But wait, there's more! The story of my first love continues, so click the link and learn what happens next.
As I mentioned in the first post about my first love, names have been changed to respect privacy. If you would like a refresher on what is going on, click here for the story.
Now, where were we? Adam and I had a song, "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys. I thought it was the sweetest thing. Surely it was a sign. Love would concur all. We were a long ways away from love, at least in the traditional sense. However, whatever it was that was happening between us, it would eventually take a turn for the physical. Cue sweet romance music from a soap. Or Olivia Newton John's voice stating, "Let's get physical, physical!"
There were rules though. His rules were that he would not be touching me. There would be no kissing. It would merely be me giving and him receiving. And it would only be whenever the mood was right, he had a way of communicating to me when he was open to our arrangement. My rules were not much, mainly because there was not a lot for me to ask for. I merely did not want to go all the way. I was willing to dislocate my jaw but I was certainly not ready for intercourse, I truly wanted that to be something special. (Spoiler alert, my first time would be absolutely terrible! I think most people have a not so good first time. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.)
With sexual activity occurring between us, I took it as a further sign that we were on the road to something great. Sure it was focused on his needs and I was essentially untouchable like the stars in the sky, but it was something. I was also young. I lacked the confidence to stand up and be like, "No. I want this to be a mutually satisfying experience, and not one sided." I didn't have that power though. I knew if I stood up, I risked him turning away completely, so, I was ok with the scraps he was tossing about.
It wasn't all that bad though. Our intimate encounters were not that frequent. We did develop a new routine though, and I appreciated that more. He was always working at some pizza joint, and when he would get off of work he'd come right over with food. Usually pizza but occasionally he'd call and say, "I'm going to McDonald's do you want a Cajun McChicken tonight or something different?" Remember the Cajun McChicken? It would then become the Hot 'n' Spicy, but it was a damn good sandwich. I found some old commercials on YouTube to entice your taste buds.
We'd have dinner in my room. We'd talk non-stop and laugh about whatever was on the radar for conversation that day. We were approaching the end of his senior year and the end of my sophomore year. These dinner dates were always a highlight for me. After eating we'd maybe play some video games together or just listen to music.
And tv! There was tv. Let's take a moment to pause and reflect on my pop culture loves during the 1997-98 school year. Dawson's Creek came out during the second semester and I was beyond obsessed. Sweet Joey being lovesick over her best friend Dawson, while he was fawning over Jen, my goodness it was a storyline that spoke to me so much. I didn't miss a week. Sometimes Adam would watch with me, he personally loathed the show, though I could never understand why. It was so engrossing!
In other pop culture worlds, I was churning away at Final Fantasy VII. I had bought the game when it came out a year before, but back then I loved taking my time with a game. I had already beaten it, but there were so many extra things to do. I tried my best to breed a gold chocobo and for the life of me could never do it. It wouldn't be until decades later that I'd achieve that monumental task. Needless to say, Adam would sometimes watch me play Final Fantasy VII, which was one of my nerd girl dreams come true. We'd also play this one game, Playstation's Namco Museum Collection called Toy Pop. Oh my goodness, we'd spend hours playing that game. It was a co-op game so we worked together. I loved it.
Eventually he'd head home after our dinner nights, but in time he'd leave to hang out with the latest girl he was seeing. Those dinners would slowly morph into a larger focus about his latest girlfriend. I was always supportive. I knew I had no reason to be upset. We both knew where we stood. I'd sometimes get to meet the young woman who had struck his fancy, and that was always a hit or miss experience. I was always polite, but sometimes the girls he would date would not take too kindly to me. It was never a spoken upon topic, more of an awareness.
Of course I was not always solely pining away for Adam. I'd sometimes think about how I deserved a great love. The problem was that I did not have a line of suitors banging on my door to take me out. There was no Pacey in my life to waltz in and show me that there was someone better than Dawson. Sure, my personality was really great. I was funny and down to earth. I was into a lot of cool things. I just wasn't the kind of chick that you could take home to mom, ya know what I mean? Some guys in high school were curious about receiving benefits from me, of the sexual variety, but those experiences were few and far between. They always left me feeling very empty anyway.
Besides, Adam and I had something really special. He'd call me on my birthday and get really excited about celebrating. I did the same for him, but I always loved when he got excited, mainly because I usually loathed my birthdays.
Another summer arrived and we spent a large amount of time together. By the pool. Driving to Target or the mall. He fully supported my toy collecting habits and we loved going to music stores. We had our dinners. The flirtation between us was also at an all time high, especially when we were in a pool. I was reaching a point of no return. I rang up my friend JJ, "Listen, I have to tell him how I truly feel. We have this back and forth and it is just becoming too much. He needs to know how much I love him and how we can really have something special if he'd just give it a real chance."
