Some songs from 2006/2007 remind me sharply of my early adolescence, my first year in college, and the time I lost my mother. It was also a time when I first started to become the person I am today.
I looked at his hand on the table. His palm faced upwards. Open, Inviting. I hesitated to do the same. I was too scared to reach across the great imaginary abyss and make a move and hold his hand.
He had asked me, while sitting on a chair in his apartment later, if I wanted a relationship. I truthfully would not have minded one but was stopped by Fear of being Needy or not Cool and gave him a coy response.
He was the first man I felt comfortable with. I spent that magical but awkward weekend with him. We met through a mutual friend and that was my first time I was free and did not have to return home to look after my mother, who was sick from cancer.
My mother fortunately had wonderful friends who created “Team Cathy” to ensure that she was never alone and that her needs were always fulfilled. They took care of her Monday-Friday and I would go home on the weekends to resume my duties and obligations as her daughter. This was the first weekend to experience the freedoms that everyone went to college for, and that I took for granted.
I had had no plans and so this boy’s “Are you doing anything?” was soon followed by several hours of peacefully sitting together on a bench and watching the sea lions. I was always socially awkward, especially around the opposite sex but I remembered a valuable truth that someone in a summer program once told me.
Several years ago, I enjoyed hanging out with a boy from New York and we liked taking walks together. He was not intimidating and we were both comfortable just sitting together in silence. A rare quality. I learned to appreciate being in the moment thanks to him.
While there were red flags about this boy–he drank too much, and made typical adolescent mistakes, I ignored them. He called every Thursday for a while, wondering if I was free to hang out, but my limited availability eventually turned him off. When he showed up with a new girl to some of the meetings of the club we both belonged to, I was so embarrassed by my jealousness, I soon stopped going.
I remembered that his favorite band was the Killers, that he really liked spaghetti with meatballs, and how my friends at the time, who were drunk and high, thought he looked like a prince. He was good looking of course—but I think that pot and alcohol combined enhance things so that Leonardo DiCaprio looks like a god, and the homeliest person a 10.
A few years after I last saw him, I heard his favorite band playing on my Ipod. It reminded me of him and after Googling him, was sad to learn he had passed away shortly after I had last seen him, of “high blood pressure.”
He had promise and potential as a journalist. Even I, who had an undefined short relationship with him, felt the bell toll.