You know that Lady Antebellum song, “Dancing Away with My Heart”? Sweet song, but every time I hear the line, “Sometimes I find myself wondering where you are” (the song is about remembering a dance with an old high school crush for you non-country music fans) I get frustrated and think- Why hasn’t she just looked for him on Facebook?!?! I mean, that’s how I keep up with my high school boyfriends. Sheesh.
Recently, I ran into one of them (my high school boyfriends, that is). We are Facebook friends so I guess you could say we’ve kept in touch. He recently posted it was his 7 year wedding anniversary. I “liked” the post. And then, he was sitting at the table next to me in O’ Charley’s. I didn’t see him at first but halfway through my lunch when I saw him- Mr. 1995– I jumped out of my booth to give him a hug and say hi. He proudly showed me photos of his two adorable little ones and we chatted about work and our families.
I love running into old friends like that. After he left my coworkers asked if that was someone I grew up with. “Yes,” I replied. “Actually, he was one of my high school boyfriends.” I’m sure I was smiling as I thought back to what was forever ago, yet occasionally still feels like yesterday.
“He’s cute,” one of them said.
“He is. He’s married. With two kids.”
“Nevermind,” they laughed.
Mr. 1995, I went on to explain, was the one my father used to refer to as “All Hands.” I mean, most 16-year-old boys are handsy, right? Well, Mr. 1995 sure was. I think he was my boyfriend for like, 6 months, which in teenage time is practically forever. He carried a comb in his pocket- I think he might have been more obsessed with his hair than most girls (it was pretty shiny). He had every pickup line on earth memorized and wasn’t afraid to use one- or six. I thought it was obnoxiously adorable. He had a twin brother (fraternal) that I also went out with briefly- mostly because when Mr. 1995 and I broke up, he told me he didn’t care who I went out with as long as I didn’t go out with his brother (wrong thing to say to me). Mr. 1995 was the first boy to pick me up for a date in his car- a maroon Honda Accord- when he turned 16 while were “going together” as we called it back in the day. (That term always drove my mother crazy. “Where are you going?!?! she would ask. What, like “going steady” makes more sense?) I remember feeling like such a grown up. Although I also remember I was wearing a romper… shut up, it was 1995, and I am sure it was cute back then. I was 15 years old. Wow, I really didn’t know anything, did I? And were my parents crazy or what, letting me get in a car alone with a boy? MY CHILDREN WILL NEVER DO THAT. EVER.
Mr. 1995 was also the first boy to give me flowers for no reason, white roses. He used to sing pop songs to me in the car and change the words so they’d be about me- you know, if the song talked about a blue-eyed girl, he’d change it to brown-eyed girl. After church he would take me out to the parking lot (no, this isn’t that kind of story!) and turn on the CD player in his dad’s car, and we’d slow dance to Boyz II Men songs underneath the street lights. He came to my 16th birthday party long after we’d broken up and gave me the sweetest, most thoughtful card. I can clearly remember being pissed off that he was there, because I was mad at him for something, although now I can’t remember exactly what- and I remember talking to my mom about how bad I felt later because the card was so nice. I still have that card. It’s in my Boyfriend Box*.
Seeing him made me think back to “high school dating” and how I didn’t hate it back then. (I kind of hate dating now. I don’t know if I’ve previously made that declaration on this blog, but it’s true.) I never had any illusions that those were going to be lasting relationships- I was not writing “Mrs. 1995” on all my notebooks or anything like that. It was just fun. Not that there wasn’t any drama- there was plenty of that! Seriously, could have been a soap opera. Teenagers over-dramatize everything- I was no different. I know I thought it was all very complicated; in the small world that I inhabited, everything that happened was a big deal. Again, I really had no idea. However, the rose-colored glasses of time and perspective allow me to see now that it was really very simple; I just didn’t realize it at the time.
It was a world before we’d all experienced disappointment and had our hearts broken. Now, we all carry into each new date or relationship any baggage we’ve accumulated, the clouds of bad experiences hanging over our heads, and all the memories of others who disappointed us, didn’t call, or made us feel bad about ourselves in some way. Or worse, we carry the expectations of our best dates or relationships, and we’re disappointed when a new one doesn’t measure up. Why am I surprised that it was easier to have a boyfriend at 16 than at 31? Of course it was! I didn’t have a set of preconceived notions and expectations holding me hostage (other than the ones I gathered from rom-coms and romance novels). Dating wasn’t the loaded experience it is for me now, as an adult- it was new, fun, and thrilling. I never wondered if a particular first date would be my last- I knew it wouldn’t be, and that was fine. I was just excited. Why can’t I feel like that now?
Maybe I can find a little bit of Miss July circa 1995 before my next date. She’s got to be in there somewhere.
*The Boyfriend Box-do you have one of these? Where you stuck all the sentimental memorabilia from your high school/college boyfriends? I’m thinking I need to dig mine out (it’s somewhere in the closet in my spare bedroom)- for blog research, obviously. There might be some gems in there I forgot about!