Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Checking In

I can not believe how long it has been since I published a new post here. Over at Fausti's Book Quest I make sure that I get at least two books a week posted, sometimes more and sometimes whatever else catches my fancy. Here it's a little trickier. Sure, I relate the books I read to my life because all my personal crap colors what I read. It's just not the same as the personal feel I wanted to go for here. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't think of something and then wonder if it is appropriate to discuss here.

I have two very large old hat boxes that are filled with memorabilia. When my mother moved into the new house with my brother and sister-in-law I had to empty my old bedroom and that included the hat boxes. Of course, they had to be replaced because for some reason my mother let my niece and nephew use them as a step stool and they were pretty crushed. I bought two really nice red pleather storage boxes to hold all of those "didn't want to part with them" memories.

Going through those hat boxes was pretty bizarre. I found letters from old boyfriends that are signed: Love, me. I don't know which "me" they are from. It seems awfully self-important to me. Or is it just optimistic? I can only think of two men from my past that could have reasonably expected that they would be the only "me", or at least the last "me" in my life. One I was engaged to and the other I was engaged and married to. They were each the only "me" at their time, but neither was the last "me" in my life. On the other hand, Mr. Handsome Honey actually signed a card to me with his name and his last initial. He did write in parentheses next to it that he couldn't believe he had done it. It was sort of a reflex action from doing it at work. I understood that. He's never signed a card "me."

I decided some time ago to stop throwing away all of the memories of old boyfriends. Sure, they are painful at first, but they are part of my life and I didn't want to just trash so much of my life. So, I started to take all those pictures and cards and letters and little mementos and tuck them away, out of sight in the hat boxes. Going through the stuff now is really weird. I'm reading love letters from boys who seemed to be under the impression that we were very much in love with each other, while I don't recall having been that crazy about them. I also have sweet tokens of love and affection that make some old boyfriends seem much better than history would prove them to be. Like my college boyfriend and first fiance, C. (cue dreamy harp music to signal nostalgic memories)

I met C my sophomore year at college. I was living with 7 of my girlfriends in an off-campus house. C lived next door. I was already friends with two of his roommates and met the third through the two I knew. C wasn't around much in the beginning, in fact, I didn't even know there was a fourth roommate at first. After we were introduced he suddenly started spending a lot more time at home. I didn't really think anything of it. I was sort of seeing, or seemed to be on the verge of seeing a number of boys at the time.

It was strange. I was getting kind of friendly with a really sweet guy on the baseball team, another on the football team, and one who was a wrestler, but I had known and kind of liked him since freshman year when we met while we were both pledging. The wrestler and I found that we were great together as friends, but we did not click as any more than that. There was also a guy from high school who would pop up once a year or so and we would go out, but that was never going to amount to anything, although he was a really nice guy, too. There were other guys who were in the periphery, but I knew there was never going to be anything there. Like one of the baseball guy's teammates. He was following me around like a puppydog. For one thing I wouldn't have had anything to do with him because he had been seeing someone I knew and she still had feelings for him. Secondly, I knew that he was just laying the groundwork. This was a guy who would follow me around and if he wore me down and I started reciprocating, he would be nowhere to be found. I sensed that he was the kind to start telling his friends how he just couldn't shake me, to make himself look like a stud. It wasn't going to happen.

Pretty soon, C started to turn up when I least expected him. I would be at a party at his fraternity house and he would suddenly turn up at my side. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing and I guess I should have been aware of where he was headed, but it took a little while to sink in. I can't really explain why, but whenever I thought of a guy as a friend, it never occurred to me that they considered it a stepping stone to something more. If I was out in the yard playing with my pals, or the neighborhood kids even just coming and going, I would often notice that C would just happen to be heading out somewhere and stop to say hi. Who's to say that wouldn't be random or coincidental? It could be and it would be really self-centered to assume that his comings and goings had anything to do with me. In retrospect, some were coincidental, but more often than not, he was intentionally putting himself into my line of vision.

When I'd be hanging out at his apartment with his roommates and he would come in, I didn't really think about why the other guys would make themselves scarce. They had lives and friends and classes and meetings and girlfriends and all kinds of stuff. It was college, people came and went for any number of reasons all the time. Eventually, it got pretty obvious, but it wasn't like he was making a move or anything. I began sharing the information with my roommates, who probably had gotten wind of it from his roommates as they made themselves scarce well before I caught on. Of course, until you reach a critical stage, there's no telling what's going to happen.

In college, there isn't so much traditional dating as there is in the real world. Any time someone is getting away from campus or doing anything that might be remotely interesting, the escape vehicle is like a clown car in the circus. The shocks are put to the ultimate test and people are on laps and laying across the people on the laps. Hopefully, no one is clinging to the roof or trying to catch a ride in the trunk, but I've seen both attempted. There's no dinner and a movie ~ who's got any money? There's no privacy, because there is always someone around.

We were hanging out pretty regularly. It was nice to not have to run from the baseball practice field to the football practice field just to make my appearances, so I was okay with it. I was active in my sorority and my roommates were always up to some fabulous nonsense or other, so I was fairly busy. I think this went on for over a month, though, so it was a little strange. I think it may have been like a lab experiment for everyone who knew me. We all caught on that this guy liked me and was doing everything he could to be around me and to keep me to himself, but so far, it was completely platonic.

He finally made his move in the beginning of November. I don't know if he knew it was my birthday before I got there, we were just hanging out at his place, probably watching tv and talking as usual. At midnight, there was a whole lot of screaming coming from the second floor windows of my house that faced his second/third floor apartment. He looked at me questioningly as I started to giggle and run over to the window. My roommates were making sure they were the first to wish me a happy 19th birthday. After the noise quieted down a little, we wrapped up and I was headed back next door. He walked me to his door to say goodnight and wish me a happy birthday and that was when he kissed me for the first time. You know how some people claim to see fireworks? My first kiss from C was followed by screaming and applause. All the girls were in my bedroom window watching us and cheering!

I promise to be back soon to regale you with more of my thoughts and stories from my crazy box of memorabilia. I know. I know. The suspense is killing you.

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