I decided to write about him today because I dreamed of him last night. It doesn’t happen so often anymore, maybe once a year. In my dream last night, we drank Sambuca (which I can’t stand) mixed with raspberry ginger ale (which sounds disgusting) before making slow, steady, steamy love on a sofa apholstered in burnt orange velvet. I was on top, and afterward, he kissed me quickly and left. Even though I came, I felt unfulfilled, and I woke up knowing that I’d come in my sleep.
Three months passed.
When school started back, the first boy I ever loved was in my French class. Tardy every day, he came in jerking his head at friends and acquaintances, even at me, now that he knew me from math. He sat at the far back right of the room and I sat at the far left front, the rows arranged so that the two sides of the classroom appeared to be at war. The only time he ever spoke in class was to ask to go to the restroom.
I got my driver’s license that fall, and after begging and making all sorts of promises I didn’t intend to keep, my mother allowed me to go out on the weekends. This was how I came to have my first serious kiss and my first male best friend. This was how, in the frozen February after my New Year’s in New Orleans, I learned that the first boy I ever loved remembered who I was after all.
A group of sophomores and juniors were behind Dairy Queen, hanging out, trying to figure out what to do. He walked over to join my best friend (also a good friend of his) and me. The three of us sat on the back of my friend’s father’s Cadillac and listened as its weight control sensors tried to adjust the suspension to compensate for us. My friend introduced us, and the boy said no shit; he knew who I was.
After the first five minutes of conversation, my best friend left us alone. After talking to the boy for one hour, I knew he was the smartest person I had ever met (and would continue to be so for several more years). No bullshit. He was the most well-read, intellectually-minded person I knew, and he hated that about himself. None of his friends was exceptionally smart, and they knew he was, but he couldn’t stand for anyone to talk about it. Maybe, if I had never brought it up, he might have loved me back.
He drank too much, smoked too much, both cigarettes and weed. When he kissed me, it felt like my entire body hummed like a running refrigerator. He liked to have his earlobes rubbed and sucked, and I delighted in the knowledge that I discovered that about him, alone with him in a house I’d never been in on a bed that God only knows how many similar meetings had taken place on. Nervously, I rubbed my palm over the zipper of his jeans and felt him harden underneath it. Me, the beer-guzzling goody-two-shoes who never saw a penis outside a textbook, much less an erect one. I ran the tip of my nose long the rim of his ear, my body instinctively knowing what to do even if my mind was clueless. “Stop,” he said, “or I won’t be able to.” He kissed my hand, kissed me, and left the room, left the house. Someone took me back to my car.
He called me three times, three of the longest phone conversations I’ve ever had with anyone. We talked about anything and everything and nothing. After Sunday night, he didn’t call, and he didn’t come to school, and I wondered if he somehow got himself killed drinking and driving.
He didn’t, and he didn’t want to talk to me. He didn’t look at me in French, so I stopped looking at him. After a confusing and miserable week, I gave him a note on Friday. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I’m sure it was along the lines of “Dude, what the fuck is up with you?” because that is the kind of thing I say to people who confuse me. I’ve always been too blunt, too open. I do remember that he said, “I’m sorry. Can we still be friends?” I wasn’t aware that we were friends before, but I agreed so that he wouldn’t have to feel awkward when we ran into each other. And he knew that was why I did it.