Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Writing assignment

Okay, okay. I know when an assignment is given you don't have to do it this second. But I had this stuck in my head once I heard the assignment and I figured that if I got it out, I might have time to do a second one, but do a story which is more difficult for me than this introspective crap I'm about to post.

The Assignment:
Let’s start our writing off with some sap, shall we?
In this writing assignment, it’s all about beginnings. There’s a moment in any relationship where the excitement of a romance truly starts. It might be the first sight, the first kiss, the first shared meal…or something far less cliché. Your first assignment is to write a story centered around that moment.

What Was His Name?

Two years older than I was, muscular and definitely forbidden fruit, his name was Nick. Truthfully, I don’t know if I had ever noticed him in a romantic way before that moment. He was, as I said, completely off-limits. One should never date a friend’s ex-boyfriend, not if you want the friendship to survive anyway. But as we sat on the park swings that evening, stars shining, wrapped in our own little bubble, I didn’t care. It didn’t matter that she lived just down the block and could walk out any moment and see us sitting here. It didn’t matter that I’d have to go to school with her everyday for the next year and a half. It didn’t matter that I’d probably have to be the one to tell her. All that mattered was that his deep brown eyes were telling me the same thing his words were: He wanted me. When you fit the stereotype of “Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed,” - scratch that – how about “Sweet Sixteen and never even been asked on a date” it’s fairly difficult to turn down the offer of a gorgeous, steady boyfriend, no matter who it’s going to hurt. So I didn’t turn him down. I felt the warmth, the electricity, all the way to my toes: He wanted me. Eventually the relationship went to the graveyard of fondly remembered first loves, but that moment, the zing of electricity was one I’d never forget.

I don’t remember the first words he said to me. They could have been complete gibberish and it wouldn’t have matter because I wouldn’t have noticed. His name was Clint. The first time his bright blue eyes, always twinkling with laughter, met mine, I was hooked. Going to my miserable and boring job was suddenly the highlight of my day because at least, maybe, if I was lucky, I’d be working with Clint. He came by my station often, to talk and to flirt. He made me feel beautiful, interesting and wanted at a time when I was broken and defeated from a horribly bad break-up. Eventually it came out that he had a girlfriend and my opinion of him dropped substantially as I was never one to knowing flirt with someone who was taken. If only my brain could have managed to convince my knees not to go weak every time I saw him go by.

It was the same boring job, some months later on an incredibly busy day. Cart after cart of groceries were backed up at my register and I was working as quickly as I could. Strangely, in the middle of my long line-up of middle aged women with overflowing carts, was a guy my age holding a single carton of milk. His name was Tyler. “You don’t remember me, do you?” he asked when I’d eventually managed work my line down to him. No, I didn’t remember but then that summer when I was 13 and paying much more attention to his friend Matt came back to me. “Would you like to go for coffee sometime, just to catch-up?” Without thinking a single romantic or date related thing about it, I gave him my phone number. A few days later and somewhere around hour three of sitting together in a nearly empty Pizza Hut discussing our mutual love of all things Star Trek, it hit me that this might actually be a date in his mind. Looking into his confident green eyes, I hoped it was. Some months later we decided it was better for us to be friends than to be together but at least we’d always have Pizza Hut.

While I was pretending to study one evening in the college library, a friend who was severely annoyed with me bugging her while she tried to actually study, introduced me to him. His name was Emmanuel. Infectious laughter emanated from his brown eyes as we joked about being pawned off because we were both bored. Attraction was nearly instantaneous. We read the same authors, studied the same subjects and spoke with an easy rhythm of people who had known each other their whole lives. He was crazy about me from the first moment, an attraction, that although flattering was intimidating to me in its strength and eventually we drifted into just being friends and then into nothing at all.

It was my masters level Greek class, the most feared and hated subject in the whole school that had just started its first day. He sat two seats down from me, his name was Phillip. During a break, the man sitting between us left the room and Phillip and I fell into conversation. We both liked coffee and sci-fi. We were both intimidated by the class even though the professor seemed very approachable. I looked into his blue eyes and felt…nothing. Sure, he was cute but there was no hint of any spark, no sudden pulse quickening, and no beginnings of attraction. He was in several of my classes and for the next few months we had study groups together and quite often found ourselves out with the same group of people. We were never intentionally together but found ourselves falling into a comfortable friendship nonetheless. He was sweet and calming, someone easy to talk to, but in that brother kind of way. One day, after a particularly disastrous study group that ended up with just the two of us being left by ourselves, he asked if I wanted to go grab Chinese. There was nothing unusual about it except that on this occasion it happened to be just the two of us. The food was good but nothing else about lunch was exceptional, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, as he was driving me back to my place, his sunglasses slide down his nose and his bright, beautiful, expressive blue eyes stared into mine. At that moment I could not have put my finger on what had changed, except now instead of holding easy conversation, my heart was pounding, my head felt light and his proximity to me in the car was palpable. Feeling slightly tipsy, I said goodbye, got out of the car and decided to say nothing at all to anyone about my new found attraction to my friend.

Fate though, has a way of working things out. A nosy friend, a shy conversation about attractions and a quick two years later found me walking down the aisle to meet him at the front of the church. There would be no other names to add to the list and no more first moments of attraction but I found myself more than ok with that. The first moment of attraction was always what pulled me into a relationship. The thrill of new love was what appealed to me and when the thrill died in me, the relationship often did as well. But with Phillip, it was different. The thrill of attraction was still there and still so sweet as new relationship usually are but the difference this time was that I think I loved him before I ever found that moment. Slowly, throughout our months as friends I found myself admiring his character, his compassion for people and his gentle way of dealing with things. I had already found out where we liked the same things and, more importantly, where we wanted the same things out of life. Long before the thrill of romantic attraction set in, I had already discovered that he was the kind of man who would support me in my dreams and goals, who would be a good Father to my children and would take commitment seriously in the same way I did. So when the thrill of the new relationship started to fade away as it always does, it didn’t matter to me. With a solid relationship comes new thrills and they come with the security of familiarity and the safety of the comfortable. It may not be Fourth of July fireworks anymore but it’s a slow burning fireplace instead. I traded the thrill of new discovery for the steady burning embers of ever growing love. The other names I will always remember fondly as each taught me something about life and about myself but I leave the list behind with no regrets or remorse. Because in the end, it was only one name that I was looking for, and that name was Phillip.

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