Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My True Love Story

Just want to say thanks again for the critiques and compliments on last week's post! They really made me want to keep writing and improve! Love you all!

Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water

Day 1830ish

One night I went on a double date where they blindfolded us and led us through the rafters of our high school auditorium to a little corner where they had set up a TV with a scary movie, pillows, snacks and the best atmosphere you can imagine. One night I went on a date to the mountains where we played night games among the trees and wildlife, and roasted marshmallows on an open fire. One night I ballroom danced on the roof of our school, under the stars. It was amazing. I’ve dated good guys. Polite. Respectful. Humble. Funny. Fun.
I’m doing it. I’m doing it exactly the way they tell me to. Date a lot of people. Be young, have fun. Look inside, find out who you are, focus on bettering yourself. That’s how you make yourself into someone who can find a healthy relationship. They’re absolutely right.
What they don’t know is that at night, when it’s quiet, when it’s dark, when no one is there but my memories, I still pull back my curtain. Still look down the street to his window. The box of keepsakes didn’t stay buried, and neither will the feelings. The box is tucked away, however, in a dusty, cobwebby, corner of a never-used cabinet out back in the work-shop.
So every morning, when it’s light and the world is watching, I smile. I take care with my clothes, my hair, and I go out. I perform the many responsibilities that I have obligated myself to on the quest to be better. Today it’s an honor choir concert at another school. It’s a three hour bus ride, one way, with a ratio of about three girls to one boy… and Ryan sings.
I find a seat about three rows from the back of the bus and slide in. We’re Seniors now, and it’s usually a given that we choose to and therefore we get to sit at the back. The bus is a flurry of noise and movement as everyone crowds in. I hear a guy from the very back seat yell, “Leonhardt! Back here!” Great. Just Great.
I look to the front of the bus and I see Ryan finishing up a flirtatious conversation with one of the younger girls. She must have told him she’d call him, because as he walks away he yells his information to her. “Ryan Leonhardt. 384-2658…” He looks at me as he passes and throws his address in for good measure, right down to the zip code.
He’s still watching me as he finishes and I give him a sarcastic smile mixed with vindictive eyes and say, “You finally memorized it. Good job.”
He’s pleased with himself, but bristles at my usual snide reaction to his antics.
As the bus gets rolling, the girl and a handful of her friends decide to wander to the back four seats for a visit. They squeeze in next to Ryan and his friends, wondering aloud, in a damsel in distress way, if it’s safe to be crowded into the seats this way and if they’ll get in trouble.
“If we get in a wreck,” Ryan says, “And I get injured, this just means more people are available to give me mouth to mouth.” The giggling gaggle of girls is terribly amused. Then Ryan shoots an angry look at me and says, “Just don’t let her be the one to do it. Anybody but her.”
I face front and sink down into my seat. I say cruel things to him all the time. I cut him down whenever he’s in ear shot, but isn’t that my right? He’s the Casanova here. His ego can take it. I’m merely tossing pebbles at Goliath.
My friend Misty slides into my seat to survey the damage. “Amie,” she says, “Don’t let him get to you.”
“How am I going to endure three hours of this?” I ask.
“Listen.” she says, “Why do you think he’s back there talking so loud? Half of that crap he’s spouting is more for your ears than for theirs. He wants you to be jealous.”
I blink and tears slip from the corner of my eyes and down my cheeks.
“And why do you think he singled you out like that?” Misty asks. “He still likes you. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t even acknowledge you.”
I shake my head furiously. “I know he probably still has feelings for me,” I say, “But I don’t know if that matters anymore. Not after everything that’s happened.”
“Amie, you are beautiful and you’re an amazing girl. That’s the thing you can’t forget. That’s the thing that still matters, even after everything that’s happened.”
Misty is good at so many things, but maybe her greatest gift is the way she sees the best in everyone and communicates it to them so well.
I sit and think about her statement. . I try to block out every loudly spoken innuendo from the back seat, met with every desperate giggle. I focus deep inside, to try and see what stuff I’m really made of. I think back to Governor’s Honors Academy and the week I spent away at the beginning of last summer. I think about the way the counselors built us up, and reminded us of all that we could accomplish. I think of how I could be what I wanted to be without my small town, built-in stigma to categorize me so quickly. I think about the boys there that were really accomplished, good looking and confident… and interested in me. I remember how one of them was from the very school that we are now travelling to, and that he had an amazing singing voice.

