Don’t forget the first part of the story: I Knew He Loved Me
This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that he had scribbled all over the paper doodling my name and drawing pictures of us holding hands, but that dream was pretty much the complete opposite of what I found. There were doodles all right, but not with my name– with another girl’s name. A girl from our class that I had never even seen him talk to—let alone ever imagined he would ever have feelings for. There were doodles all right. And there were about fifty different versions of her name written out in different styles. There were even sentences written down and they were sentences that my brain tries to block out to this very day. Let’s just say I grew up really quickly. I realized that boys (and most surprisingly, THIS boy) thought about things that I had never ever come close to thinking about and that I was not the girl that HE was in love with. I mean, really!
My eyes produced tears like there was a fire that needed to be put out. Seriously. I became a crying snot monster. I was so heartbroken. How could he do this to me? How could he say those things? How come he didn’t say those things about me??? It wasn’t fair! It sucked. It was like someone was ripping my beating heart out of my chest (did I ever mention that I was/am really dramatic?) and I couldn’t function enough to get to rehearsal. I don’t remember if I went looking for my friends or if they just found me but I sniffled and sobbed through the entire story and waited for their comfort. Well they did their best but I was way beyond that. Plus I could tell that a couple of them were pretty shocked at the fact that I would even “steal” his paper that way. (Yeah. It wasn’t my shiniest moment ever.)
I finally started to calm down and my life came down to the very important matter of what I was going to do with the note. I didn’t want anyone else to find it and I sure as hell wasn’t going to ever look at it again, so I found a trash can in the choir room and tore that little piece of shit into about five thousand pieces. I went on with my day and miraculously managed to not completely crumble.
Somehow I thought that I would dream about what had happened that night but I actually slept very well. I think I used up all of my energy on that very intense emotional display. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it when I saw him the next day and it worried me a bit but I just conked out. It was such a relief. But it couldn’t last forever and when I woke up the next morning I found myself feeling very, very angry. Poor kid was going to get his ass handed to him and on a stunning level that he wasn’t even close to being aware of. I even started to feel sorry for him!
I walked into fifth period and sat down at the table. I had avoided him all day so we didn’t walk to class together as we usually did. He was all smiles and niceness (damn him) and my anger slipped away. Look at him sitting there all cute and sweet–and I fell under his spell again. I was never as free and open with him as I had been before but I still gravitated to him something fierce. Surely he felt the monumental shift in our relationship (because I had been so successful in guessing his feelings in the first place) because we never quite joked together the same way (and I sure as hell didn’t buy him anymore sodas) and our friendship began to drift apart.
Life went on to senior year and I started to take an interest in other boys. I still had no idea how to act around them and I probably fell in love with someone new every other day but I still couldn’t stop thinking about HIM. I still followed his every move and watched how he flourished in popularity with the girls in our class. His star was rising in a very big way and I was his biggest supporter (even if he didn’t know it) and I almost always tried to place myself in his path.
One of the biggest opportunities came early in our senior year. Our homecoming dance was one of the biggest events and the week leading up to it was a huge celebration for those of us beginning our last year of high school. We dressed in silly clothes, played powder-puff football games, participated in the homecoming parade and celebrated with a big bonfire. The homecoming dance was the big exclamation point of the festivities and I was looking forward to it in a big way.
First of all, for the first time ever I was able to spend money and purchase a brand new semi-formal dress! It wasn’t from a thrift store and it wasn’t something that someone in my family had worn before me. It was a lovely cobalt blue full length dress with 3/4 sleeves and embarrassingly large pouffy shoulder things/pads/caps/beach balls. I could not wait to wear it. I knew that having that dress was going to make my night completely magical.
I went to the dance with my friends and had some of the most fun I have ever experienced. We heard fantastic 80’s music and danced in front of a large multicolored wall of awesomeness. Truly. The cafeteria never looked so amazing. Everyone that I knew seemed to be having a good time and I felt confident and relaxed. I loved it. HE was there (of course) and I always knew where he was standing and who he was talking to (I am starting to see my stalker tendencies now) and made sure that I crossed paths with him a few different times. We always smiled at each other or nodded our heads in acknowledgement and the time passed fairly quickly.
Perhaps it was my unusual feeling of confidence or the fact that I knew this was going to be our last ever homecoming dance together, but I somehow managed to dig deep into myself and find the strength to ask him if he would like to dance with me. Things were starting to wind down and people were sneaking off to go to their next parties and I felt that I would really hate myself if I didn’t at least ask. To my utter astonishment he said yes. Let me repeat: He said yes! My face felt like it had spontaneously combusted and I followed him to the dance floor. I wonder if he felt me shaking?
