Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When I was 11...

It's been a while since I posted anything personal on this blog. A lot of you have been giving me shit about it, which I rightfully deserve, but my summer was filled with travel and cons and work and all kinds of other time-consuming activities, a.k.a. excuses. I've devoted most of the space here over these past few months to posting pics and links that relate mostly to my job. But it's time to get back to the heart of the matter. I'm going to try and return to the more story-like nature of my pre-summer posts and let you back into my world... if you really care, that is.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a very active dreamer. Rarely a night goes by that I don't dream something that I remember. I sleep with a pad and pen by my bed in order to write down all the crazy stuff my mind manufactures as I sleep. Some nights are more vivid than other, and last night was a doozy. I dreamt of the first girl I thought I'd fallen in love with.... when I was 11.

I don't think I've thought of this girl, BY, once over the past 18 years. Some first love, eh? But last night, there she was, looking like she did the last time I saw her in high school, and it was so fucking real! The dream started out as some surreal reenactment of my brother's bachelor party from a few months ago. We were all on a school bus partying it up, but we got lost and ended up at this enormous mansion by some seaside. We went inside and there was BY, welcoming me in with open arms. Everyone else had disappeared, like they often do in dreams. She and I sat down and caught up, telling each other about all we'd gone through in life since we'd last seen each other. (Even though I now can't remember when was the last time we met.) We kissed, stated our regrets for not being together, professed our eternal love for each other, kissed again... and I woke up. But I didn't need my pad and pen for this one. This dream stayed with me.

I spent today thinking about what sparked this memory of BY, and why it was so clear and so real. It could be the fact that I'm working on Wonderlost, but she's not in any of the stories and I haven't really thought about her since we weren't close in high school. It could be that I've been looking through a lot of old yearbooks for photo reference for artists and maybe unconsciously glanced over old pictures of her. It could be that I recently got an updated Class of 89 high school contact list and looked it over with an eye for which girls were married and which weren't. I just rechecked and she's on it and now married. Whatever the case may be, it was kinda nice to see BY again. It got me thinking about the past...

In fifth grade, I was the fastest kid in the entire class. (And stayed the fastest all through high school actually.) BY just happened to be the fastest girl in the grade and I remember that that was the first time I noticed her. We could run fast together, my young mind thought. Over the course of time, I developed a crush on her that I kept to myself. I thought the fact that you could write CB + BY and it would read the same vertically and horizontally was pretty cool. But we were in different classes, ran in different cliques even back then, and our paths never really crossed, although we did ride the same bus. Early kisses and fumblings came and went with other girls I had easier access to. But BY was always there to catch my eye.

We left elementary school and moved onto junior high. We were growing up and all that... but it wasn't until 7th grade that I got my nerve up. One day our eyes met in the hallway (and I still remember the exact place) and BY smiled at me! I was thrilled! Oh, my god, she noticed me! Was I supposed to say something? I thought I should, so I turned around and there she was... but she was not looking back. She was walking away giggling with her friend DT. But that was enough for me. Her smile was a call to action. I knew what I had to do. I was going to ask her out! It's what all the cool kids were doing after all.

So I waited a few days, deciding on a plan, figuring out what to say, making sure I looked OK, picking out the right clothes... and then I did it. One day after lunch I simply walked up to BY and asked her out. She looked at me (I guess for what seemed like an eternity, as the cliche goes), smiled and said yes! Just like that, I had a girlfriend. My first steady girlfriend! BY and I were dating! But I quickly realized I had no clue what to do next, so I just said something like "Cool. Thanks. I'll see you later then." and walked away. She smiled and nodded and waved.

That was the first and last time I saw BY as my girlfriend though. At the end of the day, as I waited for her to ride the bus home together, her friend DT came up to me and told me BY felt she rushed into things and was breaking up with me. And right there and then, I learned a lot about life and love and what my future held in dealing with women.

I walked home and cried and suffered through my first heart break. My memories of the days following this first fumbled attempt at dating are fuzzy now, but I'm sure I sulked, hid and avoided BY as best I could. Another precursor to my future of dealing with women.

We finished junior high and spent four years in high school together, but BY and I never really talked or hung out as we got older. We were never the best of friends. Never really friends even. Sure, we had mutual acquaintances and saw each other in different classes and at parties and things, but I don't think we ever really spoke much. I think she may have yelled at me once or twice because I was drunk or a dick to her friend or both, but that's about it. Which is why the dream last night is all the more baffling. Where the hell did that clarity of nocturnal vision come from?!

This morning I pulled out our high school yearbook and looked her up. There was BY smiling out at me.

My 11 year old self smiled back.

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