We drove around, visiting people in that station wagon for the rest of the afternoon. Most of the people we were visiting I barely knew, though most went to my school and were familiar. I am sure that most if not all of them wondered what these four guys were doing with this awkward girl.
At fifteen I was still trying to figure out American culture, and then trying to figure out how I could make that fit the mold of the person I was becoming… not an easy job when you are decidedly awkward and still in a growth spurt. My walls were not plastered with pictures of John Stamos and Kirk Whatever his name is, but of pictures of Marcello Mastroianni, Mary Quant fashions, and illustrations from the 20’s and 30’s taken from the Saturday Evening Post (think Erte) and other such ephemera ripped from the pages of old magazines. It did not look like the bedrooms of any of my friends.
|A young Omar Sharif, Antonio had a similar intensity to his eyes|
At one point as we drove around in that car, Antonio reached over and grabbed my hand. What struck me about this as there was a timidness about it that surprised me. I stole a glance at him, expecting some form of uber confidence and a direct gaze… what I got instead was a quick blush and a turn to look out the car window as the pressure increased ever so slightly on my hand. Again, I was out of my league. It hit me that the possibility that he actually did like me were starting to sink through my ever so thick skull. However, I was frozen and still intimidated, these were uncharted waters for me. Jovanna was much more “worldly” than I and I really had no idea what teen relationships were supposed to entail. I hadn’t even really kissed a boy at that point. I had grown up with movies such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as guides as to what young love was supposed to be like. At that point I had to allow him to lead me where something like this was supposed to go. I just had no clue as to how this whole thing was done.
|Clearly, young love is nothing like this.|
I recall looking at our intertwined hands, nestled between us. My very pale fingers intertwined with his darker skin. I thought it was so pretty, the way our skin tones seemed to contrast with each other, yet somehow manage to look so much like what half and half does when it is poured into a rich coffee, something I find to be beautiful. Plus, it was much safer to look down and look at his hand holding my hand out of the corner of my eye than it would have been to look at him.
Dusk was weaving its dark cloth into our desert sky, and we all decided to go to a new business park near our homes. There was a man-made lake with ducks and geese, surrounded by an amazing amount of beautiful trees. Everyone sat at the lakes edge, by now there were about ten or so of us crazy teenagers, Jovanna included. I had taken off my shoes and had my feet in the water, giggling about how it felt to have the fish nibbling at my toes, Antonio was next to me, we had finally moved a tiny bit past being so shy with each other and were talking. He was telling me about his soccer team, and invited me to his Confirmation later that spring. I could look him in the face by now, though not for long, I was too struck by how handsome I thought he was and by wondering what it would be like if we kissed. He stood up, and pulled me up, moved me over to the grass with some others. One of the boys there, I forget who, asked me if I had ever passed out, and I told them no… they went in to this whole explanation of how they could do it by cutting the circulation off to the brain. I recall being horrified. He seemed taken aback, and reassured me that you don’t hold it for long, just until you start to faint. One of the other kids said it was fun and I watched while they did it to another girl, I watched her body go limp and the boy hold her up, only to have her giggling hysterically when she immediately came to. Antonio looked at me, and asked if I wanted to try it. I searched his eyes, looking for something… and said sure, even though I was terrified. Antonio stood behind me and wrapped an arm around my neck, the other held me around my waist. We stood like that for a second while he explained what he was going to to, his mouth whispering close to my ear. I don’t recall what he was saying, because I was to taken by how it felt to have his body pressed against me… another first for me. He asked if I was ready and pressed hard against my neck, things went black and I went limp and the next thing I know he had turned me around and was holding me tight, smiling at me as I opened my eyes. I felt completely safe wrapped in his muscular arms with his concerned and gentle smile. At that point, I trusted him completely and just smiled back. As the other kids kept doing this strange thing to each other, he took my hand and said we should walk around the lake, I complied. We didn’t say a word to each other, and just held hands as we walked the edge of the lake. By the time we made it back to everyone it was dark, and some kids needed to head home, myself included. We got back in the back seat, and he kept holding my hand as we drove off.
“Let me know what your mom says” he mentioned as we pulled up to my house.
“I will. Call me after you get home.” I replied.
He got out of the car so that I could get out, and he squeezed my hand. I looked up at him.
We didn’t know what to do. His kissed my cheek and turned to get back in the car. I walked in to my house, feeling high from being sure that he really did like me. I had just had what might be called a date, my very first.
Inside, I asked my mother if it was OK to go to the dance with him. She said of course and mentioned that we would need to find something to wear, and as I walked to my room she called that she thought that he seemed very nice.
The dance was over a month away.
“When you discover first love as a teenager, your whole life revolves around it and you open yourself up to it.”
~ Patrick Dempsey
…to be continued
part 1 here