His Name Was Jack This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 12, 2012
It was about 8 p.m. on a Saturday in April. I was standing on the floor of the gymnasium at Boston College High surrounded by hundreds of students, my eardrums quivering from the music blasting from gigantic speakers. I felt slightly nauseated by the blur of people whirling around me, and my face was flushed.

A thick coat of concealer covered the dark circles under my eyes from a long week of late rehearsals for the school musical and lack of sleep. I followed my best friend through a crowd of unfamiliar faces, allowing myself to be hauled through the masses of teenage boys who smelled as if they had bathed in cologne.

As we finally reached our friends, a slow song began. I watched with amusement as my classmates darted frantically through the crowd, searching for someone to dance with, when my gaze met a pair of piercing brown eyes.

A boy a few inches taller than me approached and asked me to dance. I nodded and put my arms around his neck, studying the faces of my friends as they inspected him over the shoulder of the boys they were dancing with. After receiving the thumbs-up from my girlfriends, I learned his name was Jack and he was a student at BC High. As we talked I noticed he frequently laughed, and when he did, his eyes twinkled.

For the rest of the evening I only danced with Jack, sometimes asking questions, other times just resting my head on his shoulder and feeling surprisingly comfortable. At the end of the night he thanked me for a fun time and disappeared into the crowd. My friends surrounded me almost instantly, asking questions about this handsome boy.

The rest of the weekend I wondered about the mysterious stranger. Monday I returned to the monotonous life at my all-girls school. All week I was enveloped in preparations for the upcoming musical and memories of the dance faded.

After a hectic weekend of two successful performances, I found myself at home before dinner on Monday – a rare occurrence. As I lay sprawled on my bed, attempting to solve a geometry equation, my mother knocked on the door and handed me the phone, whispering, “It’s a boy, but no one I recognize.”

I took a deep breath and murmured, “Hello?” An unexpectedly deep voice responded, “Hi, this is Jack, from the dance. Chris gave me your number.”

Moments later we were talking like old friends. Although the conversation was short, I knew it would be the first of many. Jack and I spoke on the phone every night, although our schedules made it difficult to see each other. He asked me to his semi-formal and I accepted if he would come to mine.

May rolled around quickly, and I discovered he was the perfect date at my semi. Meeting my parents, Jack was outgoing and friendly. He had handpicked my corsage, which fit perfectly and matched my dress. By the end of the semi, I was enamored of Jack’s smile and charming personality.

For his dance, he wore a pale blue suit from a vintage shop and a tie that matched my dress. When we arrived, I noticed he was the only guy who had strayed from the generic dark dress pants and white shirt. He was proud of his suit and comfortable being different; he laughed when anyone pointed out that he looked silly. He introduced me to his friends and insisted on dancing and singing to every song. By the end of the night, I’d agreed to be his girlfriend and was glowing with pride and affection.

Long school days and final exams came to an end and the warm, sunny days of summer finally arrived. Every night I looked forward to the ring of the telephone at 8:30 and the sound of his upbeat voice saying, “Hi! How was your day?” We grew close very quickly, always having a wonderful time together whether we were out to dinner and a movie or having a skeeball competition at the local arcade.

It was the beginning of June when I realized I loved him. Each morning, when the rays of sunshine streamed into my room, I opened my eyes to the promise of a new day that would be wonderful because I was loved. Even when I felt unappreciated after a long, tiring day at work, the thought of Jack’s beautiful eyes glowing with an earnest compassion and love reminded me that life is wonderful.

Although I knew I liked Jack for his kind, honest charm and handsome appearance, I wasn’t immediately sure why I liked him more than other boys. He wasn’t the smartest or the best athlete, but over the summer I came to understand why I adored him.

I had lived the first two years of high school as if they were a great punishment. I felt that every day was a waste of my time, and everyone frustrated me because they didn’t understand my thoughts and feelings. I loathed the behavior of my peers and felt I had nothing to offer the world. I wanted to defy convention and try things I had been taught never to do because I felt unsuccessful following the rules.

When I met Jack, I was amazed at what a happy person he was, eager to do and try everything, accepting challenges with an energy and excitement for life. He constantly searched for the good in people and the positive in every situation. He loved soccer, and always played as hard as he could, determined to do his best and offer his all to the team. Even after losing, he shook the hands of his opponents with an earnest respect.

Jack never tried to be like anyone else, never chose clothes that would help him blend in with the crowd, and was always content to be recognized as an individual. He had friends from different groups and grades, and was known as both a leader (having been elected repeatedly to Student Council) and a friend.

When I look back on the summer, I am flooded with a warm nostalgia for the days I spent with Jack biking to the beach, walking hand-in-hand, diving off rocks and enjoying picnic dinners. After nine months together, when I get ready for an evening with him, butterflies still dance in my stomach!

Every day since last April has been a step on a long journey within myself. I have learned the value of living life to the fullest, and I have grown to accept myself and others for what we have to offer. I realize I am still young and naive, but I know I am blessed to have already met my soulmate and best friend.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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