First love. Real or romanticized?
When I was 16 years old I had the first love experience that most young girls do. Mine was a bit of a summer camp situation in a MUCH more beautiful and romantic place. Upon reflection, I now see that maybe what I thought was a true love was actually just a combination of a romantic environment, being young, and believing that my feelings were much more real than they actually were.
At 16 years old, I was fortunate enough to go on a vacation of a life time. As I walked onto the marina to join my scuba diving and sailing camp; I was filled with a rush of emotions. I was about to spend the entire summer on a boat with a bunch of people my age and I was scared to death.
Being a typical teenager I was extremely insecure and nervous. I was self conscious about wearing a bathing suit and I was uncertain if people would accept me for the dork that I had always been. I was very much reserved and very unsure of myself. I was excited to meet all the other people on the trip, but I was nervous that maybe I would hate it. I would be stuck on this boat with strangers for the next 3 months; and the boat only went to port once a week. That’s a long ass time to be stuck with 13 other people on a 45 ft catamaran; along with 6 other boats with the same amount of people.
Now that I reflect on this – I think that I was quite silly. Here I was, in the British Virgin Islands, completing my Rescue Scuba Divers License. I would be sailing around to places I had never seen before, nor had I ever dreamed of seeing. I remember the moment when I met my sailing crew. Everyone was awkward in their own way and of course our introductions were a little uncomfortable. Our boat was named Exta-Sea and our partner boat was Cat’sass.
The first person I met was quirky eccentric girl who we nicknamed Cleo. On the first night we all got our fortunes told by Cleo who seemed to take pleasure in reading people. She used tarot cards and swore she could tell the future. In retrospect she was probably the icebreaker for everyone.
Then there was Smitty who was a tall geeky guy who was from the same state as me and we bonded very well. He was the sarcastic guy who made everything fun. I liked Smitty because he seemed like someone I could become friends with and I felt comfortable with him. And then there was him… Kenny. I first noticed him when he came down the dock without his shirt on. His tan skin, muscles, and visor hat were so attractive. He was tall, brown hair, brown eyes, and a slightly big nose. He was from New Jersey and I loved his accent. When I saw him I decided that there’s no way this guy would notice me.
That night on the Exta-Sea, he didn’t pay me much attention as he was wrapped up getting his fortune read, and being the “cool” guy of the group. I was pretty timid especially in his presence.
That night we all decided to sleep outside on the nets, which are on the front of the boat outside. Somehow Kenny and I ended up sleeping on the same net with a few other people. We all talked and I thought I would never fall asleep.
I laid there and looked at the stars. I couldn’t believe how many stars I could see – there must have been 10 shooting stars that I witnessed that night. The boat rocked back and forth and all I could smell was the Aqui Di Gio cologne mixed with the salty fresh air. It was Kenny’s cologne. To this day that is my favorite cologne. After meeting him every time I would travel or pass by a cologne store I would stop and spray a gallon of it on my shirt or my purse just to smell it.
Well, since this story is about my first love, and I have given a very detailed description of Kenny I am sure it’s clear he is the one. I don’t know what started it, I don’t know how it began, but my next memory is us giggling on the side of the boat laughing. And he kissed me. That kiss was just perfect! I was in the most perfect place with the perfect guy. Over the next few weeks, Kenny, myself, and Smitty teamed up. We were like a little crew. We hung out together, studied together, visited the islands together. And of course Kenny and I cuddled together at night – minus Smitty. Kenny was very attentive to me he always sat with me if I was sitting alone, always brought me food, and was always around to laugh with. Kenny made me feel like I was attractive and fun.
I of course compared myself to the other girls on the boat. There was Gavin the tall brunette Georgia peach who was beautiful and fun. We got a long so well. Then there was “boobs”, I don’t remember her name, but she was exotic looking with huge boobs.
This was the first time in my life where I truly left my past behind, became sure of myself, and really connected with other people my age. People liked me and thought I was funny. Guys noticed me and they were all what I found to be attractive. There was “Misty Kid” who always screamed from Cat’sass “Hey Crystal – Watch me do a misty flip!” And he’d flip of the back of the boat. Everyone always made fun of me because of him… referring to him as my misty kid. It was such a good time.
