Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rough Draft - My "interview" with Skating magazine

Joanna, Terri and me - looking forward to drowning the pre-bronze blues.

Every issue of Skating magazine features adult doing what we do best -- getting in the kid's way, living our Walter Mitty dreams, drinking at the rink. Lexi, the head of the adult skating committee, was clued into a pact that a handful of pre-bronze skaters made online and deemed us worthy of a future feature in the magazine.

Below is my contribution for the story.


I first met Joanna and Terri on one of the skating forum boards, a fan site that had a section devoted to those who also skated titled "Rinkside". It seemed to attract many of the adult skaters I know today. We had online discussions about how we were doing, and every year, someone would start a "new year's skating resolutions" thread, and we'd all post what we wanted to accomplish in the next year.

I attended my first adult nationals as a spectator in Ann Arbor in 1999. I was, at that point, doing crossovers and two foot spins once a week in learn to skate, but after seeing all those adults competing and having a blast, I knew that my goals now included passing the tests so I could come back as a competitor. I can even tell you the first event I attended was adult masters pairs, and the team was Kelly Lawrence and Rocky Ursino.

There were some fellow posters on the forums with similar goals, namely Joanna and Terri. As we shared our progress and challenges with each other, we dubbed ourselves the "Pre-Bronzers for Life." We vowed to each other that we would all one day make it to adult nationals, "shred our membership cards" and toast ourselves with champagne in celebration.

I was the first to make it, passing my tests in 2004. First thing I packed for AN05 in Kansas City was a bottle of champagne, and I popped it on the last day of competition. Who I shared it with tells that tale of what is so amazing about adult skating: I was the last place finisher in Bronze Ladies I, and I was toasted by Burton Powley, who had won Championship Men that night. Most of the toasts have been lost in the haze of 4am, but one I remember was "here's to the champions and the champions to come, the champions in the making." The rest of the crowd passing the bottle have remained dear friends to this day: Maureen Linhardt, Denise Hendershot, Robin Johnson, Chris Williams.

Well, Joanna passed her tests I think in 2006 (she'll have to confirm), but she was not able to compete at ANs until Lake Placid in 2008. I was not going to miss this!

As luck would have it, not only did Joanna and I compete in the same event, I skated just before her. So when I was done rocking Tina Turner, I ran back to the locker room and grabbed her bottle and managed to get to the entrance to present it to her on the ice just as she was finishing.

Terri then passed her tests, and luckily both Joanna and I were there to share her triumph with her in 2009.

I am proud of what I've accomplished in the sport thus far, and the triumph has been made sweeter by the fact I was able to shred my "Pre-bronze for life" membership card with these awesome ladies. Bottoms up!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Typing Out Loud - Lent, again

So much for these...

Lent starts tomorrow, and at the same time, March Madness started at the Y yesterday. Ongoing is the Biggest Loser challenge at work. I'm bringing up the rear at work I'm sure, because as of this morning, I'm only down 3 pounds compared to everyone else who has dropped insane amounts of weight. I hate to say I'm not that worried about BL, I'm eyeing the completion of the Y challenge and gearing up for the 5/3 5k in May and Adult Nationals in April.

Working on the program for Adult Mids. Anticipating this to be a very fun event, and hopefully we can show everyone a great party.

Cara sent me a tough love box, and she sent a gray sweater that I'm currently loving. Also a hot pink spring jacket. I've got a few items to weed out, I think end of winter is a good purge time.

I'm thinking about writing some poetry, The Cad and the Innocent. Will be interesting as poetry isn't usually my thing, but the story as it is fleshing out in my head begs for impressionistic, and not literal, translation.

Here at work, was seduced by a packi. Or two. I ate one with relish but another is sitting here with a couple bites out of it. I may just scoop out the filling.

I just scooped. Cheese filling. With 1 1/4 packi eaten, I have in all likelihood matched as much sugar as I've taken in over the last week. I'm going to get a headache.

Desperate for something clever to say, I got nothing. Not really true, I suppose I should reflect on what Lent means, as opposed to a second-chance at starting a new diet.

