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[July, 1990] The End of the Beginning

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July 8, 1990

Dear Journal,

On June 22 we had our graduation assembly where I got my award back framed and our show was good! (If I do say so myself!)

On June 26th, we had our prom! It was really great, I had this nice peach and silver dress with silver shoes and a silver purse. We had a really good deejay that played the best music! and everybody danced. I even slow danced. I danced (slow) one time with Bruce, Steve, and even Sam!

For our elementary school graduation, Mrs. Angelo had our grade put on a musical revue. I sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” during a slide show of our classmates throughout the years, including class trips, concerts and candid shots. Our entire grade also sang Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” which was our graduation song. Each of us sang exactly one line and the entire group would chime in for the chorus.

About 30 of us lined up at the edge of the stage for the song.  Rose had the lyric “Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex” but was always too shy to sing the word “sex.” Luckily, a boisterous kid had the next line, so the song flowed seamlessly:

“Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician (___)–JFK, BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY

As for prom, I was nearly delirious with the formality and importance of it.  And the dancing! Like many little girls, I grew up on fairy tales, so this was the closest thing I experienced to a ball.

The last song played at the prom was Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For.” Our entire class formed a circle with our arms around each other and sang along, and I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. I was sad to be leaving my friends behind as I started a new school by myself. At my elementary school, I was considered smart, reasonably popular, and something of a trend-setter (I was the first girl at school to get a perm, and my acid washed denim jacket with white leather fringe was the envy of many).  I had a lot of friends, I effortlessly got top grades, I was given solos in all the musical productions, and for a few minutes there I even had a boyfriend.  Regardless of the melodramatic way I may have portrayed certain things in the diary entries, sixth grade was one of the best years of my life.

All of this was about to change, in a major way.  A new school was looming, one that wouldn’t be nearly as welcoming as the one I was departing from.

[This was the last entry in the composition book diary.]

[March, 1990] Eat Your Heart Out

January 28, 2010 1 comment

yummy

3/11/90

Dear Journal,

Today I went to a park with Rose and Rose’s friend Lauren and we had a really great time.

But the really good part was that I saw a really cute guy!

Then I found out that his name is Donald but I call him Donnie (like Donnie from New Kids on the Block!).

Anyway, I also found out that he likes me!!!

I gave him my telephone number and he might call me to ask me out!!!!!!!!!!

He is so adorable!!!!!!!!!!

Mitchell R,

Eat Your Heart out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Donald/Donnie never called. Maybe because he didn’t appreciate having a nickname foisted on him like that, especially one that recalled one of the most mocked boy bands of the last 25 years. Or maybe he didn’t call because of my dubious music taste.

Once again, I’m a bit baffled that I thought nothing of continuing a friendship with the girl who agreed to go out with the boy who broke my heart. It’s as if I separated the deed from the people involved, or just took all the bad feelings and projected them at Mitch, since he was the one who took actions to make me feel so terrible. Maybe I saw Rose blameless in all of this because I could see why she’d want to go out with him, I had once been charmed by the gelled hair, pale blue eyes, and rosy cheeks myself.

One thing I’m glad I don’t remember is anything about the encounter with “Donnie.” The very idea of what my 12-year-old self on the rebound must have been like makes me cringe.

[March, 1990] But Wait, it Gets Worse

January 26, 2010 7 comments

3/7/90

Dear Journal,

Mitchell R is such a two-timing sleaze-ball!!!!! I hate that f#$%ed-up @#$hole!!!

He asked Rose out and she said “Yes!” At first I was furios but then I realized that it was Rose who was getting the raw end of the deal! He’ll just go out with her for a few months (maybe even less!) dump her, and then find some other girl to chase after!!!

She’s going to learn her lesson the hard way!!!

That’s what she said.

Ahem.

I was learning some lessons, too, about how unfortunate it is to date in such close quarters. While I may have made a mistake in assuming things with Mitch were more than they were, working his way through my female friends like that before my body was even cold was pretty tacky.

