There are many things we remember from our youth. I say “youth” because I wasn’t a child when I experienced this. The first time. The first time we did anything. Or experienced something. Your first kiss. The first sip of alcohol. Your first fight. Physical or otherwise. The first time you felt something you weren’t expecting. I liked a lot of girls when I was in school. My first crush was Sandy Donato in second grade. I liked her so much; I invited her to my Chuck E. Cheese birthday party in 1981. You know, to make her think I was cool. After that, there were many crushes. My girls. But the summer of 1990 was when I fell in love.

I had to spend the summer before my senior year in summer school. Math wasn’t my strong suit. The summer of 1990 would mark the second time I had to go to summer school for math. The previous year, I had to go to Chatsworth High School to take Algebra 1B. I barely passed, but I still passed.

It mostly sucked because I didn’t have any friends there. Either in my class or in the halls before school. However, that year was slightly better because it was my home school. A lot of friends, or people I simply knew, were there. One person in particular. I knew her since tenth grade. It was ninth grade for her. See, she was a year behind me. We were friends. In fact, I considered her my best friend. We would talk about anything. I was Ducky from Sixteen Candles, if you needed some type of illustration.

Summer of 1990 started in summer school

I don’t really know what changed in the two weeks since school ended for the summer, and the beginning of summer school. Summer school back in the day was split up into two sections. You had a morning section, something like 8 am to 10 pm. Then a second section which was something like 10:30 am (?) till like 12:30 pm.

My parents always managed to drop me off like 15 minutes before class. So, I would bump into a couple of friends and chit-chat in the stairwell for a bit. Then I ran into her in the hall. I was surprised, as I didn’t know she was going to be there to. If memory serves, she was trying to kill off a class during summer so she could take another class during the year. At least, that’s what I think. To be honest, why she was there isn’t all that important.

Once we caught eyes, she came over and started talking. She was so excited that I was there. There was a sense of relief that I was there. I could totally empathized because that how’s I felt last year. We spent the few minutes we had talking, and she asked to meet there again after class.

Again, never a math person. My head was spinning during geometry. However, this class was different than the one at Chatsworth. I had two people to talk to. Both of them went to other schools. The names escape me. This one girl was a cheerleader from another school. She was friends with a girl (who was a cheerleader) at my own school. Once she found out, she wouldn’t shut-up about things that would help me get on her “good side”.

Actually had friends this time

The other person was this dude, who looked like he was twelve, but I know he was younger than me. We would spend the class quoting lines from Young Guns II and Men at Work. Both of which came out that summer. It dawned on me, right now, that was an Emilio Estevez summer. I honestly can’t tell you why people were cooler when they went Canoga than they were at Chatsworth.

Managing to get through the two hours of class, made my way back to the stairwell to meet her. The hug I got was something from those war movies when the female lead sees the male lead with his duffel slung over his shoulder. They haven’t seen one another in months or years. It felt like that. Taking my arm, we walked out the gate and before she left, she handed me a note. One last hug and ran off to her ride. Standing there, confused, I opened the note. She wrote only two sentences. Very short sentences. “I miss you. I love you.” A small heart and her name.

What the hell does that mean, I thought.

The rest of the day and night, I kept wondering what she meant. She missed me? It had only been two weeks since we last saw each other. Most likely, we fought the last time we spoke. That was our favorite pastime. I love you? That was a whole other can of worms.

We were friends that acted like a couple

We were best friends. As close as a guy and girl could be without getting weird. She would tell me about the guys she liked, and I told her about the girls I liked. When one of us got in a mood, we took it out on one another. A friend said that we were the relationship part of a couple without the benefits of it. Now, he wasn’t wrong, but that still hit differently.

I didn’t want this to be a thing.

Couldn’t risk thinking too much into it and causing shit. So, I decided that I was going to go back and just pretend like it didn’t mean more than what she meant. Even though I had no clue what she meant by it.

Over the next several weeks of summer school, our routine would be the same. I’d arrive at school a little early. She would be hanging out in the hallway with mutual friends. Her pale complexion would change when her eyes caught mine. I would have to believe that mine would too. After we chit-chatted for a few minutes, we would break up to head to our respective classes.

Yet, as we were breaking up, she would hand me a small note. All it would say is that she missed me. That she loved me. Again, I never did anything.

When summer school ended, we had two weeks before we went back to school. Things changed once all our normal friends were around. Things started off nice when school began, but it didn’t last long. We went back to our old ways. But that summer always stuck with me.

But that summer of 1990 had to end

Eventually, she met a guy that was a bad dude. I didn’t like him. But it escaped me as to why I didn’t like him. Was it because he honestly was a bad dude, or that he had her. Unlike many girls I knew, when she had a boyfriend, she never ditched me. Never ghosted me because she had a guy. I was always on her nightly call list. Every night. Well, almost.

What is interesting about that time, is that I never asked myself if I loved her. Like loved her as a friend. If I loved her more than that. I did miss her whenever we weren’t together. You could say that I never had to ask myself if I did. I knew I did.

Believe me, I liked a lot of girls during my formidable years. However, no one ever stuck out like her. So many kids in school thought we should’ve been together. You could say we were the “Ross and Rachel” before the show ever came out. In the end, nothing happened. Given that I don’t remember many of the details of the girls I liked before, but I remember every nuance of ours – says something.

While the writer in me would love to go back and alter that history, part of me wouldn’t want to. It was an innocent time. Pure. It wasn’t about lust, superficial, or a fleeting moment. This was a segment of time that stuck with me. When I talk to her now, I do remember those feelings. After all those years, those feelings have been set aside. All that’s left are the memories. And I wouldn’t change those for the world. The summer of 1990 was the best.

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