A Girl Named October

 

 

 

A s this first entry is being posted, the sun will be crossing the celestial equator. Today, night will be about as long as daytime. Autumn will have begun. And summer will be over…

A GIRL NAMED OCTOBER

I couldn’t help fall
for a girl named October
her eyes like the sky
when the day’s almost over
her voice like a song
you almost remember
from some other life
some other forever

Why did I lie
why did I say — I didn’t love her
I knew just what that meant
I knew right there and then
that it was over…

ten thousand times
I thought that I might see her
a million nights I lay awake
and remembered
ten billion stars
go on forever
not one chance
we could stay together

Why did I lie
why did I say — I didn’t love her
I knew just what that meant
I knew right there and then
that it was over…

W hen I was a kid, summers stretched on lazily. I worshipped summer. Long days at the library or playing pool at the Boys Club, and later, hitching down to the beach, body surfing and just hanging out looking at girls and talking about life… the life that didn’t seem to have begun yet.

But, sooner or later, fall would start to sneak into the air and a wistfulness, a longing would overtake me. You’d become aware of the faint perfume of fallen leaves or distant fires (yeah, not only could you hitchike back then, people actually burned leaves to get rid of them… it was a long time ago… don’t try it in your century). And, even when I was a boy, I would feel… old.

And filled with complex feelings I never understood.

The first time I fell hopelessly, obsessively in love — I was 10 — was on a fall-like day at the end of summer. Autumn hung over that day so heavily, I found myself drawn down to my locked-up-for-the-summer grade school. I took the wooden boomerang my dad and I had made in the garage (from instructions in a Reader’s Digest kids book… another thing that’ll never happen in this century. Have you ever been hit by a wooden boomerang slicing in from 120 feet in the air?)

For a few idle hours, I threw the ‘rang in the various ways I’d studied, sending it scooping low to the ground and then watching it rise suddenly, but predictably to come up and back around, running to where it would land as often as I ran away from it as it bore down on me.

There I was toward the end of the day, the sun slanting in, eucalyptus trees wiggling their long, finger like leaves, the distant sounds of other kids on the sprawling grounds and I saw her…

It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen her before. She’d been in my class since 2nd grade, maybe first. But there was something about her long hair and her slim athleticism as she chased her family dog… something I’d never seen before in a girl my age, something that talked to me on an altogether unfamiliar level… something that talked to my genes…

As fate would have it, it was an unrequited love. I even tried getting to her through her best friend, a cute blond I’ll call Lauren. Of course, even though I didn’t know that was how the plotline always goes, I found myself drawn farther into a sweet and innocent puppy love… with Lauren.

For almost two years we were inseparable — except at school, where I had to keep up the fiction that I hated girls. But for endless hours we would walk and talk or just lie next to each other on the grass, looking up at the trees above us.

We ended up going to different middle schools (back then we called them junior highs) and, not too long after, my family moved away. I saw her again when I was 17 and totally full of myself. She was very cute. I thought for a few moments that she would surely fall for the new, self-consciously hip me but it wasn’t to be. I never saw her again…

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