Wednesday, August 31, 2011

...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.

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