It began as a typical summer. I went off to music camp in mid-July. My fourth year at the same college camp, I expected it to be fun -it had always been the highlight of my summer.
Part of the appeal of summer camp was the freedom of it all. Even today, I love being away from home. Number one, it gets me away from my mother - trust me, after 15 years of homeschooling, you would probably want to get away from your mother too - and number two, it was chance for me to meet new people, people who had no idea what kind of person I was, people who couldn't judge me for things of the past. Plus, the biggest benefit was that it was a chance to meet guys. What more could a teenage girl like me want
Well, the week started off okay, mediocre I guess. I kept running into people left and right, people I'd met in past years and become friends with. It wasn't until Thursday - coincidentally the day before we went home - that something exciting happened.
I met a guy - a very cute guy. Not only was he cute, but he was my type! You've got to understand, I'm the type of girl who is very picky about who she dates. He's got to have a nice personality - that's the most important thing - and he's got to be sensitive and understanding. Well, those are the internal qualities, but I also look for someone tall, dark and handsome. Cliche know, but finally I found him. Another thing....I'm pretty traditional in the sense that I wait for the guy to approach me; my friends tell me all the time how I need "go to the mall, pick up some guys," but that's just not my style.
Anyway, he did approach me. We were in the same band, but I never really noticed him until he saw me.
"Wow, you play the piccolo really well," were the first words out of his mouth. So captivating...I know.
"Thanks," I responded with a smile, and from there we hit it off immediately.
By then our practice was over and we had hours of free time and he didn't have any plans, so he decided to tag along with my group of friends. We headed across the street to the Chinese place where it had become our tradition to buy Chinese doughnuts...mmm, they were so delicious! Afterwards we played cards and talked a while. Then we decided to head back to our dorms because all the girls had to do their hair, get dressed for the dance, and layer on the makeup of course. The guys, on the other hand, had to do their manly thing - shaving. So we headed back together and agreed to meet at a certain time outside.
As we were getting ready, I told Jessica, one of my new found friends, that I liked him, and I think she could tell I was excited. This year, I actually had a reason to curl - but first straighten - my hair for the dance and wear the cutest darn clothes I had worn all year. My reason was Michael.
Once we got changed - it took us at least forty-five minutes, so I'm sure we kept the guys waiting - we went outside and took a picture of our little group. Four guys and three girls if I remember right. Pretty much all I remember is that Michael and I were in the picture.
Then we headed to the cafeteria for dinner - the Caf as the cool kids called it. We got our trays, showed the worker lady our camp bracelets and chose our poison...it was mostly junk food like hamburgers and fries. Anyway, as Michael and I walked to go get something to drink, he stopped he me a second and told me, "You really look amazing tonight."
Suddenly I felt my heart skip a beat. Never, in sixteen years, had a guy given me that kind of compliment before. Who knows, maybe guys at home were thinking it - cross my fingers - but at least none of them had the nerve to say it to my face. That was the unique thing about Michael...he didn't seem to have a problem saying what he wanted to say. At least, not the night of the dance.
When we did finally finished practice and got to the dance, Michael warned me that he definitely did not want to dance to "fast" songs...in other words, the rap, rock, teenage stuff they played every year at camp. I tried to convince him otherwise, but he was pretty stubborn. But when my roommate Olivia - we had the same name, it was quite a coincidence - came over, he couldn't resist. She was so bubbly and full of energy, she could convince almost any guy to do anything. That was one of the reason why I liked her - she was just a bit more outgoing than myself.
Once Michael and I got on the dance floor, Olivia informed us that we had to "grind," - that was the only way to do it. So the four of us grinded - Olivia with Michael's friend Josh, who happened to be even taller than Michael while Olivia was shorter than me, and me with Michael.
It seemed like it took forever, but finally a slow song came. It was the only one of the night, but it was worth it.
As we danced, Michael and I looked happily into each other's eyes; he was looking down at me, while I was practically bending over backwards to see his face. At that moment, I wished I had worn my heels instead of the flattest shoes I could find.
The slow dance only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like longer, as we wrapped our arms around each other and slowly rocked from side to side. Honestly, this was the first time I'd ever slow danced with a guy I could actually picture myself dating. It was the first time, and it was amazing.
