{ Wednesday, February 12, 2003 }



Day Three, February 12: When you've loved.
-Write a brief history of your love life, or a single story about your first love. Extra credit for the juicy bits.

Please note, this is over 5500 words long. If you actually finish it, I don't know if I am more proud of me for holding your attention that long, or you for sticking it out.

"linger on, your pale blue eyes"

This story is reconstructed from a dream I used to have when "Pale Blue Eyes" would play on my Sleep Music Soundtrack. In it, I was confronted with just all the images of his eyes I have burned into my head from every major event with the music in the backround. It's really kinda high concept for a dream...

I want to make it clear from the get-go that I was a tremendous bitch to this boy. That I regret ninety percent of the story I am about to tell you. I was horrible. Absolutely horrible to him. I have no illusions about that now. And I don't want you to think that my cold detachment is in any way trying to reflect some sort of approval for any of this.

My first memory of Puer* was actually him standing at the Copper P's locker. They were "going out" (whatever that means to a pair of twelve year-old high school freshman. Okay, he was thirteen, I was twelve and so was she. We were all accelerated geek school freshman.) and he was giving her some ring he'd picked up in Mexico. Not for her, but just a ring he had lying around. I know all of this now, because later she gave the ring back to him and then later still he gave it to me and I totally recognized it as Copper P's ring. I still have it. It's a little frog.

Oh my. If I keep going at this rate, I'll write a whole novel tonight in one sitting. We have ten years to get through...

Anyway, he was standing at this girl's locker, the Copper P's locker, and he turned around and he looked at me. Now, honestly, when I am in an I Hate Puer phase, he looks like a rat to me. Okay, to anyone who isn't actually in an I Love Puer phase, the boy resembles a rat. But at that moment, only knowing him as the boy in forum IA, I looked at him and realized his eyes are the most amazing shade of blue. Right then and there I kinda decided I wanted my children to have those eyes. Even if they weren't his. Just that color.

Later that year I learned that he was obnoxious and a little geeky even for Geek High School. I stopped being interested in him then. But those eyes, I can remember meeting them across the cafeteria. He was just sitting down and I was eating my token "lunch" of a cookie and some chocolate milk. I think I was already beginning the cycle of hate we had going by then, because it was like a glare.

Sophmore year, we really began with the Hate. I was horribly mean to him. He was horribly obnoxiously mean back. The look in his eyes the day we went back and forth in the lunch line was of pure frustration and stubborness. He would not have me cut into the line. He actually grabbed me by the ponytail and dragged me back to the end of the line. And then CUT back into it.

Livid is the only word I can use to describe how I felt about this. I marched my little tiny, scrawny ass back up there to yell at him. The love of the challenge. That's what I saw right then. I was challenging him. We were screaming. In paragraphs. Complete with ugly accusations about the other person's character. Over cutting in line. And neither one of us really cared. We were both loving the hate right then. Loving the challenge.
In the end, the Dean came and seperated us. He got JUG (an hour or a quota of lines after school -- whichever came last) for dragging me by my hair like that. Our parents were called, and it was determined that we would both apologize. In person.

It was with suppressed giggles and anger that we stood there by the ping-pong tables in the basement declaring how we were sorry for all the dragging and the name calling and the disturbance we caused...

After that I wrote a letter to the Dean. My mother encouraged me to do so. I think she thought everyone would think it was cute. My mother is like that, encouraging me to do silly things for other's amusement. Anyway, I petitioned for and was granted a small restraining order against him. During school we were never allowed to be less than two desks apart. There had to be an empty one between us.

The excitement and pure glee on his face when he would speak out in class and say something I found particularly regrettable is what strikes me next. Oh and how angry it made me when he did that. When he looked so happy sitting there, half bouncing in his seat, with an audience saying something to make most of the class groan and his friends giggle those giggles that only geeky boys have.

And then comes the other side. When he would get up during Religion Class and walk out of the room to go get his ritalin. Poor Puer always looked so ashamed, but trying to be not proud; just like it was normal and okay --that blank stare of "I don't even know why anyone would be looking at me" , when he walked out knowing everyone knew why he had to go.

