Monday, July 25, 2011

My True Love Story

The Stolen Moment

Day 1100ish

What was bound to happen, did happen. Could we really report to each other after each and every date, reassuring that we would have had more fun together? My ego must have thought we could, as it began to compare me to every girl that Ryan even looked at over the summer.
The best portion of my summer vacation was the two weeks I spent away, at a program that I had been chosen for, called Governor’s Honors Academy. New people, a new environment, a new way of looking at myself was just what I needed. There were amazing guys there, amazing, accomplished, funny, confident guys who liked me and who had no idea that there was a Ryan. The Academy claimed to be a program that saw potential in us and aimed to help us bring it out. It was so freeing for me to start to try and glimpse who I am and what I can become, separate from any boy or anyone else. Just me. Just me.
Now that I’m home, and school is back in session I observe even greater changes in Ryan. He has gone through a metamorphosis. Like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon… only… manlier. His confidence grows daily. He’s not afraid to be hilarious. He’s not afraid to be everything that he is, and people are drawn to that. Girls especially. He’s begun to approach every day, every minute like he isn’t afraid to fail and the thing about people who aren’t afraid to fail is- they never do.
He’s made new friends. Plenty of female ones, but also new guys friends. I’m completely intimidated by these new guy friends. They are of the kind that is so good looking, so confident, so untouchable that I want to hold my breath when I pass them in the hall at school. They know about his past with me, as everyone seems to. They’re cute about it actually, teasing him about me when I walk into a classroom by singing “Memories” or some such nonsense. He takes it well, while I concentrate on the ground and try to hide my blush.
I’m not intimidated by Ryan… at least not for the same reasons. I know him too well for that. I’m only intimidated by him because of the power he has over me, because it feels like I am hopelessly and forever in love with him.
Is it a coincidence that his transformation into this indomitable person began after we broke up? Had I been holding him back? I don’t think so. I even think maybe the opposite is true. Maybe I was a catapult. If you’ve seen that kind of admiration in someone’s eyes, directed at you, if you know that you’ve inspired it, how could you not feel like conquering the whole world?
Every once in a while neither of us drive to school, or neither of us find a ride with someone else, or the stars align or whatever… and we both end up riding the bus home from school on the same day. Today is one such day. He’s a back seat sitter. I’m somewhere in the middle. I hurry off of the bus and start the seven block walk from the bus stop to home. My stern face and steady gait say that I don’t want him to bother me; my aching heart is spinning circles around me, hoping that he will.
I feel a ping on the back of the school bag slung over my shoulder. I ignore it. It’s followed by another ping, and another. These pings are similar to the many I’ve heard outside my window at night. Ryan is walking ten paces behind me, playfully tossing gravel at my back. I turn around and acknowledge it by shaking my head, and then I turn back around and keep walking. The pinging of the small rocks gets harder to ignore as he comes closer to me.
“Hey Sparky, wait up!” he says.
I slow down just a little.
“What’s with the speed walking?” He asks, “Don’t you like me anymore?”
“Not like you?” I say with a heavy dose of sarcasm, “I would never dare venture so far from popular opinion. I’m sure my name can be found somewhere on that long list of your adoring fans.”
He lobs another piece of gravel, this time at my head. He’s got a small arsenal still in his left fist.
