Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer of Love - Jenny O'Connell

Oh, yes, I had a summer love. And he was awesome. Rich. We met in Providence, where I was spending the summer at a program at the Rhode Island School of Design.

It was my first night of the program and my new friends and I headed to Thayer Street to explore. We were walking down the street when this guy passed by. There was something about him and my head turned. He kept walking in the opposite direction and my friends and I went into an ice cream shop. i couldn't stop thinking about him as I ordered. When I walked out to the sidewalk with a chocolate ice cream cone in hand, who was there? The guy. I wasn't about to let him pass by again. I went up to him and held out my cone, "Would you like some of my ice cream?" Worst pick up line ever. I have no idea what the hell I was thinking. No, he didn't want any of my ice cream, but he did ask for my phone number and he called and we went on a date.

A horrible, terrible date. I hated him. I'm pretty sure he hated me. But we decided to try a second date. And that was it.

We spent seven fabulous weeks together. We went to Newport, went out on his boat, played around Providence and fell in love. We were soul mates. We couldn't get enough of each other. Only I was going to be a sophomore in high school in CT, he was going to be a freshman at Brown University. From day one it was a countdown until I'd leave Providence and head home to my real life. Our relationship had an expiration date even if I didn't want to acknowledge it at the time.

When that day finally came we made plans to see each other again, to have him come to CT to visit, to have me take the train to Providence before he started college. We said goodbye on a Friday night and I cried. The next morning I was leaving RISD with a new friend and going to her family's house. I sat in the back seat of her uncle's car, my heart breaking as the car pulled away from our dorm and headed toward Thayer Street and away from summer. As we turned the corner I looked out my window and... (I swear this is true, I couldn't make it up)... there was my summer love, walking with his brother on the sidewalk for a few feet before stepping inside a store. It was surreal. It was like the window was a TV screen I was watching, a show that  would go on long after I left - his life that existed before me and would continue to exist after me. My summer love laughed with his brother, they were carrying on a conversation, going about their lives as I at in the back seat of a car watching the scene unfold through pent up tears that finally found permission to fall.

We did actually see each other again. He did come to CT to visit me and I did take the train to Providence to see him. But even though he sent me beautiful love letters and we talked on the phone, when he left for college the letters stopped arriving and the calls ended.

I ended up seeing him years later, when I was a freshman in college and my friends and I took a weekend trip to Brown. I found myself in his fraternity, at a party, searching for his familiar face. But when we met up there wasn't the recognition I'd hoped for, no declarations of years of longing and regret for our lost love. He was just some guy I'd known a few years before, someone I had a special song with, someone who'd told me he loved me and probably meant it at the time, a boy I'd hoped would last longer than just one summer.

I've long forgotten the broken heart and the anguish of realizing that even though we declared our undying love, it only lasted as long as the summer.  And were is he today? Still in my memories of that awesome summer. Oh, and in Vermont. That's where he lives with his wife and two kids. Gotta love Google.

5 comments:

  1. Funny how experiences like this stick in your mind and you can see them like a favorite rerun on late night TV. Had a couple myself way back when. Thanks for letting me come along for the ride.

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  2. Awwww weird and wonderful and sentimental all at the same time.

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  3. Just like a great summer beach read!

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  4. I was tearing up reading this. Thanks for sharing!!

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