Also, asked by US Figure Skating to be interviewed for the magazine again. Lexi, head of the adult committee, was intrigued by the pre-bronze for life members champagne pass. I will share my story here later once I fill in some details, add some quotes. Since this is my second go-around in the mag, and I'm not exactly Michelle Kwan note-worthy, I want to be sure to name-drop the people who influence me and were there along the way. I also have a great toast from Burt in 2005 that I want to share.

Song going through my head, "Circle Sky" by the Monkees. Thump that bass Peter Tork! Dear God, I'm on a kick again. At least I have the kid on the trip with me. I showed him clips of the show on youtube and he thinks it's a laff riot.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's Right in the World - Bunch a Cool Guys

I work with some great guys who, in getting to know them, are the personification of love and committment. I think the world of them for their devotion to their wives, babies, and fiancees. Every day I work with them, I am impressed by them. It would embarrass them for me to list them by name, but they are just good people.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#100! Why Art Matters - WYCE

I did it, I made it to 100 posts! My intention back in 2008 was to write for fun, but when I lost my job in marketing and my freelance writing business dried up in the economy, this site became a creative life saver. As a result, my personal expressive output has never been richer, with my involvement in ArtPrize and gallery shows here and there, as well as the jewelry, the logos and skating.

The future? I'm looking forward to more posts, and since I have been able to prove that I have the discipline to keep up with the writing and stay on topic, perhaps fulfill the Great American Dream of writing a book?

To those who have been reading in secret, thank you. To my handful of followers, thank you. To the people, places, artists, and things that have served as my inspirational muses, thank you.

The first post was about music, so I think number 100 should follow suit.

My enthusiasm for WYCE is clear and unabashed. It is a community-based independent radio station, their studios nestled above the library on Bridge St., down the road from Maggie's Kitchen (who should be the subject of WAM for March - cooking is an art!). Why do I love thee?

New Artists - Lily Allen. Adele. Foster the People. Bettye Lavette. I heard these artists and more for the first time on WYCE, long before they became staples of mainstream radio.

Local Artists - Grand Rapids is hardly Austin, Seattle or Memphis, but the region is well represented on the airwaves, who not only play the tunes, but sponsor concerts and host an awards ceremony dubbed "The Jammies" awarding the best in local music.

Listener Supported! - Like PBS, they are at their best during pledge drives. With a couple nickels to rub together, I made a modest pledge of $8.81. They thought it was awesome, and made a big deal about the pledge on the radio "we are thankful for our listeners and accept and played Bettye for me as a thank you.

Shazam! - The station's blend of well, everything, has my ears constantly pricked. I dare say 90% of the songs I Shazam are from WYCE playlists. It's an opportunity to discover new tracks and thanks to the direct link to iTunes, support the artist directly.

Check 'em out:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February Sunshine - A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

The original singles release, two sides of awesome.

While wandering today with Will, I heard a 16 year old remake of a song that is - dear God - 45 years old. It was The Specials, an English ska band known for high-energy tunes blazing with horns. This song was on their album of remakes entitled "Today's Specials." Since I was not big on the ska scene, this song has floated completely out of my radar until today - thank you WYCE.

What's to like? The Specials infused the melody with an infectious joy and certain dance ability missing from the original. The sound was so fresh, that I was under the impression it was a brand new song. I Shazamed it, and have spent half the bloody day attempting to download it somewhere, settling for listening to it a couple of times on YouTube. It even influenced what I made for dinner, a very summery choice of cold tuna salad.

Check it out:

The Specials - ALBM, ALBY

That's not to say I don't love the original. In the series, it was in the episode "Monkees at the Movies" featuring idol Bobby Sherman (the 1967 answer to Justin Beiber). It's sweet, lighthearted, a fun romp with test b-roll footage of the Monkees frolicking on the beach in an attempt to anger the tempermental movie star. I adored it.

Unfortunately, this is one of the more controversial songs in the Monkee catalog. It is a Davy Jones solo effort, forced by the hand of producer Don Kirschner. It was at this time that the band was fighting for more creative control, and Kirschner fought back by dividing/conquering. No other Monkee performs on the single; Neil Diamond, the songwriter sings backup, and Kirschner provides the handclaps.

