Sunday, September 13, 2009

My So-Called Memories

I spent last night watching two episodes of "My So-Called Life" on, and wow, the memories just flooded me. Specifically, the episode where Jordan Catalano and Angela Chase go to the boiler room to make out; their love is all fuzzy and sweet. You've got a leaf in your hair. Your cuticles are like moons.

Just do it? Right here in a parking lot?
We're not in a parking lot. We're in a car.

Except he doesn't want to profess their love in public. He wants to keep it all cozy and secret in the boiler room. So she confronts him with a line that no 15-year-old girl would ever have the mental capacity to say to the boy she's in love with, "Admit that this all happened. That you have emotions."

Oh, this line kills me. And it makes me think of my high school boy. You know, the boy. There was a boy I had. Scratch that. I didn't exactly have him. He on the other hand, had me... my heart... for a long time. We had years of courtship. There were phone calls. Songs serenaded. Notes in the yearbook. Rides home. And then finally, finally after all of that childlike foreplay, we kissed. And a little more than kissed.

He didn't call me after that night. He didn't call me that weekend. In school that Monday, I saw him in the hallway and he said Hi in this teasing way, dragging out my name, "Hayyyleyyyyy." It was taunting, and weird, and overtly sexual. And I was so angry. So rejected! We could have been Winona and Christian straight outta Heathers. You know, our love is God, let's go get a slushie. Instead, after all that time, all I got was a... cat call?

After class, he waited for me. We had a stare-off. And because I didn't know how to speak, because I couldn't speak to boys back then, I grabbed a friend's hand and walked away. I was stoic, right? I didn't need a boy to determine my happiness. I had no use for heartbreak. Pshaw, heartbreak. Pshaw, rejection. I was far too tough for that. Go find yourself another girl. (So he did.)

What did I really want to say? "Admit this all happened. Admit that we had something between us for years. Admit that we had this connection. Admit that I was more than just a one-night hook up." Maybe for him it was all about finally getting the girl, and the chase was over. It was possible. I was 17. He was 18.

I spent years, years, wishing that all the time he spent chasing me I could have been more open about my feelings. That I had no relationship with my dad. That I came from a divorced family. The strong man of the house was no where to be found. That I was terrified of being hurt. That my mother spent all of my adolescent life figuring out her own male-female relationships, so there was no male-female relationship to copy.

That boy wanted me for years. But I was just a scared, emotionally immature girl who found it a lot easier to relate to women than to boys. Don't. Get. Close. To. Boys.

Jake. My beautiful product of divorce. My lovely little Jordan Catalano. My boy. He's got me and Andy as the man-woman role models. He's even got me and his Dad. He sees we have respect for each other. He sees civility. He doesn't see the back and forth emails filled with disagreements. He doesn't see the blow ups (even though they're now generally few of them). Jake will be able to talk to girls. He'll be able to form healthy relationships.

I hope he doesn't take girls to the boiler room. And if he does, I hope he'll take her hand in the hallway afterwards. I hope he'll spell her name right if he writes her love notes. Angela. With one L.


  1. I really like this Hayley. I have to say, I had the opposite reaction in my adolescent years though. I grasped on to any boy who showed an interest in me. Gave him anything he wanted just to keep him around. Sad but true. Opposite ends of the pendulum with same axis.

  2. yes, i know there are both sides to the spectrum of this topic...

  3. This is a great piece. I loved, loved that show...look at how beautiful Claire Danes is.
    And not putting our own shit on our children? Is the defining mission of my life.

  4. ps
    i just finished reading Lorrie Moore's new novel last week!

  5. Thanks for the comment, and yes, wasn't she so beautiful? Lorrie Moore. I'm totally amazed on how she writes a novel like a short story. Every line, and every word is so meaningful and careful. I unfortunately didn't see her last night in the city... Andy's birthday... and he wanted roasted broccoli, of all things, and to watch tennis!


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