Story Of First Love
The Boy From California
There were promises made and promises broken. Love continued.
We met one fateful night at the American Legion. It was a night that changed our lives forever. We would always be drawn together.
I was 16, he was 17. We went to the same high school but had never met. He was the boy who had moved from California for his senior year. He was good looking. All the girls liked him, followed him. There was a lot of drooling going on, they all wanted him. He had a certain mystique.
Me, I was the shy girl, the quiet one. I lived in my own world. To me, he didn’t really exist. He was out of my league.
The American Legion had a dance that night. It was the kind of dance where the girls were sitting on one side and the boys on the other. Most dances were that way back then. Awkward.
I wanted to be there, but yet I didn’t. I had walked to the dance with a girlfriend and we sat there talking. She was as shy and quiet as I was.
There were lots of giggles and glances across the room. Everyone was checking each other out. I was so uncomfortable. I felt misplaced.
There was music playing but only a few were dancing. Then I saw him walk in the door. I saw him look right at me but then walk away. He went to talk to his friends on the boy side.
Now I felt nervous, itchy from my reaction to him. I wanted to meet him. But I was the shy, awkward girl. Most boys did not talk to me and I avoided them.
I felt my girlfriend nudge my elbow and she nodded toward the other side of the room. He was walking straight toward me. Panic! Was he really walking toward ME? Was he going to ask me to dance?
He stopped in front of me and looked down. “Do you want to dance”. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. I looked up at him and slowly shook my head up and down. I felt like the floor would swallow me up and I hesitantly followed him
Oh My God, Yes! In my mind, I was smiling ear to ear and jumping up and down. Somehow it felt like a dream and I did not want to wake up. I so wanted this to be real.
That was the beginning of a lifetime of mixed emotions about my feelings for that boy from California.
That night we danced and talked and he walked me home for the first time. There were many walks that year. We were inseparable. We were an item. There were a lot of disappointed girls and some boys who were surprised. Who was this girl?
He changed me. I wasn’t as shy. I talked so much more. The other kids paid more attention. He chose me! I felt special, so very special. It was a magical year!
Then came graduation. He was a senior, I was a junior and I was stricken with panic. We had been living in a bubble and it was about to burst.
You see he was that special boy from California and his family was still there. His mom insisted that he come home. He was leaving the day after graduation.
He made my heart flutter. I was totally wound up in him. I just wanted him. Forever.
Why couldn’t he stay?
You see there was a story, a scandal of sorts. I had known because my mother made me ask. It made no sense to her; why would he move here to live with his aunt & uncle? Especially in his senior year. She made me ask.
There had been a pregnant girl back home who claimed him as the father. Blood tests proved no, he could not be. The possibility was real but not the fact. I didn’t care.
It did cause a bit of a sticky wicket so my handsome California boy had been sent away. It was neater that way. Out of sight, out of mind. Easier for his parents. Easier for the girl and for him. Life went on.
It did go on. Just not the way we had planned. The day after graduation, he went home to California.
There were promises made. Both of us made promises. Tears were shed and there were kisses shared, so many kisses.
We had a glorious plan. He would go home and go to college. I would complete my senior year. He would be there for my graduation and we would be together. We would be married.
We wrote so many letters. I remember coming home from school and running for the mailbox. Most days there it was, my touchstone. As long as I could read his words, I could touch the paper, I was connected to him.
I still remember my graduation. Looking for him. Hoping. He was not there. By then I knew. I understood that he would never be there.
Life sent us a curve. Vietnam. Everything changed. Like so many, he enlisted. No hesitation. It was what he wanted to do. The Airforce became his life.
The sad part. He could have been there, should have been there. He was just done with his training. He was given leave before he shipped out. He went home to California. Again.
That is when everything changed. Promises were broken. Our glorious plan went poof. I felt abandoned, I was abandoned. I felt shattered.
There were so many tears, heart-wrenching sobs of anguish. I didn’t know what to do.
I had no plans. My world had been filled with hope and joy. My heart had been filled with that boy from California.
We wrote letters. They came less often, then trickled and finally ended. I was always aware of him, always wondering. Was he safe, was he happy, did he think of me? He was always in my heart.
Slowly life went on. I went to work. College wasn’t an option for me. First I worked in my little town, then the city nearby. I dated, I had boyfriends and was engaged a couple of times.
