In the town I grew up in there was a river. This river was my best adviser to me between the ages of around 9 until, well, until I left at around 18 years old.
This river used to speak, well it muttered. At times it would stop and then begin again in a stutter. I would sit on the side, on a rock that I called my recliner, and talk to it. I called it the River that speaks.
Growing up in this city, I was surrounded by friends and family constantly. I was never alone yet I always felt as if I was terribly lonely. My siblings, I had 7 of them, would either spoil me or ignore me – there were no in betweens. I kind of preferred the latter since the former seemed kind of pretentious and too temporary.
I would be hanging out with my friends in the parking lot of the diner, laughing and flirting with the girls and suddenly a blanket would fall over me. I would feel a sense of dread, like a bruise inside of me pulsating…I would go use the bathroom and then find my way to the river. This happened often and then too often.
I would get to the river bank and sit on my recliner.
I would then begin to speak, complain and sometimes laugh and cry.
I would ask questions and then I would listen for the answers. There were always answers – sometimes they seemed unintelligible and sometimes they were mutterings I needed to decipher.
I never told anyone this – lest they label me as a crazy kid. I never brought anyone there with me until I met Jacklyn.
Jacklyn was my kindergarten crush and it took me until 7th grade to work up the guts to approach her. It began as a salutation relationship, “good mornings et al.” and graduated into a “can I walk you home?” friendship. We then began to speak on the phone and meet after school to get ice cream from “Harvey’s” or to simply hangout on our porches.
The summer of 7th grade she was going to go away for the month of July. I was heartbroken. On the 30th of June I brought her to the river and we sat silently as the river kept whispering, muttering and stuttering it’s pleas out for me to confess to her my feelings.
“Jackie, I really like you…” With that she kissed me on my cheek.
“I really like you too.” She said and we held hands.
She left the next morning and if a month ever felt like an eternity it was that month of July 1978.