Lucky in Love – Part One

February 18, 2007 at 7:42 am 19 comments

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Blinded By The Light

I’ve never had much luck with found money, but I’ve been indecently lucky in love.  I don’t use that word loosely.  I was practical even as a teenager and knew that real love was more than racing hormones or a shared affinity for music and funny movies.  I dated  as a teenager but I didn’t fall in love for the first time until I was a Junior in High School. 

Wilmington, North Carolina.  Minutes from Wrightsville Beach.  We lived in a suburb right on the sound.  My family spent a little over nine months in North Carolina and I had only two unhappy moments the entire time.  The first was when they forced me to go to Wilmington Christian Academy.  The second was when they made me leave that same school.   

It was the fall of 1975.  I saw him on the first day in my new school, leaning on a locker in a crush of students waiting for morning chapel. A full head taller than the boys gathered around talking to him he had magnificent hair the color of a foxes coat – a rich mix of russet, brown and gold.  The girl assigned as my “guide” caught me looking at him, and him looking at me.  By lunch we were an item.  R and I were as inseperable as two kids can be with strict parents, sports and a demanding school schedule.  We got to know each other during soccer season, a sport he didn’t play but I cheered for.  By basketball season even our teachers had decided that  heaven couldn’t have made a better match. 

It wasn’t his mellifluous voice, his nice car or his fine manners that made me love him.  It was how he made me feel…petite, beautiful, smart, perfect.  He looked at me like I was a rare piece of glass he wanted to wrap in silk.  We went to any extreme to be together.  Stopped back talking our parents, did our chores, kept our grades high…there was no sacrifice too great.  Our devotion to each other was so mature it scared my parents, and his, to death. 

We spent most of our time together heavily supervised at my house,  or at school functions.  But every once in awhile we’d get a chance to slip away.  Sometimes it was to the sound, a tiny skiff just big enough for the two of us.  We’d float toward the beach, our way lit by moonlight peeking through the moss on the trees and sparkling on the water.  He leaned on the ice chest in the back of the skiff, I leaned on him and we planned our future with the background music of lapping water, crickets and the occasional owls hoot.  College, work, marriage, children…right through to who would die first and how closely the other would follow. 

Public display of affection was grounds for expulsion at our very rigid school.  This didn’t stop the couples from finding places and times for stolen kisses of course, but all of us lived in mortal terror of getting caught.  A few weeks after we’d returned from Christmas vacation in 1976 I was called to the Principal’s office.  The secretary was very short with me when I arrived at the office.  She left me sitting in the hall, my mind racing with thoughts of what I could have done wrong to be in such a position.  Mr. B walked out of his office and I saw R sitting in one of two chairs across from the Principal’s desk.  Head hanging, hands clasped between his knees.  My stomach flipped and I just knew we’d been caught kissing.  Mr. B explained that while we were normally two of his best students, he had a note from Mrs. B (my homeroom teacher) that had grievously disappointed him.  He shuffled around on his desk searching for it then explained that he must have left it in the outer office.  The Principal left and shut the door behind him. 

By the time the door shut I was hyperventilating and ready to cry.  Getting expelled wasn’t the kind of thing my parents were going to be happy about.  Getting expelled for PDA would get me killed or sent to a monastery.  R turned to me and opened his hands.  He held a tiny velvet box that housed a flawless opal ring.  He asked me to marry him, not right then, but after college.  He explained this was a promise ring, I’d get the diamond after he had earned the money.   I looked at him like he was crazy.  We were about to be expelled and he was proposing?  R was still explaining that Mr. B was in on the surprise when the Principal walked back in the office all smiles and congratulations.  The secretary and several teachers on break cheered when we left the office.  My parents went into panic mode. 

A few weeks later I found out we’d be moving to Ohio.  We wouldn’t even be finishing the school year.  Teachers stepped forward offering a place for me to stay so I could finish my high school career there, where I was doing so well.  Friends parents offered…but my parents weren’t having it.  R and I were inconsolable.  Winter turned into spring, the move rapidly approached and we were getting more frantic with every day.  In March we had a “scholar day”, a half day off school for good grades.  Because we were in High School we had the option of going on an outing with the rest of the “scholar’s” or just signing out.  We signed out.  My parents were out of town for the day.  My sibs hadn’t qualified for “scholar day”. 

My room caught the afternoon sun.  My sister-mom had decorated it in blue and white, and when the sun came through the curtains over the window seat it turned the whole room the pale milky blue you see when you float under water and look at the sky.  I will forever associate that pale color and Manfred Mann singing Blinded by the Light with bliss. 

