Why am I putting this out there for anybody on the planet to read it? Because I love this man and I want everybody to know it.
We were high school sweethearts, and a very delicate set of circumstances brought us together. For most of our childhoods, we'd lived only a five minute drive away from each other. We went to the same high school for two years, knew many of the same people, and somehow never ran into each other. I do have a vague memory of looking out the window and seeing a bizarre little Chevette in the school parking lot with white fenders and a black hood scoop...but he spent as little time as possible in that hellhole and I never saw his face.
It all converged when we ended up at a different high school. Ours was on a three-term system, and the new one was in two semesters. We both had the first half of the year go down the drain and needed to catch up. The year was 1987.
I'd been in my sickly teenager phase and had just gotten back from the detox clinic. This school had a special education room that was set up to be allergen free: no perfume, no harsh chemicals, air filtration, the whole deal. At that point I couldn't tolerate anything. A new carpet would make me blind with craziness; it got into my forehead and made me blink. So I started off the semester with a ride to school on the small bus. Yep, I took the small bus to school.
He had decided the summer before that school really truly was a waste of his time, and that he needed to ditch it and run off to be a rock star. After playing violin for eleven years he'd started playing guitar at 14, which he did whenever he wasn't under his car. Three years of guitar playing later, he had a chance to join a band. His ownership of a pickup truck may have made him a more valuable band member. Now remember that this was 1986. A few gigs in, he figured out that he really did not enjoy the performing aspect of musicianship. The required eyeliner and hairspray had a lot to do with it. He found himself in October with no gigs and no job and not enough education. He bought another car and got it ready to drive it to school in February.
Meanwhile, a girl who would later become known right here as Bestest, had just returned from her exile out east where she had been sent For Her Own Good. She and I had been writing back and forth. She'd be living with her older brother, a guy who would later become known here as The Mayor of Crazyville. Knowing that she would be there eased my mind. I'd know somebody in the big bad city school.
Bestest was the coolest; she was wearing fishnets and little pointy shoes with zippers on the front. She asked me if I knew this particular guy who lived behind the mill and hung around with her brothers. I'd always wondered who lived in the spooky old house behind the mill. I didn't know him. She offered to introduce us, since we were all kind of from the same place.
I wasn't in the market for a new boyfriend. In fact, I was already spoken for. Things were on the way out with my boyfriend and I, but even still, I can't say that sparks flew. I can't say that it was love at first sight. But, I remember exactly how he was standing, leaning on his locker, one foot propped on the other. I clearly, perfectly remember every detail about what he was wearing.
He was holding a plastic parking permit. He said his car wasn't quite ready to drive yet. I asked about the car. He was just slightly off-putting. "You wouldn't know what kind of car it is. It's an old car."
So being me, I replied, "I LOVE old cars! Tell me what it is." He mumbled that it was a '67 Pontiac. I asked if he bought it from Billy. He said yes. I squealed that my dad had almost bought that car, for me, but it was already sold to some guy...
If you believe in fate or karma or even if all you believe in is coincidence, it all adds up: the mutual friend, the school, the car.
Once the car was working he moved out of his sister's place in the city and back in with his folks. He offered to drive me home after school, what with the farm being only five minutes out of his way. I took the offer, of course. He spent the next few months driving and smiling. He was the perfect gentleman (when he wasn't being a snarky young punk of an almost-rock-star) and slowly I became an unattached exgirlfriend. He never said a word. He never made a move.
The snow melted, the leaves popped out of the trees, and I had a new friend.
He knew I was nuts. I did crazy stupid things, I wore ridiculous clothes, and I never friggin shut up. I made him laugh. I made him cringe. Once I took my sandals off and danced on the roof of that gorgeous old car. What the hell was I thinking?
By the time school ended, I was feeling healthy again, and I couldn't be away from him. He felt the same. We'd sit in the car and talk until the sun came up. My mom would wave to us as she left for work. Every time we said goodbye we'd hug, and the hugs got longer and tighter. I kissed his cheek. I hated watching him drive away.
But we were just friends.
We went to see the fireworks on Canada Day and when he dropped me off at home, we kissed each other.
And that was the end of that and the beginning of all of this.