone bill was a bit expensive) and I just needed to talk to him. I needed to hear his voice on the other end of the phone line and know that I would be home and that I was missed. It sounds cheesy and it was.

The next year of school started soon enough and we were as inseparable as before. That winter I ended up dating a different guy, which I still kick myself for. But Charlie and I still spent a lot of time together, always innocent.

After graduation, Charlie and I still talked for a few years. Each summer we would get in contact with each other and spend a few weeks having the time of our lives. We did stupid things (such as driving to see a comet when it was cloudy and an incident with fireworks) and still had a great time. The last time I spoke to Charlie was right before I turned 21.

As this post shows, I still think of him. I remember that first boy who touched my heart and I have even written before that he is one of the muses I write to. I wrote so many letters in my journals that I never meant to send, but I am thankful that I knew him once. I will always remember that kid sitting behind the wheel of my car, his eyes sparkling with mischievousness and that grin that he had when he saw me.

He was the perfect innocent boy with a fun side to him. He was just dorky enough to make me trust him. He was able to make me feel special, make me feel like more than "one of the guys". It is a part of my personality that men seem to find me more of a friend than as a woman. I need to find a way to stop that. I don't know how and I don't think I'm going to go much farther into that topic right now. Maybe this week. Who knows?

He touched my heart. Maybe someday another man will again.