The next few months were both difficult and amazing. I learned how to cope living with a crazy person, and Craig and I learned how to make the most of the little time we had together. We were both so busy- him with enjoying his last year of high school and making plans for his future, and me with adjusting to college life and classes. Although, I remember one weekend Craig came up to visit…
I walked into the dorm after class and Craig was there. I was so surprised to see him- we hadn’t made plans to get together this weekend and I definitely wasn’t expecting for him to be waiting in my dorm. Although I’m typically not a fan of surprises, I was so happy to see him. He felt like home to me, and having him there just made me feel so much more at ease and happy.We took a walk downtown and I showed him all around. We had coffee at this cool coffee house I had discovered earlier that week, and on the way back later that night- we picked up a pizza. When we got back to the dorm, Craig brought out a bottle of wine that he had brought with him. We had pizza, and wine and talked all night. Eventually we finished the bottle of wine, and were just enjoying eachothers company. Until, a little while later Lauren and her boyfriend walked in. We had awkward small talk for a few minutes and then they started making drinks. Craig and I joined them for a few drinks, and before we knew it we were up all night playing games and having a blast. Which would have been perfect, if it hadn’t been parents weekend and we didn’t have plans to meet my parents at the student center for breakfast at 9am. We fell asleep around 6 and woke up around 8 to pull ourselves together and go meet them. Hungover and exhausted we walked hand in hand to meet my parents. Over breakfast Craig and I exchanged looks across the table- at first they were just silly looks of agreement that we both felt awful, but then something shifted. Craig was looking at me in a way no one had ever looked at me before. We just completely understood eachother. We were totally smitten and in love. Later that day, we laughed it off and said our goodbyes as Craig headed back home. After he left, I felt completely alone (which was ridiculous considering I was living on a floor with 20 other girls). I just had this huge hole in my heart when he wasn’t around. It was unbearable. I suffered through the next few weeks and then it was finally Christmas break. I was off from school for a month, and was so excited to be home with family and friends, and Craig.
I was so much happier at home than I was at school and so after a little bit of a break down and some self realizations I decided to go to school closer to home next semester. So with the help of my dad and my brother I moved back home planned to start the next semester at the community college near my house until I figured out what I wanted to do. I got a part time job as a waitress and was super busy. Craig and I took advantage of any time we had together. He was supportive of my decision to move home, and we talked about going to college together in the fall. He actually really liked Keene, and we thought about going back there together. I knew I would like it there more if I had him with me. We talked about all sorts of things pertaining to the future. Every day seemed like we were closer and closer, and all of my future plans involved him.
Craig drove up with my parents to drop me off at college. We walked into my new space (all 20ft of it) and met my new roommate. Her name was Lauren. She had been there early and already declared her side of the room. She was in the process of hanging up her Rascal Flatts posters, when my mom started crying and saying how much she was going to miss me. I hugged her and told her I would miss her too. Truth is, I was ready to be away from my parents, but I wasn’t so sure I was ready to be away from Craig. I said my goodbyes to them and they told Craig to say goodbye and meet them outside. I knew I wouldn’t see him for a couple of weeks, and when he hugged me- I teared up a little. I quickly redirected my thoughts to my new roommate and lifestyle and tried to cheer up. We kissed goodbye, and he left.
I was distracted that week with my new weird roommate, and adjusting to dorm life. We didn’t start classes until the following week, so I had a lot of time on my hands to make new friends and get everything set up. Lauren and I didn’t exactly hit it off right away, and yet we were awkwardly eating meals together and pretending to be best friends. Mainly because neither of us really knew anyone else and didn’t want to go to the dining hall alone. Lauren also had a boyfriend who was a year younger, and who lived back at home (which for her, was Barre VT). Lauren was not adjusting to college life so well. Presumably she was home sick- she was up talking to Matt (her boyfriend) on AIM until 3 a.m every night, and stayed in our dark dorm room watching Phantom of the Opera all day every day. Sharing tight quarters with someone in this state was uncomfortable and depressing. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the following weekend to come so I could go home and see Craig and get a couple things I had forgotten at my parents house.
