How many of us can be lucky enough to bring back the romance of teenage love stories? Can you ever forget your high school love? Or does that spark come alive when you come across each other again. Jamie Barlow shares his joy of melting in love.
A school reunion. I wondered if I should go.
It had almost been a decade since I’ve even given that a thought.
Back at school, my pals and I had pledged that we would try and make it there each year, but well, I gave up on that thought the very year I graduated.
But then this time, as I held the invitation, something within me urged me to participate in it.
What the heck, I could definitely use another night out, I told myself.
I called a few of my old school buddies and convinced them to make it there, and they were quite surprised to see the all new vigor in me to go to the reunion this year.
The anticipation of the reunion
The D-day arrived and on that warm evening, I expected nothing extraordinary, just a few paunchy men, and a posse of chattering women.
But inside I felt a queer excitement that I hadn’t felt for a long time.
Being in the entertainment industry, parties were what I indulged in, for a living. But then, something was different this time, or was it just my lousy intuition?
The reunion at the glitzy hotel was nice, quite interesting. As the party set in, it was great! It was fun to see my old friends with nicknames like ‘curly’ now with great big bald patches. We laughed and talked like little kids in their ninth grade. It was fun, and I wondered why I had never bothered with reunion parties all these years.
Memories of a teenage love story
I walked up to the bar counter to get myself another drink. I excused myself through groups of middle aged teenagers in their twenties and thirties, spilling beer as they laughed voraciously. The reunion was fun, I reminded myself. With a drink in my hand, I walked back across the room.
I was lost in my thoughts as I unknowingly elbowed someone in a bunch of giggling women. I pulled myself together and apologized to her. She was very pretty, and accepted the apology gracefully. Her eyes were charming.
I walked past, and her eyes reminded me of a beautiful memory. Something I couldn’t have lost, but had tried to forget during all these years. My heart missed a beat, and began to pound hard, really hard. Could it be her? I turned around and wished for a miracle.
This was the very girl who stole my dreams each night years ago. I could tell it was her with a glance. I could never forget those lovely doe like eyes. She was beautiful, and hadn’t changed a bit since I last saw her. I stumbled to a chair as I tried to hold my heart within my chest. I was panicking, I felt like a little boy we read about in those love stories. The same way I always felt when she was around.
Memories of teenage love
The first time I felt this way, I was in ninth grade. I was one of those kids you call a dorky middle bencher, not too geeky, but yet not cool enough to fit in, at the back of the class. There was this new girl in school, and the teacher introduced her to the class. Her name was Nancy. I wanted to “make friendship with her” but each time I walked up to her, I just froze and ended up with a sheepish grin.
One day in class, I whispered to the girl sitting next to me to introduce me to Nancy. She just smiled and kept quiet. When the bell rang and the teacher walked out, this girl just stood up and shouted out at the top of her voice, much to my bewilderment, “Nancy, this Jamie likes you!!”
The class burst out laughing and yes, Nancy laughed out too. I just wanted to hide under the bench. I felt so stupid. For the rest of the classes, I just sat very quietly and contemplated. Finally, I told Nancy that I liked her, that very evening. It was all unplanned, and I made a big mess of everything. She put me out of my misery with a well placed ‘No’, which shattered my heart.
I couldn’t speak much to her after that day, I was too scared. I would tell her that I liked her, once in a while, which made me look all the more stupid. I used to blank call her, every now and then. It felt good to listen to her voice, until the day her dad installed a caller id which was relatively new back then. She got to know it was me who used to blank call her, and she got mad.
She called me up and told me that I was a ‘psycho’ and tried telling me that there were better things to talk about than ‘can I meet you after school?’ She was the one who taught me the sentence ‘how’s the weather?’, and told me to ask her that, each time I wanted to tell her that I liked her. Two years passed and there wasn’t much I could do to get over this girl. I even brought her cards that I never gave her, and recorded cassettes that I couldn’t give her, though I used to neatly write her name on each tape.
