Wednesday, August 31, 2011

See You in September

After a leisurely Summer spent lounging on the Mediterranean with Leo and Marty (they're scamps, those two), I will be returning to my regularly scheduled blogging in September.  TTFN!

[Editor's Note:  January spent her Summer sweltering in a small one-bedroom in the valley, temping for arguably less than minimum wage, and food shopping every day to enjoy free air conditioning.  She did not spend any time in the Mediterranean with anyone named Leo or Marty.  All statements made above are creative works of the author's imagination and should be treated as such.]

January's Note:  My Editor has no sense of adventure!

...I Can Still Remember

Part II

So here’s the thing about me in high school: I kissed a lot of boys.  And when I say kissed, I mean kissed.  That’s not some euphemism for the horizontal tango.  My friend Jolie and I were practically in a race to see who could kiss more guys.  Actually, scratch that – we did compete against one another to see who could kiss more guys in one night once.  That was quite a party.  But generally (and with the wisdom of time on my side) I can say that I sought attention and affection and wrapping that up in the cute body of a horny teenager, well, there were plenty of horny boys happy to oblige.  Some of them have long vanished into the cavernous recesses of my mind.  Others I’ve stayed in touch with and some I had a falling out with back in the day and never got past it.  Jacob Miller was one of them.

Jacob was one of a group of guys I spent a lot of time with the summer before our senior year.  That was a fun summer.  Someone’s parents were always out of town and there were many late nights and sleepovers, many long conversations and much to be learned hanging with the boys.  I remember feeling like a fly on the wall sometimes.  There were more boys than girls in our group and the conversations they’d have sometimes couldn’t have been much more enlightening than if they’d actually been in the locker room.  This was a very smart group of guys too.  Jacob was really intelligent.  When we clicked in to each other we’d spend hours on the phone at night talking.  He had one of those books of a thousand questions and we’d ask and answer, ask and answer, discussing and dissecting, laughing and flirting.  Jacob has a very penetrating gaze.  When we hung out en masse he’d eye me from across the room like he was reading every last thought in my head.  He was very confident.  I found him riveting.  And one night after much circling we finally got together.  A long walk, a lot of making out and enough groping to empower a young man’s ego, I suppose, as I later found out he’d told all of our guy friends – the whole group of them – the details about what went on.  One of them let me know.  I was mortified and crushed, feeling very betrayed.   I blew him off and never spoke with him again.

Jacob was at our 10 year reunion.  I remember him staring at me from across the room.

I walked into the reunion Saturday night and low and behold, who should be hanging out right by the front door but Jacob.  Smiling, drink in hand.  Staring at me.

I’ve thought of Jacob numerous times over the years, especially once Facebook starting showing me his comments on our friends’ status updates.  In the early years after high school I imagined myself confronting him, throwing a drink in his face or slapping him.  “How could you?” I’d level at him.  “You may have gotten in to Harvard buddy but oh, you’ll never, ever get into my shirt again!”  Every time I pictured this though he would just be standing there, smiling at me.  Staring.

Determined not to spend the next 20 years haunted by this anger, I decided to speak with him.  But first I had another glass of wine.

“Hi, Jacob.  How are you?  Where are you living?  What are you up to these days?”  I thought it best to hit him up with a bunch of diversionary questions right off the bat.  We made small talk for a bit and then I laid it on him.  “Jacob, remember what went on between us?  Remember that night?”   Yes, he said.  You were spectacular.  And he stared at me.

Oh God, I’m thinking.  Did he just say spectacular?  What was that?  Did a 38 year-old man really recall his 17 year-old self – no, recall my 17 year-old self as spectacular?  You know, I never knew.  I never knew my worth.  I looked for it everywhere except inside myself, which is where it was all along.  It took this visit with that former 17 year-old boy for me to really get that.  This was… amazing.

I went on to tell Jacob that I had found out that he’d told the guys everything back then and he apologized to me.  That’s horrible, he said.  I’m sorry.  You were spectacular and I’m sorry I did that.  Well shit, if he said spectacular one more time I was going to cry or kiss him, and seeing as he’s married now with kids it would have likely been the former.  Instead I just said “I’m glad we talked.  Thanks,” smiled, clinked my glass to his, and walked off to chat with some others.  Crazy, huh?  If you had told me 20 years ago…

I had other heart-to-hearts that night, though none as unexpected as that one!  20 years without talking and then, peace.  I bonded big time with the former soccer star in our class.  These days he looks like a shaggy haired Colin Farrell.  I didn’t recognize him at first but his smile is as warm as ever.  He’s such a love.  I think after so many years, after so much of our lives pass by and so many classmates die (sad, but true, and I found out about more over this weekend), you are left with one of two choices.  One is to be bitter at what has or hasn’t happened in your life.  The other is to accept and love – your life and those around you.  I chose the latter and had quite an incredible night this past Saturday, not really in 1991.  And way better than 2001.  It was a perfect night in 2011 and I’m not going to forget it any time soon.