The summer between sophmore and junior year, my friend was trying to steal his girlfriend. Somehow with my hate, I got roped into the mess of trying to break them up. And this meant since we were all training for the bike trip together that I met him once or twice to ride. The look of meanspirited, but still "like I give a fuck that you're here. You don't bother me with your silly taunts" that still had some genuine hurt built into it that he gave me is forever burnt into my brain.

And when he would make one of his comments, the ones I found so annoying from the beginning to the end, he would look at me. Not at our friend who was his best friend and is now my best friend. Not at his girlfriend. And they were both laughing. He'd look at me with that excited, happy look waiting for the praise, and then it would fade to some sort of disappointment when I just glared back.

Junior year began and my friend gave up. Puer went through so many girlfriends then. I remember when our friend began seeing this Prep Year student. I remember watching him steal glances at her. Hungry, jealous looks. And then his eyes would lock with mine for a second, daring me to accuse him of anything. Daring me to be jealous. And how my friend would be so uncomfortable and how I hated them both because she looked back just the same way.

I remember all the mean things I said to him about it. And how he stared at me, trying to look innocent while still somehow managing to convey that "I dare you. C'mon, say something. I want nothing more than to be given clearance to say something cold to you." message.

And I remember when our friend went away for the weekend, and Puer kissed her. It was all over school. And I remember when I confronted him about it. His eyes to me then were saying that he got away with it and he did it to hurt us all. They said he was just an insecure boy on a power trip. They were seriously the eyes of someone just two steps short of bringing a gun to school. That hurt, hateful, "I'm getting back at you", revenge in his eyes.

Then I remember girl he made out with all the time and everywhere. And he was standing in front of me in the cafeteria line, kissing her and he opened his eyes and looked straight at me. Through me. I did not exist and he wanted me to feel it.

The summer between our junior and senior years, we went to Europe on the Bike Trip. Thirty-five kids and I think five adults. We were an unsupervised, disorganized plague of locusts fiasco descending on the Old Country.

In Rome, we stayed in this monestary/mission/hostile thing. It was a hostile run by priests for religious pilgrims. It was nice, but for whatever reason, we were supposed to be religious pilgrims from Melbourne Australia if anyone asked. That's what the priest on the trip told us, you know, just in case anyone asked.

The first night, Puer and I both drank too much. And this was when I really began the excessively mothering thing I am still working to this day. He was sitting in the lobby, passively pretending to be a pilgrim from Australia, mostly being depressed, and I sat down and offered to talk to him. I was maudlin, he was depressed, he was getting on everyone's nerves..

We talked. I sat next to him and we talked. We told our life stories. I learned what was wrong with him. I found out why he was so desperate for attention. Possibly even why he was so obnoxious and socially inept. We never looked at eachother the whole time we were talking. We just sat next to eachother and told all our secrets with our heads down.

He grabbed my hand and looked me straight in the eye all at once when I confessed the biggest one of my thousand secrets I had spilled. He was so hurt for me. His eyes loved me and felt so much empathy for me right at that moment. He almost cried. Instead I looked down at my hand in his and turned the brightest shade of bright red I think I had ever managed. He dropped my hand and looked straight down.

Curfew came and we were sent to bed. He looked at me with that puppy-dog regret of someone who really doesn't want the night to be over yet.

The next day, I was mortified. I was supposed to hate this boy. And so I for the next several weeks, okay, year and a half, I continued to absolutely fuck him over every ten minutes or so. Oh the pressures of the high school pecking order.

He, however, was not afraid to be in love with me. And the next day, I came back to my room and one of my roommates told me she had been out with Puer that day. Said something about him "tagging along" and being annoying. And he had purchased me a necklace to replace the one I had been given by a psycho asshole I hadn't quite found it in me to give up completely on yet; the necklace I refused absolutely to take off.

She had picked it out and told me how much it cost. I was so nervous. I was so scared. I didn't know what to do.

Questions kept flying at me and I kept trying to preserve my little shred of of social position by denying everything, but I couldn't help but defend him (which was hard considering the defense consisted of secrets I couldn't share). Oh my. I was so scared.

