It's All Connected

It's All Connected

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Love Story

Most of you may already know this story, or at least the pertinent parts, but just sit back and listen patiently again. Treat me like you would your memory challenged family member that everyone puts up with so as not to hurt their feelings.

I met Jero when I was fifteen and he was a mature man of sixteen. I had never met anyone who could make me laugh so hard. He was strange, I was strange and totally twitterpated. There was just one problem...he was twitterpated for someone else.

I was relentless. I kept telling myself that by the time he realized how perfect we were for each other, we would already have this amazing friendship and it would be a very smooth process.

I followed him around wherever he went. I injected myself into his group of friends, which turned out to be one of the best acts of serendipity in my life. I found a group of people who were all very strange! I fit in!

I have never been a very patient person. After months, honestly, it may have been less than that. Time is funny when you've loved a person for so long. I can sit here and say, wow, I am, that is sixteen years. That is a long time. But our first kiss, the first time we held hands, the first time he told me he loved me, all of these things can feel just like yesterday.

Anyway, I couldn't take any more of listening to him talk about this other girl. Not because I didn't like her, on the contrary I loved her myself. It may have helped that she loved someone else, so I did not see her as a threat. He'd drive her home, which was about four hundred miles out of town, and I'd tag along. I began to neglect paying attention in Geometry and Spanish because I was so focused on making him laugh. Trying so hard to be cool and not some awkward, geeky freshman.

In other words, Jero had himself a tiny little stalker.

We began camping in my backyard. A large group of us would pretzel ourselves into a four man tent pitched on the flattest part of my yard. I made sure that I always slept by Jero. Hoping and praying that maybe our hands would touch while we slept. This would have worked better if I didn't have the uncanny clumsiness to knee or elbow him in the nuts every time I had to pee.

You see, we slept cross ways across the front of the tent, so as to fit two more bodies into the Tetris-like puzzle that was our temporary home. Jero always slept right by the door because I had (and may still do) an unfounded snake fear. I may have thought (and may still do) that he hung the moon and the stars but that did not mean I was going to take a snake bite for him. So he slept nearest the door. As you may know, a tent that size does not enable you to stand up and gracefully exit. No, I had to crawl my way over Jero and out, all the while worrying about what could be in my shoes waiting for me outside the door. EVERY SINGLE TIME I would knee, elbow, fist or kick Jero in the family jewels.

He should really be seen by a doctor to make sure the repeated assaults didn't permanently sterilize him.

One night, we were in his room watching movies. We were both on the bed and I fell asleep snuggled in the nook of his arm. His mom walked in, saw us, and said, "oh, I don't think so," and exited the room.

It was not long after that, on one of these camp outs, that our hands met and we kissed. I honestly can't remember if we were in my backyard or at Bradbury Beach. I think it was Bradbury. I just remember the musty smell of the tent. That we didn't want anyone to hear us kissing, but eventually someone said, "are you guys kissing?!"

I have loved this man since I was a girl. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Performing acts of self sabotage because I was scared, young, not ready to feel so strongly for another person. We both went our separate ways, on a few occasions. I had Kelly, got married. He went to college, dated my friends (you totally knew that was coming). But we still found each other again.

We came back together as adults, but I still remember sitting on the love seat he kept on his balcony for us smokers, watching the people in the park, laughing. I remember our hands barely touching and all of a sudden I was fifteen again, not wanting to move a muscle for fear of breaking the spell. It's amazing that I lasted so long without the feeling of home that envelops me when we are together.

We are still strange, and really quite Ricky and Lucy together. He once broke my nose in his sleep. I have repeatedly lit our kitchen on fire trying out a new recipe. He burped in the dog's face, which was very near my face, and made me vomit. He puts Cheez-Its in the bathroom. We have a monkey song...and dance. And every second of those moments, and every moment in between, I think how lucky I am to have found the perfect partner for me. I am grateful those stupid self sabotaging mistakes are in the past and now all that matters is our future.

Aww. I know this has been sappy, and longer than I meant it to be. I wanted to get into some of our more exciting exploits and a story or two about The Lincoln and The Raisin, but alas, those are stories for another post.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life Lessons From Johnny Castle

I have been thinking a lot today about loss. Now, keep reading, though this story is about a specific loss of mine, the idea is not. The idea is about universal loss. We've all lost something in our lives right? A loved one, a friendship, an important opportunity, ourselves.

Loss is a great equalizer. It crosses the lines of class. It does not discriminate. At some point in time, we all will face it. As a matter of fact, most of us will face it multiple times in our lives. It's never easy.

When I was in the third grade I had this boyfriend. Now, by boyfriend, I mean we told people we were "going out" without ever actually going anywhere. We never held hands, most definitely never kissed, I don't even think we called each other on the phone. Still, I thought he hung the moon.

One day a new girl arrived in our class. She was cute, as most third grade girls are...okay, that came off a little creepy. I mean, we were all cute. Even chubby me, I was fucking adorable. Kids are supposed to be cute and adorable, otherwise they're doomed to play the evil child in some Stephen King movie.

Anyway, new girl. Everyone is always fascinated by the new girl. I was. She lived a few houses down and we would walk to and from school together. We talked about how dreamy Patrick Swayze was in Dirty Dancing. How someday we'd go away to a resort and meet a handsome boy who would sweep us off our feet and tell our parents, "no one puts Sara in a corner!" Yes, for clarification her name was also Sara...though at this point in time I cannot remember if she spelled her name with an "h" or not. We were bosom buddies.

Well, it wasn't very long before my boyfriend started to notice this new Sara too. He'd always tag her if he was it. His side would always Red Rover her on over. I was devastated. Was I really going to have to choose between my new friend and my boyfriend?

Well, as any little girl would do, I chose the boyfriend. I paid more attention to him, played with him at recess. I think that may have even been the beginning of a life long addiction to flirting. And it worked. Sort of.

He came to school one day and told Sara and I that he had come up with a way to help him choose. He told us that whoever dressed the cutest the next day would be his girlfriend. We both laughed, until we realized he was serious.

The walk home that afternoon was silent.

It. Was. On.

I spent the better part of an hour trying on all of my clothes in every possible combination. Putting my hair in a ponytail, then taking it down again. Wondering if my neon scrunchies clashed with my polka dot tights. I was one panicked fashion victim.

Then I remembered Patrick Swayze.

The next day I wore sweats and one of my dad's t-shirts to school. I barely brushed my hair, and I don't think I wore deodorant. While Sara arrived fresh as a tulip in a pink skirt and ribbons in her hair. I strode confidently over to that player in Transformers sneakers and I said, "I decided anyone who would choose a girlfriend because of her clothes is stupid."

I know, it could have been so much better. It lacks punch and pizazz. But give me a break, I was nine. And telling him, "nobody puts Sara in a corner" would have just confused him. Besides, I said it well, at least I should have, I practiced those words for hours.

The point is, I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to lose my first boyfriend. I didn't want to lose a new friend. I didn't want to lose the competition. Most of all, I didn't want to lose myself.

I stuck to who I was. I took the moral high ground, aside from calling him stupid that is. There was no angry note passing or gossiping at recess. Actually, even though I called him stupid, he and I stayed friends. Sara and I too, until she moved again a year later.

Loss is funny. Some of it sticks with you forever. The loss of a loved one, for instance. Some are healed by time to a point where they don't feel like your heart is hollow . But all reveal a piece of who you are, what you're made of.

It's what you do in the face of loss. How you deal with that grief, that anger, that hurt and sadness that could either help you grow or hold you back.

Nothing puts Sara in a corner, not even loss.