I’ve been sitting on my senior prom story for so long because I thought it needed photos. So I turned it from draft to published back to draft again. Then I wrote a sequel. Then I found the photos!! And then I realized I could turn it from draft to published to draft to published, for Finish the Sentence Friday, and because it needs to be written already! You know what?
The story spans several years, which is why my hair length goes up and down, up and down. Know this: My hair grows fast. It’s all the vitamins, I think. My heart grows fast too, but rarely. It’s like porcelain most of the time. Maybe that’s all the vitamins too. My heart beats fast. I work fast, I write fast, I walk fast, I think fast, and I am fast. I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. Fast. Vitamins. My senior prom story. It starts.. with a kiss. A beautiful, perfect kiss.
My partner-in-crime was Sheila. My love life was non-existent except for wild fantasies in my head – mostly about Tim Curry (in Rocky Horror and beyond) and this senior guy, Tim, who never really liked me in that way but we kissed a few times on the school playground after dark. He drove a green Neon and we cuddled under a blanket and watched the whole Friday the 13th series together and when I shuffled sheepishly back into the house at 3:00am after hanging out with him, I gave the rest of my siblings (and me) a curfew. My mom asked what we were doing and was appalled at the fact that her 14-year-old was hanging out with a guy who could drive – in his house – but if she was looking for signs of naughtiness, drugs, and drink, she was looking at the wrong kid. We really were watching Friday the 13th. Why am I even telling you this?
Flash forward again to a year or so later. 15 going on 16. A rose. Sheila and I were at Barnes & Noble, no doubt looking at books and guys. Suddenly, my dream guy walked by. I mean it. All heavy lids, big eyes, and longish wavy hair. He was wearing a flannel shirt and he looked at me and grinned and said, “Excuse-umms!” Sheila and I looked at each other. “Did he just say ‘Excuse-umms!?'” “Yes, yes he did.” I peered around the magazine display and tried to sneak a peek. From the other side, he peered around the magazine display and sneaked a peek at us. This went on. We went by the free coffee machine and he joined us with three friends. FOUR BOYS. I was gobsmacked. Especially since one put eight sugars in his coffee. Another one was named Dorian. My dream guy? Ryan. We talked and laughed for minutes. Or hours. Years?
Dorian called me first. Then Ryan. They went to another school, and since we couldn’t drive yet, it really felt so distant and frustrating. I don’t remember Dorian as well, but I think we had great conversations. Ryan and I had something big in common – losing our fathers suddenly as children. Mine was a heart attack and his was something really troubling – like going out to a convenience store during a robbery and being shot in the head. There’s a certain sort of pain we both held, and I loved talking to him for hours. Several months after we started talking, one of them got a license and they drove to Sheila’s house to see us. I couldn’t believe he was sitting in front of me, as cute as ever. We sat on a neighbor’s trampoline and he could make himself cry on command, and we just laughed and talked for hours. I was painfully young and awkward.
It was intoxicating and exotic. I had only ever kissed a boy (with tongue) a few times. Maybe a few hundred. I was a regular middle school Juliet, although lord knows why. ANYWAY, I had never really liked it! Late bloomer. Well, early bloomer as a middle school Juliet, but when it came to things like.. kisses, more than kisses, and real relationships, that was nowhere on my radar. Like on this trampoline, with my dream guy, and my heart beating fast. The sun was setting, the emotions were rising, and it was time for one of these dream boats to drive me home. Maybe it was Dorian, or one of the other two whose names escaped me long ago. They drove me home. I remember none of the drive! When we got to my house, on top of a mountain, just like Juliet on top of her tower, Ryan got out to walk me to the front door.
He was two years older, remember, (still is) so senior prom and graduation were on his plate. I asked him a bit about that. It was a Monday night. A school night. He turned around to go back to the car and then turned around again. “Hey.. what are you doing on Friday night?” “This Friday night, like five days from now?” “Yes, this Friday night.” “Dunno.” Then he said the eight single most romantic words in the English language. You may need to use them one day:
So I said yes. Only, it was with four days’ notice and there wasn’t a dress to be found! I wanted to WOW, and wouldn’t get the chance! Also, I’m fairly sure the nerves during these four days dipped me under 90 pounds. And I wasn’t much over 90 pounds to begin with, at 5′ 6″. His prom was at a beautiful, fancy place and he didn’t seem to mind or notice my awkwardness and my nerves. He seemed proud to introduce me to friends and we danced to his prom song: “Because You Loved Me,” by Celine Dion. Then, the prom was over and all of the graduates were headed down the shore. That’s Jersey-speak for “headed to the beach towns.” He was going, but I wasn’t.
