Jason was my first real boyfriend. We met when I was in grade 10, on a field trip to NYC with my drama class. He wasn’t from the Big Apple, though that certainly would have been glamorous! He was from the neighbouring arts high school back home and I’d seen him around once or twice. It’s long ago now—the memory looks more like a faded Instagram—but I still remember the moment he first sat down beside me on that old Greyhound bus.
Getting to know each other over the next few days was exhilarating. We went shopping (an absolute must in NYC, of course) and Mr. Predictably Tall, Dark and Handsome picked out the perfect velvet evening smoking jacket. I scored a collectable goth record imprinted with a glow-in-the-dark image of Bela Lugosi. Chris Isaak’s popularity was at an all-time high and I adopted Wicked Game as our song, listening to it on endless repeat.
Back home, we dated for about a year. His family was kind. We shared many of the same interests and spent lots of time together. But I was a young drama queen, still in the early days of figuring out who I was, what I wanted and who I was destined to be. This natural indecision prompted us to break up God knows how many times.
Cue dramatic memory of running from his house out into a late summer night downpour. I’d paid attention in English class and knew this screamed of pathetic fallacy. But I suppose being chased through the streets by a love-struck man calling out your name is a worthy right of passage. An experience every woman should have at least once.
I don’t know what ever happened to Jason. I imagine he’s now married with 2.5 kids. I hope he’s happy and that his life has unfolded in wonderful ways he never dreamed possible in high school. I think of him every once in a blue moon, usually when I’m looking at a calendar. JASON. July, August, September, October, November. Goodbye.
Dave took me to his high school prom. I remember when I volunteered to go, folding jeans at the local mall and making casual conversation. He’d come into the store with his dad. In preparation for the big night, I chose a black dress from Tristan & America, and practiced wearing high heels, walking up and down the carpeted stairs of our suburban home with my stepmom cheering me on.
Although Dave was interesting, handsome and creative, we started off just as friends. It wasn’t until we went on a day hike in the Gatineau Hills one fall Sunday that things changed. It wasn’t romantic.
We lost our way, the sun set and the temperature dropped below freezing. We walked through marshes and dead lands, saw trees that had been used as scratching posts by bears, and listened to the chilling call and response pattern of hungry coyotes nearing in the night. We hadn’t been missing long enough for the authorities to search for us, so who came to save us in the wee hours of morning? My dad, his dad and his dad’s friend. There are times when your dad really is your hero.
After having shared that experience, Dave and I grew closer. I learned that he played jazz guitar, was passionate about the arts and was quietly, intensely passionate about life. I remember being led through the streets of Old Montreal in search of the perfect vintage guitar. Later, when he moved away to major in music and minor in outdoor recreation, which struck me as the oddly perfect combo, our relationship wasn’t strong enough to survive the distance. We had dated for about two years.
I don’t know where Dave’s life has led him. I hope he’s in a great relationship, living in a vibrant city with a direct b-line to a remote cabin somewhere. Most important, I hope he’s happy and that his life, too, has unfolded in amazing ways.
I still think of him from time to time, especially when I’m standing on a particular corner of the sidewalk in my suburban neighbourhood. Carved in the cement are the initials “C.M.” which are the initials of a woman he’d had a crush on before we met. I remember he advocated for C.M. to explore her (obvious) artistic talents. And although it was an affection I’d envied, I remember being deeply impressed that he’d taken such an interest and such a stand.
Goodbye, Dave. May your ghost rest in peace.