I hit the girl’s restroom as soon as I finally emerge from the bus ride of doom, and I don’t walk away from my reflection until it reveals a new girl. I wipe away the smeared mascara, reapply the eye-liner and plaster on a glowing, though still not entirely genuine smile. I pray. I know that might sound silly, an emotional teen-age girl praying over boy problems, but I do. Then I meet up with a group of friends, and we gather in the crowded hallway, chattering and looking around at the foreign hallway of this high school and all of the new people.
That’s when I see him. I can’t believe my eyes. Dark tan skin, short black hair, deep brown eyes…. I remember him saying his roots were Italian, and it’s written all over his coloring, but the thing that stands out most about him is his approachable smile. Anybody he turns it on would be hypnotized into believing that they’ve known and counted on him all their lives. It’s Marcus, from Governor’s Honors Academy.
His hypnotizing smile, coupled with the “what have I got to lose” bus ride moves me toward him before I know what I’m doing.
“Marcus?” I say.
He turns those brown eyes on me. “Amie! Wow! It’s been awhile! How have you been?”
We gather a lot of attention while we catch up on our GHA memories and what we’ve been doing since. I can feel some animosity from the girls that attend his school. They’re watching me with that territorial look. The girls from my school love every second of it, and the boys from my school are calling out some teasing one-liners.
Marcus glances down at his watch. “Oh shoot!” he says. “I’m singing a solo in the concert tonight, and I was supposed to go practice.”
“Oh!” I say, “Well, let’s go find a place for you to practice then!”
His smile deepens. “Come on,” he says, and leads me down a short hall to a sound room. The door he closes behind us cuts us off from the commotion outside, but there’s a huge window, and the curious students are gathering around to see what the two of us will do next.
In the center of the small room, sits a well used, but forever beautiful, grand piano. He plays a chord and sings through a normally boring, but completely enthralling under the circumstances, choir song. Despite my not being a huge fan of most high school choir music, I am thoroughly impressed with his voice and I gush and flatter appropriately when he’s finished.
The praise falls on him well, making him warmer and closer to me than would normally be the case after our spontaneous reunion in the crowded hall. He says, “Well, enough of that! I could… sing a song for you now.”
“I would love that,” I say, a little out of breath.
He sits down at the piano and sweeps his hands across the keyboard. Oh my goodness. I quickly pull up a metal and plastic school chair, for fear my legs may not be able to hold me up.
He plays an intro and then, as if anything could improve the lovely music, his voice… the voice of which dreams are made begins to sing. He looks right into my eyes, his ultra-friendly smile, muted into a smile personalized for me. I lose myself in the words that float like angel wings around my head, “When you're weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes I will dry them all. I'm on your side when times get rough and friends just can't be found, like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down.”

I think about the bus ride. I think about Ryan… because, that’s right, not even a gorgeous Italian sitting at a grand piano and playing and singing a song just for me can completely bury those thoughts. Not even a shovel and a goodly portion of dirt can bury those thoughts… but the point is that this is my bridge! This moment, this other-worldy moment, this music and these onlookers, and that voice coming from that boy are my bridge over troubled waters! This moment is my protection. It’s my hope. It’s my passage through this day and maybe more hard days to come. I think about an emotional teen-age girl praying over boy troubles, and I believe those prayers are heard.

I don’t know if Ryan sees the crowd gathered, I don’t know if he gets a peek inside that window, but I know for sure he’ll hear about it. There aren’t many choir students who aren’t talking about it.
My place on the rafters during the dress rehearsal is right behind Ryan, so close that I can smell the once alluring smell that is all him. At one point, Marcus moves to the front and center of the stage to sing his solo. I hear two girls a few people to the right whisper. “He’s so hot.” “I know, but we don’t have a shot with him. He’s so into Amie Gee.”
Ryan’s head whips around to glare at them, and then he turns almost completely around and I can feel him looking square at me for a long, long time. I stare straight at the conductor, immoveable as stone. There can be no argument that Marcus’s song is incredible, that his voice is a gift. When he is done singing, the people next to me elbow me and grin, smile at me and tell me how good it was as though it were my own accomplishment. Ryan tells them with venom dripping from every word, “That kid is a loser. A loser! I’d love to punch him.”
I continue to stare straight at the conductor, but the corners of my mouth creep up to barely reveal a dimple on each cheek.


Tanner and Kristin said...

Love it...again! Can't we just do next Monday's edition TODAY?!

Cammie said...

Great work today Amie! I love the vulnerability with the strength, I really feel like I'm a teenage girl praying over boy problems myself!

Emily said...

Cute :)

Jullie said...

I can't decide if your story makes me miss my teenage years OR run as far away from those experiences as I can! Great storytelling.

Jeff and Jessie said...

Yep, you nailed it with this one! Loved it!

Jessica said...

Who knew that watching you undercut him by making him jealous would be even more satisfying than seeing you slap him? ;)

SO good! And the last sentence is perfection!

*Kelly Dawn* said...

Oh, it's such a high point for me to read your stories! Thanks for sharing it with us.