It didn’t begin as a romance, really. It wasn’t a friendship, either. I don’t really know what to call it, but I do remember the first time I ever saw her. I was young; maybe eleven or twelve. It was so odd that she struck me so much, at first glance. Eleven or twelve is not exactly the age that boys begin admiring girls. I know I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend.
I was outside playing with my buddies, Ricky and Josh.
We were building a fort out of some cardboard boxes that dad had found from work. It was what we always did after school. It was while we were putting the last box in its place that I heard this laughter coming from the sidewalk. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was kind of musical, but also a little taunting.
“Is that what you do around here for fun?” asked this lanky, blonde hair, blue eyed girl.
Very rarely can you remember what someone says word-for-word, but I will always remember the words of this mysterious girl.
All three of us boys gawked at her. She was not like the other girls that we teased at school. They were cute — usually wore pigtails or braids that we tugged on to get their attention, but this girl; she was not cute at all. Not really cute. She was pretty. She had rosy cheeks instead of the freckled ones that we usually saw.
She was wearing make-up and had one clothes t hat looked too old for her age.
She told us that her name was Annie. She did not tell me her last name. She told us that she was from New York City and was only in our small town for the summer, staying with her aunt and uncle.
I don’t remember what I said back to her that first time she spoke to us. I wanted it to be something clever, something sarcastic, but it was something terribly dull. As dull, apparently, as she thought our town was.
The next day, I told Ricky and Josh that I did not feel like playing “fort” anymore. I told them that it was for kids. I wasn’t a kid anymore. Instead, I waited upstairs in my room and looked out of the window that overlooked our front yard. From our front yard, I could see Annie’s aunt and uncle’s house. She was walking outside, so I ran down the stairs to go outside, stopping at a mirror near the door to make sure my hair was smoothed down and that my collar was straight. I usually let my hair fly however it wanted to, but not in front of Annie.
I went outside and leaned against the house, trying to look like I imagined the boys looked in New York City; uncaring and cool. She walked by and stopped. She stared at me, but I was not going to give her the satisfaction of being the first to say something. Especially since I had no clue what I should say. I had not thought that far ahead.
“So where are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb?” she asked. She was talking about Josh and Ricky. I shrugged, and kicked the ground, or something as equally cool and uncaring as that.
“So, where can I girl get a soda in this dump?” She asked, hands on her hips. I was in love. She was a little rude, loud, and annoying, but she was the best thing I had ever seen.
It was the beginning of a summer romance. At least, to me it was a romance. I am still not sure why Annie decided to hang around me when there were plenty of local beefy jocks that would have loved to have spent summer with her. I never asked her. I was just glad that for some reason, I was chosen.
That was one of the best summers of my life. Ricky and Josh were not really happy, because I rarely had time to be around them, anymore. Annie and her crazy ideas kept me busy. For a girl who complained so much about my hometown, she certainly found plenty to do in it. We went horseback riding—something she had only read about, shopping at our small mall (her idea, not mine), went skinny dipping in a lake (my idea, not hers), and had many mini-adventures. I think that even though she was used to the big city, she had as much of an amazing summer as I did. She was so modern and cool – unlike any girl I had ever met before. Instead of reading Seventeen, or some other silly magazine that girls read, she enjoyed reading the New York Times, particularly the movie reviews. She loved movies and could quote them like some people quote poetry.
“’Why do you want to fight?’” she would ask me. I knew my cue was “’Because I can’t sing or dance.’” Rocky was among her favorite movies.
“’I think we make a great couple of coconuts. I am dumb, you are shy, what do you think?’” was another one that I said to make her laugh. Weird for a girl to like Rocky 1 instead of Pretty in Pink, but I wasn’t complaining.
The only thing bad about our summer was that even though every day with Annie was fun, I knew that eventually the summer would end and she would have to go back to New York City.
That day came and she did not even say goodbye. I went to her aunt and uncle’s house and they told me that they had taken her to the airport early that morning. I never saw Annie again. Her aunt and uncle moved shortly after that summer. It was one of the best summers of my life, but it happened so fast and ended so fast that sometimes I wonder if it was just a dream. If it was a dream, or if I had been in heaven, then Annie had been an angel. Either way, I will never forget that summer, or Annie from New York City.