Thursday, March 24, 1994
I keep going through nice healthy periods when I don’t like Elliot Meyerowitz then something happens to make me start again. This last time I was walking to math and passed by a room he was waiting outside. After repeatedly telling myself not to look at him I did and saw he was staring at me. I just looking into his eyes and that was it.
Today in health (the one class I have with him) I sat a seat away from him until he moved his chair so he could see better (we were watching a movie) or sit next to Cindy J (You know all the guys you consider the cutest in your grade? Well she’s the one who goes out with them). While he was repositioning his chair he brushed by my leg and apologized. Pretending to be deeply involved in a crossword puzzle I mumbled “that’s okay.”
Now he was directly (almost) in front of him and the lights were out so I could only see his outline from the glow of the t.v. A couple of times during the movie (at least 3 or 4) he turned his head in my direction like he was looking at me out of the corner of his eye or maybe he was looking at Cindy. Probably the latter.
After the movie our health teacher took out this fetus preserved in formaldehyde and had a few people at a time come up to her desk to see it. When I went up I made sure I wasn’t standing next to him but then the people between us left. You had to lean over to see it so we both did and he was very close to me. I actually held my breath. I quickly sat down after that. I saw him a lot during the rest of the day. I’m actually beginning to think that I…it’s not possible. How can I if I don’t even know him and can’t even talk to him. No. I do not love Elliot Meyerowitz.
I can’t wait until I leave with my mom Monday. This cruise will definitely clear my head.
“I send a heart to all my dearies
When your heart is oh so dreary DREAM.” — Smashing Pumpkins, “Mayonnaise”
Oh, the teen angst of it all! Being around a boy you liked could sometimes feel like navigating a mine field. So much uncertainty and insecurity and the tiniest gesture or interaction took on an inflated magnitude. It was like being a character in a 90’s version of an Edith Wharton novel, except I felt like I was the only one who took notice of all the nuances, the only one who gave them any meaning. At the time, I would have traded in all those cruises with my mother to have a real connection with Elliot, one that didn’t take place in the wistful corners of my melodramatic brain. Now I can look back on it more logically, I can reason that I hardly knew a thing about this boy and never talked to him, so my crush was mostly based on his looks, and therefore I can’t blame him if he in turn developed a crush on one of the cutest girls in our grade.
I guess crushes by nature are based on superficial traits and a tenuous foothold on reality, at least the ones I’ve specialized in for a good part of my life.
I didn’t stand a chance with Elliot. But at least we’ll always have the fetus in formaldehyde.
Sunday, July 26, 1993
I’ve been back a week now. Let me tell you about the rest of the cruise before I talk about other things.
In St. Thomas I went scuba diving. It was really great. I felt like I was in another world. I had been snorkeling before but there I was actually down 20ft under the water and breathing. I’d love to do it again. Nothing happened w/Jack. Too young and too immature (besides, he has a girlfriend).
[Blah blah, breathing underwater, blah. As if mermaids don't do it all the time. Okay, so it was pretty exhilarating and a little bit scary, not knowing if there might be a creature that could sting or bite around the corner, depending on a clunky tank of oxygen not to drown, etc. As much as I loved it, I don't think the mermaid life is for me. Oh, and Jack? Yeah, as if his immaturity had anything to do with it and I wouldn't have sucked face with him at the slightest chance. There just wasn't one on the cruise. Just a rumored girlfriend. Bah.]
Anyway on to other things. Before I went on the cruise I spent almost a week at my cousin Jenna’s house in Connecticut. That’s where I got the new U2 tape (“Zooropa.” It’s the best. No “Achtung Baby” is the best. It’s my favorite tape. But “Zooropa” is really good.). When I was there I got a letter. That is not very amazing because I get letters all the time. But not from Leon Lehman.
[Before we go on about boys (and get comfortable, because we will go on. And on. Take a load off, make some tea) a few words on U2. The budding interest I started taking in this Irish foursome around the time of my last birthday had by this point mutated into a full-on obsession (all the way). Achtung Baby was my album of the decade and Larry Mullen Jr, U2's drummer, my (hopefully) future husband despite the fact that Mom thought he had "a nose like a potato."]
I don’t know if I ever mentioned him before. He was on my bus the past 2 years and I’ve gone from fighting with him to flirting with him (I didn’t like him, I just liked flirting with him. It was fun) to being good friends with him. Before I left for Connecticut I wrote to him and when he wrote back I was surprised but very pleased. And the letter was really funny (I read it at least 3 times). I sent him a postcard when I was on the cruise and then I called him when I got back. I had a good excuse but we ended up staying on for more than an hour. The next day I wrote and mailed him a letter.
