Author’s Note: In my Creative Writing Class a few years ago I was challenged to write about something close to my heart, yet far. Although most of this story is true, some things have been embelished, and names have been changed.
It all started when I was in high school; the years of our lives we hate the most, yet for some reason are the most meaningful. As high school students, we count the seconds until we leave, move on to college, and finally move out of our parents’ home. We long to be individuals, but lose our uniqueness in the process. We are so caught up in making ourselves look “cool” so we can fit in with the popular kids and we forget to be cool to the real friends that matter. The ones that were there for you from that very first day you walked into the big scary high school.
For a very long time, I let my life be measured by the events that happened during my senior year, I thought my life was over, I thought that nothing good could come out of anything anymore. For the longest time, I would have to completely shut off from society when May came around because just thinking about that month hurt. In retrospect, maybe that was a little dramatic.
In the beginning of my junior year, I met a girl in my chemistry class. The way we met was rather interesting, that first day of class out teacher made us look for our own lab partners. I instantly scanned the class and to my dismay, all my friends had already paired up with others.
And then comes this beautiful red-haired, green-eyed girl named Samantha.
“Do you have a partner?” she asked me.
“You’re asking me?” I said rather confused.
“Yes, Chad. Do you have a partner?”
“Uh, no… I don’t have one, do you want to partner up?”
She agreed, and from then on we clicked like I thought we never would. We became good friends, and by October of that year I finally had built up the courage to go up to her and ask her out.
“I thought you would have never asked,” were her exact words as her cheeks turned bright red.
“How about I pick you up at your house tomorrow night at seven for dinner?” I asked with a huge smile on my face.
“That works for me.”
The simple fact Samantha even agreed to a date was surprising. I wasn’t sure if she was being sarcastic or if she truly did want to go out with me. “Are you sure you want to go out with me?” I asked her just in case.
“Yes Chad,” she said which caused her face to get even redder.
You must understand something about me before we go on. I was never one of the most popular of kids back in high school; in fact, even band kids would make fun of me. Samantha was the crème de la crème, and to many, she was perfection. Not only was I not the most popular, but also I was never one of the most outspoken people either. I just went to school, played in the marching band, went home and watched the latest live edition of SportsCenter. So for a girl like Samantha to agree on a date with someone the least interesting, like me, was a shock.
She was gorgeous. I liked everything about her: her petite physique, her beautiful red hair, the freckles on her face, and, of course, those sensational green eyes.
I counted the seconds until I was able to take her out on that date, I had thought of every single possibility, every little thing that could go wrong. That’s one of my worst attributes; I tend to overanalyze every little thing I came across.
The day finally came; we talked during chemistry class a lot. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what Mrs. Silverman tried to teach us that day in class.
“Where are you going to take me tonight?” asked Samantha.
“Well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about this-”
“Chad, you know what happened when you over think something,” she said cutting me off.
She was right, I’ve only known her for a few months but she already knew me better than my best friend.
“Right, so that’s why I wanted to be safe,” I said, hoping for a response. “I was thinking of taking you to Chilli’s for dinner, then going to the drive-in theater to watch whatever they have playing.”
Her eyes lit up. I knew she had a special love for drive-in movies. She loved the idea of being in the comfort of a car and watching a movie in a huge outside screen.
“Yes, I love it!” she said excitedly.
Before I could say anything to her, the bell rang. As I walked her to her next class, all we could do is smile at on another. As she held my arm she talked about all the great movies playing at the drive-in we were going to, but to be honest with you, I was on cloud nine and I wasn’t even paying attention to what she was saying.
I must admit, as I got ready, I couldn’t help being a nervous wreck. The thoughts kept popping in my head: “What do I wear?” “What shoes go well with this shirt?” “What if she was just saying that to make me happy?” Finally, I decided to just close my eyes and empty my mind from everything. I finally decided on the black polo with the retro Jordan III’s.
My drive to her house that night was one of the most petrifying drives of my life. Unsure of what to expect, I knew that she already said yes, and if she didn’t want to go out with, she would have said no.
That one thought in my head really helped me as I picked her up, and drove to Chilli’s. I knew that my only now job was not to mess this date up.
As we sat a Chilli’s, we talked about everything from how the Miami Heat were doing terrible that year, to what we wanted to do after we finally graduated in two years.
Sam insisted she wanted to stay local and go to the community college, I told her my ambitions of working for ESPN, which was usually met with laughter, but she didn’t laugh. She thought I had the talent to do it, and believed in me. That has stuck to me to this day.
I like to think back and say I did a very good job that night. That first date with Samantha was one of the best first dates I’ve ever had, we talked for hours, watched a great movie, and at the end of the night, it had become obvious she wanted to be more than just friends.
Samantha was my high school sweetheart. We dated our entire junior and senior year, about a year and a half. We were inseparable; we even worked out a way to have most of the same classes.
She was the apple of my eye, every time I saw her I remembered that first time in Mrs. Silverman’s chemistry class where I met her and fell in love with her green eyes. I felt as if I was the luckiest guy in the world, cliché I know.
I was a different person around her; even my friends and family could tell something happened. Before I met her, I was a gloomy person, not caring about things, and just wishing I could punch the face of the imbecile in front of me. For those 17 months, I had a complete makeover and turned my life around 180 degrees.
With Samantha by my side, I was at the peak of my high school career. My grades were better (mainly because she helped, if not did most of my work), I smiled more, I was friendlier to people around me, caring, and my overall outlook on life completely changed. I no longer looked at the glass half empty but now focused on seeing the silver lining in life. I had finally trusted someone to enough to let my guard down; they saw my deepest and darkest secrets. My fear of letting people in vanished, a rejuvenating feeling I’ll never forget.
