We’d met on a Jewish youth retreat during my freshman year of high school. E. was the first boy I’d really kissed. He’d always reminded of Billy Idol. Maybe it was his hair cut.
I’d actually tried to find him five years ago, after moving back to California. It was one of those classic moments when I was having frozen yogurt with one of my new single mom friends — and our kids. E. and I used to have frozen yogurt at this same place.
So, I’d said out loud, “I always wondered what happened to E.–”
And my friend, who’s also Jewish, blurted out his name.
“You know him?” I said.
“I grew up with him,” she said. “Our families are friends.”
She got his number for me, with a warning: she told me that he probably hadn’t changed much since high school. He’d never been much of a communicator. We only went out for a few months. He always wanted to make out. I don’t remember us talking much.
I called. I left him a long, rambling message. I probably giggled.
He never called back.
Flash forward 20 years after our first kiss.
This weekend, M and I rode our bikes to Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t exactly wearing my first date skirt.
I’d just showered. My hair was back in a braid, and flat on top from my helmet. I had on baggy shorts and flip flops.
M pulled me into the frozen aisle for ice cream. That’s when I saw him, walking towards me.
We recognized each other. We stopped in between the bonbons and frozen berries. I held my breath.
Then I remembered M. I introduced her. She said, “Can I get some spanokopita, too?”
Then she wandered further down the frozen aisle.
I asked him if he ever got my message.
“No,” he said. “I travel a lot for work, I might have missed it.”
I didn’t really believe him. But I couldn’t read him. That’s how it was back then, in high school. There was no expression on his face.
“I’m making a pumpkin pie,” he told me.
“But it’s not Thanksgiving quite yet,” I teased him.
He didn’t laugh. The pumpkin pie, however, meant that he was in a relationship. Single guys are not shopping for canned pumpkin on the weekend.
I was not about to ask for his number. And he didn’t ask for mine. He probably did not know that I’m a single mom. How could he?
But he did let go of his cart and open his arms. It took me a second to realize that he wanted to give me a hug.
I wasn’t looking, and I almost put my heavy basket down on his toe. When I hugged him, I got nervous. Maybe it was the way he smelled. My body remembered that excitement.
Then we just stood there, without saying a word. I wanted to ask for his number. But I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was just the writer in me? I was curious. Remember how we used to make out?…
But he still seemed awkward. His hand returned to his cart. We said “bye.” He went one way, and I went the other.
I’m still thinking about him. I don’t have his number anymore, but I have my connections. I can get it.
Should I try to call him? Or, would that just get messy…? He probably has a girlfriend.
Image from http://www.traderjoes.com/
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