I hid in the bathroom. I refused to come to the door. My roommate took the necklace for me. I sent someone else back with it and a note. Someone else came and told me it was meant in the spirit of friendship and also to help me let go of the psycho. I refused it.

Later that night, I was sitting in my room, by myself. There was a balcony/porch thing around the whole building and everyone had a window that opened to it. Obviously, this revelation meant very simply that all bets on anyone going to bed at curfew were off. Someone came and told me that Puer had gotten horribly, absurdly drunk and was puking spaghetti off the balcony. I was told he was doing this over me. I stood my ground.

He came to my window late that night and climbed in while my roommates were out. He looked so desperate, pleading. I took the necklace. His eyes danced with true "I'm happy for you; I want to help you heal" joy.

I even wore it, with the psycho's one as well. When he saw me the next day, he looked so confused to see me wearing them both. Pure confusion and dissappointment in those eyes when he asked me why.

After that came countless moments of hoping for recognition. He was my lap dog. He was everywhere I was with ten times the energy. And if no one was around, I was nice to him and we talked and we even laughed a little and he wasn't so obnoxious. As soon as anyone came near, I returned to my "Get the fuck away from me you annoying little bug" attitude.

[I assure you that the ratio of looks to time goes up significantly soon. Once the relationship gets as stable as it'll get the new looks are less frequent. Can you believe that in my dreams these are only flashes of an image and this whole thing only takes as long as one song? If anyone has watched me stare at my navel this long, I am duly impressed. And also, I want y'all to know that now I totally understand why Tom Robbins has been known to pull these asides.]

And he took it. And everytime he looked at me, he was hoping that I'd finally stop denying him in front of my friends. So eager for the moment that I would finally reciprocate in public. You can't possibly understand how horribly mean I was to him. And he was so defeated when I didn't.

Then comes Paris. Oh Paris. We went to the Eiffel Tower. Puer being my boy-toy, walked up the stairs with me, because I have thing about elevators. And we finally really connected again. His eyes laughed with me. Bliss, happiness, longing fulfilled. All right there in those amazing pale blue eyes. And I took off the psycho's necklace. I put it in my purse, but it was gone. Those eyes were shining at me like they never quite could again after that night.

I never met his gaze for very long, because I was terrified of kissing him. I was terrified of going that far. I knew that would be the moment it was all over for me. The moment I would really officially have to give in. It couldn't happen. All the way down the stairs, everytime we stopped, I would look at him, those hungry eyes, and I immediately hid behind my hair.

At the bottom, we walked over to the reflecting pool. It was the heat of late July, and he immediately jumped in the pool. He wanted me in there too, but I was having none of that. I sat on the bank and watched him swim. He was so happy. Everytime he'd come over to the side and talk to me, screaming over the noise of the million other people around us, I couldn't hear him, but his eyes said nothing but jubilance and success. They said this was the moment we had been building up to for three years. And I looked at him, and I knew there was no going back. I loved him.

We walked back over to the tower. And I was holding both his hands. And I told him I loved him. I was too scared to look him in the eye just then. And then another girl from our school came over. And took me aside, and asked me just what exactly I was doing.

And this is where I did the most cowardly, pathetic thing I have ever done in my life.

He was so happy. So happy. I was so happy. But none-the-less, I lied to her. I walked over there and told him I was trying to let him down easy. That I was rejecting him. The biggest most hurtful lie I have ever told. I walked back over there and lied again. Told him everything was fine. I continue to feel horrible about this.

I went back that night and everyone was asking me what the deal was with us. Because he was the happiest he had ever been (according to him, the thousand times I apologized for this night) and I was insisting nothing was going on. That I had made it very clear to him that nothing was going to happen between us. It was suggested that I make it more clear to him.

So, I wrote him a letter. Because I sucked. Okay, I sucked. I was horrible and mean and awful to him. And if you keep reading, and I keep writing, I only get so much worse. I was fifteen. Please keep that in mind.

I wrote him a letter. A letter telling him that I hated him and didn't want to be with him at all. That he was confused. I let my girlfriends read it first. Then I sent it over with someone else.

Well, Puer read that letter, and he turned around and got fucking trashed. So fucking drunk. And he got his ass kicked that night. He was insanely depressed and drunk and apparently unfathomably obnoxious. So, some boys held him down and beat the tar out of him.

