Monday, November 30, 2009

Chapter 2: "Building A Better Me"

My soul went searching for a cause but came back empty-handed. The emptiness you see... building a better me.

Coming into High School I was this chubby ball of anxiety, angst, faded self confidence. Being dateless and kissless till that point of my life just added to my distorted self-image. Every girl I've met until this point didn't seem to have any interest in me other than friendship, and I thought I was cursed forever to bare the friend label. For most females I was the security blanket, the safe zone, the exception to all those "all men suck" conversations, the substitution for a gay best friend.

Despite what felt like my eternal life sentence, I was able to dupe a female into giving me a chance. My first memories of Amanda Miller were on the bus heading home. Sitting towards the back, wearing her infamous blue dress, and on the arm of her older and physically fitter boyfriend. Despite my interests being initially peaked, I was too intimidated to consider anything romantic possible. But as if it was taken straight out of Saved By the Bell, me and Amanda would end up being the last two stops on the bus. In between the intimate moments that's separated our stops, we began to build a friendship. I nervously made it through conversations, trying not to say anything too embarrassing before my stop came. Eventually the intimidation wore off along with the boyfriend. Memories are funny because most of them feel like a scene from a movie, all you can remember is from the point the director screams action and then cut and the images fade to black.... I don't remember what happened that day, any of the 23 hours and 48 minutes prior this moment. I don't remember what I had for dinner that night, what I said to my mom when I came home. But I remember those couple of minutes, a speck in the timeline of life...... there we were, me standing behind her seat on the bus. Somehow, probably through my extraordinary ability to be cunning, our conversation steered towards how I've haven't even been kissed. Amanda motioned for me to come closer, I closed my eyes, leaned over the bus seat and then contact. Elation! Triumph! Jubilation! It was my first kiss, and to me, it was absolutely glorious...... even if it was just really a tiny little peck of a kiss.

Amanda and I started to date, and that's when I discovered that relationships portrayed on television, movies, and theatre are a complete farce. When all you know about relationship stem from Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski, you tend to make a lot of mistakes. All I ever saw of relationships were two individuals placed in the perfect situation, automatically in love, with pet names already crafted, and romance blooming. Whoever created that idea of the modern day relationship sucks, because that isn't how relationships function at all. It consisted more of awkwardness, me fumbling to figure out what to do dating someone, one date, her mom not being a fan of me, huge collection of balloons, and then a break up. Until that point I always had this romantic ideal of being in a relationship. There was never a thought that relationships could be awkward. Didn't think that things like effort or patience was required. Its funny looking into the infancy of your dating life and realized how goofy you were, and that you wish you could cosmically slap the past you in the face for being such an idiot.

My romantic life became considerably dormant until my junior year of high school. After briefly dating Amanda, I returned to my plateau of harmless friend of females. I even had a club resurrected in honor of this fact, EITOCW.... Elliot-Is-The-Only-Cool-Wrestler, an affectionate group of females who have dated every other wrestler on the team only to find that they were jerks and I was the only decent one...this conclusion was of course aided by the fact that none of the group dated me. Senior year stories are pretty ramped in our culture, our parents always like to recall their wild days as a senior in high school, giving that year the label of "best year of my life." My high school glory days however came during my junior year, til this day still ranks as one of the best years of my life. I made the weight drop down to compete at 171 rather than being flabby and out muscled in higher weight classes. After seeing Rivers Cuomo and Chris Conley dawn the black rimmed glasses, I figured it was time to trade in my big metal oval ones. To complete my drastic appearance changes, I replaced my dark black hair color to a nice blood red. I will always remember Lauren Tetidrick exclaim with surprise "Oh your glasses! Oh your hair! Oh your glasses! They both look good!"

None of the years before my junior year did Homecoming ever matter. The last school dance that I attended began with me being extremely late because me and my brother were lost in Tampa trying to find the mall that had my tailored suit, crying my eyes out and missing my friends limo which was taking a huge group of us to the dance. All of this drama just to have the night end with holding Kara as she cried about her boyfriend's insufficiency. But despite having such a bitter taste, I still would've attended my two first homecoming dances if I had a date. Being dateless during the time just added to my animosity towards school dances. But my junior year's homecoming would play itself out as my personal episode of Degrassi.

It all began with one girl....... Xiomara Murelo. On the massive list of high school crushes, she was on the top. When I think about the memories I have about Xio, the first thing I envision is her majestic smile. For a while she was just another cute girl in the crowd. The real affection started when I got to know her. She was a complete dork, and one of the biggest nerds I knew, which included me being in a computer repair class and computer club. As our friendship progressed we discovered we were even into the same music, I remember my heart fluttering when she told me about her appreciation for New Found Glory and MxPx.

