Charlie and I watched “The Green Mile” this morning, which always messes me up. We laid down before he had to go to work, and then after he left I got ready and was headed out to go hang out with some friends and then decided against it at the last minute. I ended up at a coffee shop that I’ve frequented ever since the first Andy and I dated. I was 15 and he was 20. He turned 21 before I turned 16. We lied to my mom and told her he was a Senior at my high school. We got away with that for a while until we started tripping up on our lies and got busted. But, as wonderful parenting goes, my mom didn’t really care unless she was pissed at me and wanted to hang over my head how she could have him thrown in jail.
But I sat there with my coffee and enjoyed the silence. I marveled at how everything around me was still exactly the same as it was 14 years ago, and yet everything was different. It was like some weird paradoxical realization. I looked over my left shoulder and saw one of Andy’s friends getting pissed off and punching the mirror out of a work van at the dry cleaners next door. In reality the dry cleaners is still there, the building is still some gaudy yellow color, but the van has relocated, the mirror has long since been fixed, but everything in my mind was still just as it was. Well, I don’t smoke anymore and even if I did you aren’t allowed to smoke at the coffee house anymore – even outside on their stoop. But I lit up many a cigarette at that table. Man I had fun. It was the most free I had ever felt in my life. Being 15 and running the roads with quiet abandon. I’d lock my kid in a closet if she ever thought about doing this senseless shit. Or dating a boy six years older than her before she’s out of high school.
One of the better things about all of this is that (first) Andy is still my friend. All of these years later. He’s married with children, a full-time job, he doesn’t live too far away from me, but life is what it is and we don’t see each other. We just text every so often and catch up. I always tell him that he stole my virginity like a thief in the night, when in reality I think we were riding down the road to his house one evening and I said “Well, let’s do this if we’re going to do it, stop at the store and grab some condoms” and I think the car hooked a right on two wheels and you’ve really never seen a 6’6″(ish) man run so fast inside of a grocery store as you did that night.
I wish I had some romantic gesture of losing my virginity, but no such luck. Though, you never forget your first time or the person that it was with. I’m just glad that we have remained friends through the years. We used to joke and say that even if we never got back together, we’d manage to still grow old together, and I think there’s something very endearing and sweet in the sentiment; he’s already old and I’m well on my way.
I used to fancy myself a romantic, but I’ve never really had the relationships or experiences to back it up. I guess everything just plays out better in my head. The only thing I can remember is when I was 12 and Tim slow danced with me on the beach while he sang “Truly Madly Deeply” in my ear with the ocean waves crashing in the background. Even at such a young age I knew that there wasn’t much in the world that would ever compare to that innocent feeling of new experiences. Even at the age of 29, I still think of that gesture as terribly romantic.
I had this boy named Anthony that had a huge thing for me around the time I was chasing Tim to the ends of the earth. I remember going to bed listening to my cassette tape of Mariah Carey’s Album “Jukebox” and thinking to myself that I would finally give Anthony a chance. He wasn’t so bad looking and he was only slightly more annoying than the average 14 year old. We went to the fair together the next day and when we got back to his house we sat on his floor and he pulled his dick out and it was the first time I had ever seen a real penis and I didn’t know what to do. He put that thing away, apologized profusely, and I left the house having experienced slight disappointment in the fact that things didn’t really go the way I had envisioned them the previous night. A few weeks later me and Tim and a few other neighborhood kids were at Anthony’s house while he lost his virginity in his bedroom to some girl named Michelle. I remember hearing the headboard bang against the wall in rhythmic motion, and then his step-dad came home unexpectedly, and we were all running out of the back door -including a scantly dressed Anthony and even less-dressed Michelle with her shoes in her hand. We all ran into the woods and I remember being completely grossed out at the notion of whatever the hell it was that those two were doing. And Michelle was ugly as shit. Bless her heart.
Despite all of that – taking this trip down memory lane has made me smile. Anthony and I did reconnect for a moment after Chesley and I split up, and we had our fun, and we got to experience what we had missed all of those years ago, and then we went our separate ways. Some people are meant to remain in one anothers lives, and others just aren’t, for whatever reason.
Despite the pain that I feel on a regular basis and despite how much I dwell on the things that have hurt me, I really do have some amazing memories. And I do hope that when I’m old and wrinkly and sitting in my rocker watching the world go by, that I do remember everything that has ever happened in my life. I hope I can reflect back on my teenage years then just as easily as I am able to now. I’ve said it many times before; there is beauty in pain. It may take a while for you to be able to see it, because the pain has to clear out of the way – but it’s there. Tim never wanted me, (first) Andy and I broke up because we were young and dumb, Julie’s dad and I were too young to be married, Ricky wasn’t ready for the family life, Chesley cheated and abused me, Rick cheated on me more than he was faithful, (second) Andy couldn’t sit still and be settled no matter how much he wanted to, and I’m battling some trust things with Charlie – but damn there have been some beautiful moments out of every one of these situations. So much so that I can look back fondly on all of these men in one way or another and remember the good with the bad.
That’s what makes things bittersweet in life. But it’s also how you learn to live without regrets. I could never say that I regret any of these men or any of these relationships. Without them, reflecting on my life would be incredibly boring. At least I’ll never be bored with my memories.