Graduation day passed by and we parted ways with interesting pet names for each other. She called me a ‘psycho’, and well, I called her ‘the one’ though I could never say that out loud. I tried forgetting her, but it was something I couldn’t do. I dated a few girls, and got my life back in place. I lost the middle bencher tag, and got the new tag, ‘charming’. Wish I could have had the same tag back in school. But well, I learnt a new line all by myself though. ‘Shit happens’.
Blast from the past
A thwack on my shoulder had me back in my senses, along with a splash of vodka on my thigh. It was one of the guys staring at me. The guys got around me, and wondered if I was too drunk. I was, I really was, and only I knew it wasn’t just the drink. In my mind, I was in the middle of a teenage boy’s love story. I pointed out across the room, and they followed my finger. The guys were stunned too, only for a second, until they burst out laughing.
A few hands grabbed my shirt, and a few let their hands fall hard on my sorry back. They couldn’t believe that someone could make me go weak in the knees even after so long. I couldn’t believe it either!
I never was the one who had any trouble approaching or picking up girls, but right now, I felt like the teenage boy who was in love with a girl in class. I knew I could never walk up to her and start talking. She would still assume that I was a psycho. I really wanted to make a fast and a good impression with her. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t recognize me now. I had lost my thick glasses, and my loser attitude.
My friends goaded me to approach her, they didn’t know I was still scared to talk to this one girl. I just shrugged them and pretended like I didn’t care about knowing her.
Rekindling the teenage love story
I had to let her know I was smooth before I approach her, and I knew just what to do. This was impression time, and this was my only chance. I walked up to one of my old teachers, and after a brief conversation, I had a good old microphone in my hands in a few minutes. I wasn’t a good emcee for nothing. I’ve proved that I was amongst the best in all the parties, but right now, I felt like this was my biggest and most hard-to-please audience.
I called out to the crowd, and I felt my confidence ooze back into me, my voice through the speakers always had that effect on me! I had the audience laughing and indulging in games and crazy activities. I tried hard not to stare at Nancy. I could see her from the corner of my eye. She was whispering to her friends once in a while.
Now that’s a good sign! That definitely is. She recognized me… wow! This is going to be fun. I wondered what she might be thinking. ‘Can this really be him, the same psycho from school?’
I walked off the stage with a roaring applause, and a Herculean ego! I loved what I just did. I walked past Nancy, and pretended like I didn’t see her. Man, I wanted to talk to her so bad! But I knew what I had to do, and I wasn’t going to screw it up. I had to play my cards right.
Sometime later, we had one of those group games that are played in school reunions. It was just the moment I had been waiting for, the Team Building game, where people had to form groups in certain numbers or be eliminated. I made sure I’d be in the same group as her in one of the rounds, and for the first time that night, I braved an eye contact. I looked at her, with a bit of surprise, and just stared. Fake recognition dawned upon me! It was Nancy.
“Nancy?!” I blurted out in fake astonishment. I had to use a lot of fake emotions that night. She smiled. Oh god, my heart gave an instant meltdown. Our group was eliminated from the game, wrong number of people. But who cares, I knew I won. I could see it in her eyes. It wasn’t the same ‘I see a psycho’ look from the school days. It was warm, and more than friendly. [Read: A cute unconditional love story]
I pulled a chair back for her to sit down. She smiled. Chivalry rules! We sat down and spoke. I spoke like I had never spoken to her. We laughed, and talked the entire night. She told me about how pleasantly surprised she was to see this new person in me. I told her how nice it was to see her after all these years, and still feel the same way. She gushed. I could have melted right there.
I asked her out to dinner, and the both of us took off to one of the quiet restaurants in the hotel. We talked and talked, and I could see the warmth in her beautiful eyes that felt so good. We spoke about all the stupid things I did back then, and laughed it off together. We took a walk by the garden, and sat down on one of the garden benches. I clasped her hand and told her how happy I was to see her again.
She smiled as she placed her other hand on mine. ‘Same here, Jamie… same here.’
And at that moment, I knew I was truly in love, and one of the best teenage love stories was kindled, not just in my heart, but in both our hearts.