Wednesday, February 8, 2012

5 Loves: The Boy Next Door

 

I was born a lover. Something about me falls easily for other people. I love to love. As a tribute to the holiday of romance (coming up next week!) I am writing about the five great loves of my life--for better or for worse--after all what's romance without the heart break?

My first kiss was gorgeous. I was twelve, a very young age to be kissing, yes, but it was paired with such blissful innocence and excitement I can hardly blame myself. It was sunset, the party was held on the back lawn of the hillside estate. We were celebrating our release from elementary school, in three short months all of us over-grown sixth graders would be initiated into fast times at middle school. Soon there would be more than just our neighborhood grouping of friends bound by desk assignments, school carnivals and mandatory dance programs. We were all moving on.
So this was a farewell, of sorts.
The view was phenomenal, behind us was a cropping of gigantic mountains paved with a golden, dying sun. Stretched out in front of us was the entire valley, like a map of purple and blue roads and homes. Out west was the lake, silver like tinfoil spilling over to the south and to the north the majestic snow-tipped Mount Timpanogos, with its legend of lovers and death. 
Then there was Matthew. He stood close to me with his tall frame, always one of the tallest in our class, his broad shoulders and soccer-toned legs. His hair was the color of the foothills--a wavy warm blond. I didn't know what was going to happen in my life after I graduated from my childhood, but I knew I would always love Matthew.
It started in the second grade when he wore his swampy green Hawaiian shirt on the first day of class. Mrs. Nelson slid his desk next to mine and my ears went hot. He quickly realized my tendency to laugh at everything he said . . . or sang. Sometimes he'd sing "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?" and I would  laugh and he would laugh and the world was the best place.
The thing is, Matthew was kind. I came from a ruthless den of teasing. My five brothers teased me night and day about this or that, but when I'd come to school and sit by Matthew he'd tell me sweet things like, "I like your freckles" or "I think you are funny too" and he always, always said to me, "you are a good writer" and that made me feel best of all.
He noticed my talents.
One day my grumpy black dog Chucka climbed up the street and found Matthew's cottony dog on a leash and mated. After Chucka delivered the pups my parents invited Matthew's family down to inspect the offspring. Matthew and I sat on the colonial carpet my mother picked out and let the puppies paw at us. As our parents talked about making arrangements for proper adoptions I read into the entire experience like a gypsy with a magic ball. Surely this meeting of our families with familial arrangements and playful offspring was a sign of things to come. It was that night I was certain I would someday marry Matthew.
When church was held at the old Provo Tabernacle every six months, I knew he'd be there with his family dressed in his white shirt and tan trousers. I would reserve my best dress and curl my hair for that occasion, then, I would purposely (and vaguely) plead with my family to sit exactly opposite his family on the upstairs balcony. This way I could flirt with my eyes at him while the sermons rolled on for two hours. The stained-glass windows in the higher register cast a yellow light on the congregation below and my mother would always lean over to me and say, "Isn't that Matthew cute?"
She was on to us.
My devotion for Matthew lasted throughout a very rough patch in our relationship. Middle school turned out the worst of our lives. It wasn't until our sophomore year we'd reconcile when I asked him to our very first "legal" dance-date. We were sixteen and terribly awkward. Then he started dating the long-legged, troublesome Junior, who was a prize to all the boys and I disappeared in his life.
For years after high school we'd see each other and easily fall back into complimenting one another. I wanted to know what he was thinking about in his life--college, Lds mission and romance? He always asked about my writing, which, sadly I had long forsaken thanks to college and an early-adult onset of confusion.
Then one day in our mid-twenties we found ourselves once again staring at each other across the Tabernacle balcony. And just like old times my mother whispered to me. "Isn't that Matthew cute?"
After church ended with an edifice-echoing "Amen!" he made his way over to me in his tie and tan trousers--time had made him into an smartly dressed man. We talked as we exited the tabernacle into the afternoon light, walking through early summer in downtown Provo on the way to our cars.
"I was thinking I should marry you," he said to me.
"You should," I replied.
A couple weeks later I put myself into my favorite peach dress and tried to fit a smile onto my face. My friend Anna had just been married and I was going to wish her well at a celebratory party up the street. My failed romantic relationships veiled my happiness for Anna and I tried not to think of all the people at the party who were looking at me with absolute pity.  
Here is Anna getting married, and poor Courtney shows up all alone.
Then Anna, who could keenly sense my public display of insecurity gave me her bridal bouquet so I wouldn't have to humiliate myself any further by body wrestling a group of eager girls for the superstition of catching it. Just as my confidence was entirely melted, my loneliness like a crown on my head, Matthew came in through the door. I saw him look around from guest to guest, his eyes smiling and searching for what I hoped was me. My freckled face.
Then he found me.
"Can I walk you home?" he asked as I hugged him gratefully.
I picked up the white bouquet and fluffed my peachy dress, wrapped my arm around his and paraded past the eying guests. He was always my Gilbert Blythe, my champion when I needed him. We walked home in the sunset of June, flowers and fine clothes, the beginning of a rekindled friendship.
There was a trip to the desert, an adventurous snowmobiling excursion, lots of late night discussions and finally the moment where I had to know, was this going to last in marriage like my heart always promised me?
But Matthew wasn't sure of where he was in his own path and explained this to me carefully during a midnight phone call that extended on to morning. It wasn't long after that I met someone who reminded me of all the characteristics I loved about Matthew--including his tall, strong figure--and who was equally kind. In this way I did marry Matthew, or what he represented to me.
But he never left my life. We went to our ten year high school reunion together and spent a Valentines Day  in New York City underneath a dripping, black umbrella navigating Wall Street. It was then he said to me,
"I have feeling that I should tell you to take up writing again."
And I've been writing ever since.
But before all of that there was the first kiss, you see, planted on my ample cheek as the sun said good night on our simple lives.


