I realized something today on the way home from the grocery store. Actually, let me say that I remembered someone, instead. A secondly, let me add that this memory in no way takes away from the love I feel for my husband and family. Rather, it solidifies how deeply I have always fallen in love with the things that matter to me. Even when I was too young and naive to realize that emotionally, I'm a clutch-and-hang on type person who in turn, over time, has learned to also let go when necessary.
That is a hard lesson to learn.
Back in high school, I was madly in love with this boy. He wasn't an ordinary boy, as any teenage girl in love is want to say, but the perfect boy. That one incredible boy that made my heart race with even the mere promise of a smile. And when he did smile, my everything melted. My heart. My world. Everything.
He was above and beyond all the boys I ever had secret crushes on. And above and beyond every boy I had ever kissed, giggled with, snuck away to a dark room with or held hands with. He was more than all that. He was, in my mind then, the only boy that mattered.
Both before and after he died...for, even, a very long time after he died.
He wasn't from our school, so seeing him became a challenge. When our schools did get together for sporting events or choir competitions, etc...knowing that I would see him took mountainous precedence over what event was actually taking me to see him. And then we'd meet. And stare at each other when we thought no one was looking, and smile and pretend to be bashful, all the while staring harder. Getting closer together, until we were there, hip to hip and my nerves would do amazing things--all fireworky-like and fluttery and...hot.
I was madly in love with that boy. To this day, a part of me still is. Madly and completely. We never had the opportunity to actually be together, aside from when our schools would mesh. We tried. The last time his school played mine, we tried. His team was painfully superior to ours. We knew this and our school hated their school and especially him because he was so freakishly good at basketball.
He was freakishly good at everything--honor band, straight A student, set to go to medical school and make his community proud. Despite his awesomeness, our student body and most of their parents still hated him because he was good. Did I mention, also, that he wasn't white like the rest of us? Oh yeah, they hated him because of that, too. Mostly because of that.
That last game, I watched his every move. And he'd turn and smile at me when he could, in between the sweat and the running and jumping and scoring more points that game than he had all season. Inside, I cheered him--so loudly in my head that it threatened to burst out for real so they all knew, everyone on my side of the stands, that this boy mattered more to me than our entire team put together.
They won, we did not and the aftermath was horrendous. Parents rushed the court. Our players started shoving. There was profanity and physicality and threat and he was ushered off the victorious court before he could be hurt. He turned and caught my eye that one last time, with a small wave of his hand, before he was swallowed by his team and led away.
Three days later, he was dead.
I won't dishonor him by reliving how he died, but, ultimately, it was in a way that we, as parents, hope our children never do. It was preventable; so very, very preventable. And I could go into how I knew that he was dead before the phone call ever came in, and the apparition of the nun who visited me in the night, and the dream of a white feather inside a dresser drawer, which later was proven true. But I won't because those memories, on a much more visceral level, are mine and only mine.
But I will share how this one boy and those needful feelings that were both untested and tender, showed me as an adult how important it is to love. To grab a hold of your desire with both hands and grab tightly. And to love that thing, that person, that want, no matter what other people may think of you.
You want to write because you love it so much? Grab it.
You want to start a business because the thought never leaves your head? Grab it.
You want to write music/paint/sculpt/travel...please, please. Just grab it. With both hands and see where it leads.
It seems that every time I doubt myself and my wild, non-traditional wants/dream/goals and I think I can't do it, I think of him. And I can still see his smile, staring in through the classroom window the last time we had choir competition together. I can feel his warmth sitting next to me on the bleachers where we said nothing but our smiles said it all.
We said, grab it! Grab a hold and let's see what happens. I hope that you will do just that.