Friday, November 18, 2016

FIRST LOVE


We all remember it, don't we? That first moment of instantaneous attraction, overwhelming in its intensity? The pounding heart? The feeling of terrified inadequacy, and yet... the desperate need to say something, anything, to prevent the moment from slipping away before we're even noticed? The sense of emptiness and loss that's bound to follow...

Chris Gordon Clark remembers it. Sometimes I just run into a man who seems like he might be responsive and I tell him about my "Boyhood Memories" project. Sometimes the man responds with amazing enthusiasm. I ran into Chris outside the local pet store, where we had both been buying dog supplies. We stood and chatted for a few minutes and I invited him to join us. Not more than a day later he had sent me two memories, along with a note to say how "wonderful and cathartic" it had been to bring them back. "First Love" is one of them.  (Next post: "First Touch"!)

Enjoy! You'll likely find something of yourself in the experience Chris describes...



FIRST LOVE...
Chris Gordon Clark
Thursday, 10/13/16

The halls were empty.  1986.

It was summer, and Mr. Sunby (Carl, we called him, well out of earshot) was teaching what would be his last driver’s ed. class to 15- and 16-year-olds.  He was also my P.E. coach and a terribly funny, warm, and approachable guy, even so close to retirement.  Maybe especially so close to retirement, now that there are 30 years between experience and memory.  For Mr. Sunby, I soon became "Mr. Facetious," but he did not know the truth.  His nickname for me was so far off the mark. Painfully shy, that was the reality, despite classroom sarcasm and the need for attention...

Did she turn a corner or did I? It was next to the chemistry rooms. My locker was there one year, sophomore or junior, below all the windows and light.  Vibrant colors, a skirt or a sundress, maybe a white top, shoes. I’m sure that she was wearing shoes, but I couldn’t stop staring at her eyes. Brown eyes, black shiny hair, a senior… She was so beautiful, a near panic immediately set in.

Brown eyes. Nerves of steel? Not even close. Did she smile at me? Is that smile in my mind the real memory? I was frozen. How wildly my thoughts raced in that moment when she walked away, continuing down the empty hall!  Painfully shy myself, how could I summon the courage to say something? Anything…

What was said is completely lost in three decades. But she did stop.

She must have known how terrified I was. It was obvious! Was I cool for just a minute or two? A few weeks later I was rudderless again. She was gone.

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