Today I am going to share a paper that I received a high grade for. We had to write an autobiographical essay about a pivotal moment in our childhood. We had a few subjects to choose from, and this is what I wrote. Its a bit long, but I think it is a more positive than what I normally post here. I am very proud of it, but not to the point I can not hear critique. So reflections on the essay and feedback are welcome. It can only help me become stronger as a writer.
Its one small step for a boy, one giant leap for manhood. That first step off the Post shuttle is the hardest one. I had been here a thousand times before, but this time that side walk might as well be the surface of a strange and distant planet. The concrete was as old as the greatest generation and looked like a dalmatian of chewing gum. It was a long twenty yards to the steps of the movie theater, and it was a matinee. There was only one screen in this converted stage house. Sure it was probably great in the in the vaudevillian days gone by, and now it looked like a palace restored to its former glory and purpose in my young mans eyes.
Each step was with a gallows humor, a dim light shined through the dreadful gloom. It was something new in a old familiar place. The salty sweat glazed my palms, my breath matched my steps, rapid but lost in distorted time. A brisk nervous walk would have been better suited for the mischief typically accustomed to a boy of fourteen years. This was not about cherry bombs, or toilet paper though. It was something new and scarier than mayhem. This was about a girl. Not just any girl, but a girl that had said yes to me.
Looking back the causal conversation of adolescence was ripe with discovery. A whole new world opened in in the poorly folded notebook paper. This digital age was about digits, as in fingers. Those curious fingers of his fellow students passing that paper across rows and rows of uniform desks. Each one of them shared in the thrill of keeping it from the teachers eyes. With each scrap of the chalk on the board it would jump row after row, only pausing when the writing did. Much like the search light break out from prison in movies that had graced this very theater year after year.
It was rumored that some guy named Frankl had spoken in this very theater about his time in Auschwitz, to the crowds of soldiers that had liberated them years before. You could picture those poor souls trying to pass notes with deeper meaning, yet it did not strengthen my nerve knowing that people had gone through much worse on these very grounds. Baumholder Germany was miles from Auschwitz, and one could speculate that they where not concerned with a trivial first date with a member of the opposite sex. It might not be a big deal to them, or those great hero's of liberty that watched black and white love stories unfold as they tried to forget the burden of the war they just fought. This love story was in color, living color, vivid, visceral, and very very real.
The car pulled up at the bottom of those teared stairs. Forty three stairs down as a matter of fact. The significance of forty three stairs could be lost to time, or it could have been something as simple as to how many stairs it would take to build the theater on level ground. It was not important, it was the chasm of fear right now. Those steps might as well have been the brink of the Grand Canyon as far as I was concerned. This was vivid, visceral, and very very real.
The object of my youthful affection stepped out of the front passenger door. Her sixteen candles thrift store attire gave me a sign she had put at least some thought into what she looked like. It was important to her, and the ribbon holding her hair in a casual fashion spoke volumes. She cared, but gave an appearance of confidence and control. It was a sharp contrast to my over gelled wet combed hair. My old jean jacket was replaced with a collared itchy polo shirt. Sneakers rejected under my bed, cast aside for Sunday loafers only worn on sacred occasions. This is what she wore each day, just the best of it. I had changed my identity in an attempt to impress.
It took me awhile to break that first gaze of this breakfast club beauty. My eyes traveled up and caught the eyes of her chauffeur. The man who drove her to this first date did not leave arms reach of the sedan. His eyes spoke volumes across that great divide. We conversed a deep threat and spoke loudly to my young mans heart. If I was not the picture of nervous now, I was the embodiment of nerves for that moment. You could not mistake that he was her father. He was a soldier. He could kill, and would kill if one hand roamed further then allowed. If a kiss was given it would be giving quarter, and should not be spoken of to any ears beyond those walls. Sure it was to protect her reputation, but also to protect me from the whims of the vengeful father.
She bounced up the stairs with no care to the events ahead. This was exactly as she imagined. She was cool and controlled. She knew she was in the drivers seat, and it was me that desired to be a man. She knew the secret of this whole ordeal. It was written in every book she has read since she first dreamed of Prince Charming. The days of pigtails and inkwells are behind her now. She was already becoming a woman on her own, but the boy I was, needed her and her company to figure out how to take that step into becoming a young man.
It was not innocence that was lost in the lobby of that movie hall, but a return to innocence. It was not about sexuality, but human interaction on a deeper level. One awkward touching of the lips to lips was all anybody ever saw in the world running and changing around them. This however was a tale as old as time, it was the beginning of a first love. Though short and sweet as the events of army brats usually are, it left a lasting impression on both of them. Her father was stationed somewhere else a mere year later, but that year was the best love ever tasted to either of them. It was discovery of joy. It was sacrifice of self. It was all the great things that you read about in books, and it ended on the best of notes of the most broken of hearts.
We were not mad at each other, and to this day I still pine for her. It was not until a decade later that a girl moved above her in my heart. My daughter was born on the anniversary of that first kiss, and it took that first kiss from my daughter to dethrone the queen of my heart. Still some decades later she still lingers there. It is that romance that guides me, and I now look with dreadful eyes. I wait to drop her off at the movie theater to meet her clumsy boy. I know now more of that woeful guardian and knew that he meant every word he said through closed lips and open eyes. Oh that first kiss will never be spoken of in locker rooms for fear he might hear about it. It will happen though, and one can only hope it carries the same weight to shape that young mans life.