We moved in April.  R and his cousin chasing us down on the country road we used to get to the highway.  My sister-mom yelling “This is not helping!” while I cried in the car and he cried from his knees in the dust. 

We conducted our long distance romance as well as we could in those days.  Snail mail.  But we were young, and nobody wants to spend their senior year alone.  With every day that passed it just got harder and harder to figure out how to get back in the same state.  I finally returned the ring.  I haven’t heard from him since. 

Entry filed under: Ancient History.

Tagged Fat Tuesday

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DaveM  |  February 18, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Great post Kat, I’m sure many of us have been down a similar road. No matter how happy you are now you never forget your first loves. Why should you…. as they played a huge part in forming the personality you are now.

  • 2. LauraJ  |  February 18, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Wow! I feel a wee bit sad after reading that. Then again we wouldn’t have the Kat we know today nor all the crazy antics that go on in your house. I’m glad it wasn’t a happy ending. Not everything has to be, not everything should be.

  • 3. Nessa  |  February 18, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    So much passion. It’s kind of scary. Having a 20 year old daughter who has her life all planned with her boyfriend, I can understand your parents’ fear. Remembering my own passions at that age, I can understand your devastation. You wrote a very heartfelt tale.

  • 4. katcampbell  |  February 18, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Dave – So true. He set the standard for the types of men I was willing to date for the rest of my life.

    Laura J – It is a meloncholy story for me. More of the memory is good then bad.

    Nessa – These kind of love stories aren’t even possible any more. We didn’t watch TV, our music was so much more innocent, we didn’t have “friendly” relationships with our parents and teachers like kids do today.

  • 5. John Linna  |  February 19, 2007 at 3:50 am

    I married m7y first love and am still married to her. It musat have been horrible to lose yours.

  • 6. Mr. Fabulous  |  February 19, 2007 at 4:06 am

    This was a sad story beautifully told. I read it three times, and I never do that. Thank you for sharing it, Kat.

    I just noticed the radio stuff in your sidebar. You didn’t have to do that, silly! Thanks!

  • 7. katcampbell  |  February 19, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Dr. John – How lucky for you and Betty!

    Mr. Fab – Thanks, its a sad story I’ve never written down until now. I admire your entrepenurial spirit, so of course I have your radio feed here.

  • 8. QuillDancer  |  February 19, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Kat — you told this story beauifully, perfectly capturing the passion and agony of young love.

  • 9. Catch  |  February 19, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Wow Kat….moving story. I have been thru a similar experience a few years ago. Some day I will write about it when I can. I have tried but can just not do it. Its still too new for me.

  • 10. Gawpo  |  February 19, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Geez, Kat. That was so sad. Track him down. Where is he? Who’d he marry? Does she look like you? All these quest-shuns. Won’t happen. But the story has me asking. Great story and so well told. Thank you.

  • 11. Jackie  |  February 19, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Ah, Kat, that is the sweetest story! And you tell it well. But aren’t you the least bit curious???? Don’t you want to know how he turned out???? Cripes – I’M curious about him!!! lol

  • 12. another kat.  |  February 19, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Loving others is just as much a blessing as being loved.

    How cool to so fondly remember a first love….

    but oh yeah…in this day of internet…wonder where he is today….

  • 13. katcampbell  |  February 19, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Quilly – Thank you. That a 30 year old romance still lives so vividly in my mind is a testament to the power of love.

    Catch – I understand…it takes a really long time to put things in perspective some times.

    Gawpo & Jackie – I have tried to located him several times over the last few years. Just to see how he turned out, if he was happy, blah, blah. No luck. If he’s still in Wilmington, his phone is unlisted. If you guys have ideas for tracking a body down without a ssan … let me know.

    Kat in CA – I think I sticks in my memory so clearly because it was unfinished. We moved before we’d ever even had a disagreement, much less a fight. So it stuck because it was perfect.

  • 14. QuillDancer  |  February 19, 2007 at 10:14 pm ?

  • 15. katcampbell  |  February 19, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Quilly – Maybe, he’s not listed there, but I am, so maybe he’ll find me!

  • 16. smileymama  |  February 20, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Kat…oh my God, how very sad, and passionate…*****sigh******

  • 17. katcampbell  |  February 21, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Yes it was Smileymama, at least in hindsight!

  • 18. rel  |  February 21, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    That is a beautiful story! As you say: lucky in love! Even though it ended sadly at the time it gave you foresight into what was possible. I’m heart-touched.

  • 19. katcampbell  |  February 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Thank you Rel. I’ve always been greatful that my first love was a nice person.


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