Tuesday, September 19, 2006

First Crush, First Love

You know how there are some periods in your life that you'd just as soon forget?

High School was one of mine. I was mostly bored, certainly unmotivated, and as far as my mom was concerned, a royal pain in the a--. Keeping me out of trouble (in a small town with four churches and one bowling alley) was not the problem. She responded to her burden of raising a child alone, heavy workload and subsistance paycheck, (not to mention no love life) by drinking. I responded to her drinking with fits of rage and sarcasm, and an unwillingness to be who she expected me to be. She imposed rules which I begrudgingly followed. No phone calls during working hours, clean her beauty shop every weekend, appropriate curfews.

She never asked if I'd done my homework. Just as well, because I probably would have lied. I hated homework. To me it was busy work and had nothing to do with learning the material. I took good notes, I listened in class, and was able to get by with a cursory glance at the textbooks. I probably would have had a higher grade point average if I'd turned in homework. All those zeros counteracted the A's on the tests. I was lucky to receive two scholarships my first year of college... one because we needed the money, and one because of glowing recommendation letters. (Obviously not from my mother.)

I loved to read and had a secret love life. Those two activities kept me sane. I say love life... the love was real, the object of my affection was real, the reality itself was a bit more complicated. The guy was older (eleven years to be exact) and an authority figure who was counseling me spiritually, helping me cope with my mother's alcoholism. Nobody called it alcoholism. To the day she died, my mother only vaguely referred to her possible drinking problem and blamed it on my puberty.

The man of my dreams was intelligent, (MIT grad) and shy (especially with women his own age). I was a kid. That we fell in love is not so hard to understand. I needed a father figure, he needed a non-threatening female. I worshipped him from afar until one evening, as we sat talking in the dark, he confessed he had something on his mind... something he'd been thinking about for a while. (We always had our best talks in the dark, don't ask me why.) Anyway, he asked if he could kiss me. I didn't know the expression does a polar bear slide on the ice? but if I had, I would have used it. I was sixteen. Wahoo!

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