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Last night my very first real boyfriend came over to visit, meet Steve and my kids and catch up on old times. 

It's kind of a funny story.  The summer after I graduated from eighth grade, I went to Spain by myself for the first time.  (The year before, I'd gone with my dad.)  It was a big deal and my parents were worried because I hadn't been able to get a direct flight to the airport where my family would be picking me up, so I had a layover in Madrid for a couple of hours.  They took me to Kennedy Airport in New York and walked me to the international check-in gate thing and then once beyond that, I was on my own.  

So there I was, sitting in the waiting area, all by myself, all big hair, black eyeliner and acid wash denim.  Being the boy crazy nut that I was, I noticed this boy sitting in the row across from me and I smiled at him.  I honestly thought that he was a Spanish boy returning to Spain and that he didn't speak English.  Don't know why I thought that, but I did.  

I boarded the plane, settled in for the seven hour flight and, hello fate-- it turned out I was sitting right behind the cute boy from the waiting room.  Sitting next to me was some obnoxious 12-year-old boy who was also flying alone and wanted to be my new best friend.  An hour or so into the flight, I pulled out a notepad from my flight bag and wrote, "I think you're cute" on a sheet of paper and kissed it, with my hot pink lipstick, folded it up and tossed it over the seat into the lap of the cute boy.  

Turned out he did in fact speak English and we passed notes back and forth for the duration of the flight.   We spent the layover together and ended up kissing in front of one of these window things at Madrid Airport.   We were seated further apart on the last leg of the flight to Santiago de Campostella.  I knew his name (Ben Alonso) and where he went to school and as we were leaving the airport he gave me his phone number in the states, which I promptly lost. 

That summer I met the girl who has been my best friend for 16 years, Maria.  Turned out she went to the same high school that Ben went to but she was a senior and he was a sophomore.  I had her and this other guy I knew from grammar school trying to track him down and get his number for me.  It took a month of so before I was able to call him.  

I wasn't technically "allowed" to date until I was 16 but Ben was my first real, reciprocated love.  We did all the sterotypical teenage date stuff-- group dates to the movies (where we didn't see most of the movie), dances in the gym, diner trips.  We went out from November of 1990 until April when, because of my incredible immaturity it was over.  

You know how you always toss out that "we can still be friends" line of crap.  We actually stayed friends.  I wanted him back, but he was dating someone else.  When he considered getting back together, I was dating someone else. 

During my freshman year in college he spent some time in the hospital with a heart problem.  While I was home on break for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I visited him every day.  The summer after my junior year of college, we spent a lot of time together because he was avoiding attending the summer classes in which he'd enrolled.  That summer, out of nowhere, he enlisted in the Army.   We stayed in touch via email and ICQ,  Yahoo chat... all that good stuff.

He went to boot camp and jump school before being stationed in Korea where he met his first wife.  They had two kids together.  Steve and I went to meet her and the kids while he was in Afganistan-- the same week that he was involved in an ambush where the driver of the vehicle he was in was beheaded by a missile.   He got divorced when he returned.  Last week he got married again.  We were invited but the wedding was in Michigan and it just wasn't possible for us to attend, even though I really would have liked to go.  And now he's living and working in southern NJ-- about two hours south of me.

So after ten years of not seeing each other, he came over last night.  I was so excited for him to meet Steve because they have so much in common, from Army careers to crazy problems with custody issues.  He pulled in to the driveway and got out of the car and it was like I saw him last week. 

We sat in my kitchen and caught up and had a few beers.  It's funny, there's something about that first love, that really sticks with you.  Obviously it's not the same feeling it was sixteen years ago (my God, when did I get so old!?!?) but this is someone who knows all my stories, who remembers how goofy and awkward but BRAZEN I used to be.  I had the idea in my head that Steve would either really like him or really hate him and I'm sooo glad it was the former.  I'm hoping that they can get to be friends-- Steve really needs some good guy friends.  I hope it's not another 10 years before I see him again.  It's got to be rare that you can connect with someone so young and let the relationship evolve into this deep friendship.  I have girl friends that I let lapse because as I changed and grew up, they didn't or couldn't adapt.  So I find it really amazing that this totally random boy, who I met in an AIRPORT before I even started high school, could still be someone I care about so much.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2006 02:09 am (UTC)
What a great story! I'm happy you got to reconnect with him and that you've managed to keep in touch all these years.

I'm curious... what was HE doing at the airport? Did he go to school here or in Spain? I got kind of confused by that. And did you meet Maria in Spain? She just happened to go to to school with him? How coincidental!

Wow, I thought *I* was brave at that age. To just throw a note over to him?! That's great!! Did you guys actually talk on the plane ride or was it limited to notes?
Jul. 17th, 2006 03:49 am (UTC)
Same as me-- he was going to Spain for the summmer to visit family and yes, I met Maria in Spain even though we only lived like 10 blocks away from each other back in Newark, NJ. It sounds like major coincidence until you know that the part of Newark where I grew up is all Spanish and Portuguese people. (And they all freaking know each other-- it's weird!)

Yeah, figure it was 1990. I had HUGE Jersey hair, tons of eyeliner and heavy metal band tee shirts-- I stuck out in my dad's rural farming/fishing village like a sore thumb. So all the Spanish kids kept telling me, oh there's this other American girl here, you have to meet her, blah blah blah. So like a week into my vacation, I was introduced to her at a soccer game. I was all perky teenaged chipperness and introduced myself and her response was classic. All she said was, "Wench!" We were instantly friends.

Yeah, it was a total coincidence that Ben and Maria went to the same co-ed Catholic private high school. Especially since they don't live in the same town. Just my good luck I guess!

We didn't actually talk on the plane, just notes back and forth. For seven hours. We didn't speak until we deboarded in Madrid. Thinking back now, I still can't believe I did it. And it's funny. I have all of the notes he wrote still and he still has mine.
Jul. 17th, 2006 12:35 pm (UTC)
That's cool! I don't think I'd want to hear anything from my first boyfriend, which is probably for the best because I don't think he'd want to tell me anything anyway. Heh.
Jul. 17th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
YAY! It's Meg!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )