The Summer of 1979

Young love seemed pretty simple.  At least once upon a time, it seemed…simple.  

If you liked somebody, you let ‘em know.  And if you didn’t, you let ‘em know.  One way or another, you knew where you stood.

All of us have searched for someone to love when we were teenagers. Someone who would make us complete.  We would  choose partners and change partners as we started our journey to find love.  We would wake up each morning wondering if today would be the day that we would find our match.  Because you just knew that there was someone, somewhere that would be perfect… who might be searching just for you.

It was no different for me. Young love was about sharing little inside jokes when the teacher wasn’t looking.  It was about passing notes during class.  It was about all the really YoungLoveWordstupid things you share.  It was about getting through those difficult adolescent years… together.

Once upon a time there was a girl I knew that lived on another street in some other town. She had beautiful blond hair and blue eyes. I fell in love with her the first time I laid eyes on her.  When she laughed, I laughed and when she smiled, I smiled.

She and I had been through it all. The good times… the bad times. The ups… and the downs.  She would always be the girl next door – even though she didn’t live there. 

Every single thing that happened to me in my life that mattered, in some way, had to do with her.

She was my girl.

They say you can live a lifetime and never find true love. 

I guess I was lucky.  Because true love crossed my path the first time I met her.

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Love makes you do funny things.  It can make you proud and it can make you sorry.

Over time, we weren’t the same two kids we had once been.  Some things change.  Some things last.  We were young and scared and even though we didn’t know what was going to happen to us, or where we were going, we knew that things were changing on our path to adulthood. 

Change.  At seventeen it’s not always a pretty sight. In fact, it can get pretty ugly.

One night, I think we both knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be.

Other days.  New days.  Days to come.

We just had to understand that growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were and you wonder what’s to come.

Young love doesn’t know1979 the difference between “getting older” and “growing up”. 

That one night in the summer of 1979 we talked…about life…about our times together.  We promised each other that no matter what, we would always love each other and we’d always know that we shared the best days of our young lives together. It was a promise full of passion, truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that could only come from the hearts of the very young.

There are things in life that matter.  Things that happened in your past which can’t be denied.  She was part of me, and I was part of her. And no matter what, for as long as I lived, I knew I would never completely let her go.

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As I reflect on the events of that summer, I would love to sit down and have long conversation to the 1979 version of me.

I want to tell that young man so many things…

I want to tell him to get help with his jealousy. I want to tell him to get help with his anger and his temper. 

I want to tell him to slow down, there was no rush, there was plenty of time for life to happen. 

I want to tell him to not miss the opportunity speak up and tell her his true feelings when he had a chance in the coming years. 

I want to convince him to wait six more months when he knew he should have.

I want to tell him to love those that struggle in life and to not be so judgmental to those who did.

I made these changes way too late in life to save people the pain and the hurt that I would cause in the coming years.

Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t with me.

You go where life takes you.

I remember a time, a place and a particular summer. I remember how it was.  I remember growing up among people and places I loved. 

Most of all, I remember the girl of my dreams and how hard it was… to leave her behind.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Twenty years later… mistakes, broken lives and broken marriages later… our paths cross once again.

Walking into that restaurant to celebrate the birthday of a co-worker on that fateful day, I was not aware that my life was about to change.  I look up and see her sitting there… the air immediately rushes out of my lungs and suddenly I am seventeen again and the warm winds of the summer of 1979 flood my memory.

Another chance to make it work.

Pam and I are now celebrating over 15 years of marriage and while it is not always the “picture perfect marriage” I thought it would have been when we were sixteen, it is indeed all I have ever hoped it would be and more.  She makes me very happy.  And I still have to catch my breath each and every time she walks into the room.

She is home to me.

She is my best friend and I am grateful for the life we share together.

Was it destiny? Was it always meant to be?  Who was right, and who was wrong?  Well, I’m 36 years older than that fateful night when we broke up, and I still can’t completely figure these questions out.

At times, late at night, near sleep, the troubles and the disagreements of a young couple in love in the summer of 1979 creep into my thoughts.  So many things I should have said… so many things I could have done differently.

Over time, I discovered that young love is the farthest thing from being simple.

It’s no different today. 

Men and women suffer alone, over the bad choices they’ve made earlier in life. 

Young girls will get their hearts broken. 

And young men, naive and full of confusion, full of fear, full of love and courage grow up stealthily in their sleep.

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