Meanwhile, I, being the two-faced bitch in this psycho-drama, sat up in my bed that night and wrote him an epic saga of lies explaining why I loved him but I just couldn't be with him right then. I couldn't very well say "Because I am afraid of what my friends would say. I don't want to be a pariah like you.". So I made something up. And I sent it by confidential messenger in a sealed envelope.

That next morning at breakfast, I got a look I learned to take so often. As hurt as a human being can be. As angry and hurt and depressed and sorrowful as you can imagine, with a little pity thrown in there. Okay, maybe he only gave me that intense of the version one other time, two years later when we were back together again and I confessed to lying about where I was going and kissing his best friend. But the other times, so many other times, I caused a lesser version of this look.

And I felt terrible. Except that I still wasn't prepared to admit it. And he begged me to take it all back a few days later. He apologized to me. I've never seen yearning like that before or after. And I left things in limbo. I wouldn't say anything one way or the other. I was too scared still.

On the plane ride home, he gave me his phone number. And he looked pleased and anticipatory when I said I would call him. And I did call him. And on the phone we were so happy.

And then one day, we were talking and he had to go take out the trash. He said he'd call me back in five minutes. Now, I was working at the summer camp for three weeks and had to be back the next day and he was headed to Florida for two weeks the next day, and so he didn't call me back for two weeks.

In which time I had given up on him and picked up someone else, from the summer camp. He called and I literally just said "Five minutes is not two weeks. I've moved on with my life."

That year in school, the looks alternated between "I hate you" "I don't understand" and "I wish you would just love me back". That was the year we were playing that game of euchre and he was my partner and he stacked the deck and I called him on it after he had announced that he had the end of the game in his hand. And we were back to where we had been before the summer. We hated eachother again. That adversary with too much chemistry thing was back.

Well, come Christmas break our freshman year of college, I was still with that someone else I had picked up at the summer camp. And somehow I ended up on the phone with Puer one night. At first we fought about whether or not he was going to talk to me. Then we talked. And it was concluded that we were going to hook up. I was going to cheat on my boyfriend of more than a year.

We set a date, and a time. We concluded we were going to continue to hate eachother. This was going to be meaningless. He had a girlfriend, this time the Cranberry L. I had a boyfriend. This was just going to be nothing. You know, aside from the premeditated shitty thing we were doing to other people. Otherwise, it was nothing.

After that afternoon, we've still never been left alone together for more than twenty minutes nd managed to keep all the clothes on. Lust. Faux hatred, with the eyes narrowed. A genuine laugh in his eye holding my hand while changing gears on the way home. But we still "hated" eachother naturally.

We got back together. He dumped Cranberry L. I kept my boyfriend. I made no secret of this to him. He knew. He knew. He never looked at me without that glint of longing, wishing I would commit to him once and for all.

I did, but not before I refused to let him visit me at college, dumped him in a fucking telnet chat room, he went absolutely crazy with despair and did some things that I don't even want to think about and are best forgotten by everyone, the other guy and I broke up, I hooked up with someone else, broke up with him, got back together with the other guy, neglected to tell him I was back with that other guy, and spent two months stringing him along refusing to see him. So, about a year later. Christmas break of sophmore year, we got back together.

This time, all was well. You know, except for the part where I didn't tell him that I still had a fucking other boyfriend. And so we continued this way. Me juggling school and two boys and not telling one about the other. I was straightforward enough to mention that Iwas doing thus-and-such with Puer and thus-and-such with the other guy and couldn't go out with him. But I completely lied to both of them about the nature of the whole thing.

The other guy and I finally ended our saga (which if this were a novel, which I realize it's looking like it could be, would have to be part two in some sort of multiple personality disorder same time frame, same girl, also in love parallel kind of way) for basically good in April of my junior year.

Oh yeah, and at first, when we got back together, I refused to tell my mother I was seeing Puer again. I spent my sophmore year with the look of pity and shame and hurt that I got when he would drive slowly down the road behind my house while I pretended to have gone somewhere else so I could jump in his car safely out of site of my mother. Or when I would make him drop me off at the top of the hill, half a mile away, again so my mother wouldn't see.

