Crawford Hart Guest Contributor
I realized that as I started writing this … I don’t even remember exactly when, where or how we met.
We were both in the same senior class, so the potential scenarios were somewhat restricted, but the details are lost in the dim mists of time.
My memory picks the story up in progress. She was planning to accompany me on The Mozart Clarinet Concerto. I was at her house, her mother and Southern Baptist preacher father lurked nearby, ears sharply attuned to make certain we stayed on task. Alas, the rigors of the piece proved too much for her rudimentary piano skills, but something must have clicked. Maybe it was the clarinet.
In any event, when the story next fades back in, we were planning to sit next to each other on the upcoming senior trip.
Ah, that fantasy excursion.
The bus ride up to the Smokies was the stuff of the purest of dreams. The night was festive, the lights were low, and I explored vast swaths of new territory and learned much that a heretofore introverted, late-bloomer dearly needed to learn. But then, my buddies and I found a drunk who bought us a fifth of something in return for a pint for him, and the night took a strange, blurry detour.
They told me I had fun when I awoke the next morning.
I discovered that I stood tall in the eyes of my fellow men … but not so much for my true love. Suffice it to say that a couple days later, I rode back home alone with my sorrow, while some worm named Julien Cooey usurped my rightful place beside her.
But we weren’t done. Two weeks of heartache saw us reunited, on the day before the Senior Prom, to which I’d already invited someone else. Ha! Take that, Bitch.
But the summer was magical. The night Neil Armstrong’s rocket was landing on the moon, mine was launching to the promised land, on her living room rug, no less, while daddy was saying his devotions, again in the next room. We got engaged, because that’s what you did after graduation and wanted to be grown up and it was summer and you were stupid.
Then I went away to college. While I’d thought of engagement as a static state, an end in itself, her mother very much considered it a goal-oriented endeavor, and was anxious for plans to take shape. One night I woke up in a cold sweat. I thought, “What was I thinking?”
And that, as they say, was that.
They say your first love is forever. I’m reminded of the Gratful Dead lyric:
I met an old mistake
Walking down the street
The other day.