"M, do you really think that is a good idea?" I sighed, "No. I don't know. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Just go the rest of my life living like this?" JJ understood, "Here's the thing though, you might push him away." I did not want to lose my connection with him, but I was willing to take that chance.
I called Adam, "Hey, are you doin anything? I need to talk to you about something, but in person. Not over the phone." He was on his way.
I don't know about you, but it can be difficult for me to tell people what is truly on my mind. To bare my soul. It's such a vulnerable act. Sure, I had hope that he would respond favorably, but I was also petrified that this act could push him away. I could lose what we had. I mean it wasn't a lot, but at that time it was the world to me. This was a risk.
Adam showed up and I directed him to sit on my bed and just listen to what I had to say. I was trusting my inner Joey to get me through this. I started from the beginning. I shared how this was not easy. And then suddenly everything just came out. My feelings were very clear. I spoke my truth from my heart. It was sincere. "I love you" was spoken very calmly, even though I was trembling on the inside. It was the first time I had ever spoken those words to someone in a romantic way. There was no begging for him to love me back, just my honesty and perspective of us.
Once I was finished I stood there, awaiting my fate. Adam looked down and then back up, his mouth did this thing. Like, he was touched but also embarrassed. For me, not him. He was indeed touched but he did not feel the same way. Make no mistake, he cared about me. He enjoyed our connection and I was one of the closest people in his life, but I was just best friend material only. He apologized that he did not feel the same way for me that I did for him.
I was devastated but didn't let it show. I understood. I mean my goodness, I am a lot, but demanding that someone love me back is not one of my traits. You either want me or you don't. After I knew, officially, where we stood, things were a bit awkward. He left and I was not sure what to do.
Thankfully Garbage would be my saving grace. Their first album changed my life, but Version 2.0 would cement Garbage being my favorite band ever. You ever listen to a song, and the words just hit you? Where it feels like they have just jumped into your brain and took hold of your emotions and recorded them? "You Look so Fine" hit me so differently that summer. The words spoke to me in such a way that I ached yet felt comforted at the same time. I was hurting. Not just because he wasn't into me, but with everything. I was in this weird space in my life. Trying to figure out who I was, trying to be comfortable in my own body and the only way I could feel comfortable in my body was to share with the world the type of girl I was. That act made a lot of people uncomfortable.
After that summer things began to change between Adam and me. We were still close friends, but we were not spending as much time with each other like before. Things were a bit awkward but I also wanted to break some patterns we were involved in. There were also some big things that happened in my junior year of high school that really pushed me into a space of isolation and spending a great deal of time alone in my room with my toys.
I feel an important piece of this story and the isolation involves Adam bringing a 22 year old man into our friend group. This man was of legal age and could buy alcohol for all of us minors. I was 16 and clueless. I wasn't being critical enough about why a 22 year old man would want to hang out with teens. Or why he would be giving me so much attention. The kind of attention that was a ruse, an intricate plot to do something terrible. I think it is best that I share that story for another time, or maybe never. I've already processed and worked through a lot of what happened to me, but I've never fully been able to move past what he did. Regardless, what unfolded from knowing that man led me to withdrawing from a lot of socializing with my friends.
Toys and toy magazines became a central part of my life. (Go ToyFare!) My collection was growing more and more. I was no longer interested in collecting a figure here or there, I wanted to collect anything and everything that was of interest. And I also played with my toys. I had them go on many soap opera tales and had this giant Melrose Place spiral notebook that I would write my stories in. I loved visiting these worlds and living in my own bubble. That piece of my life had always been there, ever since I was a child.
By senior year I was given an opportunity to go to New York City to visit a doctor, named Dr. Mystery. Seriously, that was his name. He was doing research on my genetic disorder and he wanted to fly me up to NYC to perform some tests and gather some data on my health. I was totally down for this. I felt like I was living my own super hero story or some strange horror tale of suspense and mayhem.
I would be gone for a week. A detail I left out to my friends. Feeling so isolated from everyone, I pulled an Erica Kane (I had been reading her book, Having It All, and I had designs of following in her footsteps) and I stretched the truth a bit and shared that I could possibly be in NYC for an entire year for tests and research. My friends were worried about that. Adam was worried. He did not like that I could potentially be gone for a year.
