The high school band was small but reasonably good. We traveled locally to a few competitions. Beth, the first clarinetist, was also small, at 4’11” and a very good musician who planned on majoring in music and perhaps playing in an orchestra. I was the other person that played first clarinet, but I just snuck in with a few loud and proud notes here and there. That’s a perk of playing next to somebody who is good.
She seemed in every way like a very sweet girl. She and I were talkative and friendly with each other, but that was that, at least in her mind. She once said that she was dating someone who was going to college, but I never heard another word about that. I was in love. She didn’t seem to notice that. At least she was nice.
We want something so bad. We are programmed to. We think that we know what we want, but at that early age, we really don’t. In order to turn what we want into a lasting reality, we must learn new things, invent a relationship out of nothing, continue reinventing that as time goes on, because what we wishfully envision is there, really is not.
“I must come up with perfect and important things to talk about, just like they do in the movies”. This is a very unhelpful notion that I had, ever wanting to impress. Another thought that did not enhance my success was “This cute girl might be the one, there might be no others for me. Ever. I must not say anything to screw it up”. Nothing is then what I said.
When Beth and I graduated from high school and moved on to different colleges, we remained pen pals. We wrote a handful of letters back and forth about our new experiences. I think that she was enjoying it. It was killing me. Writing funny little stories about goings-on in my life, while having to leave out my true feelings was surprisingly painful. It was painful to the extent that I decided not to put myself through that any longer. I decided to write one last letter, explaining my true feelings, mostly expecting that that would be the last time we would speak to each other. I was right.
Actually, these learning experiences are invaluable and life is better when you learn to differentiate what is lasting and real from primal desires.
Memories of our youth are so bittersweet.