I’ve always believed that everyone had love waiting for them; that the people buying bread in their pjs or the businessmen picking their nose at the streetlight could be moments away from finding true love. That no matter how bland your life has become can all change with one single encounter. An encounter so monumental that after everything that really matters in life will happen. My moment came during senior year after returning from a family vacation in france, which felt eternally different from Naples; but well get to that later.
My best friend Jerome always tells me that I have it all, in which it would be arrogant not to agree. Jerome and Mitch told me about the pre-summer party at Jonahs house as we left the tennis court, claiming that it wouldnt be a party if I wasnt there. As I walked through campus back to my car I nodded her to a bunch of people.
I always felt as if I was always saying hello to passing people, being the junior class president, and also the captain of the tennis team. I felt as though my life was a stage and I was the actor.
Later, as I made my way to Jonahs party on Elm Street I parked two streets over to avoid the barrage of drunk drivers; the last thing I wanted was a ding on my new shining black BMW. Jonahs party was the same as the hundred before, but unlike my friends, my magic of the event was more than gone.
As I made my way through the backyard the find the tennis boys, he solo cups that littered the ground crackled under my feet like fireworks. As I approached the poolside patio Jerome, Mitch, and Donny banged on the table; providing the worst drum solo the world has ever heard.
As usual Bethany and her posse followed close behind scoffing at the musical serenade. Bethanys group looked like every other girl at Southwood High, sporting blonde hair to much makeup and a stupidly expensive handbag. I imagined that my senior year would follow the same expectations, flirting with Bethany and watching the crowd of envious guys watching me as I strode through my life without a care in the world. Luckily for me, next year was nothing like I had imagined, luckily for me my whole lifes purpose was about the change.
At the ring of the first bell I found myself late to history after being stopped by senior welcoming my back. This school felt as if it were my home, like I was the tallest tree in the forest. Amidst the crowd of Southwood High regulars there was someone completely out of place holding a school map with a furrowed eyebrow. She was her own style of beautiful, she had dark brown hair and creamy hazel eyes. She had a round and inviting face with skin as pale as ice. She wore a hand-me-down crew neck hoodie and carried an old worn leather satchel over her shoulder. The sun from the window beside her gave her a glow that shimmered on her pale skin, making her look like an angel. I walked over to her attempting to fix my hair and said Hey Im Steve, need a hand finding your class?.
She spoke softly, inviting me in, pulling me closer; I’m trying to find my history class she said. As we walked to class together I learned more about the quirky yet beautiful mystery girl. I’m Amanda Hyde, I just moved here from seattle. Do you run this place or something? she said with a slight smirk. Amanda pushed ahead in front of me turned around and said, I’ll see you inside she said.” She turned forward again and walked right into the history room. I dont know if it was the way she walked or the way she looked, but she was a breath of fresh air. At that moment I realized two things; number one, I had just fallen in love with Amanda Hyde and secondly, I didn’t walk her to class, she walked me.
When I entered the class Mitch and Donny were sitting at the back and signaled me to them. I made my way to the back and sat beside Donny before Mr. Martin starts the attendance. Mr. Martin went through the list calling out everyone’s names; and when he came to mine he simply skipped it muttering Steves here. Mr. Martin told us that we would be interviewing a classmate and introducing them to the class. Unfortunately for me Mitch and Donny were sitting next to each other and partnered up immediately leaving me to find a partner of my own. Bethany and her posse sat at the back of the class beside Mitch and Donny. Everyone else in the class also seemed aware of my dilemma and watched as my eyes scanned to room.
Amanda sat there staring at the world map that was hung on the wall. I got up and took the spot beside her. As the chair squealed as I pulled it out from under the desk to sit down Amandas concentration was broken. She looked at me and smiled, Steve right? she said as if she had forgotten about me in our 20 minutes apart. Is seattle so different from Naples, I asked believing that she had to be normal somewhere. Not at all really, the weather is beautiful though,” she said. I hid my expression, but I was happy. Amanda wasn’t just special in Florida, but she was special everywhere. She told me about how her family had just gotten back from traveling through the United States National Parks, how she once joined in a huge flash mob in finland and lastly, how she played the violin on top of her roof so that she could watch her music disappear in the horizon.
I told her everything she could already tell from looking at me. I play tennis, and my favorite subject is history. When it was time to present each other to the class I told the class her name was Amanda and she liked art and she had a younger brother that played soccer. I did her a favour, I made her forgettable. I knew how Bethany would be if she knew who she really was. As I looked over and saw Bethanys evil grin I realized I might have made a mistake. Amanda looked at me and then the class and said This is Steve, he plays the violin, and love listening to Miriah Carey. After the history bell, Jerome and I made our way to our usual table. Our table was perched above the others in the center of the cafeteria, next to the coffee cart.
