Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I met him. We were both teenagers. I was spending the summer with my dad, he was spending the summer at his family's camp on China Lake. My dad's girlfriend lived in an upstairs apartment at his uncle's huge house across from that very camp. To earn extra money for the summer he was spending most of his days painting his uncle's house.

His name was Jack. Tall, handsome as sin and a soft spoken boy of eighteen. I was younger than him, but very mature for my age. I had the figure of a woman, my hair fell to my waist. I'll never forget the first time we saw each other. I was wading in China Lake, wearing my favorite blue and while polka dot dress. He was watching me from the bank, just standing there with his friend.

As soon as our eyes met I became infatuated with him. And I'm pretty sure it was reciprocated, considering we spent every free moment together the rest of that summer. My favorite time was when we would lay under a secluded tree after dark, staring up at the stars and just talking. It was one of those nights that he gave me my first kiss. A soft, exploring kind of kiss that revealed he was just as nervous as me.

When summer ended and I had to leave, I cried all the way to the airport, which was five hours away. Jack joined the navy soon after and we wrote back and forth for two years. We exchanged pictures, talked on the phone and he sent me gifts.

Then the letter every young person hates to receive, when someone you love or think you love reveals they've met someone and are getting married. I remember Jack saying he had a decision to make and he was afraid that no matter what he did, he would lose a good friend. I wasn't stupid, I knew what he was talking about. I have to be honest and say at the time that I told Jack I was happy for him. I wrote him one last letter and never heard from him again.

Why is it that one summer remains with me so vivid after all these years? I don't dwell on it, or Jack, but once in a while something will remind me of him. Or I'll have a dream and wake up with him on my mind. And worse, my cousin will call and tell me she's heard this or that about him. She's close to his family and has had occasions to visit with him and his wife and they email back and forth.

Over the years I've seen glimpses of him when I've gone home to visit and he just happens to be visiting his family at the same time. Then that summer comes back to haunt me with what was...what could have been. And that's silly.

So, what is it? Why are there times when I think about him that I feel so melancholy? My gosh, for the most part I've had a happy life. I went on and found my prince charming...twice:) Is it the loss of youth that bothers me? A time of innocence in a small town of days spent in the lake or down at the ice cream stand with friends? I wish I knew.

How many of you have something in your past that you can't seem to let go of?


Kytaira said...

Yes, There was a guy that I dated years ago. I use the term loosely since it was mainly a physical thing. We were both stationed overseas and I knew he had a girlfriend back in the states. I'd flip her picture down and he'd laugh. I bawled the day he left. What's sad is I know he liked me alot as a person but not enough or as much as I was into him. i've looked him up online and never found anything. I suspect he married the girlfriend. I don't know why I've ever thought of him. The realistic part of me knows he cheated on her so if we had gotten serious, I'd always wonder when he'd do it again - to me.

The shocking thing is that I met my bosses son once. When I walked in the room my mouth dropped. He looked like my ex, 25 years ago.

Tory Richards said...

Sometimes you have to wonder why things happen the way they do.

It had never gotten physical with me and Jack but looking back there were signs if we'd had more time together it would have.

I wonder if the people in our pasts ever look back and think about us...

Nancy Bristow said...

Debbie...I think we all have things in the past that we don't forget...emotional events that made such an impression that they will always remain with us.

I'm not convinced we have to let memories go...after all, our memories (experiences) helped shape us into who we are today. The lost of innocence and the agony of lost love (as most of us suffer when young) has most likely made you a better author than if you had never experienced those things.

It might be outrageous thinking with no basis but I believe that if things are meant to work out, they will. We don't control life, it just happens....Nancy

susan said...

I can recall a few but one that sticks in my mind the most is this guy I liked at an amusement park..we even wrote back and forth to each other for awhile until my mother found one of the letters. It wasn't a nasty or x rated even but just the fact I was sneaking and not telling her..she made a big issue about it. I am now married to a wonderful man for 46 years but anytime we go into this place where my young friend lived I still wonder about him and what ever became of him. susan L.

Tory Richards said...

Things happen for a reason, so my daughter always says. Broke my heart when she said that after losing one of her twins. But, there is some truth in it I guess.

And you're so right about life just happening, Nancy. We like to think we can control what happens but I think God and fate have a little more to say about it.

Tory Richards said...

Exactly, Susan! Although, I know a little of what became of Jack. He married, had two sons and is now a grandfather.