C. Jaguar 2012
I first met my High School Sweetheart on the early afternoon of Sunday May forth nineteen sixty-nine, out on the estate of our boys prep school on an outcrop near a stone fence overlooking a waterway. I’ve drawn this place from memory many times over the years and actually took photographs of my HSS there a few years ago. I reminded her of our first meeting there as we visited the place a few years ago, two grey adults a lifetime later of a winter afternoon exactly five years ago last month. Like so many things, she said she had no memory of it. Alcohol, chain smoking and probable anorexia had taken a toll on her body and mind. The ordinary ravages of time are what left me bloated and weary, hardly a reflection of the Dionysian boy who had gazed upon the beauty beside me so long ago.
I have a photograph of her taken seven months earlier in her mothers’ house, sitting cross-legged in jeans and a purple shirt, where she looks exactly as she did the day I first met her. The photograph doesn’t do her justice; none of them ever did. As I sat on the grass next to her for that first hour or so listening to her talk, complain more like it, about the night she had just spent with her best friend and some guy at the boathouse, how he thought he loved the best friend but he really should love her, hah! I smiled, bemused, “Who cares about last nights fool?” I thought, “I was clearly falling in love with her, and I wondered how she could not be noticing this rock solid fact.
She was smart and funny. She had horrible posture for a dancer and wore an oversized green army surplus jacked that hid her shapely form. Her golden hair hung over her face, which was a shame because she was beautiful. Whenever her hair fell to the side I got a flash of her eyes and they were hypnotic and strange, really wondrous. Like the little prince listening to that rose with her big talk there I was listening to her, hardly able to get a word in edgewise, though I somehow managed to keep her laughing all that sunny afternoon. We made plans to meet during the day a few days later on the top of the ramp of the Chinese dog.
As luck would have it the day we planned to meet it was raining cats and dogs. I was sure she wasn’t going to come. But I was fifteen and I rarely got a chance to talk to a girl in private. This was the first time one had suggested we meet in the middle of the day at a secret rendezvous halfway between our boy and girl prep schools. Rain or no rain I was going to be there. For the first time in my life I arrived someplace early. Dam if she wasn’t there waiting when I arrived.
That spring of sixty-nine the ramp was still under construction. The statue of the Chinese dog was there at the top, which is where we met, but the path up the hill was muddy, they had not lain in the cement blocks yet; that would take years.
As we talked I thought the same thing that I had on the day previous, whenever her eyes flashed from behind her shock of blond hair they were incredible. I had never seen eyes so blue and with such an alluring shape. For years after I would search every face I came upon for such eyes as hers and always be left wanting. In her living room in D.C. a few years ago she finally caught on to why I was staring at her face so, “You’re fascinated by my eyes, aren’t you?” she said, as if figuring out some puzzle at long last. “Yes, of course” I admitted, “I’ve been attracted to your eyes since high school.” That is one of the many things I am glad I got to say face to face and clearly to her in her lifetime.
After a while we both had to get back for the rest of our classes it was time for us to say goodbye. We were both soaked. We hugged, even clumsy kids hugged in ‘69, but she followed it up by leaning in and kissing me, French kissing me. At that moment her cat tongue was the only thing I saw, felt, perceived in the entire world, and it was good. I was fifteen, so I guess I must have known about French kissing; and I was a boy so some part of me must have been thinking about trying it at some point, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting it. I was shocked and taken aback and thrilled and yes, a little hooked. I wanted more; goodness help me, I wanted more.
I don’t remember much about the rest of the day.
But I remember watching her walk the entire length of the way down the path of the ramp of the Chinese dog in the rain. I have a photo that a passing tourist took of the two of us kissing a few years ago at the top of the ramp. I told her the story of our first kiss there and she believes it; it is a lovely story after all, but again, it wasn’t something she really remembered.
But I remembered. And I will remember all of my lonely days.