Hump Day Crush: The Prom (Part V)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Prom

The trip up had been a little frustrating. Nerves were wracked while we prepared. The prom itself was lovely. The first night ended in a missed opportunity. The second day found that opportunity realized as I had my first real kiss.

The weekend, as a whole, was fantastic. At the time, it was the best weekend I ever had.

But there was something uneasy about it, sitting not too far beneath the surface. Some sort of doubt. Most of the confusion during the weekend was mine.

But not all of it.

On the last day, before Matt and I made the trip back down to our corner of the state, we decided to do one last round of lunch and spending time together with the girls.

The original plan called for pizza, that was almost thwarted when a very stressed greeter at the Little Caesars Pizza informed us they were having “some problems.” The residual smell of smoke told us the rest of the story. Luckily, there was a Pizza Hut nearby that served as a suitable substitute.

We took some pizza to go and found ourselves a spot in a local park by the river. Matt and Dawn soon went off to entertain one another. Vicki and I wandered to the playground we had passed coming in. We held hands and kissed, but mostly we talked.

That was when I found out where that other current of confusion was coming from.

It seems that there was another guy she had been interested in for a while. The fact that I showed up in her life had kind of complicated things a bit. It seems she kind of liked us both.

This revelation both elated and devastated me. It was wonderful to be “in the running” for someone’s affections, but even back then I knew I stood little chance of “winning.” I was six hours away and he was in the next town over. But, it seemed, he may already have a girlfriend. But, again, I was six hours away.

The conversation didn’t go much past that point. As our time together grew short, we chose to focus on other things. More pleasant things.

Before long, it was without question time for Matt and I to head for our own homes. Goodbyes were reluctantly exchanged.

I don’t remember much of the ride back. I’d imagine it was much the same as the ride up there had been. A lot of Desperado playing on the mostly broken radio. Some bad jokes. But mostly a lot of silence and a lot of time to bask in the overall glory of the weekend.

It would be another month before I saw Vicki again. We talked sporadically and wrote back and forth. This being before everyone and their grandmother had e-mail, the letters were all handwritten or typed and sent via regular mail. I still have all the ones I received. (I still have all the letters I’ve received from anyone.)

We didn’t discuss a whole lot what the deal between the two of us was. I really didn’t want it resolved, though I told myself I’d be good with whatever she wanted. I wanted things to last between us. I wanted there to be an ongoing romantic relationship.

Why? Because that’s what I had always wanted with anyone. The lesson of a few months earlier–that what one wants isn’t always what’s right, let alone what’s best and most certainly not always what is–faded into the background of my daydreams and hopes.

I was reminded how disconnected I could get from reality in July when we got together again for the 49th Annual Key Club International Convention in Toronto.

The trip up was by bus. For most of that trip, she barely said three words to me. That, of course, confused the hell out of me. The whole convention was an amazing experience, but the one pertinent lesson came when Vicki and I finally talked.

While I had been stuck in my fantasy world, she had moved on. She had realized that something romantic wasn’t going to work–not just due to the distance, but due to the fact that she just didn’t really feel that way about me.

Upon hearing that, something in the depths of my mind lit up. The first thing it illuminated was the last lesson I had learned. The second thing brought to light, glowed like a beacon. It was a new lesson, a new reality.

Accept things that you can’t change. Revel in what is or let it go.

For the rest of that trip, that’s exactly what I did. Vicki, Dawn and I had fantastic times on that trip. I also met a number of new and exciting people, some of whom I stayed in touch with for years. It was an adventure, without question. Those conventions always were.

I would see Dawn again the following year at the New York State District Convention. It wouldn’t be until my third year in college that I’d see Vicki again. We kept in touch, though. In fact, we still keep in touch.

She’s now one of my oldest friends of the group that I never went to school with. I’ve taken great pleasure in hearing the wonderful turns her life has taken and been there to offer support when those turns haven’t been so wonderful. There’s no tension between us, even though we have what some would call a “history.” It was long ago and far away.

It brought us together so we could be friends. That prom and everything that followed it were just the proving grounds for that friendship. Both of us learned about intimacy a bit, we learned to share our thoughts and be open and honest our feelings–no matter how much it hurt or how confused we were. I learned to accept reality, to be happy for the joy I had and not pine for what could have been. (Granted, that’s a lesson that didn’t stick the first few times, but we all have learning curves, right?)

The prom is the next to last great communal event of our shared high school experience. Whether we went to it or not, we learned something from it. High school is funny like that. So many chances to learn lessons, and so few of the important ones come from classes.

At my best prom, I learned not how to dance, but how to live.

Series NavigationHump Day Crush: The Prom (Part IV)
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