So many adults seem to have forgotten what it is like to be a kid or a young adult. Fortunately for me, thanks to the power of Autism, I haven’t forgotten. I can recall the sensation rather easily, and I remember how I felt about certain things and people.
For a young boy, there is no greater sensation than being 11 years old and seeing that 13-year-old girl who lives down the road. I encountered sensations that I’d never experienced before.
So far as I was concerned, this was the precise moment where I lost my innocence.
HOW IT ALL STARTS
I went with my brother down the road to hang out with him and a friend of his. As luck would have it, he had an older sister who was roughly 18 months older than me. We’ll call it 2 years for ease of conversation. Back then 2 years was a BIG gap in age.
We were in his room, and he and my brother were messing with some action figures, when I looked to my right out his bedroom door. There she was, in her bedroom, stretching.
Now, I didn’t always hang out with this friend so that I could gawk at his sister. It was something that happened on occasion. And to me, it was no different from him coming over and watching my mom sunbathe out the kitchen window. I wasn’t offended, and I doubt he was offended by me, either.
As hairless apes, it’s what we generally do. There’s a genuine curiosity and great sense of wonder when these things start to appear. At the same time, it’s absolute torture, because you get these feelings but cannot take them to a true conclusion. This means a simulated conclusion will have to do, but this blog isn’t about to go there. I have to be a gentleman about it.
This went on for years.
A BIG FIGHT
In the spring of 1980, I was walking home when a guy twice my size who threatened to “kill me” outside the gate after school showed up with his own mob of about 40 kids who wanted to see him fight me.
She was in the crowd, and was rooting me on. This might be why I felt so confident to throw the first punch.
This was a life-changing event, not only because the bullies never bothered me again, but I think it changed how she viewed me.
In the summer of 1980, I was 15-1/2 years old. I had a summer job that paid pretty well, and earned enough to buy a car, as well as have a great deal of spending money. I couldn’t drive the car yet, but I could fix it up and make sure it was ready when I got my license later that winter.
As it was in the past, I continued to spend time with some very personal friends. They have familiar names, such as Insomnia, Autism, and Puberty.
I used to be so restless that I’d head out around 4:30am and meet up with my friend on the road. From there, we would cross Main Street, climb a HUGE hill, and make our way to the edge of the stone quarry. There, we would sit on the edge, dangle our feet into the void, throw rocks, and talk about life.
This tradition fell to the wayside, as they do when we grow up. My friend had some other things to do. As it turns out, I did as well.
I would get dressed and then start to quietly open my window in a way where it would not make noise. I’d hang outside the window of my bedroom [it was a bi-level house], drop to the ground, and start walking. Sometimes I would run.
But I wasn’t going to meet up with my friend at the stone quarry. No.
I had found out that his sister was a waitress working at a little restaurant called “The Lapel Inn.” It was your typical diner setting. Nothing fancy.
I’d head out with my wallet full of money and walk to The Lapel Inn to have coffee. I’d do this every day during the summer. Sit at the counter, drinking coffee, getting refills, and just hanging out.
It was an excuse to be near his sister. I was quickly approaching 16, and she was a senior who would be 18 soon.
She never once questioned why I was there, drinking coffee. It wasn’t exactly something that the 15-year-olds were doing. In fact, I was the only one doing it.
I would drink way too much coffee, and then run home in time to catch a ride with my mom to Indianapolis to tackle my summer job. I’d be tired all day sometimes, but it was all so worth it.
A CHANGE IN FOCUS
The world changed quite a bit after that summer. John Bonham died. John Lennon was killed. Led Zeppelin announced that they could not go on without Bonham. And the year ended with a big of hope for the future that could be found in AC/DC’s first release with Brian Johnson, “Back In Black.”
After Bonham’s death, and one week before Lennon’s death, I got my drivers license.
By this time, my friend’s sister would be running around with her friends, doing their thing, and setting out into the real world. I had a few years before I’d have to do this, so I moved on and got a girlfriend who was about a year younger than me.
It is so weird to look at it in a timeline.
In the summer of 1980, my world was all about her. But by the end of 1980, not only was she no longer part of my world, but we had both moved on. I would not see her again for many, many years.
A BRIEF REPRISE
In 1982, my friend’s mom set me up on a blind date with her half-sister. This girl I had a crush on knew about it, and helped her do her hair for the date.
I picked up my date at my friend’s house, which is where she was staying for the summer.
I ever-so-briefly saw that girl, now a woman, when I picked up my date. In my mind, it was the difference between my friends sister — a rather unattainable girl, so far as I was concerned — and her aunt, who was a year younger than me.
I was so excited about my actual date that I didn’t give even one thought to a potential date with the sister. In a way, this felt like moving on.
ADULTHOOD, AND GETTING TOGETHER
I won’t say when this happened, as I don’t want to step on her privacy. One day, after high school was far, far behind us, she contacted me.
I couldn’t believe it.