Somewhere inside I still had that yearning for him, he still made my heart flutter. I did not let go completely. I always had the hope inside that he would come back. He didn’t.
Seven years later I married.
My mom knew. I don’t know how. I never told her, we never talked about my feelings. Shortly after my wedding, I was visiting at my parent's house. Out of the blue, my mom told me she had seen him.
He had come into the store where she worked. She told me not to go look for him. Leave him alone, let him go. Yes, she knew how much he had meant to me.
I held my breath and just looked at her and nodded. No, I wouldn’t look for him. I had to drive right by his aunt’s house on my way home. I did not try to see him but I wanted to. I very slowly drove by, stopped across the street and sat there for a minute. I looked but I did not see him.
If he had walked out of that house I don’t know what I would have done.
Years later I found he was married. He had come back to visit and he had brought his wife and his three kids with him. You see he did not wait 7 years.
Life went on. Three years after I married I became pregnant with my first child, a son, and three years after that I had another son.
During that time my mom would drop these bombs of information about my California boy, now a man. After Vietnam, he went into law enforcement. She told me when he was injured on the job and in the hospital. I was so frightened. Was he OK? Yes, yes he was.
She would tell me when he visited his aunt and uncle but always after he was gone. She never told me he was divorced. Maybe she never knew, maybe she kept that tidbit to herself.
Fifteen years later I divorced. Single mom raising two children. Working, going to college, sporadically dating. I tried living with someone a couple of times but I was never happy. I always felt like I was going through the motions.
The last relationship was the absolute pits. I will never understand what I was doing with that man. A disgusting evil-minded man. One night I lay in bed and could not sleep. I wondered how I was going to get out of this mess. I thought, please, I need help, whatever am I going to do?
About two weeks later I was working and received a phone call from an old girlfriend. She asked if I was sitting down. What? She said, “someone has been trying to find you and trust me you need to sit down”. Enter that California boy.
I almost fainted! All the thoughts that came rushing over me, all the emotions. Once again, after all those years I didn’t know what to do.
You see, I was still living with the evil-minded disgusting man. I was scared of him. Desperately need to get away.
So I gave her to give him my work number and my personal email. She gave that information to him that same afternoon. I had no expectations.
The very next day he called me at work. What? Knees shaking, hands trembling. I was talking to him after all these years. I am tearing up as I am writing this. He had meant so much to me.
We started emailing back and forth. I was open and honest about the relationship I was in. I told him I was not happy but I would have to see how it worked out. I did not want to have false hope. Not again.
Two weeks later he was on a plane and I saw him. I saw that wonderful California boy who was now a man. He still made my heart flutter. I wanted him, I wanted a relationship with him. I did not want to give him up.
What followed was a whirlwind. He spent a week that first trip. We talked and talked and were together as much as possible. Hot Damn, we could not get enough of each other. Then he was gone back to California.
He called me every morning at work. He sent me beautiful flowers every week. We emailed. We made plans. He flew back and forth.
I ended the relationship I was in. That was terrifying. All the negativity in the world poured down on me. Shouting, threatening, nasty phone calls, changing the locks at my house, changing my phone number.
Asking all the people who worked with me to warn me if he came into the office or they saw him outside. Asking them to not forward his phone calls to me. Actually having to put a warning on my account information so no one in the company would tell him anything. He was the man from hell.
Finally, my California man wrote him a letter on his official letterhead warning him to cease and desist. He was retired law enforcement, he had contacts locally and there would be consequences if he continued to harass me.
That helped but I was terrified and was always looking over my shoulder. I wouldn’t answer my phone. I would hear a noise and be afraid at night that he might be outside. I barricaded my door at night. I slept with my pistol nearby so I could grab it quickly.
The next step was to fly to California and stay for a week. I was scoping out the whole situation. There was a decision we had to make. Could I give up my job, sell my house and move across the country to be with him. Is that what I wanted? What did he want? A huge decision. Were we sure?
The answer was yes. On the last day of 2001, I retired. I left work at 1 pm and walked onto a plane at 3 pm and flew to California. Everything went as planned. My house sold and we flew back to pack, the moving company arrived and my new life began.
We stayed in California for two years and then moved back to New York. We were married in 2005 and are together today.
The plans we made in high school did work out. There was just a lot of life that happened in the middle. Good God Almighty, he still makes my heart flutter.