Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First Love

We were finally back in Florida for good, and the weather was just starting to warm up enough to go swimming. The clubhouse at Giggy's trailer park threw a pizza party for the teenagers, with pizza and sodas and the usual leather-skinned crotchety, chain-smoking pool monitors. I had met a few kids the summers earlier, but I didn't know most of the other teenagers. One of my grandmother's followers, Mary had just moved down to the trailer park with her two kids, and the older one was a girl between my age and my sister Esther's.

She was the tallest girl I had ever met, at maybe 5'10", with sheets of long, uncut blonde hair. The first time I had met her a week or two earlier in Giggy's living room, she'd been wearing a prairie dress and Birkenstocks, with a lace kerchief on top of her head. She looked *Amish* and Gig wanted me to introduce her to other kids I didn't even know very well myself. I got to the pool in my new black underwire two-piece suit, and groaned when I saw her in a long green one piece, her lilly white skin contrasting sharply with the green. Within an hour, I'd overheard at least two people call her "the jolly green giant." Still, I had been new plenty of times myself, so I went over and treaded water with her for the first half hour or so. I got up and made the rounds, introducing myself to people.

I would just walk up to someone and stick out my hand, "Hi, I'm Angie. I'm new. How are you?" and within another half hour I felt I'd met enough people, I could spend a little more time playing wallflower with the Amish girl. "You've only been here an hour and you've met more people than I've met all week," she said in something like suspicion mixed with awe. I shrugged.

"You just gotta talk to people," I said, gesturing to the deck where most everyone was congregated around the pizza boxes and coolers, and that's when I saw him. He was short - my height - and thin, and since he didn't have a shirt on, I could see his chest and stomach muscles were beginning to define. But that's not what I noticed first - I saw his eyes. They were gorgeous, and pitch-black. I had never seen anything so beautiful and if there is such a thing as love at first sight, that was it.

I got out of the pool to grab a can of grape soda. As I walked back towards the pool, he turned around and stuck out his hand. "I'm Micah" he said. He was the only person that day to introduce himself to me first, and I was so glad he did. Gosh, he was cute! We started dating almost immediately after, in one of those experiences so seemless, I can hardly remember how exactly we went from meeting to dating.

He was a drummer, but he and a friend had also started a Youth Civic club in the trailer park, and they had petitioned the park management until they'd been able to get us a basketball court. We would go out there and shoot hoops with his friends, or else hang out at the pool. I decided to throw a Makeout Party, because there never seemed to be enough time for those matters. I invited my rather slutty friend Christy to be my cousin Jason's date, and the no-longer-at-all-Amish girl and her surfer boyfriend, and of course, Micah.

The night came and I was so excited. It was before I was allowed to wear makeup, and I didn't want my grandmother to notice anything different before she went to bed, so I used baby paper and Vaseline to do myself up, and sprayed some of the little sample bottle of perfume I found in the back of the drawer. The trailer had a big screened-in porch, almost the full width and length of the trailer, and Gig had several wicker loveseats with pillows out there. It was a beautiful night, and her trailer was on the edge of a greenbelt of protected land, so it felt private in the dark on the porch.

Jason was staying the night already. Chrissy & __ & Charles arrived, and after awhile the two couples began making out. Where was Micah? I had told them midnight, because all of our parents would be asleep then, and I figured everyone could get out clean that way. But Micah didn't come. I was crushed. Didn't he *want* to make out with me? After everyone left, and Jason went inside, I couldn't sleep. I threw on my shoes and slipped out the door and walked across the park towards his trailer.

I stood outside and knocked on his bedroom window. His cousin opened it. "What?" he muttered angrily through the screen.

"Get Micah. It's important." I waited. Micah came to the window. He told me that he hadn't been able to get out, that first his mom had been awake and then his stepdad. We said goodbye and I love you, and I walked home.

The next morning, Micah and his stepdad John came over. I was standing at the top of the three steps from the porch to the trailer, and Gig was in front of me on the porch. John stood filling the screen doorway, with Micah half-hidden behind him. He told me grandmother that some floozy whore had shown up at his house last night, banging on his windows. He said he thought I was an intruder and it would've been in his rights to shoot me, and that if he ever saw me hanging around "his son" again, he would.

I was grounded the rest of the summer - confined to my room, and at my mom's house, where I had no friends. I was allowed to leave my room twice a day to use the bathroom and get food and juice from the fridge, but there was no going outside, no talking on the phone, and no watching TV. I made mixed tapes - dozens of them. I sat hunched over my radio waiting to press the record button when a good song came on.

By the time I made it out of my room and back to the trailer park, Chrissy and the others were telling me he had been planning on breaking up with me anyway. "Oh. Well, yeah, I was gonna break up with him, too" I lied, heartbroken.

There is a part 2 to this story, and it's both sweeter and sadder. Another six months later we reuinted, found out we'd both been saving face and neither really wanted to break up with the other. We carried on a clandestine, secret relationship for a couple of intense months. Then one night, his mom had had enough or his brother had, and her boyfriend became unconscious somehow, with the three of them in it and gone. He disappeared one day 13 years ago and I never saw or heard from him again.

And this is why I love the internet. Not only did it help me learn my grandmother was a cult leader - and meet all of you. I found him on Facebook. :D We spent about two hours this morning talking and catching up. So, expect more episodes from the trailer years in upcoming weeks on the blog :D

*Yes, I just have a blank for her name. Because I keep meaning to ask her if I can use her real name, or if she has a first choice for psuedonym. I try to give anyone who hasn't started a cult or killed their kid the option of a different name in the book.

She ended up being one of my best friends I've ever had, someone I could tell anything to. She and my sister were, if anything, closer and my sister's best friend in college reminded me of her a lot. She definitely came into herself and got out of the prairie garb and is absolutely gorgeous and a really fun person to boot. (I just feel bad writing my judgmental child thoughts down about someone I find so neat-o now!)
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