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The First Cut Is The Deepest
Hoping I can swiftly yell, "K, ma I'll be back at 11:30 like you said!" before she has a chance to move to the foyer and meet Colin is absolutely hopeless. She has to make her mark by being overbearing and completely protective to the point where Colin will no longer think taking me out is worth enduring the piercing gaze of my mother as she “reminds” him not to text, change the music, or talk on the phone while driving her darling sixteen year old. Who am I kidding? I’m an only child, of course she will drop whatever she’s doing, potentially burn the house down from leaving the stove, before missing Colin at the door. I told her "He can't find our street, but I know where he is so I'll just walk to his car!" but that didn't fly with her. Oh and look, dad just pulled into the driveway early from work, I wonder who told him to finish up and hurry home. There’s no escaping this, I thought, plus my house probably looks like a shack compared to his with his doubly doctored parents. As my mother, father and dog opened the door for him, his smiling blue eyes seemed brighter than ever as he introduced himself. His unfazed, yet respectful manner is something I almost envy. It’s not that I lack confidence, I’m just a lot younger than he and I look up to him in a way that, I guess, is one of the reasons why his personality is so attractive to me. His life is like a snapshot of the life I can never have. He has siblings who come home at all hours of the night, who make mac and cheese for breakfast, who swear in front of their parents and who can get away with almost anything yet still be moral and good people.
I know my mom thinks I’m a huge s*** solely because he is eighteen and I only sixteen. People and their assumptions. The truth is, he is a virgin, as am I, and having my own mother infer all kinds of things from our situation hurts me.
All I want is to have some sort of a southern summer with Colin, except in New England. You know, the kind of summer where you ride in a pick up truck with red paint chipping of the sides and windows that don’t roll back up anymore? I want to walk down dirt paths that lead to little lakes with rope swings and play country music from a tattered old boom box that has been kicked around on the floor of the truck but still works. My mom doesn’t want me to have any of that. “No, you cannot sleep at his house, only he can sleep at our house,” my mother always says, followed by, “There doesn’t need to be a reason why, it’s because I say so.” In my mind, that answer means that she feels too awkward to actually come right out and say what she’s thinking, which is, “you’re a slut and I want you here where I can watch you.” This angers me even more because I know she’s thinking things behind my back. When I am a mom, I don’t want to be the kind who can’t talk comfortably with my daughter about things like relationships and sex.
I always go into things very fearlessly, my mom knows that especially well, and she knows that I always give people the benefit of the doubt because I believe all people are good people until they prove otherwise. I don’t think my mom does that. Every time I come home after being with Colin, it’s like she guilts me into having more fun with her than I have with him so that I will decide to dump his ass and stay home with her. She always has a platter of snacks prepared when I get home full of extra sharp cheddar slices, pieces of peeled pears and balls of cantaloupe, which she uses her special spoon to carve out. Standing around the kitchen counter, my mom asked,
“What did you do this time? Did you have a good time?” making me think that my shirt was put back on inside out or something like that, I replied skeptically, “Yes…”
“Good, I’m glad. You going out with him tomorrow too?”
“Yup,” I respond, “We’re hiking to the top of the mountain in Willmington tomorrow, should be really fun.” All I get out of her is, “Oh, yah, sounds nice.” Why can’t she admit that having Colin take me to his favorite view and his special childhood spot on the mountain is something that is pretty romantic as far as young love goes? It wasn’t until the day before my birthday when he left flowers, a letter and a tiny box labeled Silver Moon Jewelers in my house that she let out any kind of emotion about my relationship. “Ah, to be sixteen again…he’s such a sweetheart,” she said when we walked in after a stressful driving lesson together. I hoped that at this time she might tell me about the first boy who ever did something special for her or maybe even about the boy who she lost her virginity to, but she didn’t fill me in on either. I always think about buying a huge bed with tons of fluffy pillows and blankets where my mom and I could lay down on, watch Pretty In Pink and talk about girl things together. Maybe we could even invest in fluffy robes and paint our nails for each other or put on exfoliating facemasks while we talk. I want to do this with my daughter someday so she has somewhere where she can feel comfortable and excited to tell me all about her life. In fact, I drew a picture of my dream bedroom in my journal, fluffy accessories and all, so that when I read it years from now I will remember the person who I always wanted to be and make sure to stay true to myself.
