Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Saying Goodbye - The Red Dress Club

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. 


tracy said...

Isn't it amazing how an old song can bring up a memory like that...even one of a 14 year old boy that never wrote or called. So crazy how we hold these in our hearts.

So beautifully written.

jp@A Green Ridge said...

This was such a vivid and descriptive piece...GREAT!...:)JP

The mad woman behind the blog said...

I too remember "that boy" that meant so much and then didn't.

You captured the teen angst well, pointing out the details that would have been important to 13 year old. And you made us feel your anguish.

I love that you gave us the note about David, so we wouldn't feel too bad for you for too long.

And "breakdancing" huh? Cute.

Unknown said...

You put so much feeling into this post!

Honest Convo Gal said...

How very sad. I just kept taking deep breaths and reading on. Good writing makes the reader feel it in their body. It evokes a physical sensation. This piece did that for me. Nice job.

My Mad World said...

Great post Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing and for letting us have a glimpse of something that you actually went through.

Nancy said...

Teenage angst -- how did we ever get through those years?

Great writing, Lisa. :)

Dawn said...

Ahhh...THOSE years!
Seems like yesterday;) (cringe cringe)

Like it Lisa!
(Training is getting there. Nerves are too:)

Erica M said...

I read your post title and thought you were leaving TRDC. I was like: noooo! Then: ooooh, I wonder what happened. Haha.

Early heartbreak is always the worst. I hear Purple Rain and think about my "best" friend sleeping with my supercrush before I even knew what sex was.

Fun post! Thanks for visiting my space today.

TexWisGirl said...

awesome job. the aquanetted bangs did it for me... you're younger than i am, and one of my nieces went thru that terrible style with all the bang height she could muster. :)

Kim said...

This was a fun jaunt down memory lane for me. Because what else can you do but laugh when you think about those teen dances when you thought your life would end because nothing went your way - unless of course you were the popular girl. Good take on the prompt!

Anonymous said...

You capture the insane DRAMA and emotion of 13 so well!

Sonora said...

That is a great song. I liked when you added that tiny detail about Aquanetted bangs. I could see exactly what that looked like. I can't imagine having to say goodbye at that age. I graduated with the same people I went to kindergarten with so I had a much different experience. I felt like I could understand and experience what it must have been like through you. I also liked that you added in the end that you never heard from Michael but met someone else. That is so how life is!

Helene said...

Oh wow, Lisa, that was intense! Even more so because I've been there myself at almost the same age. My parents moved me and my sister from FL to CA when I was 14 years old and I thought my life was going to be over. You captured the emotions so well with your writing, taking me back to that same place you wrote about.

If it's any consolation, my boyfriend who promised to write me every single day never wrote me either. In fact, he found a new girlfriend the following week, I later found out!

Valerie Boersma said...

I had to move after the 10th grade. I remember the tears that seemed to never end. I really thought it was the end of my life. I can look back now and smile, and because of Face book I've reconnected with some of those 10th grade friends.

Nice writing:)

Andrea said...

I'm with Erica, I thought you were going to stop writing! Then I realized today is Tuesday. Whoops! But YAY! I loved this, Lisa. I seriously did. I think it captured everything you experienced and even though I didn't know you then I totally COULD have. And I totally DO now! Also, the way you weaved the lyrics through the post? Perfection. I only wish I had thought of it myself. ;) Well done, mama!

Kimberlee, The Spunky Diva said...

That was great! Oh to be 13 again, LOL! Thank you for entering my Blogoversary Giveaway!
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amygrew said...

I cringe at just about everything from that time period! You totally captured the 13 year old angst. Micheal was very sweet too.

Great post!

Ginny Hartzler said...

Wait a minute!! Woodrow Wilson Junior High? That's where I live! Was this in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains?? You chose a riveting moment in time from your life to share with all of us. Aren't things like this ten times worse when you are a teenager?

Erin said...

Aww my heart goes out to you at that time, so traumatic! I can remember those school dances!

Glad you met David though! =)

Jennifer said...

This post so captured 8th grade, including the nearly uncontrollable mood swings. But these lines in particular really nailed that feeling for me, "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.

More salt water than the ocean...ah yes, if that's isn't 13 what is?

Jack said...

I am biased but I love the way you mixed the song lyrics in between the details.

Galit Breen said...

oh I loved this! It was so honest and raw and so very 13 years old!

You captured the angst, the fair-weather friendships and how IMPORTANT everything was at the time perfectly!

The song woven through was perfectly done!

Thank goodness for David! :)

Unknown said...

This makes me think of dancing "Man in the Mirror" by MJ during my 7th grade dance with my little "boyfriend" Phillip (two "L"s, not one... ;)) I always think of him when I hear that song (which I rarely do -ha!)

You brought back all kinds of teenage memories with this one and I love the descriptions of your crying. Spot on. Good job!

Jenna said...

i could feel your uncontrollable anguish, the mourning you were doing, and how it was so futile to hold it together. I thought it was so sweet that the friend that you had was crying too.. that would have stuck out in my memory as well. The angst was just palpable.

Shell said...

That's the good thing about 13 y/o's- they bounce back easily! Love that you pulled out your old journals for this! I threw out all my high school journals after college graduation in some grand dramatic gesture and now I regret it. I do have my college one. And can't read certain entries b/c they are so embarrassing.

Liz Mays said...

Those early loves are very, very real, and that pain is powerful!

But I'm glad you were able to move on. ;)

Jane said...

Lisa,that was a sweet post! You almost made me cry. Sometimes endings are bitter sweet. Blessings jane

Julie said...

Oh, I could feel your pain. I liked how you wove the words of the song into the post, and how you let your adult sense of humor bleed in as well.


Renee said...

Your descriptions are great.
The "aquanetted bangs" made me giggle. I was out of school by then, thank goodness, no big hair pics to embarrass me later.
The part where your date cried with you was so sweet.

You caught that age very well!