Oddly enough, at the time I think I was angrier at Mitchell than Rose, which makes less sense to me today. Mitch had already proven himself to be a jerk, but Rose was allegedly a good friend. And yet she blindly agreed to go on a date with Mitch without even asking if it would upset me (which we can see it did, in the most melodramatic way). Either she didn’t realize how utterly heartbroken I was or didn’t care or both.

Oh well. At least I had a good nickname for the boy-who-done-me-wrong. Never mind the fact that it’s up for debate whether he really two-timed me or that our dates. This type of anger and heartache defies all logic.

Luckily, I was about to hatch a plan, one I was sure would bring me vindication against my transgressors…

[February, 1990] One of the Worst Days of My Life

January 21, 2010 5 comments

2/20/90

Dear Journal,

Today started out as a perfectly normal day but it ended up one of the worst days of my life.

hearbreak, betrayal, despair

ouch.

It all started when Chen-chi told me that she knows something about Mitchell that will upset me and she wasn’t supposed to tell me but I dragged it out of her and she told me that Mitchell asked Carmella Louise out but she said “no.” Well I was really upset and disappointed but I made it through lunch and I was talking to my friends on the stairs how I’m going to dump him when we went to the next landing and guess who was at the top? That’s right Mitchell. He probably heard everything. When I got back to the class Sam P gives me a note from Mitchell saying:

Dumped!!!!!!

I didn’t really give a damn (I was mad enough already!) but he gave me another note saying some shit about liking me but wanting to see other girls and what really pissed me off is at the end it said:

But we could still be friends!!!!!

I’m having mixed feelings about this: part of me is just furious, another part of me is really upset and a small part of me even wants him back! But I guess that is just the way the cookie crumbles.

Mitchell R

Now he’s just another name in my book of memories.

Oh, the drama! The race to make that preemptive strike, to be the one who dumps, not gets dumped. The nerve of him for asking another girl out before letting me know where he stand. And what extra nerve to use the biggest cliché in the break-up book by saying we could still be friends! How could he?

In hindsight, I of course realize he lacked the maturity and emotional sophistication to be honest with me, or at least bit more tactful in ending what was a tenuous relationship at best. Let’s review: two months, two dates and zero kisses. Really? Come on, there are Amish kids who probably have steamier relationships than that.

A day or two after the break-up, I took the bracelet Mitch gave me and wrapped it in a note that said: you are a two-timing sleaze-ball! I snuck into the coat room during class and hid the bundle in his jacket. At the end of the day, he tried to give me back the bracelet, but I was a girl of principle and refused to take it.I don’t remember what happened to the stuffed puppy he gave me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it met with an equally dramatic fate.

While I was able to maintain a brave face in school, when I got home I cried and cried and cried. Then I cried some more.

[February, 1990] Valentine’s Day: Guess What Happened?

January 19, 2010 1 comment

“What is essential is invisible to the eye…”

2/15/90

Dear Journal,

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and guess what happened? Mitchell gave me a bracelet! It’s so beautiful! I’m wearing it now. It has a thin gold chain with a heart on it studded with diamonds. I absolutely love it.

I remember being in class that day, and wondering whether Mitch would acknowledge it in any way. I don’t know elementary school dating conventions in this day and age, but 20 years ago, going on two dates in the sixth grade practically meant you were going steady. At least, that’s what it meant to my possibly-deluded 12-year-old self. Even so, I didn’t want to get my hopes up that Mitch would do anything romantic, because he seemed generally shy of showing any public displays of affection (considering that 99% of the time we spent together was in public, I should have seen this as a potential problem).

The school day finished uneventfully, and I resigned myself to the fact that my Valentine’s Day would be nothing special.

I was on my way home, just passing the school yard, when someone came running up behind me.

He probably said something like “I got this for you” when he gave me the bracelet. I probably thanked him.