When I got to Craigs house that Friday night, we were so excited to be with eachother. No one was home at his house that night, and he suggested that we watch a movie in the basement. He had set up a little bed on the floor in front of the T.V and I agreed. I didn’t care what we were doing, I just wanted to be with him. I think I spent the first half of the movie complaining about Lauren, and jabbering about my first few classes. Soon enough though, he shut me up with kisses, and I lost all my other thoughts. One thing led to another and we were both so caught up in eachother that we couldn’t fight it anymore. Craig wasn’t a virgin, so I don’t think it was as nerve racking for him as it was for me- but I was terrified. I had always said I wanted to wait until I was married, but in this moment I thought that I would for sure marry Craig so why delay the inevitable. I remember him having a certain look in his eyes- a look that made me feel at ease and like this was the exact spot I was meant to be in that moment. I remember running my hands down his chest and outlining his waist with my fingers- too nervous to go any lower. I remember him kissing my neck and feeling every muscle of my body tingle and just turn to mush. I remember trembling, breathing heavily, and crying. My head rested on Craigs chest for a while after, and he told me he loved me, and that what we have is amazing. I didn’t need to hear the words to know that he was right, but in that moment they were reassuring and just what I needed. He always seemed to know just what I needed.
Before long, we were inseperable. I was listening to music I never thought I’d be interested in and he was watching All My Children on saturday nights. We were just happy to be together.
The summer after I graduated high school was the best summer of my life. I was working as a waitress part time and I think he was delivering pizzas. Neither of us had a care in the world, other than each other. We went to the beach and walked around talking for hours. We would stay up late and look at the stars. We went to concerts, movies, parties- we did everything together. I met his closest friends and family and he met mine. We would go to the park and I would sit and listen to him play guitar and sing for hours.
I had another part time job working in a jewelry kiosk in the mall. I had worked there for years, and loved it for the most part. One afternoon that summer, I was stuck inside the mall working when Craig showed up. The mall was packed with people trying to escape the heat, and right in the middle of the crowd, Craig stood up on a bench facing my kiosk. Guitar in hand, he began singing. He belted out a love song that he had written for me right in the middle of the mall. I watched, and laughed. But on the inside, my heart was bursting. He wasn’t quite finished his song when he was escorted out by mall security.
When I was with him, nothing else mattered; and when I wasn’t with him- he was all I was thinking about. He seemed to fit in really well with my family-and I loved being around his goofy brother and his childish dad. We seemed to just—- get each other. He knew what I was thinking before I said it, and I could see him for everything thing that he was and could be. I was completley smitten and in love. But then, like anything so wonderful- summer came to an end.
I was moving a couple of hours away to Keene, NH to start college. Looking back on it, a couple hours seems like nothing- but then, it was everything. I remember having a going away party the weekend before I left. Craig was miserable the entire time. We both knew that it had to happen and that we would do everything we could to see eachother as often as possible, but it would be a lot harder than it had been all summer. I was excited to go off to school but equally as upset to leave Craig.
The next few months are almost a complete blur. Which is strange and bit depressing, as they were amazing. I think sometimes when everything seems to fit perfectly, and we live life strictly on a day-to-day basis, time flies and it’s hard to remember the intimate details. But I do remember flashes of the way we fell in love.
I remember spending longer to get ready for school in the morning, knowing that I would see him. I remember our eyes locking in the hall way and my stomach being tied in knots. I remember driving around in his car, listening to music. He introduced me to bands I’d never heard of, and I got him really into Dave Matthews. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies though;I also remember some drama in the first few months of dating. He had an ex girlfriend who he’d been with for a while, who was bitter and upset at the break up and had been calling me (and him I’m sure) trying to convince me that he was awful and we shouldn’t be together. And, oddly enough I had a similar situation with an ex boyfriend. We worked through the chaos eventually though, and agreed to keep dating. All of this seems so trivial now, which is why I find it easy and best to sum it up as briefly as possible.
Anyway, one of the first dates we went on was to see the band OAR with my brother and his girlfriend. I felt like I was on top of the world. I’ve always looked up to my brother, and for once my brother and my boyfriend seemed to hit it off. So much so that they had similar taste in music, which was huge. I was not a big OAR fan; I think I knew one song by them at the time- but I was beyond happy to be there that night. We separated from my brother and his girlfriend shortly after the show started. I remember sitting and talking through most of the concert. It was a little chilly that night, and I remember he had his arm around me. There were a few points throughout the night where we were just listening and moving to the music, and would look over and meet eyes and he would smile at me in such a way, that even the memory of it melts my heart.