Whenever I sat at the table I felt as though I was on that stage, being watched by the school; a celebrity that would give back all their money to just be out of the spotlight. When we sat down and Mitch strutted over with three Chick-fil-A bag in one hand and Bethany in the other. When Mitch and Bethanys posse came to table Bethany perched up on my lap. She wore a strapless dress that showed her sexy bare shoulders. Her skin was perfect, and she would have been able to play her games with me all lunch, but I was already focused on something else. She was like a fly on the wall at Westwood; nothing about her spoke normal. Among the sea of prep kids with collared shirts, khakis, and extremely short skirts; stood this free spirit; fighting the system, in every way possible. I wanted to go over there, I wanted to take her with me and go somewhere.
I didnt know where, but I wanted to be anywhere but here. All lunch I sat there looking at her, toning out Mitch and Donnys conversation on how could fit the most fries in their mouth. As always time continued to move on through the year. After admiring Amanda from afar for months I finally found a chance to see her without anyone seeing. I had just left tennis practice early and saw Amanda walking home alone. It had just started raining which was a miracle in Orlando during December. As I drove over to ask her if she wanted a ride, she was dancing in the rain. When I pulled over, she ran over and leaned in through the open window. Isnt it beautiful she said, smiling at me. Yeah, do you want a ride home? I said giving her one of my trademarked smiles. Sure, if you dont mind. She got in my Z4 and we took off down the coast. Have you ever just not wanted to go home before? Amanda asked looking into my eyes.
Yeah sure I have, pointlessly rechecking my mirrors, thinking of my Dad sitting at his desk just past his locked door working on his business deals. Then I thought of my Mom, hovering over me, sunscreen bottle always in hand. Then lets go somewhere then,” Amanda said pulling her damp sweater off her chest. I looked at her and then back the eternally winding road, Theres nowhere to go, were in Naples. How about a park?” Amanda said playing with her skirt. As we got to Cambier Park Amanda hopped out of the car before I even put on the handbrake. It was still raining and she ran over to the swingset removing her sweater and throwing it in the damp sand.
As she ran I stood still watching her, she was only in a red spaghetti strap tank top, and a white short dress that blew up in the wind. She was beautiful and made me want her to be mine forever. Push me! she shouted as she hopped on the swing. I walked over slowly, trying to hide my excitement. I pushed her until she was high enough to push herself, chains losing slack as they slapped across the top bar. She pushed herself out of the swing flying across the air, landing at the edge of the sandbox, her dress upside down, gripping her ribs. It felt as if she was moving in slow motion, her pale legs gave a golden glow even in the rain. When she landed she rushed over to me and jumped into my arms. We were soaked, there wasn’t a dry part on our bodies, but instead of succumbing to the rains gloom I was the happiest man in the world.
As I drove Amanada home, she told me that she also lived in a gated community across from mine. As we approached the gatekeeper the rain cleared up and the sky darkened. The guard looked me up and down, and Amanda giggled as we watched him open the gate. We strode through the community as we drove through the houses There were only three different types of houses, which made the communities look the same, cookie-cutters of each other. Amanda told her how she hated living in the community, but it was all they could find when they wanted to move in. It made sense to me; Amanda was so against the system that I imagined her house to be a house that was like no other. When we parked at her house I looked at her and she held my hand and said Be quiet and come with me.
We sneaked around to her backyard and hoped over her fence. When we got into her backyard she ran over to a big oak tree that stood alone among the many palm trees in the backyard. She climbed up the tree and enter through a door that lead to a small treehouse. I followed her up and we laid down together on the wood floorboards. We could see the stars and I put my arm around her as we laid there looking at the stars. She looked into my eyes and we kissed for the first time. Her lips tasted like strawberries and she did this with her tongue that made me neer want to leave this moment. Youre Beautiful, I told her squeezing her tighter than I had been before. Youre not to bad yourself she said giving me a second kiss on the cheek before she stepped down the ladder and escaped into the house.
Me and Bethany started dating soon after, and started seeing each other at school more often. Everyone at school couldnt stop staring at us together, and my usual crowd stopped getting together at lunch. Amanda and I were as happy as ever. Amanda joined the debate team when the second term rolled around, so when she asked me to come to one of her tournaments I jumped at the chance. The tournament was two days long and was a couple hours out of Naples, so we decided to get a hotel room for the night. After listening to Amandas economic debate address for the hundredth time we decided to go to bed; We got a room with two single beds, which we ended up pushing together. We layed in bed and talked well into the night. Amanda was wearing a baggy white t-shirt and red mickey-mouse pajama bottoms. She cuddled up to me and put her arm around my waist.
As my arm went numb under her back, and my face was full of her hair I realized how much she meant to me. As Amanda snored ever so slightly I kissed her on the forehead and said, I love you Amanda Hyde. During the second day of the tournament, Amanda and I drove down to a nearby creek where we sat and had a quick picnic under a willow tree. She made me a flower crown as I set a Guinness world record for Amanda didnt have a phone and sometimes didnt show up for school for weeks at a time. I never asked where she was during that time, but I imagined it was somewhere important. As the year came to a close