I thought I would be at my peak forever. Although I was young, there were many times when I thought Samantha and I would spend the rest of our lives together.
In retrospect, I was by far the most idiotic person in the world. I became narcissistic. My girlfriend treated me like a king; I felt as if I were entitled to something, unsure of what exactly it was that I was searching for.
Things started to not be as they were back when we started dating, she wouldn’t wait for me after class to walk her to her next class, her kisses weren’t the same, we wouldn’t go out as much. In fact, there were nights I wasn’t even able to get a hold of her.
The announcement for Prom came faster than both of us expected. Naturally, she and I planned on going together., except she didn’t seem excited to go anymore. Prom was one of the things we talked about since the beginning of senior year. We planned our outfits, who we were sharing a limo with, which after party we’d be going to, everything.
“Hun,” I told her. “What do you think about prom? Do you actually want to go?”
“I’m not really sure if I’m even going to be here to tell you the truth Chad,” she said to me. “I’ll have to let you know.”
Something about her answer didn’t sit well with me and my old instincts of doubting and questioning everything slowly began to creep back into my life. I remember sitting at home one night on the Internet viewing her social media page to see if there was any evidence of her being unfaithful. Obviously, I couldn’t find anything, but that night I realized I had officially become paranoid with the idea she was cheating on me, and even though I, it was getting difficult to extract it from my mind.
I sat her down to talk to her about how I felt; I didn’t want to assume things and be wrong. We talked and at the end of the conversation I was assured everything was okay.
I knew she loved me, and she knew I loved her. She assured me there was nothing going on and that the only reason she wasn’t able to go to prom was because she had a family reunion that same day all the way up in New York City. Me, being the paranoid freak I am, asked her parents if that was true and they confirmed her story.
After that, our relationship, feelings, and routines seemed to be back on track. We had finally returned to the happy couple I remembered. If only I knew I was simply in the eye of a category five hurricane.
As prom approached, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Would I go alone, take a friend with me, or just go with my group of friends? In the end, I decided to go with a group of my friends who had made it their number one priority to see me go.
“Chad,” they would tell me, “You have to go! It’s senior prom. Yes, Samantha isn’t going but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to go and have a good night with your friends.”
I realized they had a solid point and so I went.
I remember my tux as if it was yesterday: black suit, black vest, black shirt, and a white tie. “I wish Samantha was here to see this,” I said to one of my friends in the limo. “She’s missing the best party of the year to be in New York with relatives she doesn’t even like.”
As we enter the ballroom, it was magnificent. The theme was “Willy Wonka” and the student government prom committee went all out with the decorations. As we walked inside, it was as if we were entering the Chocolate Factory with the gate and all. Our group handed an Umpa Lumpa our golden tickets and we were escorted inside to the “factory”.
As I looked to my right, I saw the chocolate fountain, the golden goose egg station where good and bad eggs, and right dead center was the great glass elevator. The scenery was magnificent.
As the night went on, my friends and I danced, ate, drank, and had a great night, until my friend saw Samantha stroll right in.
“Chad, isn’t that Samantha?” asked Leo.
“Yes!” I said very excited, not realizing what was going on. “She came just to surprise me!”
As I ran up to her, her face was in shock to see me. “Chad, what are you doing here?” she asked as I hugged and kissed her.
“Leo and the gang convinced me to come. I’m so glad to see you though babe.” I said to her, so happy I was almost tearing up.
She didn’t look straight at me, so I turned around in the direction she stared at, when it hit me. She wasn’t here for me. She was here for someone else.
The eye of the hurricane had passed and here came the 100 miles per hour winds.
“Sam… you aren’t here for me?”
“Chad, I didn’t think you were going to come! I thought you didn’t even like these things.”
“So that makes it okay for you to come to prom with another guy?” I asked her, getting angrier by the second.
“Chad, things with us haven’t been going well for a while now,” she said.
“Right, but we work through it, not run away and destroy it.” I protested as tears found their ways down my cheeks.
“We can’t work through it, Chad.” She said harshly. Samantha waved the guy she came with to come over. “It’s over between us Chad. James and I have been talking for a while now and I really like him.”
“Yeah, you like him, but you love me!” I screamed, almost in the verge of breaking down.
“I’m sorry it came to this Chad, okay? I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
I quickly regained my composure, wiped the tears that were on my face, looked her straight in her beautiful green eyes and said, “Well, you’ve done a fantastic job not trying to hurt me.” I turned around and walked away.
As I walked further and further away, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing. It was Leo. I decided not to pick up, but when he kept insisting, I simply looked at the phone, and just threw it at the pavement.
From that moment on my life was measured by that moment. I shut myself out from everyone, was afraid of commitment, and never talked to the same person for more than a few months.
I wasn’t just hurt I was completely broken. However, I did such a good job at hiding my pain that people were surprised I was still laughing and smiling. But that’s the thing I learned just put up a facade of happiness and no one will ever truly ask you if something is wrong.
Samantha tried contacting me periodically throughout my years in college, but I was still so hurt that I just completely ignored her every time I saw her name flash on my phone.
I remember that she even went as far as to sending me a letter telling me she still thinks of me every time the song ”Come Back To Me” by David Cook comes on, and I must admit, till this day when that song comes on I think about her.
In retrospect, I wish I had some on to talk to about all the things that went on inside my head. I wish I had never just kept it all in and let myself be poisoned by my feelings. If I could do one thing over again it would be this: talk to someone about what I was feeling. No one is worth getting sick over. Samantha thought me a very valuable lesson: you can never run from your past, you can simply learn from it and keep moving forward.