A Long, Long Time Ago...

We broke through the clouds and I found us suddenly in another land; clouds carpeted the floor and the light on the end of our wing became our own little moon, lighting our path.  All of New York City below us had disappeared and there was nothing but endless carpeting as far as I could see.  It was very serene…

Part I

I’m staring at my laptop wondering where to begin.  Really I’d just like a couple Tylenol and some water, followed by closing my eyes and sleeping the rest of the flight.  This has been an incredible trip.  Most trips have some hiccup along the way, but this one maintained its level of excellence from start (getting picked up at the airport by my friend instead of working my way into the city on the train) to finish (last minute shopping successful enough that I had to unzip the reserve space on my carry-on and check it.  So worth it).  I’m on the plane flying back to Los Angeles after spending one long weekend flying back in time to the year 1991.  I had my 20th high school reunion on Saturday night in my old hometown.  I can’t remember the last time I was there.  My parents moved some time around 1998 and I don’t think I’d been there since.  Some people never left – either they still live there, live there again, or their parents live there so they never really went away.  Me though, I left.  3000-plus miles away in sunny California is pretty darn far, space and time-wise.

Jolie picked me up at the airport and we headed into Manhattan excitedly chatting about who we thought would be at the reunion.  We dropped my bags at her apartment and headed out for dinner around 11 pm.  How continental, I thought.  The parade of young and fashionables was incredible!  Honestly, I’d forgotten how stylish New York is!  I instantly felt old and dumpy and I didn’t care.  Another thing about New York: there will always be someone looking better than you and you will always look better than someone else.  Jolie and I watched the mini-dresses walk by guessing whose was really just a shirt.  If these were trannies we’d have known the Gentiles from the Jews.  As it was I felt my eyes burning.  If I’d wanted to see that much female cheek I’d get a job as the Loehmann’s dressing room attendant.

Why don’t they have mini-kilts?  I could handle a Scottish cheek or two…

Saturday afternoon we headed out to my hometown, crawling our way through traffic on the LIE.  We rolled into town in good time to shower at Jolie’s sister’s and head to the reunion.  Spontaneously I asked her to turn up my old road.  We wound up the street, remarking how much nicer it looked than when we lived there.  Much of my town is that way.  There are a lot more Mercedes driving around now than when I was a kid.  As we rounded the bed, I saw her, my old house.  She looked pretty good (except for those God-awful shutters – really people?  Round?).  She looked small though.  Jolie slowed the car for me to get a good look… and then I saw them.  There were people in my backyard, grilling.  And there was a pool where my mother’s garden used to be.  What the hell?  Where was my dad’s handmade screened-in porch?  Jolie offered to stop and turned to look at me for my response, but what she got instead was a big sob and tears.  I started really crying.  My face heated up and I couldn’t catch the tears fast enough.  How the hell was I going to go back to my childhood and live my life over without mistakes when there were people camped out in my house?  (And don’t they know that yard is too small for a pool?!)  Oh, Oh I was not prepared for this.  Jolie continued driving and I looked at my old neighbor’s houses for some sign, any sign that it wasn’t too late.  But there were no signs.  My neighbors don’t even live there any more.  It is gone for good.

At that point in time I started getting nervous about the reunion.  My sure footing seemed gone and I was at a loss how to stand strong in myself.   Jolie was now comforting me, our roles completely reversed.  I was not prepared for the nerves that sprung up.  I think it was too much, the anticipation of presenting my current self and the presentation at that moment of my tender former self.  It overwhelmed me.

We got to her sister’s, showered and got ready.  We drove to the reunion and I breathed through the nerves.  We were some of the first to arrive.  I headed for the bar, got a glass of wine and remarked on who was there.  Some of the old guys I spent a lot of time with before heading to college were in a circle talking.  I made my way over and began to reconnect…

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flight 20

I'm sitting in the airport killing time because my flight has been delayed four hours. This gives me plenty o'time to think about my trip. I'm going to New York City and then returning to my hometown for my 20 year high school reunion. Twenty years!! The flurry of text messages and emails asking classmates if they're going has begun. I dug out my old year book last night (darn, that thing is heavy!) and my overwhelming impression, after how ridiculously we dressed, is how young we look. Never have I been so grateful for good genes, limited sun exposure and being single. I'm leaving the lines for the old haggard folk. Go ahead, ID me. I dare ya!

- January posted this using BlogPress from her mobile phone. Smartypants.