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Friday, June 25, 2004
How Things Can Start
Things pretty much started in the summer, 12 years ago.

We’d gone to the same high school for a year (me as a senior, she as a freshman). We had a few mutual friends but had never really met.

But the summer after she graduated from high school, one of her faux-friend / classmates (let’s call her Meg) hosted a series of parties . . . every time her parents went out of town. I was going to FSU and working at a video store at the time, and my work friends included several high school acquaintances. I’d also had a brief, ill-advised romance with Meg. Meg expressed a desire to not have us at her parties, but we crashed them anyway.

I went to one of Meg’s first parties that summer without my girlfriend. This one was a fairly casual affair . . . no skinny dipping, no public sex or vomiting; it was actually very grown-up for a bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings. In between all my on-my-way-to-drunken conversations with my friends (and other party-goers), I noticed this quiet red-headed girl standing away from the crowd. She looked lonely, but not. Just detached. I don’t remember if I talked to her. I might have said something about the heat lightning outside that night. She left soon after.

I saw the redhead at another party soon after that one, this one thrown by the girlfriend of my best friend (who would grow up to be Mr. ADD). I was somewhat less restrained at this party. I bumped into her in the kitchen; I was drunk and/or stoned and she was tentatively drinking from a bottle of vodka. I don’t think there were any intelligible words spoken.

Meg’s next party was more of the typical “kegger” than her previous soireé. I was carrying around a bottle of tequila (before I developed an aversion to it). I remember everyone was doing shots, and I was just drinking straight from the bottle. At some point, I wandered to the backyard, where I found the redhead sitting on the trampoline. We talked for a few minutes, although I think I was slurring most of my side of the conversation. I probably offered her some of my tequila. Somewhere between the drunken people flinging themselves into the pool in their underwear and several of us packing into a dark room to listen to Nine Inch Nails songs, she left. I asked Meg for her phone number. I called her . . . right then. I was drunk. Her dad answered. When he put her on, I could tell she was surprised to hear from me. But she said she wasn't coming back to the party.

In the weeks that followed, she would come into the video store and give me things that she’d written. Mostly poetry and lyrical fragments she had written at church. We started exchanging poetry at that time. Soon after, we set up a date.

I don’t remember anything about the date itself, but when I dropped her off, I kissed her goodnight. And after that, she told me she had a boyfriend who’d just come back to town from Texas.

(Not) The End.