When I reflect back on my high school years I cannot do so without talking about the loves in my life at that time. All the loves that I never had. I probably could have had a real love in high school but my parents ruled that out before I ever it made it to the 9th grade. They told me they wanted me to enjoy my youth and I could not have a boyfriend or be involved in a “serious” relationship until I was 18 years old. That meant I would be out of high school because I would be 17 when I graduated. As much as that “rule” dismayed me, I believed them.
That left me observing some of my girlfriends and other girls with boyfriends. I sometimes felt as if I was missing something and at other times I was grateful that I did not have to worry myself about having a boyfriend. As I studied the seemingly happy high school relationships, I noticed that most of them, often within days of starting, would turn sour and someone would be feeling blue. In my high school days, one hot topic of conversation in the hallways would be who broke up with who. I thank my parents now that I was spared from being the primary subject in conversations like that.
That of course, did not stop me from day dreaming about the guys I thought were cute. I would even imagine that when I turned 18 they would be waiting for me. (Don’t judge me, I was a romantic then as I am now.)
One of the guys I really liked off and on throughout high school was Harry P. I thought he was the cat’s meow. He played basketball, he was nice, he was taller than me, he was a year older than me and I thought he was cute. I tried my best to pass him at least once a day in the hall so we could say hi and smile at each other. Whoa…fly me to the moon!
What made me share this with you, is I found him on Facebook not too long ago and sent a friend request. He accepted. This long lost connection allowed me to reminisce about the carefree days of high school. School dances, pep rallies, football games, basketball games, running track and hanging out on “the hill” after school until the bus came. Good times, no sad times of me crying about whether some guy liked me or not.
I laugh now when I remember complaining to my mother that every other girl could have a boyfriend, so why couldn’t I. She just looked at me and said “I am not responsible for every other girl; I am responsible for you. You can have friends who are boys, but you cannot have a boyfriend. That is a burden you don’t need right now.” End of conversation.
There was only one time this rule was challenged. Jay, who really liked me, and yes, I thought he was cute, showed up at my house unannounced, when my parents were not home to tell me I was going to be his girlfriend. I was flattered. Yes, we had smiled at each other often, and he had walked me to a few of my classes, but this was serious. I was thrilled that he was brave enough to show up at my house knowing that my dad might kill him…which was the belief in school. My father was a Sheriff and the rumor was “don’t mess with Regina because her daddy doesn’t play when it comes to his girls.” My three brothers, who also served as unpaid bodyguards, were more than happy to inform my parents that “we had a situation brewing.” When my father came home, my reality kicked in and I got scared. I could see the fire in my daddy’s eyes and the smoke coming out if his ears as he walked in the front door of the house. He stopped, he looked at us sitting on the couch in the living room, introduced himself chatted for few minutes and then left the room. Daddy was polite but he was not happy. My mother graciously introduced herself, chatted with Jay and told him as nice as he was I was not going to be his girlfriend, unless he was willing to wait until I was 18 years old. At that time, I could do and see anyone I choose. She also told Jay that the next time he wanted to visit, he needed to call first and make sure it was convenient for all of us. Then she left us in the room.
Once I got over my embarrassment, I knew that I had to handle this situation myself. I knew what the rules were and my parents expected me to abide by them and enforce them, whether I thought they were fair or not. They trusted me to do the right thing.
I told Jay we could only be friends and we could consider going steady when I turned 18. He left shortly after that, and then my parents and I had a conversation about when it was appropriate to have young men who specifically came to see me in our house. They gave me new guidelines for behavior that were a tad more liberal. This allowed me to understand that they did not want me not to feel I was missing out on something, but I was able to enjoy something very precious. I loved the way mom and dad protected me while teaching me to make good decisions.
Because I was young and naive and had no idea of what commitment really meant, I realize now why waiting was such a good idea. I, while in my teen years, fell in and out of “love” as easily as I breathe air. To think how many guys, I might have dated is scary…there were so many guys I had crushes on. There was Harry, Ed, Eddie, Robert, Jake, Donald, Larry, Gary, Grant and Michael. Those are just the ones I remember.
What I do remember is having the time of my life. Unencumbered with much to worry about except girly things like what I wore, having friends, going to dances (I loved to dance and still do) and dreaming about a life that I could have when I grew older and moved out of my parents’ house.
I am forever thankful to my parents for laying down the law and telling me to just be patient and enjoy being young and carefree. They told me that one day I would look back and cherish the purity and simplicity of life at that time. They convinced me to trust that love would find me although it might also leave me, but when I was older I would be better equipped to handle the ups and downs of a relationship. They were so right.