On Childhood Memories and Grown-up Moments
It was the summer after our college graduation when I went home with my boyfriend, James, to introduce him to my parents. We had been dating for more than a year now but my parents were strictly opposed to my having a boyfriend before graduation so we kept it a secret from them. I actually thought it would be difficult to break this piece of news to them because most of the time, they still treated me like a baby. But I was wrong…
My parents welcomed us with arms open wide, like they hadn’t been warding off my suitors their whole parenting lives.
Henry was also there at our house. He said he hurried here as soon as my mom told him that I would be coming home. He was my childhood friend. And my first love. We hadn’t seen each other in ages. I had been having classes every summer since I went to college and I seldom went home during semester breaks or weekends because of extra-curricular activities.
“Do you want to hang out today? Our childhood friends are all here for the summer,” he said.
I glanced at James and he nodded as if giving me permission.
“Oh, go on, it’ll be all right,” my mom said, “we’ll keep him entertained.”
Somehow, that thought didn’t comfort me. Oh, well…
After a week, I realized that I had been going out with my childhood friends a lot more than with James. I was swept away in nostalgic reminiscence of the old times. We had been reliving our fond memories – going to our old playground, having picnics at the fields, fishing at the pond. I missed my friends so much that I almost forgot about my boyfriend. Sure, he would hang out with us when I asked him but his heart wasn’t on it. He felt left out. I was keeping him on the sidelines.
Ugh, I was the worst girlfriend ever.
Just when I decided that I would have an alone time with James, Henry burst in my room, like he always did when we were kids.
“Hey, let’s go play baseball today! It’s a nice weather out there!” he said enthusiastically.
“Uh, I can’t. I wanted to spend the day with James. I haven’t been alone with him for a while,” I replied.
A dark expression passed his face but it was gone too quickly. I wondered if I just imagined it.
“You really like that guy, huh?” he asked.
“It’s more than that. I love him,” I answered.
He mumbled something like, “But, I love you, too,” but perhaps I just heard it wrong. I wanted to ask what it was. Instead, I said that I would go find James and turned to the door.
“Do you remember the bracelet I made you when we were young?” he asked as I was walking out.
I turned back, unable to say something. I didn’t like where this conversation was going. So, I just stood there like some imbecile while he stepped closer to me.
“Do you remember that day, Angel?”
“Yes, Henry, I remember,” I said in a small voice. I could remember it very well. I could remember it so clearly because it was my favorite childhood memory…
I remembered that it was a typical summer day. The sky was so blue that it could be a calm ocean. The air was cool and gentle. Henry and I were at our favorite spot – under a big mango tree out there in the fields. It was then adorned with a lot of fruits. He was wearing a khaki jumper while I had on a red dress with little white flowers on it.
I remembered saying, “I like you, Henry. I really like you. Of course, I would marry you when we grow up.” Then he gave me the blue bracelet he made with our initials on it, A♥H, and said, “This is my promise that I will wait for you.”
But, we were just silly little kids back then. Surely, he wouldn’t take it too seriously, would he?
“You told me you would marry me when we grew up,” he was saying. “And I waited for you. Because we promised.”
I couldn’t move. My mind couldn’t form any coherent thought. I wanted to laugh it off but I wasn’t sure if he was just joking. He looked like he was serious after all. But really, did he expect me to be tied down by a child’s play? We were just playing Let’s Pretend that time, weren’t we?
As I was mulling these things over, he leaned in to kiss me…
Just as James was entering my room.
James slammed his fist on the door and walked out. I glared at Henry, who had that kind of expression on his face like he already won. I turned to follow James but Henry caught my arm.
“We promised…” he was starting to say.
“No, Henry, you’re the only one who did. I didn’t.”
And I walked out to look for James.
But, I couldn’t find him anywhere. My parents didn’t know where he went either. I was afraid that he was already gone. With what he saw back in my room, it was just right to get mad. Not to mention that I practically ignored him the whole week because I was too caught up with childhood memories. One of these days, I might just get a call from him, saying he was breaking up with me.
And it would be my entire fault.
I slumped down on our front porch and held my head in my hands. It was evening already. James was really gone. He really left me. Tears fell down my face.
“Dummy. Did you really think I’d leave you just because of that?”
I looked up and saw James standing there.
“I went to town in search for a bookstore. I bought this…” And he showed me an Arts & Crafts book.
“But why? I was so worried that you got mad at me and you already went away. Why didn’t you even tell me where you were going?” I demanded.
“Because it would ruin my exit back there, you know. I couldn’t say, Hey I’m angry right now so I’ll just go find a bookstore to cool off, could I?”
“And you still have the nerve to joke right now,” I seethed. “And why did you take so long to get back?”
“Because it was so difficult to make this and get it to be perfect,” he said. “I thought it would take me forever to get this done.”
And he dropped a rainbow bracelet into my hands.
I just stared at it for a long time, my thoughts in turmoil.
“I know it is childish,” he was saying, “but I want to surpass whatever Henry gave you. He was your first love, wasn’t he? But, you know, there is a quote that says, First love never dies but true love can bury it alive. I just hope I am your true love.”
My heart was swelling with emotion. I was speechless. And so, I said everything in a kiss.
It was a typical summer night. The sky was laden with stars. There was a sweet fragrance in the air. There were fireflies all around. James was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans. I had on my yellow sundress.
I searched my mind for a memory that would compare to this.
And found none.
It was as if all my childhood memories were being burned by this single moment.