Always so high
Glad heart, bright mind
I walked down the hallway toward AP English class. One more hour to go before lunch, then Spanish and track practice and the academic day would be done. This hinge point to my schedule was somewhat hard to bear. I had already thought too hard through three classes after getting up too early and having way too little nourishment for breakfast. Now I got to look forward to pondering Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness while ignoring the many similarities it bore to my own disillusionment with the world and “the horror, the horror” of becoming a jaded young adult.
Before I entered into the discussion of the darkness however, I noticed a light awaiting me. His name was Ken T—. We met through a friend of a friend and honestly I can’t say I ever really knew him. We had no class together. We didn’t sit share the same lunch table. I doubt he ever asked me anything beyond, “How are you today?” But he was what I looked forward to each day before noon. The way his face would light up in the hallway when he’d see me, as he was exiting class and I was entering. He was everything I needed in that moment.
Ken would wrap his arms around me and hold me there in the hallway, as if we weren’t surrounded by students shuffling off to class. I’d giggle at his thrilled response to my presence, and then I’d press his thin fit adolescent body against mine. I felt so special and content in that moment. It didn’t matter all the things I didn’t know about him or all the things he didn’t ask about me. He liked art and he played water polo and he delighted in me. I was pretty, I accepted what he gave me, and I delighted in him. Everything else was trivial.
That was the satisfaction of my 16 year old self. To be the person that lit up someone’s face, to be held for a brief and meaningful moment, to be treated as the most significant person in the crowded high school hallway…those were the things that spun my world back then. As void of commitment as the relationship between me and Ken was, it was incredibly meaningful at the time.