My High School Reunion

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I went to my high school reunion last night. It was awkward and bizarre and amazing. Just as you would imagine something like that would be. Combine a lot of alcohol and thousands of conversations starting with, “so, what have YOU been up to?” and you’re bound to have a good time.

L and I got quite a few folks commenting on this blog which was flattering and somewhat surprising. Needless to say, I got a few questions regarding my lack of posting lately, so here I am. I wish I could give you some awesome update like L with stars in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. I cannot. I am in the same place as always. Working way too much, hating online dating with a fiery passion, and only eyeing those that are completely off limits. So yeah, I’m in a super good place… per usual.

Instead of talking about my inability to be a normal, functioning adult who dates or whatever, let’s talk about HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONS!!! At the end of the night I ended up taking my high school boyfriend home. But before you get all “WHAT THE SHIT?!” on me, let me explain. He came back to my friend’s house with five of my besties and we just stayed up late, drunkenly shoving food in our faces as we talked about how odd the evening had been.

It’s strange to walk into a room full of people you haven’t seen in 10 years and try and figure where they belong in your heart and brain. There were the boys that took us to dances, the girls that were scary and mean, the people I couldn’t place for the life of me, my favorite teacher and many more. And then there was the boy who camped out in my heart, leaving an etched out space for himself, as first loves always do.

There’s nothing as ridiculous and magical as your first relationship. You fumble through hand holding and the first kiss. Figuring out how to act at school with each other is a tightrope walk, as you’re also navigating how to be a real human. My first relationship was with a punk rock kid who had lip piercings and was in a band. My mom disapproved immediately and my dad just remembers him as the “super tall kid who was ridiculously skinny.” To me, he was a dream. He played guitar! And had dyed hair! His snake bite piercings made him JUST enough of a bad ass that I tried to learn what flirting meant, and started practicing.

Our first kiss was outside in the rain at the house that was everything our parents feared and everything we loved. Two of my best friends happened to be dating two of his best friends, so it only made sense to join in on the fun. We spent a year or two holing up in the top floor of this parentless house, playing video games and being ridiculously in love.

I’ve touched on how blissful naïve love is. You go into it without any preconceived ideas or fears, except maybe what you saw in 10 Things I Hate About You. You figure each other out through hours on the phone, talking about nothing as you had just seen each other ALL DAY at school. There wasn’t all that stupid adult shit that got in your way, and as long as you made it through the school week, you could get into trouble on the weekend. It was new and exciting and so god damn cliché. I remember listening to hours of Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, Blink 182 and Saves the Day, relating those words to my emotions, making up drama for the sake of our first fight. I journaled endlessly about our relationship, struggling over whether or not he’d pay attention to me after his shows. I’d make him mixed CDs that were filled with pop punk love ballads, because that music really seemed to understand the struggle and beauty that was first love.

Heaven knows I was a complete idiot in all of it. I didn’t know how to be a good partner and was always nervous that who I was (and what I looked like) wasn’t enough for him. Granted, my fashion choices were terrible and I had a haircut that was cringe worthy. Still, I waded through the mess of hormones and emotions and loved this boy as much as a 15-year-old heart can love. It was beautiful and messy and silly. It was puppy love and it was perfect.

While the relationships I have had since my high school boyfriend were much more “real”, there is nothing as vulnerable or pure as the first time you kiss a boy on a park bench and he holds your hand.

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First Loves.

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I fell in love with him in an English literature class.

I don’t remember what we were studying, but I do remember that we were in a tiny windowless room. I had been listening to The Milk Eyed Mender on repeat, and I shared my flash cards with him, making sure to point out the words that were also scattered throughout Miss Newsom’s genius songs.

Who else can use abominably, protracted, slack-jawed AND reference Camus ALL in one song? I rest my case.

He was the good ol’ American boy. Going to college in his hometown, his parents were still happily married and he had weekend “supper” at their house. He held hands with the girl from high school, and I believe a promise ring or two had been exchanged. I was trying my promiscuous/tequila loving pants on for size, as I had spent my high school career in AP classes, playing Apples-to-Apples with the kind of kids who would go on to be the “smart ones” at Yale.

In college you had all the freedom of an adult, without the real responsibility. Sure, I broke down and bawled the first time I got a ‘C’ (calculus, you are my nemesis), and I definitely made questionable party choices. Note to self, don’t jump into the bathtub and turn off the lights hoping the cop won’t look in there, they always do. But that’s what being 18 is for, right?

I spent this weekend in my college town, which of course brings on ALL the memories. Talking to L about it, her exact words were, “nostalgia is a dangerous thing, but makes for great writing material.” I couldn’t agree more. Luckily, my heart has mended and this wave of remembering is more to remind myself of how stupid silly that first love is.

You know what I’m talking about. The first time you actually feel weak in the knees over the fella/gal, and you find yourself in those stereotypical moments that only happen in the movies. Our first kiss? In the stadium parking lot a block from my house, in his car, in the pouring rain (and I’m PRETTY sure Deathcab was on the radio.) It was after months of dramatic back and forth, and so when it finally did happen I expected the music to swell and everything to fall into place.

And it did. That summer was whiskey soaked perfection. It was that stupid cute summer romance that Nicholas Sparks writes about, without a touch of the cancer/dying/Alzheimer’s– you’d think people would notice EVERY SINGLE TERRIBLY WRITTEN STORY IS THE SAME… I digress.

And of course, like most college-to-real-adulthood romances, ours didn’t last. Three years and we had grown apathetic and bitter, and finally that perfectly crafted puzzle fell apart. Oh sure, it took me years to get over it and stitch my heart back together. Stoicism and a complete distaste for vulnerability do not lend itself to healing in a timely manner.

Being back in Bellingham isn’t nostalgic in the way that I pine for that feeling again. I know that as cliché and ridiculous as this next sentence will sound, that first love feeling only happens once. The romances that you have after that always have a tinge of broken hearts. You will always carry around past romances like boy scout badges, on proud display so you can proceed more rationally, more cautiously, with the bar set higher or lower (depending).

Needless to say, I spent this sun soaked (VERY cold) weekend walking through the woods with my hound dog, remembering. How wonderfully naïve it all was—and not just with him. I had late night adventures at the waterfall, kissing a boy I shouldn’t have. Another boy referred to himself as my “prince” (The Little Prince will always and forever be my bible), and would leave chocolate on my doorstep. He’d ask me to skip class so we could go to the beach or the mountains. He’s the one that took me to the cemetery when it was snowing after we had broken up. He kissed me and told me he’d fallen back in love with another girl.

College romances y’all, they are bright and explosive and downright beautiful. This town will be haunted with mine for eternity, and every time I come back I will hold that feeling close to my chest, fondly and forever.

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