I felt bad fibbing in this way, but I really needed to know that they cared about me, that I would be missed if I weren't coming back anytime soon. It was not my finest moment, but not as bad as the time I lied about having a boyfriend who was in Alaska cleaning up oil spills. This imaginary guy was named Richard and he was my very own Captain Planet. My friends bought that for a moment until it all came crashing down when I had failed to create a better back story for Richard and his life. Like, "Where did he grow up?" "When was his birthday?" How did you two meet?" I just wasn't prepared dear reader!
Anyways, going to NYC was everything I had hoped it would be and more. To start off with, no one stared or gawked at me, at least not blatantly. No one sneered or wanted to yell out offensive words. I was on a vacation from my life in a conservative town and it was liberating. I was receiving compliments on my style! People didn't recoil when I spoke to them. I had entered a vastly different world.
Dr. Mystery was nice. So was the nursing staff pictured above. I bonded with those women so much, I felt like they really saw me for who I was and we made these really nice connections while I was staying in the hospital. I had to stay there for the first couple days for all the tests and such. I remember being in bed and watching All My Children and completely freaking out, "I'm watching one of my favorite soaps in the city that it is filmed in!" It was amazing. My mom was with me as well as my aunt. My aunt insisted on coming along because she had shopping and the theater on her brain, so it was nice that we were all together for this trip.
Once the medical stuff was out of the way I got to explore the city some. I was a fish out of water, tossed into an even bigger body of water. I loved it. This will sound a bit silly, I know that there's so much to see and enjoy about NYC, but my biggest joy was going to FAO Schwarz. It was pure magic. I had never seen a toy store like that. I remember they had the huge Legends of Eternia Commemorative Masters of the Universe set with all the figures in one box behind this special case and I was just in awe. They weren't supposed to be released yet, and there it was. Come to think of it, I am trying to understand how they had that there when the line was not released until 2000, and this was at the end of 1999. Either way I loved the store. It was a place I could get lost in. My goodness, I loved the city and its energy. I did not want to leave.
At some point one had to return to reality. I also missed my friends. With some souvenirs in tow for them, it was eventually time to head back home. I remember being on the plane listening to Amber on a Walkman, and that album was so fun. The songs were dance bops and I had all this energy ready to come back to my town in the suburbs and just breathe new life into my day to day.
Ideas are great, but they don't always follow the plan. The rest of my senior year was a bit ho hum. I may have felt different, more confident within myself, but those who hated me still saw me as a weird he-she-it and my friends were all spinning off into their own worlds, planning their lives for after graduation. There was a lot of partying and it was fun here and there, but I was not really the partying type of girl. I kinda faded back to my routine. Collecting toys and writing toy stories, playing video games, watching my soap operas. I'd be home on a Friday and Saturday night, which was fine by me, but my parents were a bit concerned, "Don't you want to go out? You used to go out all the time." I just wasn't feeling it.
There was a small social aspect to my life though. My group of girlfriends would get together for mall trips or going to the movies. Or making frozen pizzas and watching soaps. So there was a bit of a social life, but it was different.
Soon it was time for prom. I always had dreams about the perfect prom experience. A beautiful gown with the whole fancy hair and makeup, and a dashing date to dance all night with. Preferably in a school cafeteria with streamers and balloons, but prom back then was bigger than just the school cafeteria. Shit was in a hotel followed by after parties by the beach. There were also rules, like a heavily emphasized gendered dress code and policy on who could and could not be your date. No way in Hades was I going to get the chance to dress how I wanted and arrive with my dream date. (You see dear reader, I had created some controversy at my school with my mere existence. Insert huge eye roll because I truly was like the most basic bitch on the planet. How I was causing such a fuss I will never truly know.)
Anyways. I mean there was no dream date anyway, but like, a gal can wish right? Adam had hinted that he'd go with me, because he knew how important prom secretly was to me. When he was in high school the proms he attended had been fun and he wanted that experience for me. He ended up asking one of my best girlfriends from our friend group to go. She didn't have a date and he had suddenly developed a crush on her and it looked to be mutual. Knowing that I was likely not going, they offered me to go with them. It was a sweet gesture, but no way was I about to be a third wheel while I watched the man I'd had a complicated connection with dance and twirl with one of my best friends. I wanted off the teen soap rollercoaster, please.
I didn't go to prom, but one of my friends who had graduated the year before picked me up and we went to dinner and a movie in town. It was nice. I wasn't feeling super sorry for myself, I was enjoying that night for what it was. In the meantime I was dreaming and planning what my own life was going to be like after graduation. I was 18, on the cusp of being done with public school and all the cruelty and madness.
I had no idea what was in store for me, but I was looking forward to it. As for Adam, well, fate was not quite finished with us.
That's a lot for now. But, the melodrama of my first love will be wrapped up in the next post. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am slowly beginning to understand why I am sharing this story. Hugs to you all!