April 21, 2010

There Are Places I Remember

"There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain" 
In My Life- The Beatles

I think that I was around six or seven when I met June. I don't quite remember any more. She was the girl down the street with long dark hair. The middle child, sandwiched between a younger and an older sister, she was a full year ahead of me in school.

Me? Well, I was one of five kids and a committed bachelor. At least I thought I was, but what did I know at seven. Back then girls were at best tolerated, an unpleasant experience that had to be dealt with. As you can imagine my attitude wasn't appreciated by any of my sisters and especially not by my mother. She would look at my father and ask him to speak with me.

I remember those conversations. Dad would sit down and split a can of Ginger Ale with me and tell me that one day I would appreciate girls. I loved my father dearly and tried not to tell him that I thought he was nuts. They didn't play the games that I liked to play and had an uncanny knack for getting me in trouble. As far as I was concerned girls were the enemy.

Being a very stubborn boy I vowed that if my feelings about girls ever changed I would not tell my father. I loved him, but not enough to let him know that he was right about such a serious issue. In my eyes this misguided belief that I would like girls was his biggest shortcoming and the only thing that made me question his status as the all powerful superman.

Still he maintained that at some point in the future I would find girls to be so interesting that I would have to be careful not to get into trouble. I still remember the look my mother gave my father for saying this. At the time I had no clue as to what he was hinting at.

The days came and went and the school years passed by. Elementary school came and went and on we went to junior high. I can't say that I have many memories of June from then. I know that sometimes I'd see her walking to or from school but I never said anything. Most of the time she was with one of her sisters and their friends and though I was older, girls were still not on my radar.

One day that changed. I can't tell you how, when or why. All that I know is that one day I started to notice things about girls that were different. Things that made me tingle a bit and wonder. I suppose that you can blame June for some of this. I had to walk by her house to get to school and so I had plenty of occasions to see her. Plenty of occasions to notice that her butt swayed when she walked and that I liked her long hair.

I think that we were around 12 or 13 when things really changed, or should I say when we started talking. To this day I can't tell you who initiated the conversation or how. All I can tell you is that the boy who hated girls got the surprise of his life, a best friend who was a girl.

I suppose that I blame June for this. She has always been smarter and more clever than I am. It wouldn't surprise me if she manipulated the whole thing. I know that sounds bad, but I don't mean it in a bad sense. It is easier to believe than blaming fate. And in truth given some of the things that would happen later on it makes sense in a different way.

June always figured things out before I did.  I suspect that she knew that she would have to overcome the stubborn, bull headed part of me and so did things to help me think that I had figured it out.

"All these places had their moments"

If you want examples I could tell you about other boys she dated. She'd tell you that they came before I did and I suppose that there is some truth to that. The same truth can be said about the anger I developed over the influence and influx of interlopers. My best friend's attention was being taken from me and I didn't like it. Perhaps it is better called jealousy, because I was jealous. I just didn't recognize it for what it was at the time.

To me it was anger and that anger led to more than a few fights with June. It was one of those fights that caused us to stop talking. By this point we were in high school and June being a year ahead of me was getting ready to go to college. The thought of her going away bothered me tremendously, but I didn't tell her. Still acting as the stubborn lout I refused to let her know how upset I was by it.

And with the convenient excuse of being angry I just stopped talking to her. Didn't return her telephone calls, attend her graduation or the party her parents threw for her. And let's not forget her senior prom. Since she lived down the street from me I watched as some stupid jerk pulled walked her from the house into a limousine. I saw his hand trail down her side and brush her below the belt. This made me so angry that I ran out of the house and down the street.

My plan was to try to kill him for his transgression. Instead I got a mouthful of exhaust and watched them drive down the street while I screamed. It was quite the show for the neighbors.

Anyway, time passed but my anger and frustration didn't. If I had a better head on my shoulders I would have realized that I was in love with my best friend and that was why I was so angry. But I didn't or at least couldn't acknowledge it and so she went off to college without a goodbye from me.

I didn't see June again until sometime around mid December. She was home on break with her new boyfriend. I can't tell you how excited I was to see her or how much my heart sank when I saw him. It is fair to say that I contemplated breaking his arms and legs for no other reason than he was with June.

More time passed and my own graduation came and went. By the time I left for school it had been more than a year since I had spoken with June. The more time that passed without speaking the harder it became to even think about picking up the phone.

I had a great time in college. Really, in many ways it was the time of my life. I made great friends and finally admitted to my father that he was right. I never did tell him just how right he was and how happy I was that girls liked me too. Side note. I only brought home two girlfriends. My parents liked them both and made a point of telling me that they looked a lot like June,

"With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all" 

I remember the apartment I had when I first got out of school. It wasn't much, but I loved it. Just a simple one bedroom that was all mine. My first true bachelor pad and one that I immensely enjoyed breaking in. I remember the first time I had a woman over. There was something very cool about not having to worry about a roommate showing up. No secret signs were needed. No sock on the door or special request to go out for an evening.

It was just the two of us...all night long. She was followed by several others, but none of them lasted particularly long. One of us always had a reason for why it wouldn't work and that was ok with me. I was a twenty something guy who was enjoying life.

It had been around five years since June and I had last spoken. We had passed by each other once or twice in the neighborhood, but we didn't say anything. It was a little bit like elementary school, except this time I liked girls, especially June.

"But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you"

My sweet incomparable June whom I had lost touch with. What I didn't know then was that I had found the love of my life when I was just a boy and had been too young to recognize it. What I didn't realize then was that June had been giving me everything short of a direct order to be her boyfriend. What I didn't realize then was how badly it would hurt when I found out that she was wearing the ring of some other guy.

What I didn't know then was that in spite of all that I desperately wanted her to be my girl. It was a very bitter lesson about missed opportunities. A heart wrenching experience that rocked my world. All that time my other half had been right in front of me and I never recognized it. How stupid and blind could I be.

There have been other relationships in my life. Women who have loved me deeply. Women that I loved too, but none of them have felt quite right. And I can't help but wonder if my lot in life is to forever wonder about what could have been. For every time I have tried to let go something has dragged me back. So though I have tried to take the advice of Crosby, Stills and Nash to love the one you are with it has never really taken root.
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I'll love you more

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