In High School there were really only two boys I fell for, but for each I fell hard. Oddly enough, they became BFF's after I introduced them and to this day, they are dear friends of mine, people I would depend on in a pinch and know would back me up in the ugliest of bar fights.
These were the guys I climbed rocks and parking structures with, stayed up too late with, got into trouble with, knew all my secrets and loved me anyway. Both are happily married now with little people of their own and working respectable jobs. Elliott is in law enforcement after surviving the the desert and Josh has recently found himself behind a desk, shocked at the dude with the tie staring back at him in the mirror.
Via Facebook I got the following message from Josh the other day, "Hey. I need you to call me ASAP. Bad News." I was dialing before I could take the next breath, imaging Elliott's high risk job had come to no good and Josh was about to end a part of me with words you never want to hear. Instead, it was E's mom, who had suddenly passed from a heart attack, despite being one of the most vital women I ever knew. She was an athlete, an organizer, the one there for you even though you broke her sons heart. Even the doctors were scratching their heads at this unexpected death. "Our parents are dying, Lanie. That's just... crazy" Josh was in shock over this loss, as were all who knew her.
A trip to the box of photo albums in our shed revealed this photo of Elliott and I, heading out to his Senior Prom in 1991:
And this photo? It threw my whole life into doubt.
To put it simply: when was the last time someone looked at you like that?
I know my Mister loves me... no question, but can anyone compete with the puppy love of a 17-year-old boy? I know, without a doubt that had Elliott and I stayed together all these years that look would have faded. But the memory of it, the memory of how he'd look over at me in the car or smile whenever I glanced in his direction, it's enough to ruin someone. Memories of what "love" was when I was a teen simultaneously makes me long for those days and feel an intense wave of gratitude for the kind of love I get to have now, with my Mister.
And yet, just thinking about that young love and what it felt like on the tips of my fingers or the edge of my cheek, it makes me wonder what happens to that level of adoration. Can it even be sustained? Would you want it to be? I remember another boy in high School who desperately wanted to date me, but his level of adoration was suffocating and I always refused his attempts. Would that be what this would ultimately feel like? Suffocation under the pressure of such a long term gaze?
What Mark and I have is so complex; it doesn't always make sense and yet, it's lasted for over 15 years. I can easily see it lasting the rest of my life. But with this photo in my eye, I start looking for that gaze in my current life and feeling bitter disappointment when I don't find it. "I don't feel desired" I say and his response is a totally reasonable flabbergasted one. It's not 'till later that I realize I am comparing what I feel now to something I felt 20(!) years ago. Something that didn't last. Something that was full of drama and angst and tears and sometimes really stupid choices.
And yet, it affects me. Memory has a way of doing that, I guess. You only hold on to what you feel you lost and have trouble recognizing all you have gained. That crucible of youth, it burns into you an unrealistic ideal of what love and relationships should be like. My friendships, though dear and vital to my sanity, seem less intense now. But this is a good thing... right?
I wonder though, are there real-live adults still living in the intensity of High School? If so, are they happy? Or is the world too intense? I cannot imagine it, honestly. The quiet, early nights and the stable relationships make for such a beautiful life. I am happy here, most of the time.
But some days, I'll admit it, I just want someone to look at me like that again.