I thought he was super cute. We were from neighboring towns and both taught Social- which, around here, is a rite of passage. Learning how to ballroom dance once a week was something everyone did. Few children of Hometown do not know how to fox trot, waltz, tango, or yes- even Polka.
I can polka.
Secretly, it's a lot of fun. The tango is sexy, but the polka is fun.
We Amos Moses.
We dip, twirl, and wear white gloves.
We attend the Spring Cotillion at the end of the year and our poor parents suffer through watching the masses move in a circle over and over again.
We wear dance cards. No lie.
It's a part of who we are down here and it's lovely.
He was super cute. I was in Cotillion and was wearing a white dress when we, literally, ran into each other in the lower halls of the Civic Center. He was in tails. What's not handsome about a boy in tails? He had dark hair and was much taller than I was. He asked me if my name was Wife.
A coy response from me with both a wink and half smile.
It was sassy. I smiled, took three steps backwards before turning with a rustle of crinoline and ran to meet my partner for our presentation. The spotlight was heading our way.
Standing forty feet apart at a separate entrance to the dance floor, he was waiting to present his partner and glanced my way.
Turns out two could play coy.
After the Spring Dance and the presentation, the director hosted a party for the Cotillion classes of 1997 and 1998-- us. We all piled in our cars, with the guys shucking their tails for the ride and the girls sitting on each other in the backseat, pushing down the petticoats as we tried our best to not get our dress caught in the doors as they closed.
My partner cut the music up and we headed back up the hill to the Hometown Country Club from the Civic Center as the music played and we sang along. We were 16 and, according to the lyrics of songs, we were young and free.
It was one of those perfect nights when you don't realize how privileged you are, and yet- trust that this is a great life. Because it is.
I ran into him again at the party after dinner. He asked me to dance and held out his hand.
I blushed again.
He put his hand on my back and firmly took my hand in his and lead me in a waltz. It was terribly romantic to be so very innocent. We moved through a sequence of turns and a quick lift that we were all taught a few weeks prior.
It was then that I realized I didn't know his name.
Paul and I would date for a year in high school- which, in high school years, might as well be an eternity. He was kind. His parents were fun. He lived 45 minutes away up a two-lane highway.
I would drive up there to see him on a Friday sometimes and we would get in his new Honda Accord and drive the strip. Don't laugh, it's what you did in Smalltown. From the Dairy Queen, down 2.3 miles to the Huddle House- a round about and back again. We'd listen to music with the windows rolled down, change out who was riding in which car and occasionally stop in the park and talk. It was all very fun, very old school, and very much like nothing we did in Hometown.
He gave me his high school ring.
He asked me to prom.
He told me where he was going to college next year and wanted to me to go with him. This was getting serious. And I was not ready for serious.
I broke up with him.
We would run into each other a few more times over the coming years- during college. I think we tried to be friends, but that is something we both knew wouldn't work. "Serious" was not in my repertoire at that time. I lost track of him a long time ago and really have not given much thought to him along the way.
A few weeks ago, mom sent a box home with me of high school things she wanted out of her house.
"I am done being your storage room. You have a house. You have a family. You have no more excuses. I'm going to start sending you home with your stuff. Do with it what you want."
She was right. I took the box home and opened it up.
There was a Corona bottle from a beach trip with some girls. It was filled with sand and sat in a kookie.
There was a Mother's Binder from when I made my debut that lovely Thanksgiving weekend right before I turned 21.
A stack of pictures, and notes we passed in class.
A trophy for the Spirit Award from middle school-- when one has no athletic ability, but one has heart-- one gets an award created for them, the Spirit Award.
A beach ball from another beach trip.
A football from my high school homecoming game.
A day planner (this was before iPhones) with my class assignments and social calendar.
And an envelope with handwriting I didn't recognize.
I opened it up and I found myself looking at a 17 year old girl who was on the arm of a tall handsome boy.
Holy Snarks. I found the prom pictures from the prom Paul took me to over 15 years ago.
But, there was not just one prom picture....
There were several.
Like 2 5x7s and 8 wallets.
What am I going to do with this lovely batch of pictures? It seemed too good to throw away and yet I had no use for them. Frame?
"Honey- check it out. Here I am, sixteen years ago with another dude. Yeah, that scarf coordinates with my Jessica McClintock dress. It was cool at the time."
And eight wallets? Not four. Eight. Ten pictures of me with a diamond barrette in my hair and dye to match shoes. What in the world am I going to do with these?
I found nine envelopes.
I found nine stamps.
I found nine notecards.
I found a pen.
I wrote nine notes and dropped nine pictures in the mail to nine friends across the country.
Days passed and I was sitting on myself to not call them and see if they got their mail.
I giggled and patted myself on the back at my creativity.
My friends are more creative than me though--
One found a frame and it is sitting on her guest room bedside table.
One has it on a cork board at work and asked why I was holding a centerpiece.
Two have it on the fridge.
One asked me if that was the largest corsage she had ever seen. I responded that, no, it was just a really small casket spread.
Two have promises that it will be something lovely next time I see them at their house.
One's husband asked "who that was" and did not understand why I sent his wife an almost 20 year old prom picture.
And then they started sending me pictures of their prom pictures in return. Guess they did not get the super deluxe package like I did. Must have had bad dates.