Bad feelings aside, this is one catchy tune, even today.

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You - The Monkees

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Playlist - Express Yourself, pt. 3

Madonna, the patron saint for repressed Catholic schoolgirls.
Even she had trouble with boys.

Hopefully this is part 3, and the final installment, forever hold my peace. While it has been fun to reflect on a time when I was younger, thinner and a little more breathless, I also know I'm looking back in wonder as opposed to living through the moment in real time. It's easy to smile now, but there was real tears and genuine heartbreak.

Is there a happily ever after? Of course, but if the journey was a straight line, what fun would that be?

Guns 'n' Roses "Patience" and Bobby Brown "My Prerogative" - Two songs? I'll explain below. P was in my photography class, and I was drawn to him immediately. Brown eyes, wavy hair, and just out of the military, totally smokin' hot body. Yes, I crushed on him hard, but it appeared that he was hot on one of our classmates, W. What does any stealth stalker in the making do? Befriend her.

Thankfully, W was an amazing person and I found out that not only were they not an item, P was asking her about ME, and she encouraged me to go to the post-exam celebration at the bar. I played it cool, but flirted my way towards a phone number and a date for lunch after buying back books.

I tried playing it cool, that this was just a couple of co-eds hanging out as I sweated out what to wear. We sold our books, talked about the next semester, then went to Clara's for lunch. This is when the nerves kicked in and while we ordered a pizza, I think I ate maybe half a slice and ran to the bathroom 5 times. So much for playing it cool. I figured that was it.

He nevertheless called me again and we did a crazy little "tour of Jackson" date, from coneys to movies, to a snowball fight at Cascades and an unforgettable first kiss on the hill. Once that ice was broken, we began to have lots of fun together. His folks were even great, and I was invited to dinner at the house several times.

Things were not perfect. Both of us were insecure and struggled to allow our feelings for each other show, for fear of putting too much out on the table. The distance hurt too, since I was in Jackson and he was in Lansing. At times, I was with him more in my thoughts than I was when I was in his presence. P also reported for two week reserves duty in Greenland at a delicate point in our relationship. It was at this point I adopted the song Patience, with Axl Rose's gritty pleading of his lover and his need.

I grew weary of playing games with him when I felt I could expose my heart, he'd crack a joke or do something to disarm me. The breaking point was standing me up for my cousin's wedding, although he did claim to have waited for an hour at the house for me to show up. It was at this wedding that I met D, below. Needless to say, that Monday, it was over.

Well, it wasn't over until he said it was over. In his grand gesture, he saw my sister on campus and demanded that she take him to my class. He crashed the class, interrupting the professor to have a word with me. Too astonished to say no, she allowed my absence.

In the next classroom, a flimsy cubicle next door, he finally bared his heart. He was cocky, he was remorseful, he was romantic, he was desperate, but most embarrassingly, he was LOUD. Five different classrooms overheard us breaking up through the paper thin partitions of the art studios at Lansing Community College. Calling him to the carpet for his arrogant and cold behavior, the tip of the iceberg being standing me up for the wedding, he cracked, "like Bobby Brown says, that was my prerogative." With a live studio audience listening in, there was murmuring along the lines of "oh no he didn't!"

When he asked that all be forgiven and we give it another shot, that is when I sprang D on him, with whom I had already had one date and was looking forward to another. When I said I met him at the wedding, the surrounding cubes murmured with excitement, and P, shocked, asked me how I could have started dating when I hadn't yet broken it off with him, I smirked "my prerogative." This may have been the first known case of "you go girl!"

We parted under the worst of terms, but we reconciled about a year later, upon news that our friend W had died in a car accident. We talked on the phone a couple of times, he found someone new, who got him, his insecurities and his sense of humor. It is nice to know we closed the door, finally, as friends.

Madonna, "Express Yourself" - D was introduced above, the boy at the wedding. He was not at all shy about expressing how he felt about me, and about pursuing a romance. How refreshing! It helped that he was tall, handsome, kind, gentlemanly and honorable.