The song that had been playing when we went to the dance floor quickly ended and a new song started to play. It was a song that I still cannot listen to without thinking of this night and this moment–Richard Marx’s “Hold on to the Night.” I wanted so badly to put my arms around his neck and feel his hands around my waist but neither of us ever made that serious of a move. We held each other stiffly in a formal way (without getting our bodies too close together) and swayed our way through the song. I think my inner dialogue consisted of nothing but “Oh, My, God” and “Oh, My, God,” and I managed to make it through the entire dance without completely embarrassing myself. I was literally light-headed and lost in my girlish fantasies. I had no clue about anything he was feeling and I guess that says more than anything else ever could.
The song ended and the lights came on, shocking both of us back to real life. He squeezed my hand told me thanks for the dance and then left. That was it. I knew that it would probably be my only moment in the sun. And I was right.
His popularity kept growing until it seemed like every girl in the school thought he was the greatest kid ever. He became the school’s most known photographer and began dressing in alternative clothes. Back then it was hair from Flock of Seagulls and clothes consisting of baggy pants and checkered cloth. I remained as ardent a fan as ever, but he was reaching heights in the high school stratosphere that I couldn’t even hope to penetrate.
He was crowned prom king. Of course he was. I voted for him. I probably would have voted for him fifty times if I thought I could get away with it. And yet I was still somehow surprised that he had won the honor. I suspected that the girls loved him—I just didn’t know that the guys really liked him too. He stood in front of the crowd slightly embarrassed but beaming just the same. I remember standing in the back of the room next to my date (who was doing a wonderful job helping me have a fun time) wearing the same dress I had worn to the homecoming dance. The irony was not lost on me. It was excruciating. And it was enough to finally open my eyes.
Or was it? See, I have this tendency to hold onto things like a dog that won’t give up his bone. Just about 99.9 percent of me knew that there was never, EVER, any chance with this guy but something just wouldn’t let up. Apparently I’m in to self torture. I made one last ditch effort to put myself in his gravitational pull again.
As it got closer and closer to the end of the year there were many last minute things to think about—one of them being graduation. After a rush of ordering a cap and gown and trying to pass my last classes (a story that I will revisit in the future) I had to decide who I wanted to walk down the aisle with during the ceremony. Gee, I wonder who was the first person at the top of my list? And for a second there I thought I had a shot. I convinced myself that he would want to walk down with me as a throwback to our friendship over the years. I thought it would be great fun to actually walk down with the great love of my life.
One major problem that I refused to think about, however, was the fact that he now had a girlfriend and they were pretty tight. I never took the time to get to know her (and who am I kidding, I only had like five real friends) and I wasn’t exactly president of her fan club. I didn’t hate her like I did some of the other super popular girls that hung around his crowd, but I never really gave her a chance. Seriously. The way I felt, she should have been very thankful that I didn’t have laser eyes. Somehow I thought that I had an actual chance to walk down the aisle with him and not her. Ha. Ha ha.
I do give myself a giant pat on the back for going through with asking. It wasn’t easy to pull him aside from his group (and yes his girlfriend) to ask him if he wanted to walk with me. And I’ll give him credit—he actually looked contrite when he gave me his answer. He motioned to his girlfriend and gently told me that he already had someone to walk with. Then he gave me a big hug and told me that he was always glad that we could be friends. But not really. He just shrugged his shoulders, gave me a half smile and walked away. The final nail in my coffin.
I’ve always been proud of the fact that I didn’t take this answer as badly as I could have. I had several friends who were willing to walk with me, and knowing that they were there made all the difference in the world. I found a great person to graduate with and I had one of the most memorable days of my entire life. School was over and I no longer had to suffer the agony of walking the same hallways as my love again. I could only hope that it would be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind” very, very soon.
Life went on and I thought about him less and less. I found the true love of my life and never looked back. Oh, I suppose that if I was really honest I could say that every time I hear Richard Marx I tend to get a frown on my face and that my ears perk up if I see his name mentioned on the internet, but I don’t want to be that honest right now. High school CANNOT have that much of an impact on my life. I won’t let it. But if I’m being honest…
I’m old enough now to have participated in (ahem) a few class reunions and I have seen what he has done with his life. He found a person he loved enough to marry and have several children. He started his own business. And thanks to the fact that I can’t stay away from Facebook, I know that he likes to do outdoor things like riding ATV’s and going…camping. CAMPING! Ugh.
I just KNEW he wasn’t the one for me.