The year was 1992. The sound of knocking came from the front door of my room.
“Wake up…we have to leave to LA soon.”
“Chill Mom…I still have to fix my hair.”
I got up and walked out of my room to get to the bathroom. I stared at myself and saw an innocent face dotted with a few pimples. I was going through changes, my voice was cracking, and a few whiskers grew on top of my mouth. This was normal for any thirteen year old boy. I was not looking forward to this trip. I wanted to stay home and play Super Nintendo. After a mix of Dep Gel and Aqua Net hairspray, my hair was perfectly spiked the way I wanted it. I walked into the kitchen and saw my mother making a quick breakfast. I became emo.
Me: Why do we have to go to LA?
Mom: To visit your cousins and see my best friend. Plus, your Dad wants to see his…”friend.”
(Even back then, she knew she was being cheated on by my father.)
Me: But I’m gonna be bored. I don’t know anyone there. And I am out of pimple cream. LA air is gonna make my pimples worse..
It didnt work. We were still headed to LA.
My sis and I jumped into our Nissan Pathfinder and buckled up for a long ride. I pulled out my Walkman and started to play “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. I played it the whole trip….rewind…play….rewind…play. I hated when my father drived. He drove like he was in a Daytona 500 race…except he was racing himself. Vanilla Ice calmed my nerves and I drifted into sleep for the whole trip. We pulled up to a house and started to walk up to the door. The house belonged to my dad’s “friend.” You could see the hate in my mother’s eyes when the door opened. I laughed inside. “My father was into this lady?” She was unimpressive to say the least. And it made me question why my mother still wanted to stay with my father. I sat down on the plastic covered couch and proceeded to emo it up.
“I’m bored. Are we just gonna sit here? And my Walkman batteries are dying…”
“Your Auntie Vee will be here…and she is bringing her niece.”
I didn’t pay attention to it. Whatever. The doorbell rang and my Auntie Vee walked in…with her niece.
We hugged and Auntie Vee stated the obvious.
“You are growing so tall! Oh, this is my niece…Lea.”
I looked up and saw a short haired girl with beautiful black eyes. She was wearing jean shorts and a Los Angeles Lakers T-shirt.
“Hi!” Lea waved to me.
I pulled off my Sony Walkman headphones and smiled back. I walked to the bathroom and checked my hair. I made sure every spike was shiny and that the Aqua Net hairspray was still doing its job. This situation has now changed. This was supposed to be a boring trip to LA. But, for this thirteen year old boy…it was the beginning of a relationship that would span for 15 years.
I walked back out to the living room and saw Lea talking to my sister. They laughed.
“What’s so funny?” I said, trying to insert myself into the conversation.
“Your face.” My sister said. Ouch, this is going to be tougher than I thought. My main competition would be my sister.
Lea laughed. I noticed her cheeks light up with dimples. She was so cute. We spent the day together. My auntie Vee made my heart drop when she said it was time to go. I wasn’t ready. This can’t end now. How am I gonna talk to this girl? I thought of anything.
“But, Auntie Vee…we haven’t seen you in so long. Wasn’t there a mall we could go to? To have dinner or something?”
It worked. We went to dinner and I situated myself next to Lea. And for an hour, I was in heaven. We talked about school and we laughed. She laughed at everything I said. I was on a roll. But how would I continue this relationship with this dimpled girl.
“Do you have a pen pal?”
I said, “No. What is that?”
“Someone you write letters to…to keep in touch.”
“No, Im not really good with letters. But I’d like that.”
It was time to go. I hugged Auntie Vee and walked over to Lea. She hugged my sister. I reached over to hug Lea and felt a long kiss on the side of my cheek. I blushed immediately. I was speechless. I did not expect that. I couldn’t help smiling, I was into Lea. She walked out the door. I watched her walk down the driveway. She turned around and yelled:
“You better write me…I’ll be waiting.”
I smiled and said, “I will…right when I get home.”
The rest of the weekend was a blur. I relived the kiss on my cheek over and over again. Why does she have to live so far? And would we really write each other? And would this be the last time we saw each other? Sometimes a small kiss can change your life. And little did I know, that small kiss would blossom into much more. I would never forget that trip to LA.