Jun 192010
 

A green and black striped Henley and jeans with a hole in the knee was what I wore right before I lost my girl virginity.

It was about a week after I leaked my secret to Christina, and we were sitting nervously together on her bed; she was more in the middle, I was perched on the edge. The Used was playing in the background. I let her giggle anxiously for a few minutes before I, always the predator, went in for the kill. It wasn’t as scary as I thought. Sort of soft. A stark contrast when compared to Henry’s bristly mug.

We had discussed this very scenario ad nauseum over the span of about 35,000 phone calls and emails, all of which ended with me emphatically stating that we were only going to kiss, nothing else.

But after about five minutes, my inner hussy emerged and was all, “Yeah go ahead, just do whatever.” All of my preconceptions, hang-ups (and standards, apparently) had blown out the window with one big gust from Christina’s duck lips. You know, maybe it’s crazy, but I kind of liked it. She treated me like I was some perfect being and I have never actually been able to see tangible love (or burning obsession, it’s all semantics) in someone’s eyes before, like I could in hers. It was addicting, knowing I had this crazy effect on someone.

The rest of the weekend was filled with delirious giddiness, stolen kisses, goosebumped arms, and nonsensical inside jokes. It was one of the best weekends of my life, because with Christina, I was thirteen again. I could say anything I wanted to say around her, do anything I wanted, be anyone I wanted – like, for instance, myself. She had somehow tore down every one of my walls when I wasn’t looking, and to this day Henry is the only other person who has done that. So I found myself valuing her even more; that I was able to quite literally strip down and still find myself comfortable with her? It was a really big deal to me.

We could spend hours just listening to music, no need for words. And when certain parts would come on, we would look at each other knowingly.

**

When I was in seventh grade, my friend Liz invited me to take acting classes with her. One of the exercises we had to do was pair up with someone and attempt to mime their motions with closed eyes. I guess the point was that you were supposed to open yourself up and feel that slight electric connection that apparently is meant to happen when two people are just about to touch.

I couldn’t feel it.

“Stop thinking about it too much,” the instructor said. “Just let yourself go.”

Liz and I were bombing the exercise so I had to cheat and peek to see where her hand was so I could follow it with my own. I was so upset that night, that I wasn’t able to connect with my partner like everyone else could. I felt there was something wrong with me. Was I that emotionally shut off that I couldn’t even sense that another human being, and not even a stranger but a friend, was standing inches away from me?

Ten years later, I finally was able to let myself go and feel that connection.  I could close my eyes and feel Christina. Sometimes I felt that I could feel her even with 300 miles between us.

**

Christina took me to a cemetery that weekend, this huge sprawling graveyard in Cincinnati where we got lost almost immediately after parking. We must have spent hours there, harassing ducks, kicking tombstones, me spitting “I hate you!“s, which is Erin code for “I might kinda love you, maybe.” We held hands the whole time. Everything was funny. Everything was special. Everything was big and important and significant. It felt simultaneously innocent and wrong.

I remember an older couple passing us, and for a split second I wanted to let go of her hand. But then they smiled at us and it kind of made me appreciate the day even more.

Somewhere in the middle of the cemetery, we came across this small, gnarled, leafless tree. To anyone else, it would have been just that – a tree. But to us, all hyped up on lust-induced adrenaline, sleep-deprived giddiness, and the sense of sharing some big secret love-thing, it became a very big deal.

With feigned gravity, we declared that this tree needed a closer inspection. We ducked beneath the boughs, which took on the shape of a busted umbrella above our heads; we were just about to make it our new Clubhouse for Gaybos when Christina noticed that there was a dead snake half-buried under a carpet of dead leaves and pine cones. And then – oh, look! –  there was a dead bird, too, so we ran out from under the tree, screaming and waving our hands in mock-horror. This should not have been that big of a deal. But for years, that tree came up in conversation. She wrote poems about it; I had it make tiny cameo appearances in some of my stories through the years. Once, we even tried to find it again, before realizing that there were at least fifty other trees in that cemetery with the same bare, arthritic branches.

When it was time for me to leave that Sunday afternoon, we said goodbye in her kitchen and she cried. I couldn’t get her to stop, and I couldn’t stay any longer, so I just left her there, crying against her kitchen counter.

Yes, everything was great that weekend. Like a fucking Twinkie filled with stuff that movies are made of.  If anyone would have suggested to me then that in five years, my friendship with Christina would be splayed, broken-hearted and decomposing beneath the Death Tree, I would have punched them in the face.