After a few hours, to my disappointment, the dance ended and we all herded like cows back over to our dorm rooms. As we walked outside, Michael took the initiative - I love guys with initiative - reached over, took my hand and put it in his, not only joining our hands, but interlocking our fingers as well.
We talked as we walked, getting to know each other just a little better. I can't even remember all we talked about - all I remember is how good it felt to hold his hand, how comforted, peaceful, and genuinely happy I felt.
Sadly, we reached the end of our really long walk, and right as we parted, Michael pulled me aside from the crowd, saying, "Come give me a hug." Of course, I did, and for a second I just got lost in his warm embrace. I didn't want to let go, but I knew we had to part, so I left, waving goodbye with a smile on my face.
That night, I told my roommate Olivia all about Michael and we had a deep, but fun conversation. Even though we didn't even plan on being roommates it worked out perfectly. It felt really good to talk to her then. She was just the right person for me to confide my happiness in.
When I woke up Friday morning, I was desperately hoping that things would only get more serious between Michael and me. In actuality, the opposite happened. For some reason, after breakfast, it was like there was this invisible wall between us. The honesty - and happiness - of the night before had just...disappeared.
The whole rest of the day, things were awkward. As we walked between music classes, he kept shifting his music stand from one hand to the other, like he was nervous, and I wished he would've just taken the initiative to hold my hand again: he didn't.
When we got to music theory the rows were filling up quickly, and I got stuck on the end next to his friend Joshua while Michael was all the way on the opposite side of the room. I thought he wanted it that way; I thought he was avoiding me. I wasn't sure though - my thoughts were more confused than anything.
That night was our concert, the finale of the week. Right when it was over, I told Michael I wanted to get one last picture of us together so we stood outside while my friend took the picture. Then without even a hug - or even saying goodbye - he just left. He didn't wave, look back or anything; I stood there alone, watching him leave. I felt powerless, wanting to run after him, but standing still anyway. That night I wanted him to kiss me so bad - I wanted it to be an amazing kiss, where my foot popped and everything. But I guess sometimes things just don't turn out like you want. Maybe Michael and I just weren't meant for each other.
Looking back at that photo, I can see a strange look in his eyes; a look that almost says "I want to get away from you." I just...didn't understand. I still don't get it. I wanted to know what happened but I wasn't brave enough to broach the topic of us - us the potential couple.
When I got home, I looked on the list of numbers and screennames I had gotten from friends and there it was: Michael. Timidly, I picked up the phone and dialed; I didn't really expect him to answer, but he did.
We talked for a while, but this time, it wasn't about anything important...we talked about the freaking weather! I felt like he didn't care, like I was the one fueling the whole dumb conversation. What added to my annoyance, was the fact that I could barely hear his voice - probably because he was on a cell phone - and I didn't want to ask "What did you say " every five seconds because I was afraid of being annoying. So I chose to give in to intimidation and not really know what he was saying half the time.
Anyway, when we hung up, there really was no conclusion, no definite end, no definite beginning. One thing I was sure of, was that I wasn't going to call him again - it had been way too weird. Originally I had hoped we could somehow become friends so that maybe we could date for real next summer when we would have a whole week together, instead of just a day and a half. That phone call ended my hopes.
For a while afterwards, I was crushed. I was angry with life in general. All I wanted was answers, but I wasn't willing to do what it took to get them. At the time, I felt as if I would never get over it - finally a guy that's practically perfect for me just slips through my fingers!
I did get over it even though it took what seemed like an eternity. Now, looking back, I realize that I've actually learned something from this bittersweet experience. I've learned that the guy for me is really out there. There's always going to be Michaels waiting for me and I'm always going to have trouble grabbing on and not letting go. But having trouble doesn't mean I can't overcome, what would you call it, I guess my...fear of getting close to a guy without losing him.
See, another thing Michael showed me. I didn't even know I had a fear of getting close to a guy, but apparently I do. But the biggest thing I've learned is that life is going to be full of experiences - the good and the bad. All I can do now is savor my memories: savor the sweetness that Michael and I once had...even though he never kissed me.