I had Algebra II on the second floor of my high school, junior year. Every day, on my way up the stairs to that class, I would end up behind this beautiful boy. He was a senior, on his way to another class. I didn’t know his name, didn’t figure I’d ever meet him, but had a huge crush.
I wrote poetry about him.
One day, he stopped on the stairs in the middle of the class change rush, turned and looked at me. He pointed at me, and he said, “YOU are beautiful,” then he turned back around and ran on to his class. It was the most extraordinary John Hughes moment of my high school career.
Later in the year, I passed by him in the hall after school. He was sitting outside the counselor’s office playing with a ouija board. He spoke to me, called me by name, and I laughed and rushed away because I was too afraid to talk to him. Anyway, he was graduating.
I spent too much of Algebra II reading Elf Quest comics, Clan of the Cave Bear novels, and skipping school, and ended up retaking it in summer school. The second most extraordinarily John Hughes moment of my high school career was when that beautiful boy appeared in the doorway of my summer school class. Time stood still. He spotted me. He grinned. He made a beeline to the empty desk next to mine. He told me his name was Robert, he asked me out to a movie, and we spent the rest of that summer dating, drawing Bill the Cat cartoons for each other, and driving around listening to cds–he got Big Thing for me.
He was obviously gay, and gayly obvious, but we pretended he wasn’t and that closed-mouth kissing was what it was all about because his parents wanted him to be straight, and he was trying to wish away the gay. He was also broken, and self-loathing, and self-destructive, and I let him slip purposefully away as I entered my senior year. I am, and have always been helpful to a point. He was way beyond my point.
I wouldn’t see much of him again until one night, when I was waiting on line to get into a gay bar to see another of my boyfriends (that one wasn’t gay. he was bi.) I was standing there with a friend, and I heard a laugh. I craned to see around the line in front of me, and there he was. I called, “Robert!” And he turned around and screamed. And then we were inseparable for the next six months.
He would come over to my apartment and sleep. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent just sitting on the floor in my living room. He would brush my hair and tell me about his world–his sad, sad world.
By then he was taking drugs–lots of them. Anything he could get his hands on. He scared me with his suicide threats, and his temper, and I told him he couldn’t come over anymore.
After that, he would disappear and pop up in my life at the strangest moments. Every couple of years, I’d hear from him. Sometimes at 3 in the morning, calling as he was coming down, or at noon, calling me at work because he’d gotten hold of my number somehow.
The last time I heard from him was just after Thor was born. I couldn’t talk when he called, and promised to call him back. He never returned my calls after that, and I didn’t hear anything about him until today.
That sweet, beautiful boy took his own life on Tuesday. The where and the how don’t surprise me at all. He’d planned the where and the how back when we were 17 years old, and told me all about it. I’m amazed that he was able to fight his demons back for this long.
There are things that had happened to him that took away chances. I won’t write about them because they aren’t my story to tell, and if he’d wanted everyone to know, he’d have made it plainer. But there are lives that are broken before they even get started, and I am amazed at the strength and bravery it took for him to live as long as he did.
He was a beautiful, beautiful boy, with a big heart, who was kind and generous (unless the waiter at Olive Garden flirted with you instead, then he could get kind of bitchy.) I loved him. I couldn’t help him. I’m not sure the best therapy in the world could have undone what had been done to him.
I hope he has found peace. I hope he is at rest.
In honor of him, I give you the song that was “our” song. I hope it makes you smile as much as it did the two of us.