Mom loves to overdramatically grab hold of the above head handle in the car whenever I make a turn, which makes me like driving with my dad much more than with her. He loves to turn the music up really loud to feel free and tells me, “go 10mph over the speed limit at all times because you’re not gonna get anywhere if you don’t.” Maybe he’s trying to feel free from my mom, but I don’t like to think about that very much.
Dad also loves to eat Ritz crackers with peanut butter and honey. He uses Skippy peanut butter instead of the organic one that my mom grinds herself in the health food store. He likes penguins a lot, too. One year for Fathers’ day I surprised him with backstage tickets at the aquarium so he could see his favorite creatures up close; I wrote him a really nice card and didn’t even feel the slightest bit awkward when he read it in front of me. He gave me a kiss on the head and a huge hug and told me how much he loved me. Dad always has to remind me to do something special for mom on her birthdays and Mothers’ day, which kind of confuses me because he knows how appreciative I can be, especially on those days. As far as Colin goes, my dad thinks he is a great guy, probably reminds him of himself with their equally goofy personalities. I know that dad doesn’t want me to have a broken heart by the time Colin goes off to college at the end of the summer, but even with a broken heart looming in the future, dad wants me to put my whole heart and soul into this summer, and I thank him for that.
Colin and I drove to a small island for the week to help his dad do research on hermit crabs. It was my first time staying in a motel and I covered my pillow with one of my old tee shirts that I brought along because I get the heebie-jeebies from my bare hair touching the pillowcase. Colin’s dad couldn’t care less what we did, so we went pool hopping all throughout this little island where you can only find nerdy scientists doing research and uppity New Yorkers catching the Nantucket ferry that departs from here. Lying beside our favorite pool, Colin says, “You know how much I love being with you? It’s like an unspeakable amount; I don’t think we’ll ever have it this good again. You tell me, when do you think either of us will ever have something this good again? You will always hold a part in my hear – always – you’re the first girl whose eyes I can look into and see something.” Taking all of this in, I’m thinking to myself, how lucky am I? Some people go their entire life without finding someone they love but here I am, sixteen years old, lying on an old rubber lounge chair in the pitch-black night with someone who I have grown to adore.
I don’t fully understand how I went from liking Colin to loving him, but I do know that I am in way over my head. Everything is better when I’m with him, which is starting to scare me because I have forgotten what life is like without him.
In the car on the way to Colin’s house the night before he left for school, I couldn’t look anywhere but out the window for fear my mom would see the tears welling in my eyes. She surprised me by saying, “Dad will pick you up at 3am tonight, hun, I know this will be hard for both of you.” That statement alone caused my welling tears to overflow and uncontrollably stream down my cheeks. Colin, laying face down in his bed when I arrived, had the similar, puffy-eyed complexion that I had. “You’ll always be the one, you’ll always be the one,” he said crying, folding my hair behind my ear out of my sticky, tear-stained cheeks. Wrapping myself in the quilt from his bed because the august night was crisp, I lead him out to the porch swing. Sitting silently, looking into the dark woods of his backyard, I feel more at peace than I ever have because I am with the only person who knows exactly how I am feeling. In the car ride home, dad looks at me, chuckles, and says, “Babe! Don’t be sad sweetie…you’re not going to answer me? C’mon babe, talk to me, what’s up?”
Walking into my warm, candlelit house after our last night, and seeing the platter of snacks next to my mom, who has waited up for me, lets me know that she understands. She went to the drier, brought out a pair of socks to put on my feet so they wouldn’t get cold and let me collapse in her arms for the rest of the night on the family room couch with her. She told me, “If we are thoughtful and love deeply, we are doomed. The ghosts of our past drop by and for an instant, we gasp in the pain that they bring. But, also, we feel some comfort and hope, for they remind us of what love can do.”