When I was 15, I felt really badly about myself. My mother and I did not get along at all (to put it mildly) and because of that there was A LOT of tension and screaming and smacking and crying at home. I was a mixed-race kid in a predominantly white town, terribly socially awkward, and easily the least attractive of the few girl friends I did have. I had always had crushes on boys growing up, but by this point I had actually kind of given up on ever being with anyone (15! I was fucking 15!!) based on my experiences (read: nothing. I had zero experience with boys other than smoking bongs and playing Bond with a few good dudes that I still consider my friends to this day.) But I mean, no romantic shit happening, at all. Not even kissing, not even holding hands, not even on the playground in 2nd grade.
So I had this friend named Mike, and he had this older brother named Harry, and Harry was basically the coolest motherfucker on the planet of my high school. Black hair, blue eyes, raspy voice. Mountain Dew, Newports, and a ZERO board he rode everywhere; so pretty much, 15 year old girl fantasy come to fruition. And of course I crushed on him like some of my other friends crushed on him, but I never really thought anything of it as I was convinced I had been rendered invisible to the opposite sex.
Then one day something happened, and it changed my life in a lot of ways.
I remember going out to the "movies" (smoking weed...somewhere? Behind a mall or some other such suburban-something?) and coming home pretty late, around midnight. My mom mentioned that someone had called, a boy, and that he said his name was Harry. The fact that my mom sometimes has a hard time understanding English, compounded with the fact that I was baked out of my fucking mind, left me confused and...just really confused. I didn't actually know this kid, we had never spoken before that point. So I did what people did in the 90's when they needed information, I consulted the phone book (it's a book with ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS OF EVERYONE!!! BRILLIANT!!), and right there in the C's; the number to his parent's home. I'm not sure what compelled me to call him back, at midnight, this essential stranger, but it's one of the few times in my life where "fuck it" actually worked out in my favor. But back to the original point: this kid just called me because he felt like calling me! The balls on this dude! Balls doesn't even sufficiently describe what it takes to accomplish something like that, putting yourself out there despite all kinds of self-conscious, self-defeating bullshit your brain convinces you will leave you humiliated, ultimately resulting in you shutting the fuck up about everything and never really taking a chance on anything. God dammit! When I look back on this I'm naturally thinking "Well, he was 15, you can take chances like that when you're 15..." but why does it have to stop there?! Being 15 and having nothing to lose is, in an emotional context, no different than being 32 and having nothing to lose (in an emotional context. I'm well aware I don't have the freedom to say "fuck you" and run away from a world of burned bridges, anymore.) I feel like I could look back on any year prior to the year I'm in now and be like "I should have done that when I was that age." DAMN.
Anyhow, we talked for almost four hours on the phone that night. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but we immediately realized that our shared love for Drew Barrymore and The Adventure's of Pete and Pete was enough to render our 15 year old hearts compatible, and, for the first time in my life, I got to experience what love feels like.
I was young, and so, so happy, and didn't feel like a disgusting alien for the first time in my life, and it was fucking awesome.
Harry introduced me to punk rock. He made me a Descendents tape, introduced me to every Dead Kennedys record ever created, and made out with me to an Iron Maiden cassette he had stolen from Coconut Records (how fucking cool is this kid?!) We stole joints from my step mom and smoked them on my back porch late at night. We stole booze from wherever booze was located and got shitfaced and vomited out of passenger windows. He would steal his parents Suburban and drive, illegally, to sneak into my room, and my God it seems like a lot of our time spent together involved stealing and being sneaky about shit but I promise you it was (slightly) more wholesome than that.
It lasted 6 months. Or maybe 4. When you're 15, it doesn't really matter, it feels like it couldn't possibly end. I never realized until now that, although I spent so much of my younger years waiting impatiently to get older and move the fuck out of my hometown, that I have never really been able to more enjoy living in the moment than I did when I was 15 and in love for the first time. A lot of people have someone they've set as their "Standard", comparing everyone else they date to that one person, but Harry was honestly incomparable. When you're 15 and you live at home, and don't have a job or bills, and can get away with pairing corduroys AND a tube top, you're essentially living in fantasy land, and when you get to share some time with someone awesome who wants to make out with you, that's pretty much impossible to beat. He was funny, and beautiful, and he had a giant trampoline. And he liked me, and made me feel likable for the first time.
When I think of our time spent together I think of perfectly untouched, just fallen snow.
He was my first kiss, my first love, and my first heartbreak. I totally identify with you, Justin Bieber song that was famous before I knew who the fuck Justin Bieber was. Except I would totally be the Ludacris part.
We had a falling out over our break-up, then reconciled almost 6 years later, somewhat keeping in touch, yet each of us just a little too fucked up to create any real friendship at that point.
He left the way many of my friends have: tragically, and far too soon. While it makes me sad, I know that there were many other people who knew him better than I did in the later years of his life, and it pains me to think how much they must miss him, because I know that someone like that was one in a million, and I know how hard it is to keep living without those special people we meet along the way.
So thank you, Harry, for everything. You are missed.