I spent all weekend almost every weekend that second semester holed up in his fraternity house. Letting go of my virtues one by one. Smoking first. Then drinking. But no sex. Not yet. I knew how horrid I was being and that I had no business becoming sexually active if I couldn't even get my fucking act together to stop seeing two people and cheating on them both with any and every random boy who crossed my path.

And with each new vice, came the sweet joy he had in "corrupting" me. The mocking loving look of someone calling me a "goody two shoes". And with the parties came the indescribable hungry look of wanting me as completely as he could have me along with this amazing loving glance from someone who thought he had the girl who hung the moon hanging on his arm.

That summer I was at the camp, and my friends there didn't like him. They passively accepted him, but so often I heard "You can do better" and "He's SO annoying". I remember telling one of my closest friends at the time "He grows on you. It took years, but he grows on you." and being told "So would a fungus if you just let it."

And so I was horrible to him all summer. I know at this point that I was stupid and I sucked. I can't emphasize that enough here, if anyone is still reading this. The part where I grow up and stop being this little snot would have to be part three of the novelized version of this, but trust me, I did. And he took it. With the look of a dog who has been beaten and wearily comes to your side anyway with his tail down bracing for the next blow while hoping for kindness. He probably got them in equal parts.

By junior year, I had completely given up on the other guy. Although I think I only expressed that by brushing him off all the time. I didn't bother to put it into words until April. And I kinda got over my friends' dislike.

And so now we were really Seriously Dating. For the first time. And we were in love. And my mother knew. And we had parties, dinner parties and camp friend parties, knowing that they didn't like him and he didn't like them, but that I loved them, he let them all come over. Tons of people. And he did begin to grow on them. And I hooked him up with a nice job working with my x-step mother's new husband. And everything was wonderful. And the look I see in those pale blue eyes is one that I thought meant I would see it forever.

And we were so happy almost all of the time. I'm not saying anything changed overnight. I'm not saying that I wasn't still unreasonably unkind to this guy. I'm just saying that it was as consistently good as it ever got for us.

But you know what? Four years and three months of this, almost all of which was long distance when we were actually together took its toll. Finally one day, he came down to visit me at school. I was so confused. We had discussed this and he was supposed to have called if he was coming down. And he hadn't called. So, I didn't apologize for the fact that he'd been trying to find me within the sorority house for twenty minutes. I informed him that I was watching a movie with my friends and he could join us, but that the field party I was going to go to later had just become optional.

And his eyes were empty. Completely empty. And he dumped me. In five minutes flat. And then his cell phone went off telling him he'd had all the time he was allowed. And he left.

I spent the next three weeks locked in my room chainsmoking and realizing what a complete and utter bitch I was, and how I'd lost him. I smoked three cartons of cigarettes the first two weeks. I was miserable. I hated myself so much for what I had done. And now there was no going back.

I didn't hear from him until Christmas Break of that year. He dumped me the second week of my semester. He wrote to me to tell me he was living with a girl and he had bought a house and he was sorry he had missed keledy's seasonal visit.

That next summer when she was in town, we went over there together by invitation. The girl was in Cleveland at a fetish party. And all the looks were back. But this time, keledy was with me and I had a boyfriend. We kept it silent on both ends.

After that boy and I broke up, Puer and I had our most recent little fling. I came up to help him with his accounting project. I got an "A" on that paper too. But this time he was too scared. I had hurt him as much as a person could be hurt. And it was my turn to be the one longing for the complete committment. We got too close to the flame in our hearts, and it fired up and we fought and we put the hate back in place.

We're friends for now. Long distance friends. We can still talk for an eon on the phone, but I think we're both too scared to try for Us ever again.

*Puer means "boy" in Latin, but it looks more like a real name, and sounds a little like his real name. Normally, he's NotBoyAnymore, but that's really long for as often as I have to type it and kinda bitter for the angle of "love".

** If you got this far, I must be a better storyteller than previously imagined even in my own inflated opinion of myself. And again, I swear to you, it takes one moderately long song for that whole story to unfold in my head just like that.

posted by mary ann 2:11 AM