“…And by the way,” I continue, “Is the list not long enough for you? Do you really have to hit on my friends?”
He makes a humorously guilty face, like the ones when the sitcom husbands are in trouble with their wives.
“They’re my friends too, aren’t they?” he asks.
“No. You lost them in the break-up. They’re my friends.” But I smirk, because we both know that isn’t true, it wasn’t that kind of a break-up and maybe it still isn’t.
“We live in a small area, Amie. We have the same friends. Do you really want to try putting stipulations on who I can date?”
“Far be it for me to lessen your options, you’ve plowed through so many of them already.”
The anger that can materialize in me so quickly is pushing my feet to move faster again.
Intuitive as always, Ryan changes the direction of the conversation as smoothly as the fall breeze changes the direction it blows.
“Look! We’re almost to the tree…” he says, in the lilting voice meant to tempt me into a more carefree mood. “Its leaves are yellow and ready to fall. Let’s play our game.”
Ryan is forever making up little games. The guy wouldn’t be bored sitting in an empty white room. His imagination and competitive spirit would have him… oh I don’t know… playing basketball with a piece of lint from his pocket and the leg hole of his underwear for the hoop.
In this particular game, which has become an entertaining fall tradition for us, we throw a rock up into the branches of this large tree and then we see who can catch the most leaves as they fall. The tree grows alongside a part of the road that happens to be on a steep hill, which adds to the challenge.
He chucks the first rock, hard into the overhanging patch of leaves and a bunch start to flitter to the ground, twisting around and around, and seeming to be able to float out of my grasp in the nick of time. He catches two to each one that I catch, and I soon resort to sabotage. When he targets a leaf, I slap it away. He grabs my arm to hold me back from the next one, and when he reaches around me to catch it, I make a last ditch effort and attempt to blow it away from him with my mouth. The futility and absurdity send us both into fits of laughter. When we stop laughing, I realize he still hasn’t let go of my arm. The smile slips from my lips. I notice that the last few leaves are still gently drifting toward the ground, an easy catch. He watches me notice them, but he doesn’t look away from my face. They fall around us like little bits of magic and he takes a step closer to me. He drops his head just a little, changes his focus to my lips. But I’ve been down this road before, down this steep hill, and I can’t have him viewing me as just another of so many leaves, I can’t be an easy catch.
We have a silent conversation. I see him recognize my hesitation. I watch as his face changes to a sober reassurance that he won’t try to kiss me, but he still doesn’t release his hold on my upper arm. Instead, he pulls me closer and wraps his arms around me. I put my arms around him in return and he squeezes me closer. We stand like this for a long time, yet somehow not long enough. We steal a moment on this fall afternoon, under this golden tree. We hold on to everything that we were and we don’t talk about anything that we’re becoming. In fact, we don’t talk at all. There isn’t much we’re allowed to say under the unspoken rules of our new… situation. We just steal our moment, and then we quietly agree that we should get home. We pick up our bags, he gives me a small handful of rocks and challenges me to see if I can hit the upcoming road sign with them from this distance. Another game. Another carefree joke. By the time we reach my house, the masks are back on. We’re seventeen and we’re dating other people and we aren’t supposed to have feelings for each other… and so we pretend. But he’s better at it than I am.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My True Love Story