As most females during my high school career, Xiomara eventually began to have feelings...........for Mike Aquino. Mike is my life long friend and brother. We were both chubby, awkward and typically ignored by most girls. That was until Mike joined the wrestling team and shredded his baby fat. Females found him charming, smart and handsome. One girl in particular started to spend an increasingly alarming amount of time with Mike, Tiffany Richardson. I remember the first thought I had when I first saw Tiff driving up to Mike after a wrestling practice to take him to the beach, "What the fuck! Mike is hanging out with yet another cute girl." But in spite of the time they spent together Tiff would continue to deny she had any feelings for Mike. She would continue to hold on this claim until the day that Mike and Xio decided to attend homecoming together. Now openly admitting her feelings, Tiff was devastated. As if being heroic, but in reality equally motivated by a bit of jealousy, I asked Tiff to the dance figuring I could somehow create a scheme where we would switch dates. I really didn't have any formal ideas, but I with the optimism of a 16 year old kid, I figured love would find a way. And surprisingly it did.... kind of. Due to no fault of mine, Tiff and Mike did agree to go to homecoming together. Unfortunately for me, Xio when ahead and found a different date, which she would ultimate begin to date thus leading to the decline to our close friendship.

Yet, as so often happens in my life, the vacancy of the thing I thought I wanted left the door open for the thing I really needed. Jasmine James was a female that I met through Mike, who already went through her crush stage with him, and started to have lunch with my group of friends. We would casually flirt, but I never could get a read on her feelings for me. Even with the doubts of her feelings for me and my feelings on the situation, I asked her to homecoming. She graciously accepted, thus beginning our relationship. Jasmine was one of the sweetest people I've had the pleasure to met on this planet, not just the opportunity to date. She helped me getting through the fact I had to keep my wrestling season on hold for medical reasons. I would drive her home and we would spend time together after class. It was a really sweet relationship. The stress and pressure of her senior year started to interfere with our relationship so I got the call one day that "we needed to talk." Knowing the doom that statement brings, I was mentally preparing for a breakup. But to my surprise, she really did want to talk. She was torn between our relationship and her responsibilities for school and wanted to know how I felt. In the end we decided that to end the relationship was best for both of us. But it left this weird ambiguousness to our relationship. I left her house that night with a kiss but really unsure of how everything would turn out. I started to turn the corner with my feelings for her but her seemed to still be persistent. This completely freaked me out, and as a young adolescent kid, I did the only thing I figured I could do. Try to ignore her. I remember Jasmine asked me to drive her to a youth retreat at a local church and to insure that I wouldn't be alone with her I invited one of my female friends (who I eventually kissed that night but thats the next chapter). It was the same night that I had multiple girls agree with her assessment that I was "perfect," causing me to freak out even more. Then Jasmine asked me about being her date to the prom. I don't remember what I said, all I know is I wasn't man enough to give her a straight answer. I was a scared and confused kid, and I know that it must of hurt her. I should have known this situation would come, she was a senior, I was a junior, she was heading to Miami next year and our relationship had an expiration date. It was then I decided never to date for the hell of it, I decided then that dating around was ignorant and just led to hurting either me, the other person or both.

My romantic life for a couple of months laid dormant yet again, which in retrospect was just a calm before the storm. The course of my life was going to change really soon, and I had no idea, the things I thought I wanted and the things I thought I knew about romance, myself, and relationships were going to be dramatically altered, but before I got there.... there was one more crush to be wanting. I will always remember Shannon Harvey (now Collins!) not only because she is an incredible person, with a warm smile and red hair but because she was my last crush before everything changed. We would sit in the back of our chemistry class together with our two other friends and refer to the spot as "the back of the bus." Our group would past the time, ignoring all attempts to learn chemistry, and just talk and enjoy each others' company. One day she came in depressed because of a recent audition, she didn't liked how she compared with the other women. My instincts automatically began to urge me to say "Don't feel that way your beautiful," "No way, you are completely talented," etc.... but I bit my tongue and just gave some generic encouragement but I realized that I might of started to have feelings for her. Shannon during this time was also having problems with her boyfriend. One day, I believe they weren't together at this point, she came in and complained about him... and I don't remember the statement but my instincts again jumped. I felt the words "I know I would date you..." leave my voicebox, run up my throat, past my tonsils, and then come to the tip of my tongue. I figured this was it, that I was going to ask Shannon out on a date and see how it goes from there, but before I allowed the words to escape my mouth, I stanched them from the air and retreated them back as a mere thoughts. I will never quite understand why I didn't allow myself to say that sentence, was it a fear of awkwardness if she said no? Was it fear of rejection? Was it some sense of guy code to a guy that I don't even recall the name of? Either way, I used to wonder about that moment. What would of happened if I allowed those words to hit the air. Would've gotten a date? Would we possibly started a relationship? How would that effect where we are now? Would my life turn out the same way it did regardless?

Thats the thing about life, seamingly small minute moments meshed together becomes big life events. Life happens in the moments we take for granted, the moments we figure is just passing time. These times I thought was your typical teenage moments were actually creating a better me. A better me for the future, a better me for Sara.