Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"With solemn touches, troubl'd thoughts, and chase...Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain"

With senior year over and a new job taking over much of my time, I found myself still going to the grocery store with my mother most Saturdays. My mother always made a list and we'd walk down the aisles together, sometimes in silence and sometimes arguing discussing what I was going to do with my life. The rule always was that if I lived at home, I either had to work or go to college. So for the time being, I worked. Going to the grocery store with my mom usually brought back bad memories from when I was younger and would ask for something and she would reply loudly, "We can't afford that." Of course she didn't notice everyone turn to see who the poor peasants were in the store next to them, but I sure did. To this day, I still can't stand hearing, "We can't afford that." (Although I find myself saying this phrase all too often now that I'm a teacher.)

One day, grocery shopping became much more fun. Reminiscent of high school days when I dollied myself up to look good for whatever crush I had at the time, I was now dollying myself up for the clerk at Von's. He was absolutely perfect. Blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect white teeth, I could go on and on. I looked forward to grocery shopping every Saturday and even popped in during the week when I overheard my mother saying she 'forgot' something at the store. I was in love and he didn't know I existed (common theme back then).

I grew tired of smiling and saying, "Hi," to this young gentleman and one day had the nerve to speak to him. I don't remember exactly how it all went down, but all of a sudden I found myself dating the clerk. Every phone call was amazing and every minute spent with him was Heaven. I think it was the first time I started making a mental list of songs that made me think of of a crush and the songs would play in my head everytime we went somewhere together, on repeat.

I mentioned that I loved watching planes, so one night he told me he had a surprise for me. He drove me out to a place near LAX and there we sat on a bench. While I began to ask him what on earth we were doing on that bench, the most incredible sound and rumbling overtook my surroundings. I was watching huge planes take off from the runway and fly over my head. It was truly awesome and it was the first time a boy had actually listened to what I said and remembered. I was stunned and for the first time in my life, I thought, really in love!

On Christmas Eve, he told me he was going up to the snow with some friends. "Great," I said, "Have fun!" Little did I know I had a surprise coming my way. Christmas morning, my parents woke me up and told me to look out at the porch. There, awaiting me with eyes, nose, branches for arms, and a smile, sat a beautifully made snowman out of REAL snow! Wow! This guy was 100 percent all gentleman and romance. I was smitten.

The days and nights went on, him always being respectful and wonderful, and I thinking that maybe this would actually go somewhere. Then one night when he dropped me off, he wanted to talk. UUURRRRRR! The sound of brakes hit my brain as soon as the words fell out of his mouth, "I really like you, but I'm not over my ex."

Great! This was just great! There's really no come back for that one and I knew in an instant that the fantasy building in my head had been just that, a fantasy. I cried for weeks. Not just boo hoo cries, but I mean, CRIED. And the best way to cry over someone is to play Mariah Carey's "I Can't Live Without You" over and over again. My family thought I was nuts and was ready to place me in a hospital. I didn't know how I could ever go on with my life and ropes all of a sudden looked more appealing to me. I played out what went wrong over and over in my head. I tried to think of a way to get him back, but all to no avail. The plain truth was exactly what he told me (and if it wasn't true, it was obvious it was over anyway), and there was no 'getting back together.' It was over and I had the biggest broken heart imaginable for an 18-year-old.

Needless to say, I stopped grocery shopping with my mother on Saturdays, and when I did have to go the store, I picked another one down the road to stop at. It took me forever to get over that adorable boy, I mean frog. Everytime I walk into that Von's to this day, I think back on how sweet he was. Whenever I see a snowman, I remember how thoughtful he was. Each time a plane rumbles over my head, I close my eyes and remember the feeling I felt sitting on that bench with him. The only bad thing is that it gave me a complex about ex's. I later found out that he DID, in fact, get back together with his ex and I had hoped that she appreciated him. I still think of him when I hear Mariah Carey's famous re-make of one of the most depressing songs to date.

Lesson Learned - We all have to go through a major heartbreak early on, usually with our first real love...but the memories don't all have to be bad.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"A Mind not to be changed by Place or Time, The Mind is its own Place, and in Itself can make a Heaven of Hell...A Hell of Heaven..."

I thought long and hard about how to reflect on the baby frogs I encountered during my senior year of high school. After a usual ridiculously obsessive period of time, I decided that none stood out enough to deserve their own blog entry, but together, they did make enough of an impact on me and mustn't be left out all together. So I compiled them into 'Senior Year Frogs', numbered in the order that they impacted me.

Obviously… it was Senior Year. I was panicking. Most of my friends had settled into relationships, many with boys at school, some with older boys in college, and there I was…the constant third wheel. I had a different crush every week…it’s what kept waking up early every morning to go to school interesting. Don’t get me wrong, school was not a horrible place to be, but it was only my second year in the school and I never felt noticed by my teachers. They didn’t know me by name like other students, they didn’t pull me aside to ask me what my plans for college were, and they never took an interest in my life.

There was the teacher who asked me, “Why are you in this class?” and promptly switched me to an AP English class, but other than that, all I really remembered was the droning, the coffee breath, and the screaming fit my Economics teacher threw when students said they were voting for Bill Clinton because he was ‘cute.’ That alone topped my list of best senior year memories.