I answered your comments in the comments section from last week... and a picture of Ali Bigh will be coming soon. :) It's great hearing from you guys!

Three Steps To a Healthy Break-Up, Day 1000ish

In the few short months since Ryan and I broke up, I have become aware of certain guidelines that I must follow to persevere in my new environment.
Step 1. Flirt with other people.
Step 2. Hang out with and flirt with other people.
Step 3. Go on an official date, like in… a school dance, with someone else.
Coming… right… up…
In the case of Ryan and I’s agreed upon amiable break-up I’ve included the following instructions.
Step 1. Flirt with the ex-boyfriend.
Step 2. Find that even though there is a terrible uncertainty between you now, there is also an easier feeling between you and the two combined can add an extra dash of a thrill whenever you encounter each other.
Checkity, check, check.
Step 3. Continue the good feelings now that you’re both going on an official date, like a school dance, with someone else.
Coming…. right…. up…?
Sadie Hawkins. Girl’s Choice. Probably a good thing considering that all of the boys that could possibly have any intention of asking me out are not idiots and can totally tell that I’m not over Ryan. But who do I ask?
1. There has to be the illusion that I could fall for this new guy.
That’s right. Call me evil if you must, but Ryan is going to be at that dance with some other girl and I’m not going with a random friend of mine that Ryan knows very well is no kind of threat.
1a. He has to be attractive.
1b. He has to be confident.
1c. He has to be mysterious.

