Friday, January 16, 2009

But when you think Tim McGraw...

Sometimes, not very often, I let myself think about that summer. It's usually this time of year, when you can't stand to be outside for too long because it's so cold, and you can hardly even imagine a time when it WASN'T like that. That's when I remember that summer. And that boy.

Summer 2004. I graduated high school on June 6th, and fall quarter at UW didn't start until September 27th. At the time, and even now, that stretch of time just boggles my mind. I remember thinking it would just go on forever. In some ways it did, I guess. That summer was a rarity for this area too, as virtually every day, from June until late August, was just PERFECT. No rain, and very few clouds, if any, ever. I don't remember a summer like that before, and there hasn't been one since. The days were beautiful, and the nights were better.

I met him on June 18th. I know this because it was the night before my Spanish placement test at UW. As a direct result of my performance on this test, I spent my first year of college taking Spanish classes that were far below my level of competence in the language, because I had never before been so blissfully exhausted nor distracted while taking an exam. My cousin told me we were going to hang out with new people...the idea of "new people" in their tiny town blew my mind. I'd been spending my weekends there for months, hadn't I met everyone?

Nope. These people were different. These were the kids who lived in the country and acted like it. That night, we picked him up on the way to this party. He was walking along the side of the road, and we were lost. The first thing he did was change the radio to the local country station. The next was show me his tattoo, which read "Country Boy" across his left arm. I was amused. I was hooked. He led us into the middle of nowhere, through an abandoned logging road lined with bushes and trees that scraped the car relentlessly. We finally reached the end, and it was like no party my spoiled ass had ever seen. Pickup trucks and coolers, and one huge bonfire. I loved it, instantly. After a few drinks I let him put his arms around me as I stood by the fire. Not long after that I let him kiss me, and just breathed him in. There are some scents you just memorize, and his was almost immediately burned into my brain. He smelled the way your skin smells after a day in the sun, the way your clothes smell after a bonfire, and very faintly of beer and cigarettes. Even after showering, I swear, he always smelled the same. Doesn't sound all that appealing, but he REEKED of "Bad Boy" and it bowled me over, every time.

After that night, that was it. I was done for. We went to a hundred more parties just like the first. Sometimes I rode on the back of his motorcycle, hanging on for dear life, and sometimes he would drive my car. We didn't make plans. For the first month, I'd leave work Friday nights and spend every waking minute with him until Sunday night. I took a week off in July and we decided one night, for the hell of it, why not go camping? We brought hot dogs, beer, and bathing suits...that was pretty much it. We drove halfway across the state with all the windows down. I sunburned my right arm that day from letting it hang out of the passenger side window for hours, and honestly didn't care. We thought it was funny. We listened to Tim McGraw's greatest hits the whole way there, and when we met up with some friends at the campsite, we ran straight to the river and I jumped off my first bridge. Not a care, not a thought. We spent the next day in inner tubes, floating down the river, without once considering how long it might take us to get back. We didn't care. We drove home at sunset a couple of days later, with every window down, still. Somewhere over Snoqualmie pass, going somewhere around 90 miles an hour, he leaned over and kissed me, and I TRULY thought that this was it. He was the one, I had found him.

I don't need to tell you how it ended, but I will anyway. I went off to college, and he stayed in his little town, drinking too much, fighting too much, and doing little else. He cheated, I cried. I learned that when he reeks of "bad boy", it's for a reason. But I swear I wouldn't change a minute. If someday my daughter meets one like him, I'll try and stop her, but it will be no use. And that's okay. Some people go their whole lives and never have that one sweet summer, where time stops and you don't worry about tomorrow because you have today AND tonight, and that's all the time you need. I can't definitively say who or where he is today, but for awhile he was sweet and he was mine.

....Back to reality tomorrow.


jon and nichole said...

you are so great at painting a picture with your words...and remember, everything happens for a reason -- your experiences during that summer molded you into the beautiful individual you are today...and i love you so much for it...

Jess said...

Stop it, you'll make me cry. I would actually just be happy if it were summer again. Any summer will do.