Antonio and I lasted into the summer. I attended his confirmation, and would go to some of his soccer games with his family. He had a summer job near my house and I would stop by and visit him. There was a certain innocence to our relationship that I was unaware of due to my inexperience. Having not had another relationship before, I assumed this is how they went, after all, the model we followed had at its core some sort of sweet innocence reminiscent of the relationships in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
We shared a deep love of rain and together rewrote the lyrics to “You Are My Sunshine” to the more applicable (to us) “You Are My Rainstorm”. We talked about his being convinced that he would not survive to age 32 (he did) and how if we reached 40 that we would marry each other (an interesting thing to promise each other in hindsight, though it made perfect sense at the time) He gave me my first stuffed animal gift from a boy, a little bunny rabbit named Timothy (his real name). When he gave Timothy to me he made me promise that I would take good care of him. I made that promise, I even kept that promise.
|Timothy, now at 30 years old, shares a room with my son.|
We continued to blush whenever we held hands and any kiss we shared seemed held back. By the end of summer, there was a change. To this day, I am not sure what it was. I speculate that it was because our relationship was so innocent that he might have been frustrated, and it had never occurred to me that he would not know that I had given him the power to take it any way he wanted. By the that summers-end, there was some fear on my part that I did not know what was going on. I did not understand the nature of relationships, and I heavily depended on him to guide me. I felt unguided, I suppose. Looking back, I can speculate on what was going on between us.
We were involved in a very innocent intimacy with each other, but in spite of our raging hormones (or perhaps because of them) we never moved any farther than the kiss in the limousine, which was the most passionate thing we shared. Because he never pushed me any further, as I would have expected a boy friend at that age to do, I became concerned that he was not interested in me in that way, and convinced myself that he had those feelings for someone else. So, one evening in the same business park where we had first spent time as kids interested in each other, I told him it was over. I was setting him free to go where he needed. It broke my heart.
I happened to have done this just before the Arizona rain season started. Every time it rained for the rest of that year, and into the next… he would call me and sing me the song. I would sing along with him. This would actually go on for years, well into college. A storm would hit and my phone would ring, no matter the hour… and I would hear;
You are my rainstorm
My only rainstorm
You make me happy
when skies are grey
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don’t take my rainstorm away.
Those calls became less and less frequent as we grew older and moved in our own directions and went on with our lives. But they would still happen. We would talk about the random memories and catch each other up with who was doing what. At one point, I left home and did not hear from him for a long time. In those years I married a wonderful man that I love and we had a child and have created a very wonderful life.
I ran into Keith Schlecht just after I got married. He told me that I needed to call Antonio and gave me his number. I called, and it was if no time had passed. When he knew that it was me on the other end of the phone, he asked if it was raining… I said it wasn’t. He asked if I was happy, and I assured him I was. He shared that he was still single, though involved with a woman he cared for very deeply. We updated each other about our families. He asked if I had married the preppy that I dated after him and I reassured him that I had not. We planned to get together the next time he was in town. When he came, Antonio took my husband and I out to dinner and it was a lovely evening, with laughter, wine, jokes and a truly wonderful time.
I have gotten to know him better now, in times without the burden of a youthful romance that we had shared. It is interesting that we found out later that we have so many more things in common.
My reflections on my young relationship with him calls to mind these words;
Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
And twists one in her fingers while she talks.
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
What life is, you who hold it in your hands”;
(Slowly twisting the lilac stalks)
“You let it flow from you, you let it flow,
And youth is cruel, and has no remorse
And smiles at situations which it cannot see.”
I smile, of course, And go on drinking tea.
“Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall
My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,
I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world
To be wonderful and youthful, after all.”
~ T. S. Eliot
Portrait of a Lady
It is wonderful that I have such a fondness for Antonio. He created, for me, an enviable and innocent affair of the heart. Something so delightfully innocent that there is no story that can replace the genuine purity of that time in our lives. He treated me gently and delightfully, and showed me a path to love that was not buried in sex and teenage raging hormones. He gave me what was absolutely perfect. An innocent first love story, with a long lasting friendship.
My dear Antonio Vasco, if you happen to read this… please know that I am forever grateful for the experience you gave me. I am so deeply honored by how gentle you were with me thirty years ago, and it is my hope that you recall me with as much fondness as I recall you. I deeply appreciate and value your friendship.