Timeline: Seventeen & Eighteen

(This follows on from Sixteen, and before that, Fourteen & Fifteen, and before that, Twelve & Thirteen, and before that, Eleven, and before that, Seven Through Ten, and before that, Zero Through Six.)

1997, aged seventeen: The way I meet my first boyfriend is that he asks to borrow my eyeliner, and this is a story I will tell for years because it always makes people laugh. We're in a club that has indie rock nights on the first Thursday of every month, and I am almost certainly wearing plaid. Dan is a friend of my wild friend Caroline, and I end up putting the eyeliner on him myself, sitting cross-legged on the dirty floor in the dark. The relationship doesn't last long---three months, tops---and I break up with him in his car one too-light afternoon, and because I'm not sure where to look, I end up looking at a sheet of passport photos sitting on his dashboard, his frozen face smiling up at me in black and white.

That summer I'm back in Connecticut, and Sean comes over one night and we lie on our backs on the grass by the pool, looking up at the stars, and nothing happens because we're only friends, but something in me snaps and I decide that I just can't take the tiresome almost-ness of it anymore. I write him a letter telling him how I feel about him---how I've always felt about him---and I leave it in his mailbox, and the next night he calls. A few weeks later, he kisses me in his car in my driveway, and when I finally go inside the house, I force myself to wait until I see his tail lights disappear around the corner before I jump, like a maniac, around my living room.

1998, aged eighteen: For my eighteenth birthday, my mother lets me have a party. She insists that we vacuum before the guests arrive and I tell her it isn't neccessary, that no-one will be looking at the carpets, but we do it anyway because that is what you do before parties, she says. As it turns out, the carpets get so utterly destroyed that night---beer stains, cigarette burns, blue hair dye---that they end up having to be replaced entirely. It is a very long time before we can laugh about this.

In the Spring, my family takes a vacation to Orlando, where Sean is stationed with the Navy, which is what he's decided to start doing with his life these days. I haven't seen him since September, and when he comes to pick me up at the hotel, he is wearing his uniform, and we drive to the beach in the dark in his jeep. A week later on Easter Sunday, we agree officially to become boyfriend and girlfriend, and this is news to my actual boyfriend, Ian, whose heart I break via telephone when I return to England. The callousness with which I do this will remain one of the top five regrets of my life.

Over the summer, Sean moves to South Carolina, and in September, my friend Alex and I decide to make the 14-hour drive from Connecticut to see him. It is my first road trip, and the exhilaration I feel at stopping at a gas station somewhere in Maryland in the middle of the night is the purest sense of freedom I've ever had. After we've been there a few days, Alex leaves and I stay in a motel in a seedy part of Charleston, during which I subsist mostly on cranberry juice and stale bagels bought from the K-Mart across the street, except for one day when I find myself so hungry that I run across the four-lane highway just to get to Arby's. Sean comes over every afternoon after work and takes me out to see the city I have no idea we'll be living in together five years later, and when the week is over, he drops me off at the Amtrak station at dawn and I cry the whole way home.

A few days after I get back, the phone rings at 5am one morning, and my mother pads down the hall blearily, hands me the receiver. "Hello?" I say, whispering, hoarse, still asleep. It's Sean and he's drunk. "I just thought I should tell you," he says. "That I love you." It's the first time he's said it, and so I say it back.

1
aBd libbing
Mar 31, 2008

The description of Sean picking you up in his uniform? Total Bachelor flashback. I think we need to see pictures.

2
DiaryofWhy
Mar 31, 2008

Ahhh, the drunken first I love you. Did he remember saying it the next day?

3
Jules
Mar 31, 2008

Man, the carpet-vacuuming and eventual ruining by blue hair dye is so close to a party I once had that it I will probably laugh to myself all day at work about it. The only thing missing is trying to explain to my parents how the big dent in the kitchen wall got there (someone at my party threw a baseball in the house... stupid looking back) and wondering if I'd ever be able to leave my room again before graduation.
Jules
House of Jules

4
Camels & Chocolate
Mar 31, 2008

Your teen years were far more romantic than mine. I wouldn't have any of this until after I graduated college. Late bloomer, I suppose.