“You guys,” I say to my friends at a pow-wow in the hallway at school, “I have the perfect candidate for my date to Sadie Hawkins!”
They respond with the appropriate, surprised and excited inquiries.
“Yeah,” I say. “There are rumors all over the school. He’s moving here, staying with relatives for the school year.”
I have become very familiar with the expressions that I’m seeing on my friends’ faces. They’re expressions that would be stunned at the lunacy of the idea, but then they also know me well, so they aren’t entirely stunned.
“Soooo… you’re planning on asking out a boy that doesn’t even live here yet?” Kristin asks.
Steps to prepare for a first date with non-Ryan.
Step 1. Meticulous planning.
“He’ll be here in time for Sadie Hawkins. I talked to his cousin.”
“Did you also ask if he’s got a criminal record?”
“Or if he has head lice?”
“Or if he wears his pants pulled up over his belly-button?”
Refer to criteria number 1c. Mystery achieved.
“Yes, yes, I have all of the details I need. He’s cute, athletic, and confident.”
“Wow,” Kristy says, “This is such a good step for you Amie! You’ll be over Ryan before you know it.”
An airy affirmation escapes from my lungs. “Mmhmmm.”
Step 2. Be more convincing than that.
“That’s right. I will darn well be over him soon. Really, really soon.”
Good try. Now change the subject to…
Step 3. The date has to be super fun and action packed. No romance, just action. Not that kind of action. The kind where you’re moving too fast to think. Not that kind of moving fast. I’m talking about some kind of death defying sport or something.
“You guys, we have to do something huge for our date. Something monumental!”
“Lori says her older sister is thinking about taking us rappelling. Do you guys know what that is? They put a harness on you and you lower yourself down from a- I’m not kidding you- a cliff. It’s just you, a rope, a rocky cliff, and the possibility of you plummeting to your death,” says Tiff.
“It’s perfect,” I say.
A rope and a harness? That’s the easy way. I already rappelled down a cliff that day on my front porch, when Ryan and I broke up.
Skip a couple dozen more talks just like that one between my friends and I, and about 3 week’s time and the date is planned, the non-Ryan candidate has officially moved in and agreed to go to the dance with me. Four-wheelers are loaded onto trailers, ropes and harnesses are transported to a dark and gaping hole in the desert floor, where we will lower ourselves into a spectacular cave. Matching shirts have been purchased and I follow my rules and guidelines religiously.
Steps to a successful first, after-break-up, date.
Step 1. Do not compare your date to Ryan. Absolutely no comparisons whatsoever. Period. The end.
1a. That means don’t think about how you went four-wheeling with Ryan on your very first date and now you’re four-wheeling with someone else.
1b. That also means that when you’re sitting on the back of the four-wheeler and you’re going fast over sandy hills and well, you have to hold on somewhere, don’t think about how foreign it is to have your arms around a waist that isn’t Ryan’s waist.
1c-z. Oh my gosh, he’s so different from Ryan. This is so weird.
Step 2. Be interested in your date and be engaged in the experience. There now, see how mature you can be?
Step 3. At the dance, when you are in the same vicinity as Ryan and his hideously impressive, and sickeningly threatening date, do not… under any circumstances… look at him. Instead, operate under the assumption that he is, at all times, looking at you.
3a. Smile constantly. Not the kind where your cheeks hurt, you clown, nobody’s going to believe that. Keep it demure. That’s better.
3b. Subtly touch your date, a hand on his elbow for example, as often as you can. Tell yourself that you are not doing this to make Ryan jealous, but because it’s good for you to acclimate yourself to the feel of someone new.
3c. Attempt to steer the conversation away from the topic of Ryan, even though your date has added up comments from the rest of the group with the well-worded information you’ve given him, knows about Ryan, and finds it amusing to tease you about him. Fend off good natured teasing with denial. Lie if necessary.
I open my eyes on Sunday morning. It wasn’t a dream. I survived my first date, post Ryan. I get ready for church. It’s the one sure place I know I’ll see him. Out there- at school, at the parties, at the dances I never know if he’ll be there or if we’ll talk, but just as it was on that first week, when I was the new girl at church, I know he’ll be there in the chapel, stealing glances at me, and waiting to catch me in the hallway and say something that will make me laugh.
The chapel indeed brings many of those stolen glances from him, even prolonged ones with curiosity behind his striking blue eyes. He saunters up to me after the meeting.
“Did you have fun last night?” he asks.
“I did,” I say, implementing the well practiced smile from step 3a. I don’t return the friendly question.
He cocks his head to one side, thinking. I glance around and step aside a little as the congregation shuffles by us.
Finally Ryan leans in a little closer as if there’s a conspiracy between us and says, “I’m only going to ask you one thing. Would you have had more fun with me?”
I act properly disgusted at his nerve, but I’m tingling with the thrill of him needing to ask. It makes me brave enough to say, “Would you have had more fun with me?”
“I asked you first.”
I shake my head, masking vulnerability behind propriety. “No. Uh uh. I’m not answering that question.”
“Okay,” he says, stopping my rant with a careful brush of his hand on my arm. He pauses with the intent of getting my full attention and when I’m looking into his eyes, says, “Yeah, I would’ve had more fun with you.”
I feel my protective walls disappear like they’re made of flour in the wind. I try to play it cool, but my demeanor brightens just like the sunshine lights a room even when the blinds are closed. I allow just one corner of my mouth to lift and reveal one of my deep dimples.
I shrug my shoulders, attempting to down play the tangible emotion surrounding my response. “I would’ve had more fun with you too,” I say.
He smiles that charming, boyish grin, nods once and then, true to his word that he was only going to ask one question, he turns and walks away.
Oh yeah. I will darn well be over Ryan soon. Really, really soon. Mmhmmm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