Looking back at this relationship, it was 95% free of tension or conflict. We got along amazingly well, and turned almost any situation into a date. Washing cars. Running errands. Listening to music. Movies. Swims at the lake. Taking photographs for our portfolios. Getting our report cards. Determining if chewing wintergreen Lifesavers really set off sparks (yes). It was just that great.

Oh, but that niggling 5%... it made all the difference. There are many casual disagreements that can be dismissed in the course of a relationship such as toilet paper over/under, country v. rock, UM v. OSU, rare v. well done. Can't do that with religion.

The religious tensions began in July, when an argument broke out prior to a photo shoot at St. Marys. It continued when a party at the lake turned into an attempt to convert me, then isolate me, by his friends. Then there was school. I was set to start at Ferris in the fall, while he continued his studies at LCC. I was at a loss as to how to look to the future.

This dance track by Madonna was a song me and the girls listened to over and over that summer, most notably at a pool party at Rachel's uncle's house, where she and I were house sitting for two weeks. It was an empowering track that I lip synced in earnest to my boyfriend who was lazily backstroking in the cool water and hot sunshine. I was making a plea for him to have an open mind. He didn't quite get that. Or maybe I didn't.

I broke up with him my first week away, deciding to see if we could make our way back to each other. It also didn't help my birthday present was a CHECK for $15 -- the least romantic gift EVER. I made a point to buy household cleaning supplies with the money in response.

We did find our way back to each other several times, albeit with different intentions. We went out a couple of times during Thanksgiving and Christmas break, a full two years after our breakup. We kissed, we held hands, we talked about what had been going on in our lives and what we might mean to each other, but the passion was missing all together and had cooled to friendship. Another afternoon, he tracked me down and we spent the afternoon talking on the phone again about the serious relationships in our life, with both of us ready to take the plunge with other people. I surprised him at work with a wedding gift; he offered to take my engagement photos, and then we lost touch.

An update, 5/21: I found him! After my dad died, I started randomly missing people who I had hoped were still alive and well. Learning the lesson that it's never too late to reconnect (until it's too late), I sent him a letter to catch up and he called me last week. It was a wonderful 30+ minutes on the phone. He's doing great, he and his family actually live nearby, and his boys teased him for having an ex-girlfriend. I'm glad I had the guts to write to him after all these years, that he is still the kind person I remember, and his wife was understanding of a blast from the past wanting to say hello.

Jimmy Page, Outrider album - C: with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, this album became the soundtrack to not only our relationship but our eventual breakup. How could I not see that it was going to end badly? I could sum up the whole of our relationship in song titles alone: Wasting My Time; Wanna Make Love; Writes of Winter; The Only One; Liquid Mercury; Prison Blues; Blues Anthem (If I Cannot Have Your Love).

C pursued me urgently for about a month, then seemed to resent how easily I succumbed to his courting. It was as if he loved me from Monday to Thursday, and hated me on the weekend or vice versa. His friends and roommates gently suggested I break it off, and called him to the carpet for his Jekyll/Hyde treatment, but I was naively insistent that love was all he needed. But I began to believe I needed love too.

I baked him a lovely little cake for Valentine's Day, and being a Tuesday, figured he was in love with me that day and anticipated his knock on my door, which never came. Dismayed, I did my shift at the radio station, and came home with the hope that there would be a note or valentine from him. Finding nothing I got... pissed. I stormed upstairs to his apartment and demanded to talk. He sat in his chair, listening to this godforsaken album and ignored me. Grabbing the remote control from his hand, I flung it across the room, where it cracked the glass to his cheap stereo system and the remote itself shattered upon impact. To this day, one of my most explosive, proudest moments. I said some things to him that shall not be repeated here because while I'm pretty sure of WHAT I said, I think it came out in a furious, incoherent, tear-soaked ball of "eff you" that cannot be quoted verbatim.

Oddly enough, I ran into him at the IKEA in Canton not too long ago. I was with the skater girls coming home from a competition in Wyandotte. I looked up to see him staring at me from across a series of bins filled with STOOF. I mouthed "C...?" and we circled each other warily around the bins, without saying a word, until he joined his wife/girlfriend/whoever down the aisle to look at KRRAP. The girls, startled to see me go zombie for a minute, asked me what the hell just happened with the guy in the plaid shirt. I replied that I just saw a 20-year-old ghost.