5
Someone Being Me
Mar 31, 2008

You should write a biography of your life. More details, please. I am enjoying this way too much.

6
Nikki
Mar 31, 2008

After reading this, I could literally hear my mother (a native Oklahoman and eventual Texan - hence, strong Southern accent) say: "Well now, that's just the sweetest thing I think I've ever heard...just darlin'!"

One of my first loves was stationed in Corpus Christi, TX for Navy pilot training...I often made the roadtrip from Houston and remember well the torture of leaving...and the even deeper torture of leaving when he was in his hot pilot uniform. I mean, really, that's just more than a girl can take...

7
kat
Mar 31, 2008

oh my. this is getting good. between this and ree's story - i'm all set on the romance side.

8
Diane
Mar 31, 2008

I was totally getting an 'Officer and a Gentleman' flashback but that could totally be because I am OLD.

I love how Sean tells you he loves you for the first time. I still remember all the first things about my husband - especially when he said I love you first. That moment is always sealed in our memories as women.

Thanks for making me have a moment in my day where I remembered those things. I am going to call him right now and tell him I love him.

9
Alice-Anne Nix
Mar 31, 2008

Great story. I wish I could remember and write some of the more tender romantic moments of my life. Please promise you will keep blogging until you are 80 or so. I think I will have to know what is happening with you and Sean for the rest of my life.

10
Susie
Mar 31, 2008

BLUE JUSTIN!

11
Drew
Mar 31, 2008

It's all coming back: Breaking hearts, the first I love you, the parties which put a strain on your relationship with your parents. Great writing.

12
barbie2be
Mar 31, 2008

oh my god, you guys are so freakin cute. that is the sweetest story ever.

13
Operation Pink Herring
Mar 31, 2008

I love these stories! How on earth you remember so much is a mystery. Your journals must be better than mine!

14
B2G
Mar 31, 2008

I concur with the previous adorable statements. For serious.

15
janet
Mar 31, 2008

Your mother sounds like a saint :) and I'm always up for a good love story!

16
Adaora
Mar 31, 2008

What part of Connecticut did you knock about? I was wondering because I was born in Fairfield County, Danbury, Connecticut! Awesomeness.

17
NothingButBonfires
Mar 31, 2008

Darien, Connecticut! Very close. Also in Fairfield County!

And I used to love the Danbury Mall. Also, the Trumbull Mall because it had a Dunkin Donuts.

18
The OverThinker
Mar 31, 2008

Sean even does the "Drunk Dial" well!

I hope you explain Susie's comment about BLUE JUSTIN. Sounds like a good one.

19
NothingButBonfires
Mar 31, 2008

Oh, Blue Justin! He was a boy I knew who came to my party with freshly-dyed blue hair. I have no idea how his hair got wet, but somehow it did, and when it got wet, all the blue dye came off all over every single surface of the apartment. Weeks later, we were still finding new blue stains, every one of which would cause Susie (then aged nine) to shout "Blue Justin was here!" and "Blue Justin strikes again!"

20
kimblahg
Apr 01, 2008

cigarette burns and blue hair dye in the carpet? my parents would have killlllled me. i'm really enjoying this story- it makes it all sweeter that i know it has a happy ending.

21
Jemima
Apr 02, 2008

God you're lucky. If I'd trashed my parents' house and my boyfriend called at 5 a.m., my parents would have made me write a thousand 100-page essays, which I would still be writing, thereby preventing me from EVER having fun again. Plus, if I'd gone off for a road trip to visit him, my dad would have had him killed. Your parents are so much cooler than mine.

22
jill
Apr 03, 2008

oh my goodness, i love these stories. i was hit like a brick with the college memory of my boyfriend of a week drunkenly telling my friends at a party he loved me. completely freaked me out, but i should've trusted him. i married him five years later, and now 20 years later (20! holy crap!) he's still the best! thing! ever!