I am on a plane back to Portland after spending the weekend away. The plane, my head and the people around me are spinning. I am more hungover than I have ever been in my life. Hangover implies drinking and I did a lot of that. Plane implies travel and yep, that happened as well. It’s the when, how and who I can’t yet believe.
“I just won’t get off the plane!” He’ll never notice that I didn’t show up.
I am flying to Boise, Idaho. Why, seems to be the question at hand. I recently reconnected with an old friend from high school. He is a boy. I am sitting on the plane. My hair looks as if I have been swimming. I am in a flop sweat. FLOP SWEAT! Flop sweats are never a good look. Some would say that is why Nixon lost to Kennedy. It wasn’t the issues that were Nixon’s demise; it was his flop sweat.
I am sixty minutes into my eighty-two minute flight.
I look at my shirt. It too has taken a dip in the pool with me and now has, not only armpit stains but chest sweat marks. “FUCK, well now I can’t get off the plane!” I say to myself, OK, I will get off the plane, but I’ll hide in the airport, again, under the assumption that the friend that I am meeting will never realize that I didn’t show. Stress makes you think crazy ass shit.
I get off the plane; I have no other choice. If I don’t I am sure I will be arrested however, being arrested would give me a reason not to show up. I turn back toward the plane to get back on. Arrested won’t be so bad, I think. Nope, can’t return to the plane, too many people around. I walk down the steps of the airport hallway and instantly call my best bitch. I need to be talked off the cliff. No answer. FUCK!!!
I am trying to muster the courage to walk outside in the damp Boise weather and see a person I haven’t seen in fifteen years. High school insecurities attack my mind.
This sweat filled, full on panic attack started innocently enough with a Facebook post a month before this airplane ride I am not getting off of. He posted a witty remark. I witted back. I knew that I had unfinished business with this boy for a few reasons, but what I didn’t know was he had business with me as well. This boy and I start to message each other, a few messages a day, then a few messages per hour, then at some point I began to sit by my phone and wait for his messages and/or his replies to mine.
In our messages we talk about high school, our kids, sex, our spouses (in his case, ex and in my case, dead) more sex and crockpot recipes. After all, both of us are single parents. I am hesitant to tell him he broke my heart in high school but I tell him anyway. He replies, “I broke my own heart.” I am thrown.
We begin to talk about people’s perceptions about us, in high school and now. We discuss our places in the metaphorical box. We chat about how people only see what they want to see. We decide to meet in Boise. We agree we need to finish business.
I start to wonder…How does high school, four short years, have so much influence on who we are and what we think of ourselves and others.
Great, now I am Carrie from Sex and the City only without the shoes, hair or bodyoddy. Life is a relatively long experience and yet, one thousand four hundred and sixty days has such a strong emotional grip on us.
I realize that I am nervous because I am fourteen again, the age I was when he broke my heart. I am the insecure, scared, nervous little cheerleader I was in high school. I am not pretty enough. I am not sexy enough. I am not enough. Period. I am certainly not enough to be anywhere near this boy.
In high school this boy and I were each others secrets. We spoke on the phone every night. I’d sit by my pink phone, attached to my personal phone line and wait for him to call me. Even as a fourteen year old, I knew I had to at least try to maintain an air of mystery. None of our friends knew we spoke. No one knew.
Our phone dalliances were exciting, titillating and sexy. He would tell me what to wear to school the following day and I, of course, would oblige. I would tell him to wink at me in Mr. Hadley’s class and he always did, usually with more spunk and attitude than necessary. For a fourteen year old girl, this was love. We spoke everyday for months, I am truly surprised that I could keep this secret, being that I tell everyone, everything, all the time and always have.
Our “romance” ended in a rain soaked afternoon in the woods behind our high school. We didn’t really speak after that except awkward encounters at whatever event we happened to be attending, which in high school is all the fucking time. Especially for a cheerleader and a jock. Imagine trying to explain to classmates, that even though you are a cheerleader, you do not want to play powder puff football* and you certainly don’t want to coach the “boy” cheerleaders.
Soon I moved on and discovered a red headed senior. I assume he moved on as well however I was too busy avoiding him to really be certain. Unfinished business.
As I walk to the revolving door of the Boise airport I keep thinking about the final speech in The Breakfast Club, where the main players state “ We are all a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. (Oh and twenty somethings, can you please get your own transformational movie speech, this one belongs to the forty-somethings.) I wonder if it’s true. I start to think maybe this boy is as nervous as me, maybe this boy is driving circles around the ground transportation area, sweating his ass off, contemplating not arriving. I think back to our conversations about how he felt trapped and how he broke his own heart trying to maintain an image.
One last deep breath, I can do this, I say out loud. A passerby looks in my direction. I almost want to explain my situation to her convinced that she would understand. After all, high school shit escapes no one.
I spot him in the arrival parking area and he is carrying a dozen pastel roses and walking toward me. I do that bullshit move in movies where people look around convinced that whatever is happening is meant for anyone but them. He hands me the flowers and smiles the same smile he had as a kid. I am no longer nervous. The fourteen year old girl is still there, elated and shocked that THIS boy brought her flowers. But I am there too, the grown ass women, the widow, the single mother. The attributes that drew me to him in high school are still there. That sly smile that says trust me, even when every fiber of your being says not to, the ease in which he occupies his still athletic body.
There’s a saying about a smile that could launch a thousand ships, in this case I’m pretty sure his smile has dropped a thousand panties. I wonder what he thinks of me. I wonder if he feels the chemistry that we once had. I’m curious if I look the same to him or better. (I hope better since I did not discover my signature red lipstick until after high school.) We kiss…Now he has discovered my signature red lipstick. I like kissing him and I think the feeling is mutual.
My mind is swirling with thoughts and questions. My first thought is “I can’t wait to tell Overstreet!” My second is “What the hell is going to happen now?” I wonder all of these things as our lips and tongues are immeshed.
Soon, I let every worry go and enjoy the moment. My body surrenders to his. I surrender to the moment.
This moment, where a fourteen year cheerleader is kissing her fourteen year old jock, I wonder in my head if our business in truly finished or if it has just begun.
Maybe…fate is unknown time, forced upon thou, across moments leading to now.
*Powder puff football is a high school tradition, where the girls play flag football and the boys are the cheerleaders, uniforms and all. To my chagrin, I did end up playing in the football games and of course he was one of the cheerleaders.