My prompts are a little out-of-order
Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Interestingly (at least to me) I was asked this question as part of an exercise during Hospice training. My answer? Howard. I know, right? I will never forget the day I said goodbye to Howard. Finally. (PS, he’s not dead)
Howard and I, well let me start over. Before there was a Howard-and- I there was me, on the bus, gazing at this gorgeous boy who waited at a bus stop right after mine. He was new. I was in 10th grade, he must have been a senior. Honestly I can’t remember if that was his first year at QV or if he started in 11th grade. I can’t believe I can’t remember this. I only know that when he was in 12th grade I was in 10th. I wonder now if I started lusting after him in 9th grade. It’s possible.
Anyway, my first memory is of him at the bus stop. My next memory is of him calling me, “me”, not my brother, he called “me” on the telephone, at the Campmeeting Road house, and asked me to go to a concert. I think I may have been in some sort of shock. I’m sure I had to ask to go and honestly I don’t even remember if we went together or not. It was a Yes concert. I hadn’t heard of them but they quickly became my favorite band (anything Howard liked, I was going to like) I think I ended up going with him. I sort of remember it being a big deal with my parents. And let me state right here that my brother has never forgiven me for that first phone call from Howard. I stole his best friend. But really, I didn’t MAKE him call me. Really, I didn’t. (brothers)
I also remember drinking my first drink of alcohol with him. He bought wine, I believe it was called Port and I know it was red. I also know that I hated it. He didn’t want me to drink, or do drugs, and would constantly tell me scary stories of people he knew that drank too much (or too many drugs) so he wanted to be sure to monitor my first experiences with drinking. Needless to say, I wasn’t allowed to touch drugs. I suppose I told him of my earlier experimenting but that was the end of that. In his mind I wasn’t allowed. I also wasn’t “allowed” to meet the rest of my 16-year-old friends at the bar. Everybody went, Cricket, Linda, they were at the Hotel, but not me. I’m not sure if I ever resented him for keeping me out of there OR if he did me a favor. I think favor. Cricket and Linda and I got in other trouble if I remember correctly.
Howard and I had many firsts as a couple, well you know, like my first drink, my first concert, my first boyfriend that drove a car, he taught me to drive, we saw the Exorcist together, and some other stuff. Howard and I did a lot of growing up together. We vacationed together. We’d take off for the beach at the drop of a hat. I drove his MGB back and forth to Oakland for some reason. I guess he lost his license maybe? I mean I was in high school driving my boyfriends MGB to school. How cool was I? My parents gave us a lot of freedom. When I graduated from high school Howard decided he wanted to move to California and drive out there in his MGB. He wanted me to go with him. My dad said “no” –my mom said “she’s most certainly going” – and we went. He hated me after that trip. I can’t remember why.
In fact, we broke up a lot. He wasn’t what I would call the most loyal boyfriend. And then he taught me not to be very loyal either, okay maybe I should take more responsibility there. But we always ended up back together. Typical high school stuff, although when you’re in it it’s not so typical. It’s rather traumatic. In fact we experienced many traumatic events together. The death of a friend or two, a terrible family crisis, we also had things in common like we lived on the hill, and then we lived off the hill and so much more.
As the years went on our relationship evolved into, well I don’t know what you’d call it. He moved to California and I was glad to be rid of him, honestly, so much drama. But after 3-4 months and probably him finding out about Burnsie (my college boyfriend) he was all the sudden back from California wanting me back. I didn’t want to get back with him, but it was Howard, and that’s what we did.
He eventually went off to college, later in his 20’s, and I moved into his room where he had been living with Jimmy and Skippy (see what I mean?) We weren’t together but we were always together. But then I met Dennis, we got engaged and were getting married. I was 23.
That’s when I finally broke up with Howard. Finally. Eight years after I first met him. (I always say 10 years though) I remember having him come pick me up at Skippys (I was still living there, in his room) and I wanted to tell him that I was getting married. He came of course, because he always did. We rode around and I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t even tell him what I wanted to tell him because I was crying so hard. He thought something was really wrong, like someone was dying. So when I finally got it out that I was getting married I think he was relieved.
At this point in our lives we weren’t together and I really did want to marry Dennis. I had to make that clear though because of the crying thing. And Howard didn’t want to marry me and was happy for me. We both knew that we wouldn’t end up together, neither of us wanted that. But I realized then, as I realize now, that day, that car ride, was the end, the true end of me and Howard. I remember telling him then that I didn’t want to marry him, but that I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to. I think he’s probably the only one that gets that.
Howard is definitely not the one that got away. But the end of Howard was definitely the end of an era, the end of my adolescence, the end of something innocent and not so innocent. He raised me. Maybe we raised each other, but Lynn and Howard ceased to exist that day, in the car. It was finally over.
I still cry when I think about that day. Our relationship was so tumultuous but so “us”. That was my identity. I’m glad I moved on, but I will never forget Howard. That’s impossible nor would I want to. We still occasionally wish each other Happy Birthday. Sometimes he’ll say “who is this?” and is always surprised that I remember his bday. Really Howard? You’re surprised? But truthfully I am always surprised when he remembers mine too. I haven’t seen him in years but if I know Howard he’ll check in with me pretty soon. He typically does every 7 or 8 years. (in addition to the bday wishes)
Besterman still asks me “you still love Howard don’t you?” he makes me laugh. How can I not still love Howard? I think we always love our first loves don’t we? Sometimes we think we hate them. Love/hate, it’s the same thing. With Howard and I it was definitely the same thing. Now we just “love” each other. Well, I can’t speak for him, then again, maybe I can. I always have before. Some things never change.
PS – I will probably add some pictures here some day. They are at home and I am not.