And finally...
Bad Company, "Seagull"  and U2, "So Cruel" - When D and I first broke up, I spent an entire evening listening to Bad Company's first album, and somehow Seagull got stuck in rotation, my heart heavy with beers and tears. T, remember T? Our relationship mellowed nicely into a warm buddy friendship and he and my friend Chip, at Western, were bored and wanted to road trip up to Big Rapids to party with me. Hearing me distraught they said "we'll be right there!" and threatened bodily harm on my love who was doing his best to be a rat bastard. Alas, they had too much to drink and never made it out of Kalamazoo.

So Cruel, almost exactly one year later. God, I can't even remember the why of this one, only I was getting really tired of breaking up with D in January.

But a happy ending at last! This D is Dave, and while Januarys still suck, I'm happy to say we haven't broken up since January of 1994, and married in 1997. In the years since, we have compiled a happy little soundtrack of our lives. To my astonishment, we met over 21 years ago, and have been together for 20, those minor hiccups excluded.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Playlist - Looking For a New Love, pt. 2

Has anyone ever written a song for you? Why yes.

Now that I've completed part 1, I wonder what I've accomplished by writing it and continuing on with part 2. What is there to prove by rehashing old, teen aged lost loves?

I think that answer lies partially in the topic: music is a big part of my life, and remembering these songs takes me back to those times when I was a dreamy-eyed teenager in love with love.

But it's mostly about the boys. Once upon a time, these boys were my whole world, or at least a big part of it, and in my current middle-aged nostalgia, I am startled to realize that I am forgetting things -- last names, birth dates, the scent of their cologne, and things that made them special. A few relationships are omitted, simply because I've forgotten too much. It makes me realize I've lost something, a love story reduced to a passing anecdote, for lack of detail.

These stories are a part of who I was in the process of becoming who I am. Those relationships, for better or worse, have helped shape me as a wife, a mother, a friend. And as I write each of these stories, a last kiss to each of you, wherever you are. Even after the love is gone (Earth Wind and Fire), the memory remains that once upon a time, you were in my heart.

I'm starting to get shy, so maybe it's time to edit names to protect the young and stupid? Not that any of my faithful readers *crickets* would know who these people are anyway, but the internet moves in mysterious ways...

K, "Unknown" - K was my first real boyfriend, my first love, with none of the juvenile "going together" middle school stuff. He was a cook where I was waitressing at my after school job. We came together, broke apart, and found each other way too many times over the course of 2 years. I was completely and totally in love with him.

Our first kiss was at the employee Christmas party, when he offered to give me a ride home. I blathered something about liking him, respect, confusion and when he put his hand on my knee I pretty much forgot everything else. This resulted in heavy flirtation, hanging out with friends, sneaking kisses when we thought no one was watching. Things kind of came to an end when I was laid off after the Christmas rush.

I was rehired in May, but flirting did not start back right away. He then invited me to his high school graduation party. I showed up, shyly offering him a graduation present of fortune cookies in a takeout gift container. I was introduced to his family as his "little friend", then we went to different part of the house and made out.

We had a fantastic summer together, going on dates, hanging out with friends. Then September came. I was excited to start my senior year. He was stuck, not really knowing WHAT to do next and putting off college. There was additional pressure to, ahem, let nature take its course and I resisted, not wanting to become a high school senior cliche.

Oh Lord, what happened next. He decided to enroll in bar tending school after having seen way too many cheesy late-night advertisements. He wanted me to run away with him, assuring me that I could enroll in high school where he was going. I balked, and said no. Yeah, we broke up.

We avoided each other at work for quite some time (bar tending school didn't happen - or did it? I don't remember). I was ready to move on, and began hanging out with E (see below). One of our close friends decided to get married on Valentine's Day, and I was a bridesmaid. K decided that this was his now-or-never-moment, the grand gesture to forever win my heart, and presented me with a thick, sealed envelope. He explained that he had written a long, detailed letter declaring his love for me, and included a song he wrote with his band about me, for me.