Tomorrow: The High School Sweetheart

39 comments:

Katherine said...

Beautiful. That's all.

Sarah said...

you have the most beautiful ability to paint such vivid pictures w/ your words. I'm so glad he told you to keep writing.

sherrie said...

Great start to a series I'm excited to read. :)

Anne-Marie said...

Wow. The imagery you paint with your words is so wonderful! You had me hanging on every word. Beautiful story! Can't wait for the rest! :)

Jennifer said...

Damn, girl.

Jennifer said...

You made me love Matthew too.

Sandy said...

I am sure glad you took up writing again. You make my day.

Creole Wisdom said...

What a sweet series of memories. I am curious to know what happened to Matthew. I hope such a fine man found a beautiful, wonderful woman at least half as talented as you.

I, too believe there are multiple loves and its important to honor them all for what they were to us at a certain time in our lives. I don't think having those experiences makes a woman less desirable for marriage, or less in love with her husband for having loved before. I think it brings a richness of experience and knowledge to any marriage. Just my 2cents, ya know :)

Cheryl said...

awww...I think I love that cute Matthew!

Kelly said...

Great post! Where is Matthew today? I love the reference to Gilbert Blythe!

Vesuvius At Home said...

Awww, Court. This is just so sweet and beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

tiffany said...

Beautiful. I wish my childhood romance was filled with as much innocence. Or that I could remember to capture all the beauty that did surround two children learning about relationships.

Domestic Diva said...

That made my heart beat a little faster and made me relive the sweet romances of my youth. Beautiful.

erin said...

just found your blog and after reading THIS and the gilbert blythe reference, i fell in love immediately.

HAS said...

Simply lovely.
xo

Nicole said...

I am really excited to read your book. Good job to Matthew for encouraging you to write.

Tawnie said...

So where is Matthew now?

Harriet said...

Love this!

Bev said...

Breathtaking!

Sarah Wilks said...

Matthew was right: You ARE a good writer - I'm so glad I found your blog!

Loui♥ said...

wonderful, gorgeously told post! am anxiously awaiting tomorrow's chapter!
warmest hugs..
Loui

OnCallMom said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. I've missed your writing.

Steph H said...

Thank you, Matthew, for pushing (and believing) in CJane's writing. The world is a better place for it. I love the poetic way you tell stories-- just enough detail, just enough plot intrigue, just enough relatability, just enough humor. It's the way I wish I wrote, and it is such a refreshing treat for me in the middle of a busy day. Thank you.

bugs 'n' bees said...

I think I love Matthew.

Tina Bee. said...

One time Matthew saw me in my underwear.

Steve and Alli said...

Please pass the tissues! I had a friend like that too, except he teased me quite a bit in between all the nice things he said. Oh the memories...

Seth and Natalie said...

this post is so beautiful. I wish I could say things how you do. I know how you feel, and I love it.

Brenda said...

This was so beautiful. I cried! Can't wait for the rest of the posts!

lawdy said...

fun, fun. it really is fun to remember all those crushes and plans and stomach swirls. . .thanks

Kate Boyle said...

I love it. Thank you for sharing! It brings back memories of my first love.

Sarah said...

WOW, Ms. CJane. Wow.

Hooray for more stories!!!

Genevieve said...

LOVE this.

Amy said...

I married my Matthew, we met in 7th grade science...20 years of marriage this year. I loved your story.

Amy Joy said...

You made us all want to know Matthew's entire life. You are good! You should write a book we will buy it.

Pat Stika said...

I love your pairing of this lovely pinkish rendering of the tabernacle with your perfectly tender and warm recollections of love and friendship. Delicious! I am certainly looking forward to the rest of this five course meal.

Cindy Howard said...

You really know how to suck a girl in. Perfect story in preparation for Valentine's day. I feel all mushy now.

Jennifer Bowman said...

That was so sweet and so beautifully written.

Cannot wait for the rest!

Melly O said...

I got all floaty, whispy-hearted and nostalgic for simpler, sweeter times as I read this. Thank you

Jess said...

Completely beautiful. Feeling like I experienced that story myself. Great writing.