Happy 45th birthday DS. Or is it 44th?
In any event, I know today is your birthday, just as I know my best friend from grade 5’s is April 12, Steve and John’s are July 3 and 5, Leigh who played Barbies with me too long, her birthday is December 28. There are days and people who stick in your mind.
You became my third boyfriend when life imitated art: we had to kiss in a play. You the prince, me the ugly duckling. You had brown eyes, all slow and dreamy, from ideas and pot. You smoked although not around me, and at parties, I forgot that some people were using substances to get as giddy as I got on life.
You said I was self-actualized. You made me a music tape of songs that still remind me of you and that cusp of adulthood. Your dad drove us to the graduation on the elevated highway in his tiny snug convertible, his girlfriend in the front seat, us squashed in the back seat, all dressed up, our hair flying in the sunshine.
I gave you the only copy of the sweetest photo ever taken of me – and my mother still holds this against me as well she should. I took you on a tall ship cruise around the harbour and they played Russians as we turned into the bay. We were practising the play the day the Challenger blew up. I remember where we were. The Salvation Army band played and the children brought lemonade. The morning lasted all day, all day.
You broke my heart and I forgave you, and then I broke yours a few months later. I hope you forgive me too. You left to study art and that was eventually that. I ran into you at a mall the day before my wedding. I’m getting married tomorrow, I blurted out. Congratulations you said, and then we wished each other well.
I’ve tracked down all my boyfriends, made sure you’re all alive and well. That’s the extent of my stalking. I found you a couple of years ago, still a friend of a friend. The year you started to teach, your class was the age of my daughter. We exchanged brief hellos and then dropped out of each other’s lives again.
Most people hated high school. I think you might have. Not me. I look back on it as the time when the world opened up and I got a glimpse of what was ahead.
I have no regrets – either about the time we spent together or that that was all. I guess, for your birthday, I want to know that I remember you well and fondly, that I wish you happiness and peace, that I never was anywhere near as self-actualized as you thought, not by half and less so now. Half a lifetime later.