[Actually, I did mention Leon before in an entry where I said pretty much the same thing about liking to flirt with him. Which goes to show how repetitive consistent I can be. I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever heavily flirted with someone who I wasn't at least mildly attracted to. Though while I found Leon empirically attractive, and while we had a rapport, I'm not sure that it was a romantic one.]
Anyway, the point is I’ve been thinking a lot about him and how I want to be really good friends with him. We have almost identical tastes in music (except for my little, okay humugous almost out-of-control obsession with U2) and both love those great 80’s songs. It’s almost like (don’t laugh ‘cause what I am about to write is kind of corny) he is my soul mate. I think he is such a wonderful person but I don’t want to do anything too sudden or dramatic for fear of losing what tentative friendship we have. See, when school starts again Leon will only be taking the bus in the morning so I don’t want that to be the only time I can talk to him.
[I think it's rare to want a platonic relationship with someone you flirt with, but in Leon's case, it was true, not a matter of immaturity or having a girlfriend or some other excuse. Up to that point in my life, all my close friends were girls, so developing a friendship with a boy was new to me. Boys were for crushes, not friendships; my brain could not compute this new programming. And music was a big part of it. While Leon wasn't a U2 nut, he was a big fan of 80's music and we often talked of the songs we heard on retro stations, from Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" to Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight."]
A lot of this was sparked by some things he wrote in my yearbook. He said he thought that we had become great friends. He also said I was more human than some of the stuck-up snobs he knows, that we made each other laugh and that I was very pretty (Aw! Tell me this isn’t like the perfect, sweetest, most sensitive guy in the entire world). I wrote nice stuff in his yearbook too, by the way.
Now I’m not saying that I’m in love or even in “like” with him but I have been thinking incessantly about him. I want us to be really close (best?) friends.
[I guess what it came down to was that while Leon and I had a lot in common, could make each other laugh, and all that good stuff, I just didn't feel that same sort of spark that I did toward Mark or Jack or even Larry Mullen (but then, Larry was in a class of his own). Leon had all the qualities I wanted in a guy, but I wasn't sure that x-factor was there. I wasn't sure it was missing, or just hadn't developed.]
And if I’m not thinking about Leon, it’s U2. Today I went to a mall and bunch of flea markets with Didi and her parents and I ended up buying a video (“Achtung Baby: The Videos, the Cameos, and a whole lot of interference from Zoo T.V.) and two U2 shirts. I also wrote a letter to Larry Mullen Jr, through Island Records which I don’t expect to get any response. I would give anything to meet them but my next goal is to see a concert.
I’m both deeply regretful and deeply relieved that I don’t have a copy of that letter to fan letter to Larry.
I feel kind of bad for Didi, who bore the brunt of much of my U2 mania back then. She told me years later that I pretty much ruined the band for her with my over-zealousness. How bad was it? So bad that nobody could even utter the words “you too” without me immediately perking up and asking, “U2? Where?” Sorry, Didi.
As for Leon, he is still in my life today and I can safely say he is not my romantic soul mate, though he is a good friend. If and when he reads this post, he may get quite a chuckle out of it.
Lehman, this one’s for you.
Teusday, July 13, 1993
It is our third day on the ship (did I mention I’m on another cruise with my mom? We are on the “Ecstasy”) and I am having a great time. Yesterday we met these two people Melanie, who is 16, and her brother Jack (cute, funny brother I should add) who is 14 (what’s one year?). I thought after last night I wouldn’t see them again but they came looking for me today so we hung out a lot. (By the way, the thing with Mark is over). It was lots of fun. Melanie is fun to talk to and Jack really cracks me up. Did I mention he was cute? He has black hair and hazel-brown eyes. He has medium ears and nose and a nice mouth. I wouldn’t mind getting something started.
They live in Connecticut but he goes to boarding school in Albany (No actually I think it’s Buffalo).
At the Bahamas I went snorkling and I actually got in to the Casino! Yay! I lost $40 in the slot machines already. I love it. Everything here is great.
Considering how detailed and effusive my previous diary entry was, I think “the thing with Mark” deserves more than a single parenthetical, dismissive sentence. I don’t remember if Mark and I spoke even once after our date. If I had to guess, I’d say we didn’t. This is back before cell phones, in the days when doctors, drug dealers, and some teenagers had pagers (remember when we called them “beepers?” Anyone?). While I didn’t have Mark’s phone number, I did have the one to his pager. It was strange to have no direct way to reach him, but prior to our date, he would always call after I paged him. Not so after our date. I paged him a couple of times but he never called me back. A few weeks later, his pager number was disconnected.
While I had fun with Mark and was a bit miffed at his disappearing act, I wasn’t too upset. Being on a cruise ship with lots of fun activities and an attractive guy around my age distracted me from any sulking I might have otherwise indulged in.