He had to get me home first, and then he’d join his friends. I barely remember the ride from the prom to my house, and I remember nearly everything. My heart was pounding in my chest. We got to my doorstep and I didn’t know WHERE my parents were, but they were nowhere to be seen. So then he pulled me closer and kissed me, like I had never been kissed. And it was AMAZING! It was nothing like the experimental kisses I had had in middle school that struck me as slimy. This was real fireworks. I’m fairly certain he even swept me off my feet, or at least one foot. I was totally gone with the wind. He said goodbye and to call him, and he was gone.
He didn’t either! I built up this whole fantasy in my head that we were soulmates. And maybe we were, in a way. That kiss. Wow. Now I knew what it was to kiss someone you were crazy about, and also for it to be age-appropriate. He was the same age as my sister and they both went to college that fall, at the same place! Rutgers is a big place, though. Still, my sister would see him out at parties. I don’t even remember if they had met, but she had at least seen a picture of him.
She got his phone number for me! I didn’t call. Still. He had mine and I had his but we never called, thinking the other wasn’t interested. I guess? Life went on but I knew in my heart of hearts that Ryan and I were magically in love and would get married one day. On the occasional weekend, I’d visit Lindsay at college. We’d go to parties and boys would get a kick out of me, but she’d always say to them, “She’s in high school!” There was one in particular. Michael. He was running for some political office and was sober like I was. I was dressed as Supergirl because it was Halloween weekend. I was talking to Michael and turned around and saw Ryan. We were both gobsmacked to see each other and we couldn’t stop hugging and talking. He was drunk and I was drunk on marveling at the fact that in this great big world, we found each other.
My fantasy that we were magical soulmates didn’t waver. Even when I’m pretty sure I didn’t see him for well over a year after that. We really just had that one kiss and a lot of long, soulful conversations in high school, and then that one time at a party in college! About a year and a half later, when I was a senior in high school and he was a sophomore in college, my senior prom was looming. There was really no one in my school that caught my eye at that point, or at least who wasn’t taken. I had the dream dress, after a road trip with my mom to Jessica McClintock. I had this theory that the dress came first, because you had to wear it, and you didn’t have to wear your date. Although, you COULD, and no judgements here. Wasn’t my path..
So I did what every practical girl does, when they have the princess dress and the big dream, but no date. I went for the unattainable. I asked my sister to somehow track Ryan down and get his phone number. Like I said, Rutgers is no small school, but somehow she did it. I had this whole idea in my head that I’d call him and get his roommate and I’d say to the roommate, “Hey, how are you at taking messages?” And I’d have my witty chill on, even though I hadn’t talked to him in nearly two years. The only kicker in this plan, other than the fact that it was all insane, is that I didn’t have the guts. So I did what every practical girl does, and I left it up to destiny. I was at a younger friend’s Sweet 16 that May and I was in charge of driving a few girls back home.
I told them the story, and they were squealing from the romance of it, while we were driving around a pretty gnarly bend in the Poconos Mountains. I chose that gnarly moment to say, “Let’s ask the Radio Gods what they think.” “Should I call Ryan?” I asked into the Pocono Mountains, no radio reception, I believe in magic, abyss. And then, it happened. With witnesses. We heard just the tiny snippet of one song on the first radio station I chose. I could only hear a few notes before it cut out completely. And YES, it was the prom song from Ryan’s prom two years earlier.
So I called him, of course. Maybe the next day or maybe a week later. I got his roommate, of course, and I did ask him how he was at taking messages, although my voice was shaking when I said it. Ryan called me back, after two years of a real conversation, and I said, “Hey, what are you doing next Friday? Want to go to.. my prom?” And he did. Maybe he was taken aback and maybe had to check plans first, but he said yes, and that he even had a tux in my favorite color family (of reds and maroons). So that was magic enough for me. The prom itself was full of nerves and feels, and a stomachache from not eating. This story was never about that anyway. It was about a girl with a dream. A strange dream, I’ll give you that. And maybe one day I’ll tell you more about it, but it’s not the story for today, and it’s not even that important to tell anyway.
In high school, I believed in big love and big magic, and that set the stage for a full life of it, which has and may leave me scattered. I’m ok with that. In high school, that was only the start and I still have so much magic to experience. Now I like my love to be real life and with the right person, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t so far lived a life of throwing caution to the wind around the bend, and talking to the Radio Gods. I wrote it in 20 parts. Highs, lows, and creamy middles.
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for another fun and challenging prompt. This week’s topic is “In high school..” And there’s time to write yours. Link up your post HERE.