I wish I could have put it all in a snow globe, because I know I will never get that back again.

  16 Responses to “The Christina Chronicles: The Death Tree”

  1. These are heartbreaking to read. So well-written & sentimental. I’m glad that you’re sharing it because it’s a very special story. Keep it up!

  2. i really enjoyed reading this.

    • Thank you, Jenny, so much! It was the hardest one to write so far and I found myself crying which I really didn’t want to do because I want to be SO DONE with crying over her.

  3. p.s. i’ve missed you! we really should speak at some point in the near future.

  4. I’m always impressed by your honesty and toughness. You’re totally my hero. This is some great and fascinating stuff.

  5. This is still such a great and heartrending story. I love how you don’t shy away from posting stuff.

    • Thank you for reading it, Nicole. There was so much I left out back when it was going on, and since it was such a big part of my life, I felt it was time to be honest about all of it. I won’t lie though – it’s tough and embarrassing, and there are times when I don’t want to continue with it. But you guys have been so great through the process, and it’s been helping me feel better about things!

  6. This is such a sad entry. I remember how charmed you were with her during that period. It’s a shame that you couldn’t box up the cool, innocent Christina to keep.

    • Sometimes I drive myself crazy going back and pinpointing all the moments that changed her. All the shit her family and friends filled her head with about me. All the conforming she did to be who her family wanted her to be. She lost herself along the way and I couldn’t make her see that. It sucks to hate someone and love them just as much, at the same time!

  7. 1. How did Henleys come to be known as such?

    2. “Duck lips.” TOLHURST!

    3. “She treated me like I was some perfect being and I have never actually been able to see tangible love (or burning obsession, it’s all semantics) in someone’s eyes before, like I could in hers. It was addicting, knowing I had this crazy effect on someone.”

    In Union We Stand on this. *sigh*

    4. “Ten years later, I finally was able to let myself go and feel that connection.”

    It’s a powerful and lovely thing, and I am glad you found it. Too bad it had to be with her, but I’m still glad you found it.

    5. “Everything was funny. Everything was special. Everything was big and important and significant.”

    Yes. It’s so nice at first!

    6. “I wish I could have put it all in a snow globe, because I know I will never get that back again.”

    Sad but beautiful ending to this post. Please do keep writing. This is some of your best.

    • 1. I have no idea, but “Boys of Summer” always plays in my head when I see one!

      2. That was me trying to be NICE!

      3. It’s an awesome feeling at first, isn’t it? Then it gets weird.

      4. Sometimes I wonder if she ruined me from having that connection again with someone else. I find myself actively trying not to build those walls again. Fuck her.

      5. And then the last two years happened!

      6. Thank you again for reading these. It’s embarrassing for me to write it and I can only imagine what some people may think. (But it’s funny to watch my stats spike with visits from readers in the Cincinnati area, EVERY TIME I post one of these. I guess they weren’t expecting me to write the good parts, too. But that’s because honesty is something that baffles them.)

  8. I just wanted to thank you again for sharing this with your readers, I imagine it’s not easy to do. The more you add to the tale the clearer it is how complicated a situation it has been and how hard it must be to close that door. Hopefully it’s bringing you some sort of resolve and catharsis in the process. If ever you want to talk I would be happy to listen. We’re not just friends through the good stuff, I hope you know that by now.

    For my own curiosity, has Christina or anyone in her crew shown any backlash or reaction to your blog chronicles of the past?

    • Thank YOU! That’s part of why I wanted to write this. It’s easy for people to look in from the outside and just see the negative and be like, “Um, just fucking let it go already.” And I think it’s like that in most cases, you know? It’s hard to explain what goes on emotionally with me two people in private. And she and I were such an unlikely pair to begin with that I know it took Henry YEARS to even come close to understanding the attraction. I still don’t really understand how it happened!

      There hasn’t been any backlash yet. But “they” are definitely reading it, according to my blog stats. Specifically that girl Sammie who was mentioned in the post about me going to Ohio for the first time. Sammie was the 16-yo mom who flipped out on me for saying I didn’t want to get pregnant because I wasn’t sure I could handle labor. Her LJ (omgitssammie) shows up a lot as a referring link. Nothing has been said. I don’t expect anything from Christina. Her sister, maybe.

      The only negative feedback I’ve received was from Alisha, who sort of made me feel I was an asshole for writing about Christina. But you know what? She knew this was coming. She had a chance to make amends. And none of this is a lie. I write about my life, and this was a pretty huge part of that, so I have no guilt!

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