Keep on driving girl, you can do this! I am really on my way to see him again after thirty long years! If I keep repeating these words out loud maybe my brain will be able to register this crazy fact. I whimsically caress the gift he had given me at age seventeen. A simple gold, cross necklace is now the magical link connecting us again. Could we possibly be getting a second chance?
“Dang it Jean!” she interrupts my thoughts of romance again as my blasted cell phone rings next to me. I giggle, unsure of who is more excited about this reunion between me and her cousin – me or her? “Where are you now?” she wants to know for the umpteenth time. “I’m still in Georgia” I answer while smiling. ‘This’ is all her fault! She is the one who introduced me and My Guy in a different time and place.
Those memories wash over me like a tsunami with each mile I drive closer to this man of my past. For a middle-aged woman who easily forgets what I ate for lunch yesterday the recollection of this long lost romance is undeniably clear.
My Guy's shy grin had beamed my way for the first time at age seventeen. He had driven to Barbara’s home to meet me for a blind date. While I nervously checked out his muscular body filling the door frame, my vision must have been working overtime as my eyes bugged out of my head. He was six years older and the closest thing to The Hulk I had ever seen in my small, southern town in Alabama.
He was not what I was used to in a date. This guy even had a full grown beard! I mentally compared him with my high school boyfriend, and realized that my boyfriend's idea of breaking up and dating other people may actually be brilliant.
As I sat on the passenger’s side in My Guy's truck, I noticed the smell of his Cool Breeze Cologne as we chatted. Later, we shared a pepperoni pizza and ice cold Cokes while I laughed at his Southern, “corny” sense of humor. His bulky muscles and full grown beard started reminding me more of a gentle giant than The Hulk.
A boyish grin caused me to softly relax in his presence more and more as the weeks quickly passed by.
“You want to see me cheer at our basketball game, I ask My Guy?” I knew the ‘yes’ answer before I asked it. If I only knew what that strange warm feeling was in the pit of my stomach whenever I was with him. It was several dates later and I still wondered.
My long blond hair, green eyes and pretty smile worked magic with the short, navy blue cheerleading uniform I wore. The basketball game reached half time and he grabbed my hand to sneak off for some moments alone together.
The taste of his gentle passionate kisses and the feel of his soft beard in my hands were thrilling. As we made out in the back seat of my old brown Vega, he was every bit the gentleman. Protected and warmed by his strong arms on a cold night I lingered in the feeling of his embrace.
We had to rush back to the gym. Just outside the entrance, he let go of my hand and nervously took a new, gold cross necklace from around his neck to remember him by. The next day he had to leave and we were out of time together. I had to stay and finish another year of high school.
He stowed away a piece of my heart as he joined the Navy and went to sea. We made promises to write and call each other during our time apart.
Seeing me and My Guy together at the gym stirred both memories and jealousy in my old boyfriend. With My Guy now away at sea, the opportunities for the highschool boyfriend to work his way back into my life were many and he worked diligently.
Months passed and I went back steady with my highschool boyfriend and accepted his gold necklace gift with the assurance I’d get rid of the one My Guy had given me. It just made sense to have a boyfriend in town with proms, senior trips and school dances coming up. The entire school seemed to think my highschool boyfriend and I were perfect together.
“What is this feeling in the pit of my stomach?” I ask myself as I told Jean my decision. Cowardly, I let her be the one to tell My Guy the break up news. I could not even pick up the phone. Neither did I want to throw away the gift of the necklace from my gentle giant. I secretly asked her to save it for me.
After graduation I lost touch with Jean and lost touch with My Guy. Twenty nine years later Jean and I reunited through Facebook.
She called months later and asked “Guess who I have on the other end of the line?” I could tell by her voice I was in for a surprise. Little did I know it was My Guy and he was single again too! She had seen the old necklace among her things and decided to call her long lost cousin.
This reunion was all ‘her fault’ again!
Now as I glance in the rearview mirror, my mind is spinning with thoughts. I observe the wrinkles on my forehead and the beginning of crow's feet around my eyes. “There’s no way that I am going to chicken out over a few wrinkles and additional tummy fluff” I articulate out loud. “I am a beautiful woman inside and out” I verbally remind myself.
North Carolina is behind me and Virginia is for lovers with only one more hour to drive. Thirty more minutes to go, this is really happening! By golly, I am no longer a shy seventeen year old and that man is going to get a kiss that could curl the toes on a gorilla.
The anticipation is causing my heart to pound. My neck is flushed and my hands shake with the unknowns still yet to be discovered as I hurriedly step out of my car.
There he stands in the lobby! I see a handsome, muscular man eagerly waiting for me with the same nervous, shy, boyish grin and big brown eyes.
The saying “I may be older, but I’m not dead yet” best describes my feelings. Recently ignored hormones are returning to life at the embodiment of a man that I was not quite ready for in my youth. I fling my arms around his neck and like an excited teen grabs his honey’s hand to ride the roller coaster at the fair, Buddy whisks me outside. We share a delicious kiss on Cracker Barrel’s country porch as this retired Navy man declares, "I knew it would still be good -I just knew it!"
Thirty years later, we are sitting in the truck side by side driving under a star-lit sky. It is intoxicating to re-explore the scent of his Cool Breeze Cologne while we make small talk and grin back and forth like Cheshire cats. Even the very cells in our hands seem to go into memory re-call as we alternate between gentle caresses and death grips.
While enjoying time together at his farm, it feels like we are in two parallel worlds. We never stop touching each other. The past and the present dance back and forth in a waltz of the hearts seemingly making up for lost years and regrets for past decisions.
He fingers the magical necklace around my neck as we snuggle on the couch. “I bought this for you but I wanted you to have the feeling that because I wore it first, you might want to wear it…..I know, crazy stuff!” My Guy confesses with a slight blush.
I’m thinking the “crazy stuff” may have been me and my decision to break up with this man back then.
This is an interesting dance of sorts; the one of past and present uniting together. Like an airbrushed female in a girly magazine, it is tricky to determine where reality ends and imagination begins.
Exploring the possibilities while relaxing in his arms, it is nice to feel cherished and desired as a single woman. The glowing feeling in the pit of my stomach is rekindled as it warms like a glass of wine after a stressful day. I recall the gentle giant who held me on another cold night in the back seat of my old brown Vega.
I secretly smile knowing that I do not have to push love here or anywhere. Like the necklace - I have grown older and tarnished a bit. Love knows where, when, and with whom it is going as it takes its own sweet time.
Love may even find its way back around as a perfect second chance.
Written by Debbie Kesley
Written by Debbie Kesley