Okay, so here is where it all begins. I remember getting ready to go over his house; I didn’t want to look like I was trying to hard but I wanted to look perfect. I remember exactly what I was wearing. It’s strange what details we can remember and which ones we can’t. I took my time getting there- didn’t want to seem too eager. I pulled into his driveway and gave myself a little pep talk in the car before I went in- I imagine it went something like this:
“Okay, you can do this. Don’t talk too much, but don’t be awkwardly quiet. Shit, I have to meet his parents. I hope they like me. I hope they’re not weird. I wonder if his parents are even home. What are we going to talk about? What’s going on with my hair? I should have worn my Beatles t-shirt.”
I’m sure there were more nervous thoughts running through my mind, but I can’t remember the specifics. I walked in to his house and it smelled comforting. You know how every house has a certain smell? Well, his house’s smell put me at ease. Not only the smell, but the lighting and the movement in the house was comforting. His little brother Jake (who was about 14 at the time) let me in.
His brother seemed strange to me almost instantly. He opened the door, let me in and after his overly enthusiastic “hey” he plopped back on the couch in the living room and quickly got back into his Man Vs. Wild episode.
Me: Hey, is Craig here?
Jake: Uhhh. Yeah, he’s downstairs.
And with an indistinguishable point of a finger from Jake, I was off to find Craig down stairs. As soon as I opened the door to the basement, I heard the sound of a guitar playing. I smiled to myself, and quietly crept down the stairs trying not to interrupt him. When I reached the bottom, I peered around the corner to see into a small room that was cluttered with guitars, drums, and microphones. Craig was sitting on the couch facing away from the doorway. He was so into what he was playing, he didn’t hear me come in. “Hey..” I muttered and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around quickly, a little startled. “Hey, sorry I didn’t hear you come in. How’s it going?” I can’t remember exactly what we talked about for the rest of the night; school, family, the basics. I just remember him playing Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” to me at least five times that night. He had this way about him when he played guitar- this passion and fire unlike anything I had ever seen or heard before.
I had my camera with me that night, and I remember taking pictures of him playing. I remember him holding my hand, and I remember taking a picture of our hands together. Our hands fit together perfectly. I remember the way his eyes sparkled in the first picture I ever took of him. I remember feeling like nothing else mattered- I was totally caught up in him. We were sitting on the couch in his basement. I can’t remember if the T.V was on, or if we were watching a movie, or if we had just been talking. All the background stuff is just a blur, as I’m pretty sure it was then too. He had his hand on my thigh, and leaned in to kiss me. I remember feeling like my heart was literally going to jump out of my chest. I had never kissed someone this fast before, and no kiss had ever felt so right. He walked me out to my car that night, and we hugged outside for a solid half hour. Each of us replaying the kiss we had just had inside, and wanting to do it again but both of us too nervous to do it. I can’t remember what words were exchanged here, I don’t think it’s important. But, I’m fairly certain I left his house that night-starry eyed, heart racing, and already in love.
*the names in this story have been changed to protect those who deserve privacy…and even those who don’t.
This story started when I was 17. Kind of like that MTV show, except less funny. I was a senior in high school, and like every kid in high school I was living completely in the moment. I had no fear of what would happen after graduation, what friendships I would keep, hearts I would break, or who would break mine. I remember just being completely and beautifully naive.
I was sitting in Chemistry class one day, in the middle of the semester- just chatting to my friend next to me about our ridiculous British teacher, who was babbling on about “the goodies” and “the badies” in the background. I have absolutely no idea what was going on in my life at this time other than that; in fact it seems impossible now to think that anything in my life even existed before this moment. I heard the door creek open in the middle of her lecture, and looked up to see this guy walk in. He wasn’t anything special to look at, at first glance. He had a dark brown mop on his head, messy and out of place. His eyes appeared to be brown but were glazed over red. He was wearing fitted, worn jeans with holes in them and a raggedy black sweatshirt that in all likelihood covered some unpopular band t-shirt. He wasn’t particularly tall, or built- but he had this thing about him. Sometimes people posses a certain thing that attracts people for what seems like no reason at all.
