Fifteen is a weird age. I was figuring who I was and growing awkwardly. No longer a freshman in high school, but still struggling to find a spot for me in high school hierarchy. I experimented with different outfits…hairstyles…music. Was I trying to be known as a jock? Or a rebel/bad boy? But I really didn’t have to worry about popularity. I was already known….especially with the ladies. I could get what I wanted by just smiling and flirting, but I was clueless when it came to what happened after “the chase.” I talked a big game. I acted like I had no problem getting girls…like my sexual hit list was longer than a phone book, but I was a virgin. I had no clue how to kiss…too scared. I had girlfriends over the past two years, but there was a block..an obstacle. Being alone with a girl gave me anxiety attacks. We hold hands…great. We hug…nice. But, nothing more. It was sad. So my relationships lasted weeks. I would find a reason to end them. My excuses were endless.
Friend: What happened man?
“She was clingy.”
“She didn’t have anything in common with me.”
“Her hair smelled like chicken soup.”
Anything to justify a break up.
400 miles a way, a teenaged girl named Lea was having a tough time. She checked her mailbox for mail. Nothing. And nothing from her spiky haired pen pal she met two years ago. They wrote each other constantly for a year and a half. She looked forward to his letters….his corny jokes….his accidental sweetness. But, life had taken over. School was tough for her, she was constantly harassed by men when she walked home from school, and she was in a relationship with a guy who cheated on her. She needed time away. She came home and sat on her bed. This is it. She picked up her phone and called her boyfriend.
“I can’t do this….anymore. I can’t be treated like this. I need space….time to think things over.”
Her boyfriend showed no emotion over the phone. Another sign she should leave him. But, she was attached to him. She still had feelings for him. She thought she loved him. She hung up and thrust her face into her pillow…tears started to soak her pink pillow. And she cried herself to sleep. But, her phone rang. She jumped and thought:
“It’s him….he realized that he wants me and wants to work this out. He’s gonna tell me that he won’t cheat on me ever again.”
She heard the familiar voice from her favorite Aunt…Auntie Vee.
“Hey honey, how are you? Are you busy this weekend? I have a wedding to go to up north. Wanna come? We can visit my best friend and her kids….remember them? Your pen pal? We can see if we can stop by?”
This was her escape. Her time to think things over.
Twenty minutes later, a 15 year old messy haired boy was woken up by his mother.
“Get up….we have to clean the house. Auntie Vee is coming tomorrow…I think she’s bringing her niece. Don’t you write her?”
He was foggy.
“Clean? Aww mom. Wait..what? Yes, we still write…sort of.”
He felt guilty. He hadn’t written her in a while. Life had taken over. He reminisced about the last time he saw her. Her smile…her laugh…her eyes. He thought to himself , “Is she mad at me? Does she have a boyfriend now?”
“Hey, stop sitting there. We have to clean.” His mom brought him back to reality.
The next day, the doorbell rang. And she walked into his life…again.
He got off the couch to greet his Auntie Vee…and he looked past her and caught sight of Lea. Her beautiful black eyes stared back at him. He opened his mouth.
“Hey? Is that how you greet your friend from down south? Come here and give me a hug you dork.”
And life was happy again. She had not changed. She was older now and noticed she was going through a weird puberty stage too. He tried hard to make her notice his changes too. He was taller, and had a few hairs growing above his lip…and hair growing in other areas too. She looked at him up and down. He was going to be a problem. He was cute, but he knew he was cute..so he was borderline cocky.
Their day was planned for them. They went to an amusement park and spent the day laughing and joking. It was like they hung out every day. He noticed how beautiful she was…and what she was wearing. She knew her “assets” and he noticed them. But, he noticed other boys noticed them too. He got jealous and tried to figure out what she thought of him.
He turned to her.
“So, got any loverboys back home?” He was never good at small talk.
“Not anymore….I’m done.” That changed things. He didn’t pry. He had feelings for her but had no clue what to do with them. She lived 400 miles away…and communicated through letters. Besides, he didn’t even know how to kiss. But, he figured she didn’t have much experience in that area too. He was wrong. He couldn’t deny the butterflies that filled his stomach every time he saw her smile.
That late afternoon, they pulled up to his house and he was trying to process what to say.
“You have a wedding to go to tomorrow?”
“Yeah, but its in the morning. We are having dinner with you guys that night.”
He was excited. She hugged him good night and her familiar lips touched his cheek again. His heart jumped out of his chest. She waved.
He knew he wasn’t going to be able to sleep.