Jack looked like a young Jake Gyllenhaal, which might paint a better picture than “medium ears and nose and a nice mouth.” He had a similar smirky smile to the actor’s and a mischievous glint in his eye. Jack was sent to boarding school for some kind of delinquent behavior, though we never learned the details. He and Melanie were on vacation with their parents and we all became friendly, though Mom and I spent the most time with the two kids, who were more interested in the cruise ship entertainment (magic shows, musical revues, stand-up comedy) than their early-to-bed mom and dad. The four of us ended up socializing quite a lot, and I think we all had a better vacation for it.
As for the casino, the ship’s age minimum was 18 and I always got mistaken for older as a teen, so I was able to gamble freely (though I stuck with the slot machines and kept quiet). Dad gave my my first taste for gambling when he taught me to play black jack five years earlier, but slot machines provided a pretty, mindless, colorful way to risk money. I didn’t set out to win, I just enjoyed playing. It was enough to get a rush from winning small, a handful of quarters. In fact, I was even worried about hitting a large jackpot in case I was busted for being underage. It never happened, but I tried to stay close to Mom and watch myself, just in case.
Wednesday, June 9, 1993
A lot has happened lately. Saturday, Eddie didn’t call (his strict mom was in town or something and he had to go somewhere with her) but Mark called me three times that weekend. That last time we talked for over an hour and a half! He is so easy to talk to, funny, he’s really nice and I like him a lot. Also, I’m going to see him Saturday! AAAHHH!!!
[Woah, bait and switch much? Was my 15-year-old self going to blindly accept Eddie not calling and let myself be pawned off on Mark like that? Well... We all know the answer to that, so let's let the blind teenage jubilance continue its flow.]
I am nervous about seeing him because he doesn’t know what I look like. Yet I feel like I know him so well, because we talk so much. In the past 2 days I have talked to him four times. That is more than I talk with Didi and she is my best friend. I really hope that things work out between Mark and me. I would love to have a boyfriend this summer and he isn’t going anywhere. Sure he lives in Long Island but he drives so it’s not a problem. Yes he drives. He is older than me by about 2 years. He’ll be 18 March 2. In the fall he is going to Columbia (an Ivy League school!). The only little thing is he smokes but everything else makes up for that.
[Hello, what about the fact that I didn't know what he looked like either? I remembered hot guy Eddie, but not his less mature, non-nondescript friend Mark. Why the sudden enthusiasm? Two reasons. 1. His humor and charm was winning me over, and it seemed like he really grew up in the last couple of years. If he wasn't great looking face to face, his personality would go a long way in making up for it. 2. It had been three-and-a-half years since my last date. For someone as boy-crazy as I was, this was a dry spell of epic proportions.]
My parents are actually letting me see him (though I’m not sure if they know about the age & car situation) but they just want to meet him first. I hope he really likes me. I hope I really like him! Actually I already do but I hope when we meet face to face sparks fly (I’m sorry I’m being so corny).
[And I'm sorry you had to read about me being so corny I was all these years later. At least I had the good sense to be apologetic about it then, too.]
There are only 5 more days of school. Yay! Then, July 11, my mom and I are going on another cruise! Major Yay! I really hope this will be a summer to remember, in the best possible way.
I don’t know about you, but “Major Yay” makes me think of an extremely flamboyant military officer in a pink bedazzled uniform who only makes you drop and give him 20 if you’re not fabulous enough. I’m sure it’s just me.
Moving on. How about this Eddie/Mark situation? I was skeptical at first, but then the naive romantic in me as I thought about the unexpected twisty ways love can find you. It was strange enough to go looking for Eddie all of these years, but then to end up connecting with Mark instead was an even bigger surprise. Who knew, maybe something would come of it. Maybe my life could be a John Hughes movie after all. And hopefully I wouldn’t be Brian, Anthony Michael Hall’s brainy-but-lovable geek, stuck writing the detention essay alone, while everyone else paired off. Time would tell.
Saturday (2:30), February 1, 1992
Here I am on the “Celebration.” The ship has not sailed yet and the only things I have done here is walk around, unpack, eat and take a couple of pictures. It’s so beautiful here! The water is green with a touch of blue and the streets and trees further down (as well as the cars, houses and buildings) are all like from a gorgeous painting.
You know, all those paintings you’ve seen of the cars, houses, buildings and trees outside of a dock for ginormous cruise ships. Just picture those and let your imagination take you away.
I am in my cabin because not much is really open. The “festivities” will probably begin a while after we sail off. Our cabin is very nice. It is not that large or small. For two people it offers plenty of room. The covers on the beds are a brick red color and there is a t.v. in the corner. We have a closet with a safe in it and a telephone for many things such as room service. We got a complimentary bottle of champagne that tasted really good.
