i think i’ve mentioned this before, but for the purpose of this post, you get to read it again … i attended three different third grade classes at three different schools in a six month period. the first was taught by a woman who ended up becoming my favorite teacher. the third was taught by someone so unmemorable that i couldn’t tell you if that teacher was a man or a woman.
the second …
that one was taught at a catholic school by a sour-faced, plain and unremarkable woman. the only concrete memory i have of her is that she wore the black and white headpiece of a nun’s habit atop her straight, chin-length, dry, dirty blonde hair.
my mother says this teacher placed me in a cardboard box.
i’ve no memory of this. i can, however, recall feeling segregated.
i can also recall the day we’d made valentines for our classmates. first we decorated those plain brown paper lunch bags and placed them on our desks. these were for the valentines we received.
and then we made valentines (or filled in the to/from on our storebought ones) for our classmates.
i remember that my peers’ bags were stuffed with cards.
i remember that mine was not. in fact, mine was practically (if not) empty.
thirty years have passed since this.
and i feel as unlovable now as i did then.
i suppose that’s my fault.
i love me. i do. so it’s not that. it’s that i can’t believe a man i find attractive could love me. why should i?
twice in my life i’ve found the courage to say, in no uncertain terms, how i felt for a man. the first time was january second, nineteen ninety-nine. i’d driven from houston to austin to have lunch with a friend whom i’d known since i was ten. i was twenty-five at the time. i thought enough of our friendship, felt comfortable enough with him that i thought i could talk with him about what i felt and thought and not damage things. i suppose i should’ve known better. i was scared shitless of the consequences, good or bad, but i’d never really had the courage to be so direct about my feelings before.
he was not thrilled. in fact, he was quite upset with me. he’d been strumming his guitar when i’d said, after finally finding the gumption to spit it out, that i thought i might be in love with him.
there’s a whole lot of possibility in that statement. a whole lot.
thought and might are a helluva lot different from know and am. but of course, he didn’t take it that way.
his fingers fell over the strings in a way that created this jarring cacophony.
i said, i probably shouldn’t have said that.
he just sat there, saying nothing.
i said something about how i definitely shouldn’t have said that and muttered something about needing a cigarette and bolted for the door. he hated that i smoked, so when i was at his place, i left my smokes and lighter in my car. i sat there in the driver’s seat, with the door ajar, one foot on the floorboard and the other on the concrete of his driveway, chain-smoking.
after a minute or so he’d come out to stand by my car, one arm resting on the top of the door. he looked down on me and berated me for what seemed to be a half hour at least. he couldn’t understand why i would say that. he’d thought i’d learned by now it was better not to say that. we were friends. nothing more. i was never to mention it again.
i cried the whole way back. when i got to the intersection of highway two-ninety and f.m. twenty-nine-twenty, i realized i didn’t want to go home to an empty apartment and couldn’t go to my parents, so i drove north to huntsville and spent the night with my younger brother and his friends. i cried some more.
and in doing so, i wrecked two friendships — the one he and i’d had and the one he’d had with my brother. so quite a bit of damage, that.
i went back to my apartment the next day. in my mail was a card from his mother, wishing me a happy new year and hoping it had gotten off to a good start. i cried some more.
the second was almost three years later, which is actually a surprise to me because the years between the first incident and the second? it felt as though twice that many years had passed.
i can’t remember the date, which is odd, really, because i can tell you, even now, pretty much every date that this boy and i had seen each other. but this particular date escapes me.
we were sitting at his breakfast table in his apartment, having dinner — pork and asparagus. i don’t like pork. he’d volunteered to cook dinner for me, which was nice, but he hadn’t asked what i wanted. which i guess was fair in the end, because when i cooked dinner for him the following week, i didn’t ask what he would like. i made what i could cook well enough — penne a la vodka. i did, however, know that he had a fondness for capers, so i found an appetizer that had those in the recipe and made that.
anyway. we were dining, and i’d gotten quiet. i was happy, though. really happy. it was a good quiet. i was just sitting there, thinking happy thoughts. a rarity for me.
he asked what i was thinking about.
i remembered that afternoon from the first incident, how it had gone so badly. you probably wouldn’t want to hear it, i said.
he smiled at me and said that he did.
and i, being the ever hopeful girl that i am, the one who’s been too much the coward for much of her life, the one who’s always saying the wrong thing, said something similar to what i’d said three years before.
i can’t remember it verbatim. kind of strange, really. i can’t remember the date or the phrasing.
i can remember that his expression changed from one of amusement to wariness. of course, it did. i’d just ruined a perfectly good evening.
i said something about how i knew he wouldn’t want to hear it. he replied that it was too soon. and i’d said something schmaltzy about it not being an obligation. the rest of the evening went well enough.
the relationship did not.
that was nine years ago.
i haven’t met a man who’s compelled me to feel that way since.
but i keep hoping.
that woman i mentioned in a previous post, the one who educates me about current events and politics? the last time we met, we were talking about communism and how it’s founded on this grand idea that eventually, if people were to adhere to its principles, a communistic society would evolve into this abundant, idyllic realm.
the thing is, that ideal is never realized.
love, for me, is like communism. it’s a beautiful, grand, marvelous thing … in theory. and yes, i’m aware it’s a flawed thing. it’s beauty and grandeur and marvelousness exist despite this. but the reality, for me, is horribly sad and depressing, and i am impoverished.
and yet, i keep hoping, keep believing that something good will come of all this. i keep thinking someday, somewhere, there’s a guy with whom i’ll wanna be who’s not gonna balk at the prospect of being with me.