When one crush faded, either because he wasn’t interested or I lost interest, another unfolded. While many of my friends were skipping school to go to the beach, I stayed on campus in fear I would get into trouble. The ever constant rule follower… I was on the Honor Roll, but I didn’t do much to stay there. If I would have applied myself, I probably could have gotten into an amazing college, but no one expected me to go to college and the SAT’s were not on my list of things to take. I was lucky enough to read something and remember it long enough to regurgitate it back onto the test, but when fellow students would talk about colleges, I would look around wishing I was with my friends at the beach.

Being stuck at school while my friends were off frolicking in the waves, forced me to find other things in class to entertain me. Enter frogs. Now some of these frogs were good friends. Take Senior Frog 1 – We sat next to each other all year in AP English and talked about everything. He was a hit on the baseball team and had big plans for his future. I would tell him about all of the crushes that I had and he would tell me about all of the homeruns he made. Then there was Senior Frog 2 – We sat next to each other all year in Architecture drawing and laughing at our teacher’s jokes (only teacher that kept me interested in going to class because he made me laugh). I told Senior Frog 2 also about all of my crushes and he told me about how hard he partied over the weekends. Senior Frog 3 had no idea I existed until the year AFTER we graduated although I crushed on him all year and Senior Frog 4 was the first frog to make me retract into a shell that I still call home when rejected. Senior Frog 5 helped me save face at prom and although there were a few others thrown in between, none of them warrant a place here.

Where to start…the year went on, mostly uneventfully until the final days leading up to prom. I believe this is where all of these frogs came together. After class one day, Senior Frog 1 pulled me aside and asked me to prom. Uhhhhh….oh no! I wanted to go with Senior Frog 3, what was I going to say? How do I get out of this? I looked down the hallway in both directions, looked back at him with a, “I’m sorry, but I’m hoping to go with someone else.” His face looked like I had just stabbed him in the chest. I quickly ran off to my next class, where Senior Frog 2 walked in and said, “Wow, you really did a number on him…” Oh my God! News traveled fast in the halls of high school. I felt horrible and I couldn’t look at Senior Frog 1 again for the remainder of the year.

I still had a major crush on Senior Frog 3, but he was so busy with Motorcross Racing on the weekends that he rarely was seen wasting time with girls during school hours. Nonetheless, I wanted to go to prom with him. I was determined to get up the nerve to ask this shy guy to the dance. I had told Senior Frog 2 about it for weeks…he was encouraging. So was a girl who hung out in our group. She was so encouraging that I found out that she asked him herself! WTF? Bitch! I hated her from then on, I couldn’t believe she listened to my dilemma of how to get up the nerve to ask him and then went behind my back and asked him herself. With friends like that, you don’t need enemies.

My dream was shot down, but I jumped back on the horse with guns blaring. Senior Frog 2 asked me that same day if I would want to go with him to prom, but at the time, I thought he was kidding and laughed without answering. I later found out that he wasn’t kidding. Ooops! Enter Senior Frog 4. We were friends and I began staring at him in class with a newfound awe. My friends were all pairing up with dates for the prom and time was running out. Maybe this frog would be interested in going to the prom with me…So one day I posed a question to him while we were chatting…Here goes nothing, I thought…I was right. “So what if a girl really wanted to go to the prom with a certain guy, but she was nervous and scared to ask him, what advice would you give her?” Silence….AWKward! He answered me in all seriousness with, “I would tell her not to ask him then, because what if he said, ‘no’ and then their friendship was ruined.” Again…AWKWARD. Shot down again.

Oh well, I could always tell Senior Frog 2 that I would take him up on his offer. Great, it was settled. I sat down next to him in class all ready to tell him the good news and he said, “So, I asked (enter name) to the prom and she said, ‘Yes.’” Gulp…it was all becoming a disaster, quickly! Visions of Carrie with blood all over her were popping into my head.

With all of the drama, along came Senior Frog 5, a friend who was a year younger than me. I knew he didn’t have plans to go to the prom and his best friend was going with one of my best friends AND he would help out the aesthetics of my prom picture. I asked him. He said, "Yes." But, there was no rejoicing.

So there we were a few weeks later…sitting in some ballroom listening to Depeche Mode. Senior Frog 1 walked in with a beautiful girl I had never seen and I felt like a total Asshole. Senior Frog 2 walked in with his beauty…whom he later married. Senior Frog 3 walked in with the Slut, but at least he looked miserable all night. And then there was Senior Frog 4…I tried to avoid him all night to keep myself from crying. Senior Frog 5 – poor guy had to hang out with the worst date ever. At the end of the night, I was so dejected that I asked him if I could just go home. He had no problem with that and drove off in the limo with our friends to party at someone’s beach house.

There I stood...in my dress and heels, feeling like an asshole at home before midnight on Prom Night. At least I was still a virgin I thought as I put on my pajamas and climbed into bed.

A few years ago, while helping out with a fundraiser at a local ice cream shop, dressed as if I really worked there, Senior Frog 1 walked in. He was with his gorgeous wife and three beautiful children. He looked amazing. While I stared at him dumbfounded, he said, "Wow...long time, no see...how are you? Honey...this is the girl who turned me down for prom and crushed me." His wife smiled at me and I turned slowly, walked into the back room and climbed into the shell Senior Frog 4 helped me create.

Lesson Learned – Don’t waste time holding out for Mr. Perfect when Mr. Perfect is sometimes right in front of you. (Who am I kidding? I didn’t really learn this lesson until 12 years later. It took a couple of times for me to really GET this one).