This past weekend, I was at my parent’s house and I took look through my memory box that I keep under my bed. While rifling through old ticket stubs, notes from classes, letters, sugar packets or receipts from restaurants, and napkins or scratch paper with girls’ phone numbers on them, even (I admit) old MASH games (a game of chance where you write down four people you’d like to end up with someday), I grew a bit concerned. The item I was looking for was not there. I’ve always had a strict policy of saving items to mark moments of romantic significance in my life. These are my romantic relics (“relic” is defined in Wikepedia as: an object or a personal item of someone of religious significance, carefully preserved with an air of veneration as a tangible memorial.)
I was relieved when I remembered there was another box in my closet--an even older box that held the item I was looking for. Here is the story behind that item:
In ninth grade I had a huge crush on a senior girl in my Latin Class (Latin I that some of the seniors took just to meet a requirement, while us freshman started to learn a whole new language). The toughest part of the crush was that we developed a friendship. By the time the year ended, I had been to some parties with her and always said “hi” to her in the hallway and was not afraid to approach her. The friendship was just enough contact in my fifteen-year-old mind to make me think there was hope of us maybe becoming boyfriend-girlfriend.
At this innocent time in my life, I did not think things like distance (she was about to go to college), age gap (four years at this age felt like an eternity), and other “practical” factors could ever get in the way of true love. This was a time when occupation, location, and time constraints between two people didn’t have to fit like puzzle pieces.
Shortly before the girl left for college, I went to the beach. I purchased the cheesiest anklet ever on the boardwalk and also spent hours playing that fire the squirt gun in the mouth of the clown to make the balloon blow up game and won her a stuff animal.
I triumphantly returned home and scheduled time to see her to say goodbye before she headed off to college. When we were in her room, I attempted to give her the “going away presents”. She told me she couldn’t accept the anklet, and some day I’d understand why. At that moment, I couldn’t fathom why she couldn’t accept them. And, just to be fair, she gave me her favorite teddy bear as an exchange for the stuffed animal I gave her. As we were saying goodbye, I noticed the teddy bear she gave me smelled like the perfume she always wore, so I said:
“Hey, you should never change that perfume you wear. No one else wears it and it reminds me of you.”
She told me to hold on a moment, and walked to her dresser, took out a little perfume vial and poured some of that perfume into it. She handed it to me, and I was on my way.
The vial made it through the weekend I spent at a friend’s house and into to my memory box (a big accomplishment for a fifteen-year-old boy). It’s been there ever since—and over this past weekend, I finally found it and—just to remind myself that romance still could exist in my life—I opened the vial and inhaled.
This girl, though we never went on one date, kissed, or slept together (I’ve slept with the teddy bear quite often though) taught me so much about romance. Over the years, my original goal in life: “I just want to fall in love”, has been eroded by practicality: job, location, making ends meet, spoiled relationships, insecurities, and bad experiences. The vial will always define romance for me, and it will always keep my hope alive that I can fall in love.
So after this past weekend, I’m finally ready to try to define romance.
I’ll attempt to define it in my next post.