So July 1st came and after that, the evening of July 1st. Then the morning of the 2nd…and so on.
On the evening of July 4th, the town celebrated Independence Day with a parade through the square, there were barbecues, different bands playing and fireworks once the sun went down. I played third base in our towns “All Star” game and went 2 for 4 with 3 runs batted in. I also made a great play at third. Nothing mattered. I kept hoping Jacklyn would see me and run to me. I kept looking around me to see if I could spot her somewhere…
Around the 15th of the month I met a girl named Sandy. She was my friends cousin who was visiting from the city. We started speaking one night and it turned out she was going into High School and was only going to be visiting for the week. We both liked to listen to music, mostly Elton John and the Beatles. I brought her to my house one night to listen to the records I had and we both agreed that Captain Fantastic (Elton) and Abbey Road (Beatles) were our favorite albums. I walked her home that night and said goodnight at her front door. She smiled at me as I fidgeted not knowing what to do. Do I try and kiss her? No way, I was scared out of my mind… As I ran my hand through my hair, she laughed and said, “You are cute.” Then closed the door.
The next day I saw her walking past my house with her cousins; I wanted to run out and call her inside but…I felt embarrassed. So I waited too long and then ran out of the house, around the block and then began to walk in the opposite direction that she was walking. I could see them walking in front of me and I tried to act cool despite the fact I was out of breath and sweating profusely. As we got closer to one another I smiled and waved. She walked in front of her companions and gave me a hug.
“Hey!” She said.
“Hey.” I said back feeling lost for words.
“We are going to the lake for a swim, want to join?”
The lake was on the other side of the county – I never really went there too often since I felt, in a strange way, that I was cheating on the river by enjoying the lake. Strange since I also felt like I was cheating on Jacklyn by enjoying Sandy. A question of strange realities – I had no obligation to either the river or to Jacklyn – yet somehow I felt a sense of, what? Betrayal? I guess this was possibly the beginning of my senseless feelings of remorse or guilt which would land me in the psychologist chair for a lot of 45 minute sessions.
That night a group of us went to the annual Hot Dog festival on Henry Street where the old library used to be. It was now a deserted building with a tremendous park area that was mostly unused. We rode our bikes there and walked into the grounds as if we were bosses. Sandy walked close to me and then took my hand. I felt flushed and excited.
We went on the Ferris wheel and she sat next to me – when we got to the top I pulled her to me and I kissed her on the side of her lips. She stayed there and then kissed me back. When we got off of the ride we walked towards the exit and then rode our bikes towards the lake. It wasn’t dark yet and we wanted to be alone. I didn’t know what to expect and I hoped that she did.
We rode and got off of our bikes at the foot of the grassy entrance. We placed our bikes on the ground and walked hand in hand towards the water. We didn’t speak a word although our hands spoke in morse code. We sat by the lake, she took off her shoes and socks and put her feet in. I did the same. Our legs were touching and I looked at her and our lips touched and then parted…
We walked up the road with our bikes at our side and we spoke. She was heading back to the city in two days and I asked her if we could stay in touch.
“We could be pen pals.” She said.
“Do you ever come here during the year?”
“Not really, but maybe I could convince my parents to? Do you get to the city, ever?”
“No…but I will try and find a way.”
We both knew we wouldn’t but it was good to pretend. I was 13 and she was 15 years old – it was a summer fling. I didn’t care for her or feel anything as I did for Jacklyn – I guess that’s one of the main reasons I never brought her to the river.
We said goodbye the next evening with a walk to the park. We sat below a tree and kissed. When I left her at the door I handed her a small note I wrote for her. I don’t remember what I wrote – but I do have a copy of it somewhere in my keepsake boxes. I wrote it several times because my handwriting was terrible – so I kept a copy to remember her by.
After she closed the door, I rode my bike to the river and said hello again to my old friend. He just muttered and stuttered salutations to me. I felt a sense of my childhood disappearing as if I had thrown it in the river and it proceeded to be swept away.
July was coming to an end which meant that Jacklyn would be back soon. I wondered if she even remembered who I was or ever thought of me. I wondered if she met her own “Sandy” while she was away and if I would even tell her about her. I also wondered if I would bring her to the lake or continue to bring her to my river. I wondered and the river spoke back to me in mutters and stutters…