It was the summer of ’69. I had always been a bit taller than most of the kids in my class. I had nicknames like, Stilts, Stretch, Legs, Wilt through what is now known as middle school. I didn’t mind though and actually sort of liked those names, as they set me apart from other girls and made me feel like I was acknowledged.
In the summer of ’69 I was heading into my freshman year of high school. I was 14. I had my first summer romance. Yes, I know, it is young, but, when you are tall and every boy you have met thus far was at least a half-foot shorter than you, and then you meet someone who is taller than you, has a cute smile and thinks you are cute, it is love. Albeit, young love. We used to meet at the pool and swim and talk. I was smitten. But, alas, it was not meant to be. His mother (wise woman she was) said, “Good Catholic boys do not date girls at 14 years old.” So, my summer romance ended. I was heart-broken. All of this happened before the middle of July.
In August of the summer of ’69, my older sister (another wise woman) suggested I join the local group of “Up With People!”. She most likely was tired of seeing me mope around the house, so I listened to her and joined. It was some of the best times of my young life. I learned more about leadership, and team work and community involvement in my years in Up With People than I have since. But, that is another story.
I met many kids, some that I would be going to school with, since I was transferring to a new school in my freshman year. It was exhilarating. One of the people I met was a somewhat shy boy. He was a freshman also and we clicked right away. He was easy to laugh with and you never quite knew what he would do next. He had a great voice and I soon learned that young love can be renewed.
My first official show for Up With People was in our hometown, in the bandshell, which now no longer exists. I had looked forward to this time for at least a month and I was so ready to go on. As the group did their pre show gathering we all took our places to run onto the stage. Suddenly, right beside me, was this shy kid. He looked at me, wished me good luck, reached down grabbing my hand. He then lifted my hand and kissed it.
My first kiss. Not the most heart stopping experience. Not the most drop in your tracks romantic. But, to me, it changed my world. A boy had kissed me.
We were a ‘couple’ for the next couple of years. We could fight like cats and dogs and then we would be back to laughing together. A typical young teenage ‘couple’.
His family moved to California before our junior year. We wrote for a bit and then completely lost track of one another. Thanks for Facebook, though, we reconnected a few years back. We didn’t message each other often, but, we at least kept in touch once or twice a year.
He recently retired and he and his husband went on a cruise. I told him to have fun and congratulated him on his retirement and didn’t think anything else about him. Friday while online I saw of picture of him in front of the New York City skyline. I laughed to myself and thought, he is making the most of his retirement. I read the post below the picture. I reread it. I read it the third time. This time I spoke, telling my hubby that he had died. My dear sweet husband, who didn’t miss a beat came to my side and asked me how I was. I don’t think I would have thought to do that if his first girlfriend had passed away, but, he did.
I stood in my husband’s arms and realized that this news had hit me harder than I could have thought it would.
Yes, that kiss on the hand led to other kisses not on the hand. We went to the junior high prom, me in a yellow dress and he in a green suit (hey, it was 1970!) . We collected tickets for the junior/senior prom when we were sophomores. We continued to be in Up With People until he moved. Suddenly memories flooded my mind. They have swirled around all weekend long.
Yes, it was many years ago. Most people don’t keep in touch with their first kiss. I truly didn’t think I would. But, I did. He died unexpectedly, which kind of fits him. When I knew him, you never really knew what he would do next.
He is the third person in a little over a year to die. The third person that had impacted my life in a memorable way. Each time I have been affected. Each time I have paused to think of how dear people are and how important it is to keep in touch and let others know how special they are for you.
I never thought I would remember so clearly that event of August 11th, 1969. So many more dates carry heavier and deeper memories for me. A reminder for me to let people know their importance in my life.
Thanks for stopping by. Cathi (DAF)