Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nate Revisited

For those of you who missed the first half of this story, you can read it here.

Continuing on.

So, this writing of notes continued for the first few months of school. One particular gem that I had forgotten until I started writing this was when Nate said something like:

I don't think of it as sexuality, but sensuality.

Now, that should have been a red flag, don't you think? No. Like I said, I was fourteen. Naive. Absolutely flattered that someone liked me so much.

Oh, and when he said "sensuality not sexuality" I thought, "Oh, wonderful. I'm safe. He doesn't want to have sex with me. I'm so glad we're on the same page."


This is one of the many, many, many moments I wish I'd had a good friend whack me over the head with a cast-iron frying pan. Was I really that slow?

So, this flirting and talking and note-writing was all so lovely. Soon, it was the Christmas season. I gave Nate a bag of Hershey's kisses for a Christmas present. He said thanks and enjoyed them. I mentioned to one of my friends that I wondered whether or not he'd get anything for me. I didn't expect much, but thought a token gesture might be nice.

"Um, Heather. He's Jewish," she told me.

"Yeah, so," I replied. Really, I was brilliant.

"He doesn't celebrate Christmas."

"Oh, yeah." Of course I had known this, but somehow I hadn't managed to connect the two.

Well, the last day before our Christmas Winter Break, Nate stopped me in the hall right after Journalism.

"Corey and I are going to skip the rest of the day and drive to Salt Lake. Want to come?"

Well, I had never cut class before, so I was a little scared. But, boys with eyes like that (I did tell you about the gorgeous blue eyes, right? So blue they looked like they'd been painted.) can be very persuasive.

And Nate's best friend Corey was a really good guy, someone I trusted and enjoyed, so it sounded like it could be a really good time.

I talked to Monsieur Mott, my French teacher, and told him I was sick. He excused me and I ran out to the parking lot to meet Corey and Nate.

We talked and laughed all the way to Salt Lake and then stopped at one of the local malls. It was so much fun to be walking around the mall during the Christmas season. Then, we went to an arcade and played air hockey and pac man. I felt so dangerous, cutting school for the first time, spending time with TWO boys.

After getting something to eat, we started the drive back to our hometown so that we would be home before school was over.

This time Corey drove and Nate and I were sitting in the back seat. I was perfectly happy sitting next to this cute boy in the back seat. He was holding my hand. All was right with the world.

Then, he leaned over and kissed me. Now, I'm sorry to say that this wasn't my first kiss, but I still wasn't all that experienced in the kissing arena. So, when he kissed me, and I mean REALLY kissed me, I wasn't sure what to do.

Then, he put his hand on my waist. Okay, I thought, waiting for him to pull back. But he didn't. He just kept kissing me.

And before I knew it, his hand was much higher than my waist and I was INCREDIBLY uncomfortable with the whole situation.

So, I grabbed his hands, pulled away and scooted over to the next window, faking a cough.

Nate scooted with me. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Um, yeah." I lied. I was not all right. Since when had the cute boy in my journalism class turned into an octopus? "I just get carsick." Another lie. I don't usually get car sick.

"Do you need me to pull over?" Corey said.

"Yes," I told him. "I think I'll do better if I'm sitting in the front seat."

So, Corey pulled over. I launched out the door and into the passenger seat.

It was a very quiet drive home the rest of the way.

When, we got back to the school Nate said something about needing to get his books and catch the bus. He gave me a hug and then hurried away.

Corey walked slowly back to the school with me. When we reached the doors, he turned and gave me a knowing look. I'm sure I looked a bit shell-shocked.

"You weren't really carsick, were you?" He asked.

"Um, no," I confessed. "You won't tell Nate will you?" I added quickly.

Corey laughed and put his arm around my shoulder. "No. I won't tell Nate. Listen, Heather. Nate's a good guy and all, but he's a bit confused right now. And he's obviously a bit more, uh, experienced than you are. Be careful, okay?"

