6:37 PM, Wednesday, September 21st, 2011:
I've wanted to try and piece together 1990-1995 in "Journey Format" for quite awhile now, and am never able to because my lack of a filter as a teenager is jaw dropping...ly graphic. Imagine covering every single sexual experience the way I cover every break in the industry now. Whew...
...but because of stories like this, I still flirt with the idea of putting it together. What follows is as pivotal as anything in my life. Even though there's nothing exceptional about the topic... I was so inspired I felt the need to write a short-story about an event in my life to document exactly how I felt so I'd never forget it later. Not so much a journal, but actually trying to tell a story for anyone to read. Sound familiar? Yeah, no doubt about it - you are who you are by 15. Although reading this now, and hearing my description of it is easily the most embarrassing thing to share with the public? I cannot deny that as a character study it's important. Adam meeting and falling in love with the girl he would lose his virginity to.
20 years ago today I wrote this...



"Are you sure this ends at 11:30?"
"Yes." I sighed.
"Well you call me if it's early."
"I might, mom."
Yeah, right. When you're fifteen years old, the thought of being with your parents any longer than required by law is a sin. Maybe it's not that bad, but it sure feels that way sometimes. I kissed her goodbye (sweet, isn't it), and hopped out of our Toyota Mini-van, happy to be out of her clutches.
I had no purpose in going to this homecoming festival. No horny urges looking to be released, no rebellious streaks looking to strike, I just wanted some time off. It was 6:30, and the festival was sparsely populated. The booths were being put up, somber faced students waited anxiously for someone to support their club, and I just walked past with a grin as if to say: "Yeah, it looks like I might buy something, but I won't.
The air was cool and crisp - the way I like it. Fall is such a refreshing change from the humid heat of summer. In Columbus the weather is to the extreme; it's freezing in the winter, and hot as hell in the summer. Then fall rolls around and makes you forget the miseries before, and the miseries ahead.
As I walked around I observed the common stereotypes. It's funny how they're the same in every town. The popular snobs, the sluts and the whores, the band nerds, the varsity letterman, the freaks, and the everyday normal kids. I was neither jock nor nerd... I was me, and proud of it.
My school, though I'm not, is catholic. You've heard all the stories, and they're true. We wear your standard uniforms: Black pants, and a white or yellow shirt. Isn't that nice, a choice. The girls aren't as lucky. They have this stupid jumper that must be touching the knee, and look as unsexy as humanly possible. I didn't mind though, I had made up my mind never to go out with anyone at this school. Not 'cause they're all nasty or something, just 'cause rumors here spread faster than butter on toast... stupid metaphor, but you understand.
I spotted one of my friends with his girlfriend, and I walked over. The story behind this couple is depressing. He looks like he's twelve, he's got baby shit brown hair, rosy cheeks, and big ears. His girlfriend is awesome, well not really, but when you liked her, and she picked him, she starts looking really good. I wasn't alone with this attraction, almost every guy I knew thought she was sweet... it makes you wonder. Through experience I've realized the more you want it, the less you get it. That's true with sex, love, and anything worth having. It'll happen when you least expect it.
I soon separated from them, not wanting to be anymore cheered-up, and tan into another couple. Another junior-freshman pair. Girls go out with older guys, not 'cause they're more mature, or more well mannered, but just to piss guys their age off, and it works. This girl was hot, but too talkative and giggly, the worst kind. I guess I'm just not for the dumb-blonde type.
It started to get dark and I tried to ignore their stupid teenage make-out rituals. I say stupid, but I wanted it just as bad as everyone else.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing much, don't worry about me, you have better things to keep your mind on."
But a lot was wrong. I'd gone from one bad relationship to the next. I'd been hurt and stepped on and wanted no part of it, but then another girl would walk by, and I'd forget the past, until the future slipped into it, and I started the whole worthless cycle again. Experience destroys innocence, but they never tell you how bitter it can make you.
We started walking, and Turtle (the guy) started talking to some senior. I have no idea why we call him that, but nicknames stick. Being ignored, I turned and saw her standing there (hey, that would be a good title for a song), she was striking. She had a captivating smile, and mysterious eyes. Her hair was brownish-blonde, but it seemed flaxeny gold in my eyes.
"Nice rug." she smirked.
We were wearing the same baja.
"Thanks." I replied.
Wow. She's beautiful, and she's a senior. Did she really say something to me?
"So, you a senior?"
She nodded.
"What year are you?"
"Don't make me tell you, I don't want you to stereotype me because of my age."
"I won't."
Believing her somewhat, I told her.
"So you're a sophomore." she inquired.
"Could be a junior, but was a week late. I was born on October 9th, and you have to be a certain age by September."
"But it's worth it to be born on John Lennon's birthday." I boasted.
