I recall that her name was Sue, she was very slender and very pretty, with short blond hair. We were kind of friends although I probably wanted more, I just wasn’t aware that I did. I think we were only fourteen (she may have been a bit younger) so it was a kind of a confusing time. But I’ve never forgotten her and not infrequently, I wonder if she might have been that one special soul I used to believe in. The one made just for me.
I never knew her last name though. A real bummer. That would have been true even in the age of the Internet.
I lived in Queens Village in New York City at the time, on 215th Street. In a small apartment complex with a small basketball court. On the North side of Hillside Avenue. There was an old fashioned candy store on the South side, at least by today’s standards. I remember the egg creams most of all (and that there apparently were no eggs involved). It was either 1960 or 1961. We’d moved there from Hollis where my family had lived the year before.
I’d started at Jamaica High School, then very much against my will, I’d been transferred to Martin Van Buren, but as I recall, she went to neither. Perhaps she went to a Catholic school. I was supposed to have gone to Bishop McClancy High School but there was a paperwork snafu due to an accident my mom had. I wonder if that’s where she went, but in New York City, it could have been anywhere.
“Too late” is a frequent motif now, for all too many things. So many things I’d do differently. She definitely would have been one. If only I’d been a bit more mature, or a bit more experienced, or a bit more secure and a bit more honest. I wonder how we’d have turned out? Whether we’d still be together? I’ve not been all that successful at marriage, or in relationships, at least if quality counts more than quantity. What if it was because I’d let “the one” get away?
Back then we moved way too often, almost every year, and every year I seemed to be in a new school, at least until I turned fifteen, then boarding schools became home. Not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all, except that I lost touch with Sue. And all the friends I’d made. I recall a Bobby too, we became best friends very quickly. He lived across the street. He was Italian and ate what seemed to me pretty strange things, but he was cool. A great dancer as I recall. I don’t recall if he knew Sue.
My sons don’t seem to have made my relationship mistakes. My eldest, now 31, is married to his first girlfriend, and my second waited until things were right, something my youngest son also seems to be doing. They are not nearly as confused as I was but then again, they’ve maintained their teenage friendships and have lived in the same, somewhat small city for over two decades now.
So, Sue, ….
I wonder what your life’s been like? What you’ve done, what you became. What you look like now. How you changed over the years. And perhaps, most of all, I wonder if you remember me at all, if you’ve ever thought of me the way I’ve thought of you. Not likely, not likely at all, … Not even healthy probably, but it’s the kind of thing we seem to do more and more as we grow older. Or at least the kind of thing I do; I may be projecting.
Or perhaps there’s a message in here somewhere for a still young version of me somewhere, someone a bit confused and insecure and immature, but very drawn to someone whom he ought not to let get away.
What a shame the streams of time only flow in one direction.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.