We ended up talking on the phone. It was the first time that we’d had a conversation. Before this, we had almost nothing resembling conversation of any kind. She didn’t know much about me, beyond the fact that I fought a kid twice my size.
Conversely, I didn’t know much about her, beyond wanting to get to know her better and to spend time with her.
And that’s precisely what we did. We got together and spent an amazing week together. On top of our alone time, we spend time with her brother [my good friend] and her dad, who was sick. We also visited her mother’s grave.
We talked about getting together, which was wild when I look back on it. We barely knew each other, although we did have a rather lengthy history of familiarity.
DID IT WORK OUT?
Due to circumstances, as well as personal situations that I won’t divulge, our plans to get back together fell apart. Surprisingly, it was I who called everything off.
She cried and cried, as I let her know that I loved her, but that things weren’t going to work. Things wouldn’t have worked, and for a series of complicated reasons that I may touch upon here.
As I am writing this, she is married to someone else. For this reason, we don’t talk anymore. It’s just too risky. Besides, we already tried. We had fun, even though it didn’t work out. At least we know.
All the same, I still think of her at times, and often reminisce about those old, old, old days, when we were kids who were running around trying to figure out the world that we had been unceremoniously dumped into.
LIFE IS JUST A FANTASY
This story, which started in the mid-70s, got me thinking. What would my memories be like, had she and I never gotten together?
I spent literal YEARS fantasizing about her. And when we finally got together, it really lived up to my expectations, in a variety of ways. It was a literally boyhood dream come true to be with her.
In the background of every fantasy is that little nagging stream of reality. It’s the mess of relocating, re-establishing, finding work, the cost of moving, and all of the other things we adults have to think about.
When we hit a point in our lives where our responsibilities get too heavy to carry around, it has an impact on the decisions we make.
I did not yet know that I was Autistic, but I did know that something was different or not quite right. While she retained her Midwest sensibilities and charm, I had been re-molded by living in California for long enough that I never wanted to go back to the Midwest.
By the time we got together, we were from two different worlds.
I could see the writing on the wall, that things weren’t going to end well if we put more effort into it. We’d had our week together, which was incredible. None of it seemed sustainable.
THE MEMORIES REMAIN
I veered a bit off-topic in the previous section, where I asked what my memories would be like, had I not gotten together with her.
It’s a strange thing, because I got back with this dream girl’s aunt back in late 2019 and we spent the better part of a year together. Things between the aunt and I ended, and not in a positive way.
I don’t want to detail it, to protect the aunt’s privacy. She had some serious problems and we couldn’t be together. It was a split that was the product of some horrible details of our situation, and I’ll leave it at that.
Because of HOW that connection ended, I don’t have any fond memories of the Aunt anymore. I don’t think about her, except when I’m writing this right now, and I have no desire to ever talk to her or see her again.
But with my friend’s sister, it’s different.
In that situation, I probably could have been selfish and proceeded to up-end my life and go move in with her. We may very well had ended up getting married. But where my life is now, I’ve got my own struggles to deal with. It would not have been fair to put her through all of that.
As I noted earlier, when we broke up, I did not yet know that I was Autistic. This is something that has gotten in the way of the majority of things in my life that would have been good.
It’s as if I had to let her go, so that she could have a better life. I do care about her that much.
I do feel like I did the right thing for both of us by breaking up.
Since I did the right thing, I have been able to keep those precious memories in a way that is healthy, positive, and secure.
It’s a good thing.
IN THE END
What had started as a curious fantasy that may have very well kicked off my puberty, turned into a situation where reality stepped in and brought things to a close.
It gets me wondering. Did she feel this way about me, too? The fact that she was the one who contacted me indicates that maybe she had a some feelings, as well as a genuine curiosity. I suspect, more than likely, it was nothing more than a case of familiarity. I did have a strong presence in the neighborhood and at her house when we were young.
It could have also been a mid-life crisis for her.
How weird to suspect that she also felt a certain way, as I did, and we never broached the subject. It is a question of timing. Did she feel that way after watching my big fight? Was it on down the road? Or was it something else?
It may not matter, and maybe I don’t ever want to know. It happened, and we got to experience it. That’s what counts.
I don’t dwell on it, or ruminate. I wish her well.
We live 1,000 miles apart, so the chances of our paths crossing again are slim. But what would I do if we bumped into each other?
I would invite her out to a diner. We’d sit at the counter and I’d buy her a cup of coffee. We’d talk about those old times more, and I’d get more questions answered.
Even though the relationship aspect of it did not work out, I do not have to wonder “what if.” I get to avoid old man regret, so far as this big life story is concerned.
We actually got together, gave a relationship serious consideration, and then we did the right thing by leaving it all be. It was a difficult thing to do, but it wasn’t a negative thing, a destructive situation, or a horrible ending.
Rather, it was bittersweet and necessary.
If “future me” had shown up when I was 11 years old and told me this story, there would be no way that I’d ever be able to believe any of it.
When I think of her, I feel like a kid again.
If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild