Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One Small Piece of a Love Story

Sometimes, I worry that I'm losing touch with teen me. That I'm forgetting how monumental those years felt. That I'm minimizing them in my mind, so how will I ever be able to write about them convincingly? But a scene from Lauren Oliver's REQUIEM sparked a memory today that I haven't thought about in years, and since it hit me so forcefully, I thought I'd share it with you.

It was the summer after my junior year. Honey Bear (though I didn't call him that then) had just finished his first year of college. What had started as a tentative friendship eighteen months earlier had steadily grown into love, though not an easy one. We'd both felt strongly that we shouldn't date exclusively, so we hadn't. But as our feelings had deepened, that had proved more difficult. And now we were facing two long years of separation.

Young men in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are strongly encouraged to donate two years of their lives as well as thousands of dollars to go out and preach the word, so we both knew this was coming. We both believed in the counsel and wanted him to serve. But I don't think we expected to be as in love as we were. He came over to say good-bye a few days before he left, and for literally hours, we just sat on the couch, forehead to forehead, and cried. We must have said a bunch of stuff, too, but now, twelve years later, I don't remember a word of it. I just remember the crying, the clasped hands, the feeling that Something was slipping away.

After a while, the phone rang. We both knew it was his dad even before my mom answered. So we kissed one more time--slow and sweet, the only way we knew how--and he left, maybe for the last time. I watched him drive away for as long as I could, until our neighbor's house and the curve of the road swallowed my view, and then he was gone, maybe for good.

It was only one day (just a few hours, really), but that one day is forever stamped on my memory. And every time I think back on it, I feel seventeen all over again.

14 comments:

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Oh man! Ugh!! This brought back memories of the times I had to say goodbye to Aaron when we were dating. It always felt like my world was ending-- it was awful. My mom took a picture of us in the airport one time after he visited Hong Kong to meet my parents and I'm red-faced crying and clinging to him. And that was only saying goodbye for a couple months, not a couple years! I'm glad you made it through those hard times. :)

Julie Sondra Decker said...

Wow. Yeah, it's always nice to reconnect with narratives that remind you what it was like to be that age, and how prickly all those feelings were. Then you remember why they drew so much blood.

Kristin Lenz said...

That's a powerful memory. I struggle now to reconnect with those teen first love emotions, but I remember when my high school boyfriend (who was a year older than me) left for college and how completely out of control I felt.

Rebecca said...

I love that you shared this! What a sweet memory.

When I was writing my first YA, my mind often went back to the early days of my relationship with my hubby. How thrilling it was to be seventeen and in love!

ocdtalk said...

Oh yes, I have a similar memory when I left my boyfriend (now husband of 33 years) for a year to study in England. Pure heartache...if only I'd known it would turn out so well! You do a great job of conjuring up those emotions.

Matthew MacNish said...

That is one powerful memory!

Kimberly said...

That brought tears to my eyes - I totally felt the heartwrench in your words. :) Glad it all worked out though!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Amy, it must have been really cool for the DHS to fly all the way to HONG KONG to meet his girlfriend's parents. Very few people can say that:)

Well put, Julie.

"Out of control" is a good way to describe how I felt during that time, too, Kristin. Adult me read NEW MOON and thought, "Come on, is Bella for real?" but teen me would have said, "Solidarity, sister!" (That said, I don't think Bella is a good role model for how to deal with love lost; I shudder to think of any teenage girl reading that book and thinking that reaction is okay.)

Rebecca, it is thrilling! It makes me sad sometimes to think that I'll never been seventeen and in love again.

Wow, ocdtalk, kudos to you and your husband on 33 years of marriage. While young love may be thrilling, established love runs deep.

I certainly thought so, Matthew:)

Thank you, Kimberly! Honey Bear told me that he relived that day as he read this post. I guess I wrote it right:)

Terri Rowe said...

Very vivid-and real emotion!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for reading (and commenting), Terri!

Hillary Sperry said...

Breath deep, and don't cry... Whew! I am remembering and feeling what you felt in my own life.
Wow wasn't expecting tears this morning.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Hillary, that's exactly what happened to me when I read that scene in REQUIEM. Words are so powerful that way. (But I'm sorry for making you cry!)

Natalie said...

This is such a great story but it makes me curious: what happened next? What did you do for the next two years? Did you see one another? Was it OK when he came back?

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Natalie, I'm glad you liked it! I finished high school and started college, and except for one day when he came back for hernia surgery, we didn't see each other or even talk on the phone (but that's another story entirely). When he came home, it was ... different but good. We'd both changed a lot in the intervening two years, but luckily, we still fit:)

I may have to write a few follow-up posts...