I held it tightly in my hand until I came home and then put it on. The heart shifted around my skinny wrist when I wore it, so I frequently adjusted the chain until I could see the “diamonds” glimmer in the light. Sometimes I put the bracelet around the neck of the puppy Mitch had given me, so that it looked like the stuffed animal had a fancy collar. But mostly I wore the hell out of it, pleased to have received jewelry on Valentine’s Day, which seemed a terribly romantic and grown-up gesture.

No, they weren’t real diamonds, nor did I believe they were, but I had never been given such a beautiful gift from a boy before in my entire life (unless you count that Tiffany tape, which I don’t).

That day, I felt like Molly Ringwald at the end of a John Hughes movie, triumphing in a happy ending after so many disappointments. It wouldn’t last (it rarely does), but I had that moment of surprise and joy, and that was enough to carry me for a little while.

[January/February, 1990] Puppy Love

January 12, 2010 4 comments

1/31/90

Dear Journal,

I’m kind of worried about me and Mitchell. I can’t really put my feelings into words but I think it’s love. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in love or am now but I know that I have very strong feelings about Mitchell. I’m afraid of us breaking up. I might have grown too atached to him or something else but all I know is that I’m going through a big jumble of feelings and that right now I’m feeling pretty confused.

2/2/90

Dear Journal,

Yesterday Mitchell gave me a gift! It was a little stuffed puppy! It’s so cute!

Today was our play and I think we did pretty well.

There’s nothing like a gift to soothe lack-of-a-relationship anxiety.

At this point, Mitchell and I were still “officially” boyfriend and girlfriend and still had no liplock. Could you blame a girl for being tense about the situation? Oh well, at least I had some sort of token that showed he was still interested.

I’m surprised I didn’t mention anything about the play in my diary sooner, because Mitch and I had the two lead roles. Not only that, we played a married couple, which I undoubtedly saw as a sign from the universe that we were meant to be together and not the coincidence that it was in actuality. The play itself was about a town with no name and all of the dialog was made up of rhyming couplets. In the play, Mitch’s character and my own took opposing views on whether our town should be given a name or left as is. I don’t recall which side I was on, but since I was supposed to play a grown-up married woman, I decided to convey my character’s maturity by wearing a shawl. Because shawl=adult, right?

Back to this stuffed puppy. It was white and I kept it on my desk at home and probably mooned over it during the day and slept with it at night. I was never a fan of stuffed toys, but a stuffed toy from the boy you had a crush on was a different animal (that’s right, I went there, to the bad pun place). And this wouldn’t be the last gift I received from Mitchell, oh no…

[January, 1990] Loose Cannons

1/22/90

Dear Journal,

About a week ago we had a notetaking class and Mitchell sat behind me and kept fluffing and sort of tugging lightly on my hair.

At the end of class I turned around and say “What? Why were you pulling my hair and he answers “I don’t know it just felt good.” I was floating on air!

Then just friday we were in line to go to science class and I feel someone fluff my hair. I turn around and guess who I see? Yup! Mitchell! He waves and I smile back.* I hope that he will ask me out tomorrow.

If you like bad movies, this one’s for you.

The good news is, Mitchell did ask me out, though oddly there was no diary entry summing up the second date. We went to the movies again, though this time we had the good sense to keep it a secret from our classmates.

The bad news is, the movie we chose was terrible: Loose Cannons. Remember that cinematic offering starring Gene Hackman as a weary cop, Dan Aykroyd as his unconventional partner who has a split personality disorder, and Dom DeLuis as some portly dude thrown in for extra so-called comic relief? No? Well consider yourself very very lucky. I considered it the worst movies I ever saw until the day I saw Johnny Mnemonic.

Mitchell and I pretended we liked the movie, and our strained conversation afterwards had us scraping for good things to say about it, like praising Aykroyd’s “zany” multiple personality-filled acting.

Mitch walked me home just like last time and the other bad news is he did not kiss me (just like last time). No hair fluffing, nothing. Maybe the horrendous movie killed the mood?

I was not floating on air after this date.

[*The other good news is that I got better about not mixing up my tenses.]