“Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Sixteen Candles”, “Pretty In Pink”, “Somewhere In Time”, and “Pretty Woman”.
In the mid 80’s to late 90’s, I was a very young teenager that had just discovered that girls were something I liked, but never understood them or why I wanted to. All I knew is that they made me shy and flushed. I grew up with an older sister, who at this point was ending her high school years and in the midst of the full fledged dating scene. Karrie was seven years my elder and I grew up watching classic fictional romance movies that to me, at that time felt more like fact. Duckie, Jake Ryan, and trying to get wine out of a suede jacket were scarred into my mind. By no means, do I watch any romantic movies voluntarily anymore. If I do, it’s my lame attempt at trying to compromise with any first date that had passed my way. I know it’s mindless, corny pitter patter nonsense that had allowed Hugh Grant to financially live a life of very little worries. There are three girls that have had a profound effect on my life. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly them, as it was the timing or situation. Firsts. I remember them all and even the one in sixth grade. This is where the story begins…
I grew up an awkward quiet child that kept to myself. My mother cut my hair by scotch taping it to my forehead and I wore a lot of Bugle Boy sweaters with a shirt underneath that would allow the collar to overlap on the outside. I was in band and got picked on for not French rolling my jeans. I could be wrong, but it was 1989 (dear lord) and I received my very first note. It was from a cute girl that played the clarinet in the very front row. I immediately assumed this is what going steady must be. We were as official as it could get. This was exactly how Andie and Blane met and if this wasn’t the beginning of a John Hughes script, I’m not sure what was. Things got hot and heavy as I received my first ever phone call. I ran into my sister’s room so I could get some privacy. I sat in the corner of the room and sprawled out as far as the two foot cord would allow. My sister was trying to give me unwelcome guidance and suggestions as she lovingly volunteered to drive us somewhere. (Perhaps Friendly’s or Ohio Skate). This was incredible.
The next week quickly came, and we broke up. Via note at my locker; I was devastated. I remember that week like it was yesterday. The ups and downs of young spirited emotions should never be overlooked. Over the years, we grew apart and went our separate ways within the small confines of the Maumee school system. The next four years were a pivotal part of my life that would not allow me to redeem myself and somewhere along the way, a big chunk of my confidence was lost, even to this day.
In 1995, my junior year in High School, I sat next to my “sixth grade” girlfriend in science class. By now, everything was forgotten and we barely spoke as clicks had taken over and we did not associate. However, around this time in my early life, I was beginning to realize that stereotypes, peer pressures, and classifications were starting to mean less and less to me as I was forming my own opinions and gaining confidence in the ones I was making. It was the last day of school, and I had her sign my yearbook. I knew that I had that school boy crush once again, but I knew that she was transferring schools and this would more or less be a fitting end. She signed my yearbook, closed it and I went home to eagerly peek within the last few pages to see what she had said. My eyes immediately glanced towards the small heart next to the seven numbers that followed. (You see kids, we did not use area codes back then). We briefly met over that summer and before she moved away, we had kissed. Over six years in the making.
I know what you’re thinking. Wow, profound. You’re crazy. I know, I’ve been told. Although, I can’t explain why but I remember these moments in my life with such great detail. This, along with the other two, gave me something that I do hold on to. I’m a hoarder of memories that meant something to me once and although it seems silly to me now, it didn’t then and I can respect that. I truly believe that when you pass away, life’s greatest moments, to you, flash across your eyes like a movie. I have those everyday. I swear.
Two years ago, and almost twenty years since sixth grade; fifteen since I last saw her or heard anything about her, she crossed my mind. I searched for her. Not in a “Something About Mary” fashion or anything nearly as intense, but it consisted of a few internet searches on social media sites that led me to email a family member. I stressed that I just wanted to know; I wanted to know she was ok, happy and living an amazing life after all these years. By no means was I trying to interfere with her life after all these years. It was just curiosity that a twelve year old needed fulfilled. I received an email back that explained that she was married, with kids and living down south. I was happy and that was all I needed. Content. They went on to explain that I should email her to just say hello and that it would be more than ok. I didn’t feel comfortable with that and quickly refused. But the longer this email address sat in my inbox, the harder it was for me to resist.
This is Eric! I just want to know you are doing well. Hope this finds you well and please do not feel obligated to respond. Best wishes.
That was it. Almost two years had passed and I never heard anything. I was fine with that and actually, I respected it. Until…..nearly three months ago. The family member was visiting her and I came up in conversation. Long story short, she was shocked and excited. She never received my email and hearing my name again was “astonishing”. Like it did with me, it also brought back so many memories on her behalf. I was informed that she was no longer married and hadn’t been for almost a year. I was given her phone number and told to call her. Again, this seemed unreal to me. Maybe these corny movies did hold some truths that I once was gullible enough to believe. We had spoke and actually made plans to meet within the next few months. I was told I was crazy but this is who I am and what I believe in. everything seemed great until that text out of left field.
I’ve realized and have always known that life isn’t a fairytale. That texts like this are a part of life. That I can float on a cloud but need to be prepared to land on my behind. I believe that this was a small enough straw that may have slapped me in the face towards realizing that I need to just start worrying about being happy. Basic, general, standard happiness. I need to stop living out these dreams and falling hard thus crushing these fictional hopes. I had canceled my trip and plan to find something elsewhere within myself. Visiting the great Northeast and seeing the likes of Maine in the fall. In reality, I know I’m running. Like I have all year, but isn’t that what people do with ADD and heartbreak? Well, to the next great dream and my next journey towards fate and my movie ending.