The hubby has taken the kid to see whatever animated movie came out this weekend, and so I have a little time to myself after an entire day alone with the kid yesterday. Ahhh. It's a nice little break. I couldn't decide whether to blog or to sleep, but since I had cotton candy for breakfast, the sugar rush is helping me push through my fatigue. Also, Titanic is on TBS, so how could I resist that? Fun fact: Titanic was the first movie that the hubby and I saw in the theater together. I would call it our first date, but I don't think that's really accurate. I mean, it was the first dinner and a movie date, but we had been together for over five months at that point, though it was long-distance.
Is this confusing anyone? Maybe I should start at the beginning...
It all began in the summer of 1997. July 11th, to be exact. I was a recent high school graduate and was spending my last summer at home lounging by the pool at my dad’s house before heading off to the Performing Arts Institute at my chosen university. My mom, sister, and grandma were all headed to Lake of the Ozarks for a little shopping vacation, and I decided last-minute to go with them. My mom was gracious enough to comply with my request, and went out of her way to pick me up and take me with them. I had made a couple of mixed tapes earlier that summer and brought them along for the long 3-hour-long car ride there, trapped in a miniscule Geo Prism with two adults and another teenager. I remember one was called “Favorite Jewels” (meaning all Jewel songs off her first album) and the other was mostly cheesy ballads by Mariah Carey and Journey.
|Did I save the bag from the hotel and put it in a scrapbook? Maybe...|
It was between bouts of roaring laughter that I first noticed him. He strutted into the pool area in his swim trunks, exotic-looking with his chin-length black hair and tattoos on his bicep and the nape of his neck--clearly not from around here, due to the sheer fact that he wasn’t a white guy. He was slightly older, maybe his early 20’s, which seemed like a big deal at the time, being that I wasn’t yet 18. Although I saw him and was instantly attracted , I didn’t give him much thought since I was having such a great time with my family and, anyway, I hadn’t had much experience with the opposite sex liking me back.
After my mom and sister got the hiccups and just couldn’t take it anymore, we exited the hot tub, took a short dip in the pool, and headed back to the hotel room. My sister and I decided that we weren’t quite ready to call it a night, so I got dressed in my new gray SMSU t-shirt, cut-off jean shorts, and some flip flops before she and I headed back to the hotel recreation room to shoot a little pool.
As soon as we started our game, he walked back through on his way out to his room, dripping wet with a white towel wrapped around his hips. He didn’t say a word as he passed, even though we were the only three in the room, and I thought that was that…until he came back in, fully-clothed. He appeared to have places to go and people to see, passing through on his way somewhere very important, when I decided to greet him with a “hi”, accompanied by a wave and a smile. I am a Midwestern girl, after all, and it seemed strange to me that we kept seeing one another in passing without any words exchanged.
Who could have known that one little word could have set off such a momentous series of events? After my greeting, he turned back around, clasped his hands together, and said to my sister and I (still playing pool), “Would you two be interested in playing three-person at all?” And that was that.
During that game, I found out his name and we made small talk and did a little innocent flirting. Another guy joined us, whose father ran that hotel, and we headed outside to an outdoor patio to chat some more. We paired off and he and I began to learn all about each other. I learned that he was twenty-two years old, lived in California, and was helping his parents move back there from Georgia. This was just a stop along the way, a mini-break on his way back home. We talked about music, world views, everything and nothing, until we quickly fell for one another right then and there.
Hours passed, the other two went to bed, and the sun was about to come up before we decided that we’d better return to our respective families and rooms. It was 5am and I was rummaging through my mom’s glove compartment for a scrap of paper and a pen. I wrote down my name, address, and phone number, and he wrote down his. We exchanged them and then we hugged. Actually, the word “hug” is too weak a word. What happened there that night, in that parking lot, was sheer magic. It’s hard to explain, but the feeling of my face against his neck, his arms around my back…it was just magic. Like electricity, but more than that. It took everything I had in me to let him go from that embrace, but I had to. It was late and my mom was going to be freaking out soon if she woke up and I wasn’t there. At the last minute, I decided to give him my two mixed tapes I had in the car, so he could listen to them on his trip back home and think of me.
I returned to the hotel room completely and utterly in love. I wanted to wake everyone up and tell them how I felt, but out of respect (and shyness), I didn’t. I tried to sleep, but the effort was futile. All I could do was lie there, awake, playing the night over and over in my head.
When morning came and the hour was decent, I jumped out of bed and ran up to the hotel lobby, hoping to run into him again. I sat and drank free coffee and ate free donuts for what felt like forever, watching for him to come out of his room, even just a glimpse, but I never saw him. My mom checked out, we headed on our way, and I had nothing more than a scrap of a bank envelope with his handwriting on it to remind me of what I’d just been through.
To be continued...
*Due to the scavenger hunt for photos and mementos to add to this story, the telling of the story itself has been derailed. I will begin again after I've finished poking through old letters and reminiscing. :)