We all know that it is either physical suffering or emotional suffering. It can be distressful and tormenting. We all have experienced some either to a great degree or less. I have a memory that is still painful after sixty four years. This painful experience lingers still and it was caused by my innocence and ignorance.
Most women remember their real first love for a guy. Mine was David. First let me try to describe him physically at age 14. Picture in your mind a lanky fellow with Dumbo ears, pimples (no freckles) and a scraggly cowlick. His Adams apple was in constant movement and dominated his neck. His voice was crackly. His eyes were the perfect shade of brown with golden flecks and full of sweet expression. I would call his outward appearance as “A young, adolescent boy with expressive eyes and a great smile.” He smelled nice. Everything else about his countenance was bony and angular.
Now I’ll describe his personality from my 13 year old girl’s perspective. We first met while ice skating on the “first pond.” You see, there were three ponds, the first easy to get to, the second was more difficult and deeper in the woods, and the third was behind the second after crossing a wooden plank bridge and going over a hill. It was where mischievous kids raised heck. Ice skating conditions on all three were very good. The ponds weren’t deep and not a cause for parental worry about drowning. Much flirting was conducted by the girls and boys and “hookups” were made and broken regularly. David was daring. David was challenging and charmed all the girls. I felt lucky to be chosen. There was nothing subtle about our partnership and paring. We were the best skaters by far, so the match was distinct. Our cold red runny noses matched perfectly. Our raggedy jackets and second hand ice skates complemented the match.
In Junior High School, I was in 8th grade and he in 9th. We joined a school dance club so we could “legitimately” touch. Sometimes, during noon recesses, dances were held in the gym. We knew how to square dance, rhumba, waltz and jitterbug and we loved dancing together. Holding hands while walking the halls in between classes was unequivocally frowned upon and we were often chastised. We did it anyway. It was during the summertime months our relationship blossomed. We had “Our Song” and it meant everything to us. The words of the song were actually prophetic, though we didn’t realize it at the time.
We were both analytic nature children and laughed often. David was usually introverted when others were around. We trusted and respected each other. There wasn’t much sexual behavior considering that we spent hours alone together. David didn’t show aggression or violent behavior. His was a kind, caring and gentle disposition. He was friendly, courteous and thoughtful. He was also fearless and brave but not always law-abiding. I was possessive, cheeky and bold. I had more motivation, a higher energy level, and more intelligence, but less maturity. I was inquisitive and studious. We communicated well in spite of these different attributes.
My parents didn’t like our relationship. They tolerated it, hoping it’d burn out. I surmised that they thought we’d marry, and, God forbid, he was an Irish Catholic! They never said it, but I always felt that they believed his “kind” were below us on the social ladder. It was implied often. I, personally am not, never was and never will be as prejudiced. For sure.
As time went on, we drifted apart. He dropped out of high school and I didn’t see him around much. One afternoon when I was riding the public service bus home from my job at a store selling children’s clothes, in town, he got on the same bus and with one look, we just plain picked up from when we left off. What was lost was found again. I was 16 and he was 17 with his own car. We went to amusement parks, beaches, roller skating rinks, and every square dance we could find, even in towns far away. We went horseback riding, swimming, bike riding, shopping and to family affairs together. We both purposely used “Sweetheart” soap so we’d smell the same. Believe it! I used to think (to myself) that if ever he died and was laid out all covered up, along with one hundred others in a row, and only his hands were showing, I would be able to pick him out instantly by his hands alone!
One weekend we went shopping for two gold wedding rings. I remember the clerk having a knowing smile. He might have been thinking that I was pregnant. I wasn’t. We had just decided to drive to Elkton, Maryland and get married! I told my mother that we were going to be back late because we were going to the seashore for the day. Liar! Liar! Well, we never made it! The car broke down just after we crossed the Maryland border. We had to call his brother to come get us and we left the car there as junk. The engine had blown. Talk about FATE stepping in. She sure did that day! Thwarted that plan. Now we really had NO other plan about what would happen when we came home married! We thought that no one could do anything about it after the accomplishment of a legal marriage ceremony was done. Naive? YES! I kept the two gold rings for many years, then sold them.
My David had four brothers and one sister. Let’s see.....in order of age, Ed, Nick, Billy, Jane (David here) and Cliff. The three older boys were in the armed forces, Ed - Air Force, Nick - Army, Billy - Navy. David turned 18 on September 23, 1953 and signed up for the Marines. It was expected. He shortly left for boot camp based at Parris Island, South Carolina. We promised each other we’d write every day. We just about did. “Semper Fidelis; Always Faithful.”
I’ll never forget the last letter he wrote. He asked me to come to South Carolina and marry him. He said we could live in a trailer on the base. I was shocked! Me? Live in a trailer? I wrote back and told him in no uncertain terms that I would never live in one of those boxes. Now, this is the best part; I didn’t know anything about trailers on Marine Corps bases. I didn’t know anything about trailers. The ONLY trailers that I was aware of were the kind you saw on the highway being pulled by a truck (tractor). I didn’t want to live in one of THOSE! That’s why I turned him down and he never wrote another letter.
About two years later, when I was cruising around town with two of my girlfriends, I spotted David and a pretty blonde woman coming out of an apartment house. He was in uniform clothes and holding a small baby. I was distraught, causing one of my girlfriends to have to take over driving while the other consoled me - a totally crushed me.
In a box, I still have all of the prayer cards with his loving messages. I didn’t keep the marriage proposal letter, though. I have a couple of photographs. I must have destroyed every other memento but couldn’t bear to part with these keepsakes. They are my relics of the past.
I’ve never had any contact with him since then. I wonder if he sometimes thinks of me and our young love. I wonder what he looks like. I wonder if he still lives.
This memory is bittersweet. It’s still alive…in my heart. It is painful. Much more than any of my physical injuries and ailments.
This is a section of a poem that a friend recently wrote and I will try to remember it to ease this pain.
By JG October 28, 2017
"Because the past is the past for a reason.
It's been, and now it is gone,
So stop trying to think of ways to fix it.
It's been, and now it is gone,
So stop trying to think of ways to fix it.
It's done, it's unchangeable, move on......"
Oh wow he is a handsome guy. Pain is a ghost sometimes. Showing up when you least expect it. Wonderful post.ReplyDelete