I took the envelope, and considered what opening and reading it would do. No one had ever written a song about me, that is Pattie-Boyd/Something/Layla epic. A surefire way to woo me. Would I get back together with him? Probably. Would it be a mistake? Probably.

In one of the few regrets I've had in my life, I dropped the thick envelope in the trash, unread.

Jody Watley, "Looking for a New Love" - E! How to explain it. We were great friends and of course, I harbored a crush on him. He, however, had a secret - he was gay and trying to keep it from the family. He tried put up a front to others about our relationship, in an are-they-or-aren't-they-dating sort of way. When his brother made a passing comment about the attractiveness of my assets, E made the necessary suggestive proposals, and we were an item.

He was a fantastic boyfriend. There were gifts, hilarious inside jokes, wildly flirtatious love letters heavy with innuendo, chocolate surprises, sentimental tokens. Our dates were fun, adventurous, and definitely not your typical dinner and a movie. One night in particular, warm for March, I remember sitting in the driveway at my parents' house, arms wrapped around each other, pointing at the stars and listening to top 40 and singing the refrain from Jody Watley's hit with all the attitude we could muster "hasta la vista -- BABY!" There were serious make out sessions, but E politely and quite gentlemanly never progressed beyond first base.  Oh I was thrilled to not fight wayward hands, but sensed that the pieces didn't fit.

Around Easter (naughty Easter card about carrots, over sized Peter Cottontail chocolate bunny, beach ball/palm tree key chain from California), I was getting antsy about the senior prom and tired of waiting for him to ask me, I asked him.

This I think was the line he didn't want to cross, an indicator that I wanted things to get more serious. So - he broke up with me, and said he couldn't explain it and couldn't talk to me about it. Devastated, I complied but things between us were strained and we barely talked in the weeks leading up to the dance.

He showed up with his dear friend M as his date, and I with J, a good friend who gallantly stepped in as a date. I decided on the spot that I missed him in my life, and we reconciled our friendship on the dance floor.

The next few weeks for E were a roller coaster, as we prepared for graduation and his dad was diagnosed with and died of cancer in a matter of weeks. Once the dust settled, he met me after work to talk to me about something serious, and that is when he came out to me as "being happy." How do I handle this news with grace? I bluntly asked "are you telling me you're gay? Does that mean we can talk about boys now?"

Shortly thereafter, he did his thing by moving to California, enrolling in school and living his life as his father asked him to. Whenever I get those goofy forwarded emails that say "there are 5 people out in the world who love you and you don't even know it," I know am one of those 5 people for E.

Holy crap, really? How about a short one?

Breathe, "Hands to Heaven" - A completely unrequited crush on someone much older than me, possibly gay, who was a good friend. He and I both loved the song, and the thought of a possibly/maybe flirtation bridged a barren gap in my non-existent love life that summer.

Whew, I'm spinning yarns! Part 3 coming up, and while it doesn't matter to you, it matters to me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Playlist - The Breakup Songs, pt. 1

Girls are scary... a still from the video "Jeopardy" that illustrates this installment better than a still from "The Breakup Song." Really Greg?

So Valentine's Day is coming up and thoughts turn to... breakups? This is in no way reflective of the current state of affairs for me thankyouverymuch, but in my past, this was always a tumultuous time of year. Also, I stumbled upon an episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You about break up songs and why they hurt so good - endorphins tapping into our psyche and all. Also, there was a Yahoo! article on the same subject and while not as entertaining as Cristen and Caroline, supported their research on the subject.

What follows is a list of the songs that - more or less - nursed me through the boo-hoos when boys were mean.

Greg Khin Band "The Breakup Song" - has absolutely nothing to do with breaking up with someone for me, but it is a fun song from my tween years. One distinct memory I have of the song is our next door neighbor Patty driving me and my sisters and her cousins in her huge Oldsmobile to Vandercook Lake for an afternoon at the beach. We made crazy sandwiches and I ate banana and mustard. I remember vividly sitting in the backseat with Candi, Sara, and Heather, screaming "they don't write 'em like that anymore!" at the top of our lungs. Yeah, 1981 rocked.