"Yeah," I said lamely and then started to walk toward home. I still was very confused about what had happened in the car. And I didn't exactly know what Corey meant when he said that Nate was more experienced than I was. Still, I was glad it was over.

A few weeks later, I wrote Nate another note. I'd done a lot of thinking over the Holiday break and had decided that Nate and I should probably cool it, whatever "it" was. I thought I'd be better off without worrying about boys.

The note was terribly cheesy and included these lines from Pippin:

Rivers belong where they can ramble.
Eagles belong where they can fly.
I've got to be where my spirit can run free,
got to find my corner of the sky.

He told me later how much that note had hurt his feelings. I didn't understand why.

We still wrote notes. From him, they were usually angry, venomous notes. We had many, many religious arguments. In fact, I'd never really read the scriptures or questioned what I believed until this time. These arguments, notes, sometimes (I'm sorry to admit) yelling at each other in the hall, really led me to question my religion. Nate pounded me on all fronts, leading me on a search to understand the doctrine of my church and decide for myself whether or not I believed and felt fulfilled by the tenets of my religion.

Then, it got worse. Nate started taking acid. He called me one afternoon. He sounded frightened, angry, upset. He told me how horrible his home life was. He let me in on his hallucinations. There were a couple more of those acid-trip calls. It was scary. I was glad we lived fifteen minutes apart and that he didn't have a car.

Also, I worried about him. I didn't know whether to tell someone or not. He wasn't always nice, but I knew he was a good guy, down deep. I worried about him.

I think that he gave up the drugs after a short experimenting phase. By April he seemed somewhat sane again and we settled into an uneasy friendship.

I was surprised to see what he'd written in my yearbook at the end of that year.

Stay Mormon, Heather. It's the root of your existence.

I think he meant it as a slam, but it was interesting commentary. Nate more than anything, caused me to search my soul and make the decision to root it in my Mormon faith. It was his brash, unexpected personality -- the angst that I watched him go through and share with me that made me really doubt, question and decide for myself.

He called me a few times after he graduated. Once, when I was a Senior in high school. We had a good talk. He had changed quite a bit, softened, and we laughed and talked for an hour. He asked me to go to breakfast with him in the morning, but I was going somewhere -- a debate meet I think.

Then, he called me about a year after I got married. He was married and in the Navy, stationed in Florida. We both had little girls that we adored and were proud of. It was nice to hear his voice, to know he was doing well. I was surprised that he'd wanted to check in with me after so many years.

I still think about Nate sometimes and wonder how he's getting on. It's interesting.
That one stolen day in December of 1992 was the only time we ever spent together outside of school. I never met his parents. I don't know if he had siblings, what he liked to eat, what he did in his spare time. But, I count Nate as one of the most influential people in my life.

I hope he's happy and that he's figured out who he is by now. I'm grateful that he helped me figure out who I am.


Now, you can go visit Brillig or Kate to read other fabulous Soap Opera Sunday posts.


Kateastrophe said...

I'm fascinated by this story! Thank you so much for sharing it! And thanks for participating in SOS! We love having you and hearing your great stories!!

Fourier Analyst said...

Funny how the fleeting moments in our youth have such an influence on who we turn out to be! Makes you want to watch your children even more closely doesn't it! And still you know they will find a way to get around your restrictions...

Summer said...

That is such an interesting experience. I'm so glad it turned out pretty much good, for the both of you.

Jen said...

It's interesting how people can come into your life with a purpose that's not clear to either of you when you first meet.

It sounds as if not only was Nate important to you, but you made him do some thinking as well.

Luisa Perkins said...

GREAT story. I love that you quoted that Pippin song to him. It sounds like you made as much of an impression on him as he did on you.

Brillig said...

Fantastic, Heather. Excellent story. I'm glad for you, too, that Nate was part of your life, even if he was only a blip on the eternal screen. Great stuff!

Kimberly said...

I agree with Kate, that was fascinating!

Dedee said...

Awesome story.

I love how naive you were, only because I was probably worse! :)