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A Lifetime of Love in a Single Summer

It all started one summer day: that glowing adventure which opened my heart to love. I was at the beach, like many people that day, when I saw her walking. She appeared displaced by the fine grains, and as she stepped onto the boardwalk, I flashed her a shy smile. She returned it quickly, and got in line for a drink. I remember watching her, and chuckling when I she got back to the beach, because her face contorted when she realized she had to cross the sand again. For some reason, I approached her, and then next thing you know, I heard myself say, “Will you be able to handle it, or would you like me to carry you?” I became aware of my face flushing, and was afraid I’d been too up front, but she grinned and replied, “Nah, I think I’m good.” She was about to walk out of my life, when she turned and said, “Would you like to walk with me?” I nodded, and we walked slowly to her spot on the beach. When we got there, we talked briefly, and later, exchanged phone numbers.

“Israsma,” she told me, “It’s a strange name, I know, but my parents were so.” “Nonsense,” I replied, “It’s just original. Original people are always unique.” She laughed at that. “If everyone is unique,” she countered, “then isn’t everyone really the same?” I had to think about that one, and told her I’d get back to her. She smiled, and we parted ways for a while.

Two weeks: that was my period of indecision. I was afraid to call her, terrified, almost. I hedged for hours before I’d end up going to bed. Finally, it was broken when my phone rang. I picked it up and it was her on the other line. “Why didn’t you call?” she asked. “Girls like guys who are assertive.” There was something in the way she said that, something that amused me, but something that saddened me too. I originally attributed that to my lack of courage in not calling, but I later discovered the real reason; but that part comes later in the story. We had intriguing conversation, in which I responded to her first question; “Yes. I suppose you are right about that.” She laughed and said she was glad I remembered to answer. We ended up planning to meet Saturday evening. Saturday came, and I was nervous all morning. Come 6:00 PM however, I was feeling well, and got dressed up. I stopped by the local florist, and picked up half a dozen roses. I felt kind of foolish, waiting for 10 minutes at the restaurant, with nobody around, but 7:13 on the dot, she walked in. Wearing a breezy summer skirt, and a pink blouse, she epitomized beauty. Her face lit up at the sight of the flowers, and at that point, I didn’t feel stupid anymore. Our pleasant dinner conversation was quickly brought to romance. She said that it was nice to be with someone, but I detected that dual note of happy/sad again. We agreed that we would meet again in a week.

The phone calls seemed endless, and could last for hours. One vividly remembered conversation was about love. “What do you look for in a girl?” she asked. “Well,” I responded, “It isn’t so much their appearance that I look for. I guess I want a girl whose personality matches her image; the kind of girl who is 100% comfortable in her own skin, and isn’t afraid to show off who she is. I also want someone who would confide secrets to me, and I could tell her anything. It’s almost that I want a best friend, and someone to hold at the end of the day.” She looked pleased with my answer, and I asked her what she wanted in a guy. I suppose what she said, should have been my first clue, but I let it slide by me. “I guess I want the same things you’re looking for,” she said. I walked away from that conversation none the wiser, but I should have come out knowing so much more.

Next Saturday came extremely quickly, but we met only for a quick lunch; I had plans later to have drinks with some friends. We finished, and hugged briefly, when she slipped something in my jacket pocket and walked away. I looked at it later and it said only, “September 13, 2026. Free Dance.”

August passed slowly and I stayed busy, but my thoughts kept drifting to her. Everything I did ended up reminding me of her. The only things that kept me pushing were the bi-weekly phone calls. She always seemed so upbeat, and I only hoped I could be the same. I ended up finding the small joys in life, and spent my nights looking at the stars.

Israsma called, two nights before the dance. She said that she’d like to bring a friend. I agreed and we spent the next half hour telling stupid jokes, which we laughed softly to, if only to respect the other.

September 13th came quickly after that, and I ended up in a suit, with another half dozen roses. She walked up in a baby blue dress, with a halter top, and her friend stood right next to her in a black strapless evening gown. They arrived hand in hand, and although Israsma hugged me, and took the flowers, her hand was back in her friend’s in fifteen seconds or so. I remember dancing with both of them, but the next three hours blurred together. As the evening drew to a close, Israsma and I had one last dance. She smiled softly and said, “I guess this is it.” I assumed she meant the dance was over and the last song would end the evening. Man, was I wrong. The band wound down, and she drew herself close, and I thought she was going for a kiss. However, her lips moved past mine, to my ear. “Thanks,” she murmured, “for indulging my selfishness.” “What?” I said; a little confused. She whispered again, “I’m gay.” “What?!” I repeated. She drew away from me, and looked at me sadly. “My friend,” she said, “is my lover. We’re getting married in a month.” I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember the lack of eloquence. Her eyes furrowed, and she frowned sadly, but said, “I guess I should have expected this reaction, but for what it’s worth, I liked you for who you were.” I smiled softly, and turned to leave when I felt her arms draw around my shoulders. She slipped a paper into my jacket pocket, and walked away. And as I turned to look back, she glanced over her shoulder and said, “Do what you feel is right for you. I’m not going to force you to do anything you don’t want.”

So now I stand here, 4 weeks later, holding that letter to my body. It goes like this:

“Hakin,
You mean a lot to me. I’m not sure what would have happened had I told you I was gay from the beginning, but I enjoyed our time together. It was nice to be treated like a lady, by a guy. Most guys look at me differently because of my orientation. Mind you, you didn’t know, but it was still nice. I hope I didn’t hurt you too much. I wish that you will find love in the future, and it burns as brightly as yours for me.
I realize how hard this is for you, so I leave you with this; an invitation to our wedding. My friend thinks you won’t show, I don’t truly know. All I hope is that your decision makes you happy.



Love,



Israsma”
On the back of my invitation is a small note that says, “No RSVP. Show or don’t show. If you choose to the doors are open to you.”

I take a deep breath, and step through the doors of the church. I quietly take a seat near the back, and watch as they finish their vows, and seal it with a kiss. As they walk down the aisle, she catches my eye, and tears fill hers. I meet up with her, at the reception, and she shoves a bite of cake in my mouth. “Shut up and don’t say anything now,” she says. So I hold my words until most of the crowd leaves. She comes over to me and says, “I’m glad you decided to come.” “I am too,” I reply. “I needed the closure.” I hesitate, the reach into my pocket. “I needed to give you this too.” I hold out a crystal rose, crafted of sapphire and emerald. “This blue rose is something I feel I want you to have. I feel it will bring you happiness.”

Then I stand up, and walk away, and close the door on this adventure in my life, or so I thought. She calls me, two days later, and says that she is glad I came to the wedding, glad to have met me, and that the rose features prominently on a bookshelf. I reply in kind, that I’m glad to have met her too, and she says, “We’ll meet again in another life, and by then, we can be together, friends forever.” “Why?” I ask. “Why not be friends forever now?” “I hoped you would say that,” she says laughing.

And so ends the story of a summer romance, which makes me glad to be human, to have such feelings. Now if you wouldn’t mind, I have a girl I need to answer on the phone. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 35 years since then. I’m still single, but it doesn’t matter. She still remembers me, and we are, friends forever.



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wiesnerlover said...
Dec. 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm
It was great i loved it!
 
jetta.ckThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm
Fantastic. A few grammar errors here and there, but it's great.
 
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