Journal entry, 1982. The sentence started on the previous page and was "I want to know what if..." Answer: no. My 12 year old heart breaks. Ah, get ready for 10+ more years of this crap, kid.

Journey "Open Arms" - this one is almost too embarrassing to type. The ills of an unrequited crush. See, T was the cutest boy in our class, and I was one of many who had huge crushes on him. The reality of the situation was I was his closest girl friend but not his girlfriend - boy the space between those two words is significant. While I pined, I also was his sounding board as he "went with" J, M and R, two of my cousins and my best friend. He even asked me to deliver a heart-shaped box of candy on his behalf to R on VD when he was too shy to do it.

I saw him at the church's parish picnic the summer of 1982, and while we had fun hanging out, he wanted me to find out if one of my cousins, probably J, still liked him and wanted to get back together. You know, I think my little pre-teen brain snapped. Later that night, heart in my throat, I watched the Saturday Night Concert on MTV. The tear-soaked letter I wrote to T started "I'm watching Journey right now on MTV, and Steve Perry is singing 'Open Arms,' and after today, my arms will never be open to you again." Angst to the nth degree!

Of course, I never sent him the letter, and as time went on and I met more boys, I got over him and our friendship settled into something sweeter. I wish I knew where he was and hope I see him at our class reunion. Reading this over, I'm glad to have typed it anyway, because who hasn't been that silly teenager?

The Beatles "For No One" - Oh, this would be CH. He was the son of a co-worker who let his feelings known by purchasing a fundraiser construction paper shamrock and having it plastered over the bar, on Valentine's Day, at midnight. He was tall, handsome, sandy, but a little adrift in life, not sure where he was going or what he was going to do next. There had been talk of him studying philosophy or psychology at Spring Arbor College, but when I was with him he was a carpenter/garbage truck driver. What set him apart was his mother's regal influence over him, and I was immediately charmed. One of the loveliest evenings I spent with him was a dinner party at her house. It was a celebration of Pavarotti at the Met, broadcast on PBS. I wore a creamy yellow sweater dress and heels and we had Cornish hens and pork chops with stuffing at little tables set up bistro-style. I felt like a lady, and his mother's friends were complimentary of my manners and welcomed me into their discussion.

I found my old diaries from the time we saw each other, and I had forgotten how intense he was. The product of a broken home, we went from a first kiss to him musing over marriage a week later. He clung to me in a way that at first I found breathlessly romantic, but smothering after a month. He called me constantly, at one job, the other job, at home. Thank God cell phones did not exist back then.

Alas, he broke my heart on Good Friday, just before he was supposed to meet the extended family at Easter dinner. The reason? There are things in life one should not be pressured into, making love or saying I love you. All things in due time, but for CH, the time was now or never. Also, I think his own intensity got to the better of him, because for the week leading up to our breakup, he couldn't stand being apart, but being with me wasn't a picnic either. There is also maybe his doubts about how I felt about him. At that time, I tended towards protecting my emotions for fear of getting hurt and maybe wasn't as demonstrative as he wished me to be .

I think too he recieved a lot of pressure from others to lay off for a while, let me do my thing because of how busy I was. I was working two jobs and going to two different schools as I was figuring out who I wanted to be. I was truly running on empty some days, and all I wanted to do was collapse in his arms with the last bit of energy I had. What they didn't know, and maybe what I never conveyed is while school and work were the things I had to do, he was what I wanted to do, the only place I truly wanted to be.

It was around this time that I transitioned from "greatest hits" compilations to actual Beatles albums, and Revolver was, and still is, one of my favorites. While I numbingly went about the business of working, going to school and trying to forget him, this bassoon-driven ballad seemed to say exactly what I was going through.

CH was remorseful, and stalked me for a while in hopes of reconciling, sulking around corners at Walgreens, surprising me as I stocked aisles or filled prescriptions. One of the pharmacists, who treated me like a little sister, chased him away, along with a stock boy who kissed me to distract me. The last time I saw him was unfortunately the same day I was supposed to see an old crush from high school at a party. Both scenes ended badly, and I ended up with a vodka-induced headache for 3 days afterwards.