At night there were limitless activities to night diving, visiting the secluded beaches and singing around the bond fire, going to dinners at restaurants when we were on port, and hiking on the mountains on our off day from scuba diving. I loved this world. I loved everything about scuba diving. Under the warm water I felt weightless, I felt at ease, I felt in control, and I loved getting out of the salty sea water and feeling the salt dry off my hair and skin. I could live like that forever. It’s a moment in time that if I could capture in a bubble; I might just stay in that bubble for the rest of my life.
Usually, as a child or in a moment, people don’t stop to appreciate where they are, take everything in, and just enjoy it as it is. It seems like everyone is in a rush to move forward or waiting on something else. Well not me. In that moment I never wanted to leave. And as luck would have it mother nature let me stay for another week.
On the last day everyone was so sad as we cleaned and packed. We all wanted to stay there longer even the people who were homesick felt a little sad. “Leaving on a Jet plane” was blasting from one of the boats on the dock which was quite fitting. And the moment came where Kenny and I had to say goodbye. He was on the first group to go to the airport. As we stood there we promised to write each other, to talk as much as possible, and to visit each other. We hugged and I was left standing on the dock with Smitty. My stomach felt empty as I know that promises to keep in touch are often hard to keep. I didn’t want to go back to my world… The world where I was the smart shy girl, who didn’t party, read books instead of partying and kept to myself. As I sat there in my sadness and sucking in the last moments I had in my new-found favorite place; news came that a volcano erupted. How crazy is that? It didn’t damage the island and it didn’t do any harm, but all flights were canceled. I guess me and Smitty would be stuck here for at least another week. We joked about how it sucked that Kenny already left. And as I laughed off my sadness there he was standing there wearing that visor with his bags. My heart raced. We spent the whole night and week together laying in the sand talking. He told me how sad he really was that he was leaving; and that he had actually broken up with his girlfriend the first week he met me on one of his phone calls home. Awful, I know. But at that time I thought he really liked me or he just wanted to have fun without the guilt. Who knows?
Well, we did end up leaving fantasy island and we parted on such good terms. Everyone asked us when the wedding would be. We always laughed it off, but I think at that moment maybe he was the one. And guess what? We did stay in touch all year and we both somehow convinced our parents to send us back on the trip the following year. The following year we ended up becoming even closer because we were on the same boat again. Everyone of the managers and counselors remembered us; and they thought we’d surely be something.
We kept in touch for the following years, I would obsess over when he would sign online, when he would call, and I just wanted him. And finally, when I was in college, Kenny did come visit me.
Around this time it was a different story. I went to a cold small university, I was in a sorority, I had a dating life. We both had grown and changed, but he was somehow convinced that he was supposed to be with me. And he felt that now that he had started on the path in school and he knew what he wanted to do it was time for us to meet again. So on one of his drives he took a detour and came to visit me at college. Well, I completely bombed that experience and we didn’t have any fun at all. There was just something missing. His smell no longer captivated me, he no longer felt close to me. Even though I had him right there and we could have tried; the pictures and the memories were much more captivating. To this day I reflect on those times with fondness and I know the feeling I had when I was there.
I had spent all of this time obsessing over him, dreaming of what it would be like, and waiting for him. And here he was. What had changed?
Was my love for him romanticized by the islands, the sea, the closeness of scuba diving. By not being in reality? Did I only feel for him because of my love for the ocean? Was there something in the stars? Was there something in the biolumenescents that lit the crystal blue water at night that peaked my love? Or was it just a romantic setting for a young girl who found one boy very handsome and fun to be around. Was it that I thought we’d never be together?
Love is such a strange addiction. You never know if you are romanticizing someone or a situation or if you’re in reality… I guess it’s one of those things not to be understood, but only to be felt.
I’ll never know.
P.S – Some of these are real photos as you can see by the oldness. Haha 🙂