My True Love Story

*If you missed last week's story because it was the Fourth of July, you have to go catch up. It's the next post down. Also, if you have missed any of the My True Love Story posts, you can click on the link to the right of my blog (under labels) and it will take you to only the posts with that title. Thanks for reading!

I'm Acting, Like An Actor

Day 916ish

I’m somebody else today. I’m not Amie Gee, the girl who broke up with her almost perfect boyfriend yesterday and who is now on a date with him today. I’m somebody else entirely. I’m Dame Allison Bigh. Apparently, I go by Ali. It’s very convenient that my friends and I planned a murder mystery dinner for this date, because I would rather be anyone than Amie Gee, the girl who broke up with her almost perfect boyfriend yesterday and who is now on a date with him today.
The planning that has gone into this date is elaborate, as it is part of a girl’s choice dance. We have reserved the old Presbyterian Church with its timeworn, brick exterior and its cracked walls and creaking stairs. We are in a great hall of sorts, though the entire church is quite small, and we are seated around a banquet table, with a lavish spread. Our costumes have been carefully planned. I am wearing a multi-colored, pastel, vintage dress (borrowed from a friend) with a tight bodice and a flowing skirt, a hair extension, curled into ringlets, flows over my shoulder from a low, side ponytail. My look has an old-time innocence and yet an intriguing mystique and I can’t help but be smug about how beautiful it makes me feel. Get an eyeful, Ryan, of what isn’t yours anymore.
My character writes murder mysteries and is known for her lifelike characterization of the criminal mind. It’s very suspicious. Maybe I’m the murderer. Nobody knows yet, but my part requires me to be inscrutable and sullen and that suits me just fine today.
I’m acting. I’m acting like so much more than Ali Bigh. I’m acting like a girl who is strong and who is okay. I’m pretending that the boy I’m sitting next to hasn’t heard my innermost thoughts and fears, that we haven’t spent hours talking and laughing, that we haven’t comforted each other through disappointments, and celebrated through successes… but most of all I’m pretending that he doesn’t feel so much like the stranger that he is now. He’s become a stranger because the future is unclear. He’s become a stranger because now he’s free to go flirting with that girl who had her hands all over him in class, and any other girl too. He’s a stranger because I can no longer reach out and lace my fingers through his whenever I want to. Just like that. One minute we’re as close as best friends, and the next… I’m not Amie Gee. Not today.
I sneak a look at Ryan out of the corner of my eye. To his credit, he looks miserable. I don’t think he likes this uncertainty between us much more than I do. One of the other six people is reading their part in the murder mystery, and Ryan shifts in his seat. I feel the warmth of his upper arm as it nears mine. Underneath the table, I feel him place a tentative hand on my knee.
My heart sinks into the creaky wooden floor. My eyelids lower to hide the pleasure and the misery caused by his touch. I’m not Amie Gee. My stomach isn’t fluttering. My thoughts aren’t swimming. My scalp isn’t tingling with the possibility of that hand touching my knee and where else it could end up tonight: around my waist when we walk out of here, on my back when we’re on the dance floor, in my hair at the end of the night as it coaxes my lips closer to his. What is he doing to me? It isn’t fair breaking my heart yesterday and acting as though everything is fine today. I angle my knees away from him, forcing his hand to slip off, and he moves it back to his own lap.
The date goes on this way; the drive to the dance goes on this way. His advances and my anger can be averted because we’re surrounded by friends. We don’t even have to talk much, but then we arrive at the dance. We walk in with everyone else, but our first minute alone he asks if we can go out to the car and talk.
I feel like a jelly fish, walking to the car. I want him to beg for me back and I want everything to go back the way it’s been. Even though it’s been hard, it’s still been easier than this. I sit in the passenger seat and he sits in the driver’s seat. The parking lot is dark and quiet, only the stars and a distant street light illuminate our faces.
He turns toward me, an agonized look on his face. “Amie, what are you doing? I thought… I thought we were going to try not to let this ruin us.”
“How can this not ruin us? You don’t want to be with me anymore.”
He can’t let the falsehood stand. He puts his hands on my shoulders as if he’d like to shake me. “What do you mean I don’t want to be with you? I want to be with you too much, that’s the problem.” With every word his face comes closer, his lips come closer. My eyes must betray me, silently begging him the way my heart is. I think I might see his eyes glisten a little, but then he squeezes them shut and almost pushes me away as he takes his hands from my arms and falls back against his seat.
“I can’t go on the same way. No. I’ve thought it through,” he says, almost to himself. “We have nowhere to go from here. The right thing to do is to break up and see other people. That’s how it has to be.”
His vulnerability and the fact that I still love him soften the exterior that’s been shielding me all day. I reach out and lay my hand over his. “Okay. Okay. I’ll try to stop hating you for it. I’ll try not to let this ruin us.”
He exhales like he hasn’t been able to breathe. He turns toward me again, moves his other hand to our two joined ones and grasps my hand in both of his. “Thank you,” he says, looking down, “Because this has been killing me, Amie.” His head drops to almost lie on our hands. “You’ve been killing me.”
“Will you start the car?” I ask. “I have a song I want to play for you.”
He starts it up, looking too beat to be curious. I find the right song and the notes fill the space between us. The lyrics speak of wishing a person the best, they speak of mending a broken heart, and how it won’t be easy. Then come my favorite lines, the ones that fit today so well, the ones that will fit the days to come, and that I want him to think of when he sees me across a crowded room… maybe on a date with someone else.
“I’m acting like an actor, dancing like a dancer, but when the curtain falls I always call out for you, and from the bottom of my heart I hope you never find somebody new.”
He listens to every word while studying the steering wheel. When the song ends, I reach out and turn the music off.
“Amie,” he says to me, and places a hand on my cheek, “I have no intention of finding somebody new. I still feel the same way about you that I always have.” He lets the hand fall and grabs my hand again with strength, to drive his point home. “I’m not going to get into a new relationship. I’m going to make myself do what I think is best. I’m going to date people, but I hope we can stay close and who knows- in the future…”
His sentence speeds up and then falls off, as if he’s promised himself he wouldn’t allude to our future. However, the hope of it does wonders for me. So does the idea that he isn’t about to find a replacement for me. Maybe those words will get me through tonight; maybe they’ll get me through tomorrow.
I’m not thinking about how they’ll affect my first date, my first date with someone that isn’t Ryan.