To this day, I regret our breakup because it meant the end of my friendship with his dear mother Marilyn. She piqued my interest in classical music and other beautiful things in life. Of all the people in life I have met, she remains the benchmark of class and elegance. I found out that she succombed to cancer a few years later.

Scene of the crime! The location of our first kiss! I didn't stalk, it's for sale, cheap.

I'm editing this as a postscript, because this relationship seems to be lingering in my head, 24 years past its due date. Blame the time of year, blame mid-life yarn-spinning, blame my need for justifying everything, most of all, blame the feeling of loss I'm coping with in response to my dad. I'm trying to put all the pieces of the story back together for my egotistical amusement, an impossible task without access to CH to go get drunk and have a laugh at the two immature lovers we were.

It's easy to dismiss the relationship as foolishness by an 18 year old, but wow, I can't. I do remember that at the time, I truly loved him. I did, as much as a shy, virginal teenager can express. I'm usually pretty good about remembering crazy details, but my brain has protected that tiny little portion of my heart that is still 18 by editing from my memory what CH said when he broke up with me; all I know is it was heartlessly cruel. I distinctly recall, however, how my heart physically felt when I walked out that door - it was akin to a blast to the chest, painful and hollow. I also remember screaming to myself, calling myself a fool for falling for him so hard, so fast when everyone warned me against it. I cried for weeks, maybe even a month straight. Above I mentioned being numb, and that is an apt description.

His first "visit" to Walgreens post-breakup is etched in my mind, when he came to apologize with the hopes to reunite. Shaking in my Keds sneakers, trying desperately not to cry, I simply said in the strongest voice I could muster, "You broke my heart." I think that is when I broke his. He responded quietly that he regretted what he said the minute he said it, and spent the last month trying to figure out how to make it up to me, didn't know what to do to make it better and asked me how. It echoes in my head that I said "I don't know..." That was also our last kiss; his kiss was an apology and a question and it took every bit of willpower I had not to give in.

This is where perhaps I made my mistake. While we did indeed breakup, it was a fight, a stupid fight that should have been forgiven. God, I still loved him, but it hurt me that I did. Determined not to be a fool, forgiveness was not an option, no matter how often he hung out at Walgreens reading magazines and buying one stick of deodorant after another as a pretext for being there.

Yet I feel I need to offer up what was magical about him. Why? I'm bothered by my immaturity. And the fact I haven't talked to anyone from that time in my life for a long time, it's as if it never happened and I can't accept that. If I can remember him, then he did exist, it did happen and he did matter. This can also stand in as an apology to him, 24 years too late.

He is perhaps the only boy I fell in love with at first sight. When Mike, the bartender attempted to console me after our breakup, he said, "I know I warned you against falling for him, but I was too late, wasn't I?" Yep.

First kiss, total magic - he bashfully asked for permission after showing me his uncle's house (above) and enveloped me in a romantic embrace while fat snowflakes gently danced around us.

His kisses were magic -- at 6'7" to my 5'3", it was probably easier to pick me up and swing me around while kissing me. No objections here, I kind of liked being swept off my feet. He kind of swept me off my feet even when they were planted firmly on the ground anyway.

In my diaries when describing a night, date or dinner together, I always ended the story with "I floated home."

He made me feel beautiful, radiant, loved, cherished and wanted, even when I was greasy, angry, hot and tired.

For some reason, every time I think of him, Debussy's "Clair de Lune" plays in my mind. How lovely, and I have no idea why.

He worked to put me at ease when I was timid, awkward and shy.

He believed in us before there even was an us. Problem was he gave it up and didn't let me have a say in the matter until my heart was hardened against reconciliation.

*sigh* Couple of silly kids not able to manage it.

Update! I did find him, easy as pie: the internet is a magical thing sometimes. I sent him a simple note to let him know about my dad, share my thoughts about his mom and her influence on me and that I was glad he was once part of my life. No response, wasn't really expecting one, but it sets my mind at ease that I had the courage to reach out and the possibility of reconnecting as friends exists.

Like any classic soul song from the 70s, I'm labelling this pt. 1. More to come later.. stupid boys.