[February, 1996] A Deluge in a Paper Cup
Bradley and I have been emailing each other this past week. His eyes are blue and green and yellow (he doesn’t like using the word “hazel”). He is constantly amazing me. He is just too lovely. So romantic and articulate and intelligent. It’s all I can do to stop myself from calling him right now (it’s 8:00PM there). He mailed me the Polaroid with his last letter. Said the picture was mine, it always was, but he just didn’t know it then.
For those who may not remember, when I met Bradley at the bookstore, all gothed out for my first outing to The Bank, I was, at first, suspicious when he came over to talk to me. Then he showed me a Polaroid of himself dressed up for Halloween, looking like he could be a cover boy for Goth Teen Beat (if such a magazine existed). I knew right then, we were on the same wavelength. He said he’d send me a copy of the photo, but to get the real thing was even better and meant so much more to me, along with the sentiment that accompanied it.
A note on Bradley’s word choices. I would tell my best friend Anita all about our conversations, and it would drive her crazy that he would describe things in a way she found to be unnecessarily complicated (i.e. instead of just saying his eyes are hazel, naming all of the colors in the irises). She’d make fun of him, saying, “Why does he have to call it ‘that wooden thing with four legs you can sit on’ instead of calling it a chair?!”).
This is the kind of love so many people dream of, but never experience. I feel so incredibly lucky, despite the thousands of miles. He always seems to answer questions or address doubts, before I even voice them. He knew where “try to catch the deluge in a paper cup” was from (“Don’t Dream It’s Over”, a Crowded House song I adore). I guess the most immediate question is when to tell him I love him. I’d rather do it in person or over the phone, though if I was feeling really chicken-y I’d write it in a letter (I’d never do it over e-mail, though). Part of me wants him to say it first, but as wonderful as that would be, I’d also feel a little like a coward for not being able to say it first.
That was my most immediate question, huh? Not how two teenagers are going to make it work while being separated indefinitely by thousands of miles? Not how long a relationship might be sustained through letters, phone calls and (at this time, a new technology) emails? Not how we’d ever get to see each other when neither of us had a real job? Naw, why worry about any of those pesky details when the big, pressing issue was when to tell him the three little words. (*Rolls eyes at my eighteen-year-old self*)
It’s sad that I’m writing so little about this, because it’s just about the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. But I’m so wrapped up in it, I don’t have time to stop and write everything down.
Oh, the arrogance. For me to presume this love I was experiencing was so epic and majestic that much of humanity never encountered a love on that plane. But maybe that’s something typical with first love/teenage love. We don’t want to think that this complex and mind-blowing patchwork of emotions is a typical part of the human condition. Just like we want to believe we’re snowflakes, unique and set apart from others, so must be our love. Or maybe I was being flooded with delusions of grandeur in addition to the obsessive desire that was proving me right, that confirmed my belief that falling in love was the greatest thing a person could feel.
It’s funny how we create these codes made up of our beliefs and interests, small details that make up who we are, and then get enormous satisfaction and affirmation when somebody is able to break through the code. Back then, I believed part of love was being able to decipher those small clues and cues, whether identifying a song lyric correctly or expressing a romantic notion when I anticipated and needed it most.
A word on email. It was still early days for electronic communication and I was a stubborn luddite, but I made an exception for Bradley because I couldn’t stand being at the mercy of the postal service (it took on average a week for a letter to travel across the miles that separated us) and worried about the mounting phone bill. At one point, Bradley said he felt like email was invented just for us. See, I wasn’t the only one being arrogant.