Timeline: Sixteen

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

1996, age 16: It's mid-August in Connecticut and we're eating dinner out on the screened porch, watching the flicker of fireflies, listening to the drone of the lazy overhead fan. My friend Katrina---who is eighteen and drives a Jeep Wrangler---is coming to pick me up in fifteen minutes, and I scoot back from the table and run upstairs to get ready, emerging in a white Jimi Hendrix t-shirt which my mother tells me is too tight (it is, it always has been) and so I sulk upstairs to change. In Katrina's car, we drive around aimlessly for twenty minutes---there is absolutely nowhere for two underage girls to be on a humid Thursday night in suburban Connecticut, or at least that's how it seems---and then I have a great idea. "The beach," I say. "Let's go to the beach."

There are people at the beach, a shadowy crowd of them, and after a little hesitation, we park and walk slowly over. Katrina does the talking and someone hands her a beer, and then we're chatting with two ham-thighed nineteen year olds with their baseball caps on backwards. Being in such close proximity to boys I don't like makes me think, immediately, of boys I do like, and so suddenly, just because I'm feeling brave and a little unlike myself, I say "hey, do you guys happen to know a guy named Sean?"

It's a stab in the dark, a total left-fielder of a question, but it's been almost a month since my strange trifecta of encounters---three times in five days---with the wild-haired bike-riding boy I've since decided I'm in love with. I've been looking for him---it's a small town, how many places could he be?---and I haven't been able to find him again: not in the grocery store, not at the pizza place, not riding his bike on the sidewalk. I've searched for him from car windows. On my desk, his name is doodled on scraps of spare paper.

"Yeah, I know Sean," says one of the boys. "Kind of curly hair? Nice eyes? He's here tonight. Somewhere."

And then it's like a tiny miracle, because after all that looking I've done on my own, there he is at last, strolling out from some dark corner by the payphone. How have they made him appear so easily? "Hey, Sean---got a girl here says she knows you," says his friend, and Sean squints at me confused, not remembering.

"We met...about a month ago....the beach....." I fumble, and it's my accent that finally tips him off, because his face lights up in recognition as I speak. "You!" he says. "You look different! Your hair is up this time."

We sit on a bench and talk (he's drinking coffee, I'm cross-legged) and later we all drive to a party at some girl's house, Shana or Sharon or Shannon---I don't think I ever actually find out which---and someone hoists an enormous blue cooler of beer up onto their shoulders in the elevator, and Sean and I spend the evening together on the balcony, flirting and not-flirting but mostly flirting.


Back at school in September, I send him a postcard, keeping it light and nonchalant. Weeks go by, a month perhaps, and then a postcard comes in return. When I go home again at Christmas, he still hasn't left for Vermont---the plan, for some reason, was always to move to Vermont, though in the end it never happened---and we talk on the phone a few nights a week, long conversations about nothing.

One nerve-wracking night, he comes to pick me up---the first time we've seen each other since the summer---and we go to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and then spend the evening driving aimlessly around town. The snow has turned into slush, and I'm tan in a white sweater because I just got back from Mexico, and even though we've never before discussed being anything other than friends, I can't help thinking gleefully, as we're standing at the counter waiting to place our order, of how we must look to all the people around us: exactly like a couple.

Mar 21, 2008

Knowing how the story ends makes it that much better and more exciting...eep! I want to scream at the 16 year-old you "You're going to be a couple!!!! It'll happen!!!"

Mar 21, 2008

I love how he remembered your hair style.

And also how one of the baseball cap boys added editorial about Sean's eyes.

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 21, 2008

I know! That cracked me up too -- even at the time. I remember thinking "seriously? you think your friend has nice eyes?" But that's how I knew we were talking about the same Sean, because he DOES have nice eyes -- very memorable ones, anyway. Apparently.

Mar 21, 2008

Your life reads like a Sweet Valley High book. (I mean that in a good way, of course!) The beach! The mysterious, wild-haired boy with nice eyes! The turmoil in the middle and the fact that everything works out in the end! My teenage years always read more like Judy Blume...

Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 21, 2008

It was more like Freaks & Geeks, actually.....

Mar 21, 2008

This post reminds me that NEVER in my high school days did I ever wear anything that was too tight.

Now college, that's another story, but the story would be "too tube-toppy." AND NO ONE MADE ME GO CHANGE, so I went OUT like that. IN PUBLIC. To dance! Gah!

This post made me all goopy and I called Dave and asked if he could come home early. (He can!)

Mar 21, 2008

Freaks and Geeks, yes! I just recently got the first season through Netflix thanks to your recommendation, and am loving it (of course). Nick makes me swoon.

Anne & May
Mar 21, 2008

You have PERFECTLY captured what it's like to be a teen in America, always driving around looking for something to do. You get double points for doing this as a Brit.

Also I love that a teen boy would have said Sean has nice eyes. It seems he has admirers of both genders!

And now I'm on the edge of my seat. How will it turn out? Will they get together???

Mar 21, 2008

One of my best friends married her 16-year old crush. I went to THREE high school dances and a smattering of other "hangouts" with his nerdy, loud breathing, mostly silent friend to aid in her pursuit. Those of you who found your mate so young have no idea how lucky you are. Can't wait to read more.

Mar 21, 2008

That is my favorite of your timelines to date. It brought back some of my own 16-year-old-and-trapped-in-the-burbs memories!
House of Jules

Mar 21, 2008

I love reading these!

Camels & Chocolate
Mar 21, 2008

I love all your Sean stories -- both hearing them and reading about them. It's like the world's most perfect, romantic fairytale, and I know I speak for all of your fan club when I say you must someday write a book on the saga that is you two! It should be easy since you have most of it documented somewhere in the last few years of your blog!

Mar 21, 2008

OHHHH that was so good! MORE MORE MORE!!! It's just like a book :)

Mar 21, 2008

Sean is just like Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy praises her very fine eyes!

(Sorry, Sean. I would never picture you in a high-waist dress and poke bonnet. Ahem.)

Mar 21, 2008

I love it when you tell this story, Holly. Each time you tell it you tell it in a different way and it's so beautiful. I kind of feel like when I was a little girl and begged my mom to tell me the story of when I was born.

Mar 21, 2008

ah, young love. this was absolutely lovely. as i read it, it played like a movie in my head. i could see every detail. i need to go hold my husband's hand.

Rebecca Faulkner
Dec 31, 2001

This is so sweet. It also reminds me of when I was so picky about boys in high school and how I was easily repulsed by new ones and only wanted to see my boyfriend. They would drunkenly try and make conversation and I would take the opportunity to construct a fake identity for myself and call myself "Lucy". Weird, I know.

Mar 23, 2008

This is just lovely! I love how you've woven in some of those awkward feelings of just being 16 and inhabiting the Earth while being perfectly sweet and nostalgic all at once! Even though we know how this portion of the story ends, it's so fun to read it again, thanks to your story telling.

Mar 23, 2008

This is a painfully sweet post. What makes it almost cavity enducing is the fact that we know you two look to be - through pictures you provide - a nauseatingly perfect couple! Just like a friend form work Tina and her guy A.J. Yuck! Aww. Yuck! No..definetly YuckAww.

Mar 24, 2008

Wait. How did Rebecca go back in time to 2001? I'm jealous. I didn't realize this page was also a time machine. May I get in, please?

Sorry if that came across as sassy, only meant for it to be fun. Am sincerely jealous of the time machine.

In other news, love the timeline, love to you and Sean and all your love...it's fantastic. Thank you!