Judi Valentine: Summer Romance
As summer begins to fade, and everyone is reflecting on memories made, writer Judi Valentine offers her latest piece, Summer Romance.
"What's your name?" He asked, having just rowed over from Eggemoggin, the island across from our cottage.
"Jude, I answered," wanting to sound cool, although I really felt like a dorf. I had just been given my first pair of glasses at age 13. Eye glasses back then all looked the same—black and square—like in the movie, Slap Shot, with Paul Newman who coached a hockey team and three playing brothers wore them. To show their support, fans in the bleachers began wearing big, black glasses to watch the games. So for the movie they were iconic, but for me an embarrassment.
"Want to go for a paddle?"
"Sure," I said and giggled looking at the Sicilian, my dad, who nodded yes; surprisingly.
Tommy was a confident 16 year old, home for the summer. He had bragged that Andover was the third school he was about to be expelled from. His boat was the skiff to their 40 foot wooden schooner, anchored within view and off the tip of their property on the island. He laughed when I naively called it a collector's item.
The newly painted wood of the skiff was shiny and looked slippery. I seem to remember the moon being in clutz that day so I prayed I wouldn't broadcast my clumsiness. The skiff had a motor, but it was pulled up and I was glad because I liked watching people's muscles work—especially strong boy's arms.
I climbed into the bow relatively gracefully and yet felt awkward facing him. He was very cute, tall and lanky, wavy black hair recklessly long for the era, and the most sensuous lips I had ever seen on a boy.
"Where are we going?" I asked as he started to row.
"To the peanut hut," he said.
My heart skipped a beat. The peanut hut was where they picked up guests to transfer them to the island. It was down the mainland from our cottage and earlier that spring I had gotten my mom's MG convertible stuck in the sea mud driving down the dirt road prematurely to see if Tommy might be there. Having watched him around the island I had always wanted to meet in person.
That day—the getting stuck in the mud day—things had gone from bad to worse when I locked mom's keys in the trunk while getting out wood to place under the tires. Then worse went down hill when the tow truck damaged the car on some badly placed pine trees. I'll never forget my mom running alongside the car yelling, 'my car, my car' as she watched the side panel get scratched by those damned pine trees. On the other hand, this trip to the hut could be fun and might finally redeem the tow truck fiasco.
Tommy and I pulled up to the dock and walked inside the darkened cabin. He gave me the two second tour and then he climbed up the wormy ladder to an even darker loft. I followed him and looked around, uncertain as to what to do next. Tommy sat down on one of the beds and patted the mattress beside him. I sat down worrying about the tricky ladder, wondering what I had gotten myself into. He put his finger under my chin and lifted my face to kiss me. My glasses got all steamed up and I fumbled to take them off dropping them on the floor. They slid away and I leapt off the bed to pick them up. Not seeing very well I stepped on them and heard an ominous crunch.
I squinted back at Tommy who looked bemused. He approached me with those gorgeous lips and a funny look on his face. He took my broken glasses and put them inside his pocket. Now feeling skittish and self conscious I suggested we should paddle back lest my dad pop in which would be just like him, protecting his daughter the old country way.
Tommy's shoulders dropped slightly, he looked out the loft window and then went quiet. Finally he said, "how about just one kiss?"
"Well, maybe just one," I had been practicing behind the theater curtains in the school gym. I closed my eyes and felt my knees weaken as he enveloped me with his thick, warm arms.
The space was so close, so intimate I could feel his breath on my skin. Finally, those dreamy lips pressed onto mine. Heaven, I thought. I could stand here all afternoon kissing and hugging Tommy. But the Sicilian cloud hung over me and I backed away.
"We'd better leave," I said, glancing out the loft window relieved to see an empty ocean.
Tommy seemed to take up my worry and reluctantly agreed. Neither of us spoke as we walked back to the skiff. I watched his muscles work the boat back to the cottage and knew I would never be with him again in that way.
It was 30 years or so before we saw each other as adults. We talked about our summers in Harpswell and how such a scalawag had become the founder of a successful global company.
What's the company? I dare not say. If I do you might identify him and that . . . shall remain my secret; and Tommy's of course.
(Disclaimer: All names have probably been made up to protect the guilty).
(Editor’s note: This story was originally published Aug. 29, 2014, on PenBayPilot.com)
Judi grew up in Maine and lived in the Washington, D.C., area for 20 years with her husband, Barry. They now live in Camden and are happy to be home.
Judi is a clinical nutritional analyst with 20 years experience in private practice and consulting to hospitals, clinics and corporations. She sees private clients and works two days a week at Kennebec Pharmacy and Health Care in Rockport.
In 2003, she published, with co-author Dr. Janet Cunningham, Weight Solutions: The New Body-Mind-Spirit Approach, which has sold more than 5,000 copies. To contact Judi, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We tell stories.
We tell stories to make sense of our lives.
We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.
We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.
Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories are about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.
— Kathrin Seitz, editor, and Cheryl Durbas, co-editor
"Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." — Henry Miller
Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at email@example.com. Cheryl Durbas is a freelance personal assistant in the Midcoast area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.