I whispered to my friend to ask her who he was. “I’ve never seen him before. I feel like I know everyone in our high school and he is definitely someone I would’ve remembered.” She never took her gaze away from him, and whispered back to me “He’s a year younger than us. His name’s Craig. He’s friends with my friend Tyler, and he’s pretty cool. He’s trouble though- that’s why you don’t recognize him; he was sent away for smoking pot or something.” I took in what she was saying, but was more interested in listening to Craig explain to our professor why he was late, and where he’d been for the past three months.
Craig walked down and through his empty back pack under the desk behind me, and slumped into his chair. Our crazy Brit science teacher assigned us a project, and suggested that we work in groups of four. Conveniently, my friend was friends with the kid sitting next to Craig behind us- so we turned our chairs around and the four of us agreed to work together. I can’t remember what the project was, or if we even got around to doing it. I just remember being completely enchanted by Craig and his…ventures? “Dude where have you been? What the hell happened?” the kid sitting next to Craig curiously asked. “My parents are insane. They went through my room, found some weed and called the cops. Pretty bad when your own fucking parents call the cops on you.” Craig continued to tell us about what happened, and by us I mean my friend and this kid mostly cause I had never talked to him before. But, he was making eye contact with me throughout his storytelling- longer eye contact than usual. Just in time for me to come out of this trance I was in, I heard our teacher shout, “Okay kiddies- clean up, put all of the equipment and gear away. We’ll finish this on Monday.” Craig grabbed his back pack and bolted towards the door. I always seemed to take forever to pack up all of my belongings, and I looked up to see my friend waiting at the door with an annoyed look on her face. “Okay-well I’m staying after so I have to head down to the art room. See you Saturday maybe?” she continued to say as we parted ways in the hall. “Sure thing, see ya.” I yelled back.
The day went on like any other day- until later on that night. I was on the computer writing a paper for class, and chatting on AIM in the process. (For those of you youngins’ who don’t know what AIM is- it’s what we used to instant message before Facebook existed. And for those of you who are too old to know what AIM is- Google it). I heard the familiar “doodaalooo” sound AIM makes when you receive a new message, and assuming it was just one of my friends complaining about the paper we had to write- I continued doing what I was doing and didn’t read it in any rush. I clicked over a few minutes later to see a new IM box had appeared with a screen name I didn’t recognize:
Craig: Hey, it’s Craig.
Me: Craig who?
Craig: Craig from chemistry class today. Glad to see I left a lasting impression. I asked your friend for your screen name, I hope you don’t mind.
Me: Oh, hi. No I don’t mind. What’s up?
Craig: I know you don’t know me at all, but would you want to hangout sometime?
Okay, so I can’t remember the exact wording of this AIM conversation but it went something like that. We chatted online that night about unimportant things- small talk mostly. Even still, I had butterflies in my stomach going to school the next day. I wanted to see him, but I thought it might be awkward since we had hardly said two words to each other in person, but had spent the night IMing each other. But I never got the chance to find out if it would be awkward because he wasn’t in school the next day. That night, I raced home and went on AIM (which was completely out of character, because I hardly ever used it). My heart started beating a little faster and a huge smile came across my face when I heard the “doodaalooo” sound.
Craig: Hey, you should come over and hangout.
Me: Right now?
Craig: Yeah, why not.
Me: Okay, sure. I’ll be over in a little bit..
Let me start by saying that a colleague of mine once told me: “No one under the age of 40 has any business writing a novel, because they haven’t lived enough yet.” I’m hoping to prove him wrong. I’m not going to write about politics, or business, or the environment (although all of these things are of interest to me) because then my colleague would be right in that I don’t have enough knowledge on these things to make a legitimate argument. However, although I am not yet 40- I do have enough knowledge on one topic to write about it effortlessly and with such conviction that my argument will be made, even if by accident. That topic is love. Cliche? Maybe; but I have survived a real life love story that is honest, brutal, and although it may not be anything extraordinary to someone else- it’s a story that I can’t keep inside of me anymore. I’ve known for a while that I needed to get this on paper, but there never seems to be an easy or right way. So, my plan is to use this blog to organize my thoughts to piece this story together. Think of this as an incredibly rough prelude to what will inevitably be an incredibly rough novel.