Author's note: I had to post pictures of this little Murder Mystery that I saved. I love how I've written all of our names next to our characters, and I LOVE that I got assigned the alias that was a WRITER of all things! Fate? I think so-ooooo...

Monday, July 4, 2011

My True Love Story

The Break-Up

Day 915ish

“You were flirting with her, Ryan!”
“Amie. We’re just friends.”
But he can’t even hide that hint of a thrill at the suggestion that they had been flirting. Even now, sitting on my front porch in the searing afternoon sun, hours after the flirting, hours of me not speaking to him, with school over and his girlfriend confronting him face to face, he still hides an ember of a smile beneath his serious expression.
“Do you know what it felt like walking into class and seeing her all over my boyfriend?”
He laughs the laugh that always sounds the same as it escapes through the teeth of any accused boyfriend. The laugh that suggests you’re jumping to conclusions. The laugh that almost convinces you that you have nothing to worry about. Almost.
“What are you talking about? She wasn’t all over me.”
“She was touching you! Her hands were on your arms, on your chest, she was straightening your shirt and the two of you were laughing!”
I want to be sick at the visual that can still be recalled so easily to my mind. I’m quite certain that the sight of it will haunt me for a long, long time. He could erase it. He could, right now. He could throw his arms around me; hug me. He could pull back and take my face in his hands, look into my eyes and say, “Amie, don’t you know that I love you and will forever? That no other girl holds any interest for me at all?”
He doesn’t. He places the conciliatory hand on my knee. “Amie. Listen to you. We’re seventeen years old and I was laughing with my friend. You’re acting like I had an extramarital affair.”
All of the sudden our daydreams together snap into view. The image of future Ryan and future Amie, with all of the details that he and I have cast out to them, starts to ripple like a mirage. I reach out to hold onto it, but Ryan’s voice brings me back to present.
“Anyway, it’s not about that,” he says, of his thoughtless little flirting fest. “This is about what’s going on with us.”
“Oh. Is that what it’s about?” My voice is hollow.
“Yeah. We’re never very happy anymore. Have you noticed that? Our time has become about everything that we can’t do and that we can’t have. We love each other, but we’re seventeen years old. What do we do with that?”
Future Amie reaches out to hug her six beautiful children, the ones with a perfect mix of Ryan’s features and her own, but they vanish from her embrace and her arms close around thin air.
Ryan continues. “We’ve done this, Amie. We’ve put all of this weight on ourselves. We can’t get enough of each other, but we can’t have any more and it’s just so frustrating!” The last word comes out as a growl and he takes his hand from my leg to grab a handful of his hair in a clenched fist.
We sit for long seconds, not looking at each other.
Finally, my pride makes me say the only words that are left to say. “Maybe we should break up.”
I can see relief in Ryan’s stature. He wants to be generous. He wants it to be my suggestion. He wants to let me believe it was my idea.
“Maybe you’re right,” he says.
Future Amie whirls around to see her quaint little house with the pretty white fence and the gourmet meal that she’s cooked for future Ryan, vanishing.
I realize tears are rolling down my cheeks.
“This really isn’t going to be so bad,” Ryan assures me. “Things won’t be much different! We’ll still be close. We’ll make sure of it!”
“Preference is tomorrow,” I hear myself say, “The date? The dance? Everything is planned…”
“And we’ll still go together, of course! It will be a lot of fun,” Ryan says.
I stare out at the hot asphalt of the road we once sat in the middle of together, I recall vowing that night that I was building a wall around my heart. I begin to wish that wall would have held strong.
“I think I better go now,” I say.
He seems torn between being through with this and attempting to make me feel better before we part ways. “Okay, but I’ll see you tomorrow for our date, right? Amie, we’ll have a great time.”
“Yeah, okay,” I say as I stand on wobbly legs and make my way to my front door. We say goodbye and I walk inside, but my mind lingers on future Amie, all alone now, surrounded by nothing but a blank white canvas. She’s on her knees.