My nerves were breakdancing in my stomach as I stood in the darkened gym that I’d helped decorate hours earlier with the Art Club. I looked out over a sea of green and red Christmas streamers and saw among the familiar faces my hard-earned friends from the past four years. I crumpled. How would I leave my entire world, my Woodrow Wilson Junior High, behind? I felt like I was going to pass out.
“I need to talk to you,” I pleaded to my date.
“Let’s go sit down,” Michael said, leading me gently to a quiet corner on the bleachers.
I was falling apart, and yet he was kind. The second I sat down I burst into tears, and mortified, hid my head in my hands as liquid seeped through my fingers. My entire body was shaking - had I ever cried like this before in my life? A purging of emotions, all of my fears about the move to a city four hours north dribbling out of me in my tears and sobs. To my horror, I could not stop crying, so Michael held my hand, at a loss for how to fix me. It suddenly felt as though I’d been crying for years. I was some freak teen who had been crying her whole life and would never find normalcy again. At some point an anonymous friend shoved tissues into my hand, and I took ugly gulps for air, embarrassed in my vulnerability.
“Lisa,” a snide voice interrupted my sobs, “You’re making someone VERY upset because she wants to dance with Michael.”
I tried desperately to grip my emotions, to batten them down, to stop crying as I glared at the messenger. I smoothed the black velvet of my lace collared dress, anger building up in me over the intrusion.
“I’m MOVING! My family is moving away and I’m never going to see anyone AGAIN!” I yelled at Leah, as a slow song came over the speakers. Leah cringed and slunk away. I turned to Michael, “Just go dance with Sarah. She’s never going to leave you alone until you do.”
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said, smiling bravely with puffy eyes, tears still seeping out against my will. Finding my way to where the 8th graders were seated on the bleachers, I sat next to Jamie, who was not dancing due to a broken leg. He gave me a hug and told me he’d miss me. I watched as Sarah, always attempting to intrude in my relationships, danced with Michael, who held her at arms’ length. I took satisfaction that her dour brown dress looked frumpy. Jamie patted my back until Michael returned, as the tears still had not stopped, and then the final slow song of the night came on.
The Eagles wafted out of the speakers, an odd intrusion of the 70s after a night filled with Madonna and Duran Duran.
Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses
I looked around at my friends as we danced, disco lights playing across Sunday best suits and dresses and poofy Aquanetted bangs. I wanted to remember this moment forever. Tears continued to drip, drip, drip.
Now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table. But you only want the ones that you can’t get.
I didn’t want to say goodbye.
“I don’t know how to say goodbye,” I said to Michael.
I looked into the blue eyes of my friend, the guy who called me Buddy, who soaked me with squirt guns and let me wear his Goofy ballcap, and was stunned to see the tears pooling and sliding down his face. More salt water than in the ocean, just on our two faces.
And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’. Your prison is walking through this world all alone
“I’ll write you, Lisa. I’ll write every day. I’ll even come see you off at the airport tomorrow, if I can get my mom to drive me. This isn’t the end.”
You’d better let somebody love you. Before it’s too late.
This week's prompt from The Red Dress Club:
This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory. Don't forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!
I can't hear the song Desperado without thinking of my teen angst nervous breakdown during the 1988 Christmas dance. I confess to digging out an old journal to get some of the details. I cringed the whole time I read it. In case you're wondering, I never heard from Michael again. But a couple of months after the move I met David, and forgot all about Michael. Such is the life of a thirteen year old, LOL.