"That's cool." she smiled "I really want to learn more about him."
"You like John Lennon?"
"Yeah, I did my term paper on him, but then I got into Jim Morrison, you know, reading his poetry and shit... I'd love to get into Lennon."
FREEZE. At that point my mind went berserk. No one likes John Lennon, I felt so alone about that. My last girlfriend was in love with Motley Crue, and our tastes in music deteriorated our relationship. I was so astounded at this tiny similarity, that I pictured dates, kisses, and love... until reality slapped me in the face: Senior girls DO NOT, and never will date sophomore guys. It's an unwritten law. Then why was she talking to me? It was obvious she was interested, but in what way?
"What's your name?" I asked.
We smiled, and just went on.
Remarkably, right at this moment, someone from the yearbook committee (Laura Hilson, how the hell did I remember that name?) took this picture. Of course my finger kept it from actually being IN the yearbook, but I was able to get her to develop it for me anyway and 20 years later? How precious is this to have?
We started walking together, and talking about our views on life and politics, and we agreed on everything. It seemed when I would start to state an opinion, she would finish it off, and we laughed at our similarities. I was in the state of elation. Finally a girl who thinks for herself, and isn't a robot going through life on a pre-destined course. She was aware of the world and its effects on our lives.
Soon we had walked out of the school grounds onto the road leading up to it. We were letting out our every thought like they had been bottled up inside us, and finally there was someone who understood.
We both felt as if we were in the wrong generation. I've always thought my dad was born in a perfect time, 1950. His childhood growing up in the carefree 50's, and his teenage years in the later 60's. A time where war was wrong, with no questions about it. Christ, what can happen in 20 years is scary.
"Well we've covered rock & roll, what about sex & drugs?"
"I used to be wild a few years ago, and I'd screw guys without knowing them too well. Then I found love, or so I thought, and realized how wonderful making love was compared to being fucked."
I nodded as if I knew.
"What about you?" she questioned.
I didn't know what to say, so I started with:
"Well..." (hey if it works for the president)
Then I lied big-time (hey, if it works for the president)... it hurt 'cause I wanted to be so open to her, but I knew that if I said I was a virgin there'd be an immediate reaction. Good or bad, I was enjoying her company too much to risk messing this up.
"I was never stud man like you, but I'd like to think I was in love when I did it. Though you never know... who doesn't think they're in love when you're a teenager?"
She smiled as we agreed once again.
"As for drugs," she started "I don't see anything wrong with them. I don't mean crack and heroin, but marijuana is a different story."
Shit. I had always wanted to try pot, just as a curiosity, but the stigma attached to someone who uses it is so negative that I was wary.
"How do you feel about it?"
"I've only done it once, and it wasn't any big deal, kind of like sex: You wait and wait, and get so many preconceived ideas, that when you finally do it, you feel good 'cause you've done it, but it isn't as fulfilling as you thought. And for girls, it's probably hell. But everyone goes through the same thing, and it gets better the more comfortable you are, but that first time is something you'll always remember, good or bad."
That is of course unless you're a virgin like me, who's just quick enough to as-lib a pile of bullshit to avoid embarrassment. Damn, what if we do start going out, it sure seems we could. These lies will haunt me, and could ruin the relationship. But it was too late now, and I tried to forget about it.
"Are you cold or am I just a whimp?" I chattered.
"It's chilly... I've got a blanket in my car."
"Sounds good."
We turned around and I realized we had walked pretty far away. It was a winding road, and it was so dark that everything was a blur 10 feet in front of us.
In the background you could hear faint sounds of the class president announcing the homecoming king and queen. It was kind of eerie, how we were so far away but civilized highschool life was within earshot, though speakers do help.
As we got closer to school the "senior" thing hit me again. Jesus this girl's two years older than me, but we talk as if we're on the same level. Maybe psychologically we are... only time will tell.
We got to her car, and she got the blanket out and handed it to me. I thought we were going to get into the car, but I guess I was wrong. So not to look like a total whimp, we shared the blanket as we walked along, even though I was the one freezing my butt off.
"So who are you going out with now?" I asked, knowing her answer.
"Well I'm seeing this guy named Wil. We've been seeing each other for about a month."
I thought I knew what she was going to say. My heart dropped. Christ! How could I be so gullible once again and possibly think she liked me. The story of my life.
"I'm not sure where we're going with out relationship," she added "we don't talk much."
A ray of light appears.
"I'm still open to new experiences and people, and I'd love for you to turn me on to Lennon."
A blinding light overwhelms me.
"Now I'm getting cold, my car has heat, wanna go?"
My name is Stevie.
Shaking, and cupping our hands over our mouths for heat, we scurried into her car. She reved up the heat, and a Bob Marley tape. We sat and waited for the heat to kick in good, and then I realized we were staring into each others eyes. It was weird, like she was looking right into my soul. Once again she took my breath away with her enchanting smile. I smiled back and looked away.
I looked at the clock, it was 10:50. It had only been three hours, but it felt like three weeks. Feeling comfortable enough I turned and rested on her, and she ran her fingers through my hair.
"It's crunchy." she laughed.
Hair spray might make you look good, but try not to use it in this situation.
"It smells good though."
"Thanks, I think."
We talked, forever it seemed, and could have gone longer, but even though it seemed as if my world had stopped, time hadn't and I had to go. Here comes the part every man hates: To kiss, or not to kiss. I knew she'd let me, but it'd be cool to just say goodnight, the rest would come later, right? Then again if I didn't do it maybe she'd think I wasn't interested.
"Shit, it's almost 11:30..." I said like it was a surprise, though I'd been watching each minute, to make time slow down.
"Is your phone number in the roster, I don't have any paper."
"It is." she said smugly.
Not remembering if she had told me or not, I asked what her last name was.
"Callahan." she laughed.
That would have been real smooth, be totally in love, and then go home only to find you don't know her name. I smiled, and got out of the car.
"Later." she said.
I got out and shut the door. As I ran off I heard her car zoom away.
"Karin..." I thought... what a natural name. I was so glad it wasn't Jenny or Katie or Missy. I was truly sick of those dingy eeee sounding names.
As I ran to the front of the school, I felt like I was on top of the world. I saw all the other sophomores and freshman waiting for their moms, and I felt different. They seemed tiny, and I was big. It kicked in, she was a senior! I had broken down the barrier. My mom came and I got in the car.
"Did you have a good time?"
"What did you do?"
"Aw nothin', just walked around, pretty boring," I smiled.
However embarrassing it is to see how overly dramatic I was at 15, to this very MOMENT I am still proud of the Sophomore/Senior thing. That shit just doesn't happen for guys in high school. I spoke with her last year and joked that she provided my sexual confidence for the rest of my life. Heh, not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. Oh and how remarkable is that photo? For the chronic chronicler in me that shit just RULES.
Alright, ready for more embarrassment? Here's a snippet of my account of things in my tape journal:
Whew. It gets progressively more cringe worthy as I continue. Rest assured that by the time I actually did lose my virginity a few weeks later (on my 16th birthday to boot) I was ready to be married and have babies. Yeah, it's just kinda in me. Talya, please take the fact that I can feel such passion for you after the 20 years I've lead as a testament to your character and not that I simply haven't matured in two decades. I believe in you. You make me feel like the 15 year old on that tape and I am an extremely old 35 after all my experiences. Giggle at that. It foreshadows our children who will act exactly like this.
For an update, Karin is still the easy-going hippie-chick she was in high school. Doesn't even have a computer or internet at home (she said she keeps up with "The Journey" from time to time at work). Lives in a wide open space with planty of room... the very idea of LA scares the shit out of her. Talking to her made me suddenly feel... "LA". As much as I try to be grounded, sometimes the things that come out of my mouth feel quite "Entourage" when talking to others. At least I'm aware of that. It was nice to catch up and compare life philosophies as we did so many years ago. As is my pattern with exes, there is no bad blood, things floated along the amount of time they were supposed to and we parted ways a couple months later. I then started my longest high school relationship with Karen (2 years!) and Burgundie was soon after that... et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
But what this story shows more than anything, is that I have always found value in capturing a moment as honestly and sincerely as possible for later reference. I've always been enamored with how we change as we age. I remember one time (probably around 1990-1991) my Uncle Tim (who was more like a brother at 3 years older) pointing out a group of old ladies in a parking lot at church and saying something to the effect of "Those were a group of 20 year old girls awhile back. You can kinda still see that.". I was fascinated by what events shifted them. Maturity to me seemed like this floating intangible that you couldn't control, but I always thought that in the end? It was just a collection of events that kept you from repeating that mistake. As a kid you just keep jumping until you run into those walls. When you're an adult, you jump less because you remember breaking a few things.
Which brings us to this moment now where, I'm still very much jumping. It's reliving a story from 20 years ago that really hits home that I still have a heart. Things have to allign a lot more now than they used to for me to jump, but I'm not so beaten down that I can't see the opportunity in front of me. I believe that's all you can hope for when you've experienced the kind of mind-numbing disappointments that I have: the ability to judge things in the moment, not have them tarnished because of your past. I certainly have the ability to do that... and my life is incredibly happy and fulfilling because of that. Chronicling every moment is indeed my therapy and honestly just allows me to live the way I will wish I lived on my deathbed. I'm viewing myself from afar as a goofy character in a colorful book that I don't want to be boring.
It's fun.
I'm happy.
20 years.