Do you feel like you are right there in that cabin with my 14-year-old self or what? If I close my eyes I can just picture those brick red bedspreads like it was yesterday. I do remember the gift basket with champagne Mom and I received from our travel agent, which was a surprise and perfectly indulgent way to kick off our vacation. Not since Tavern on the Green had I experienced lavishness. From the moment I set foot on that ship and saw the garishly brightly colored atrium replete with gilded staircases and an elevator, I knew this was a vacation I wouldn’t forget. So I’m glad I jotted down some integral details in my diary, like the fact that the cabin’s safe was in the closet.
One of the nice things here is how nice the people attending to you are. We (Mom & I) had a very nice late lunch. There was a buffet of sandwitches, barbeque chicken, hot dogs and cookies/brownies.
In fact, Mom and I found the friendliness of the staff and other passengers so disconcerting it took us a few days to get used to it. Having spent the last decade in New York City and being the victims of numerous robberies/muggings, we were highly suspicious of all that congeniality. Oh, and the food? There’s so much of it on the ship you wonder if you aren’t being prepped for some old lady’s oven after a while. There were sit-down meals and ’round-the-clock buffets, including midnight buffets which you had to attend at least once to take pictures of the elaborate displays of edibles and ice sculptures. It wasn’t until I got home that I learned snapshots of bread shaped like swans and ice sculptures of dolphins make for pretty dull vacation photos.
I got my own credit card (well it’s from the ship and buys only things like drinks). A plus to this cruise is that the food is all included in the price so you only have to tip. Funky!
Yes, so very very “funky.” Get the kids started down an early road to debt. Those virgin pina coladas really add up, let me tell you.
Well I think I’ll go outside and maybe read a bit. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about anything and everything that happens. See ya!
This was the only journal entry from the entire cruise. Which might not be such a bad thing considering we’re all spared endless pages describing meals, shows, island excursions, bingo games, and daily cruise minutiae in excruciating detail. On the other hand, I do wish I had written about scuba diving for the first time in my life in St. Thomas, and how Mom and I accidentally ended up on a nude beach in St. Maarten. Oh well. At least I can look back and recall that the television in our cabin was placed in the corner of the room.
I have really great news! My mother and I are taking a seven day cruise of the Carribean during the first week of February! This is the first “Real” vacation that we have had in over 5 years. My dad is not going to be able to go because he recently started a new job (Hurray!). Although it’s kind of a shame dad can’t come, it will be great with just mom and me because we really get along great. I know this is going to sound corny, but our relationship is more “friend-to-friend” and not “mother-to-daughter.” She treats me like an equal without losing sight of her motherly obligations. That’s why I consider my mother to be such a great one.
Anyway, back to the cruise business. We are going to take a plane from New York to Miami! That’s the first step. Then from somewhere in Miami we are going to board the ship. Ours is called the “Celebration”! We are going to visit 3 different places, San Juan, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. I have always dreamed of going on a cruise and I have no idea how I’m going to survive the ten days untill we leave.
If it was possible to drop dead from too much anticipation, I wouldn’t be typing this right now. I still remember how excruciating those ten days felt leading up to the cruise. I was coming to the end of a miserable semester at school and couldn’t wait to get out of the city and go somewhere beautiful and relaxing.
The last “real” vacation I referred to was to Florida. I was nine years old and have two particularly vivid memories of that trip:
1. Meeting Minnie Mouse. To this day, the most awe-inspiring celebrity encounter I have ever had. Mom still has a photo of me and Minnie and Fluffy, a tiny stuffed bear I took everywhere with me in Florida. In that photo, I’m wearing one of my Dad’s sweaters which reaches to my knees and smiling as if I just reached the summit of Mt. Everest.
2. Trying sushi for the first time. Even though I grew up eating strange Russian food like pickled herring and shredded chicken and hardboiled eggs suspended in aspic, raw fish was still a foreign delicacy yet to be explored. Chinese was as exotic as my parents and I had eaten up to that point. Nobody knew what to order, so Mom and Dad pointed to the picture of the wooden boat on the menu. The miso soup was okay, but then things got scary. A carved ship the size of my torso was brought to the table laden with raw fish. It was about as appetizing to me as the live maggots Keifer Sutherland makes Jason Patric think he’s eating in The Lost Boys. (It would take years before I tried Japanese food again and nowadays I eat sushi at least once a week.)
Nonetheless, Florida was a blast and I had high hopes for this upcoming trip with Mom. The few reruns I saw of The Love Boat made cruising seem like non-stop fun. The only thing better than staying at a hotel was staying at a giant, floating hotel that takes you to different tropical places. I was psyched.