In Every Shade, A Valentine
When I received the invitation, I thought, what a novel idea! A college reunion not being held, like most of them are, at the end of the school year. And then I thought back to those four years. So much time had passed; so much had changed. Why had I not gone to one of these events before? Busy. Disinterested. Would probably be boring. Life had certainly moved on from the making the Dean's List and getting laid focus of those days. These people would remember who I was way back then. Is that what I was trying to forget?
But my curiosity was piqued. Had she ever gone to one of these? Would she be there? How had her life turned out? Even before the invitation arrived, I had found myself thinking about her more and more. What if? I could do a Internet search of her name and find out. But that's not the same as having a face to face conversation. And there's the break up. Not a very graceful exit, done for reasons that seem almost quaint now. A quick long distance phone call at the end of our post graduation summer of love, to abruptly cut the cord. What a cad! Law school was first and foremost, and she wasn't Jewish. Back then, "marry your own" was still important, mostly, especially, to my parents. What would have happened if I had listened to my heart and stuck up for us as a couple, instead of extending my adolescence and staying tied to my Mother's apron strings? Too late for that now. She's probably happily married, with a great career and family and never thinks about me.
Oh, well, why not RSVP. Party of one, my having been unsuccessful in any romantic relationship since. Lucky for me, I could handle my own divorces! I hear it's a trend, people looking up their first loves at midlife and actually marrying them. I can hope...who am I kidding?! Wouldn't It Be Nice.
Valentine's Day 2009. Our 33rd class reunion, not 30th, not 35th, obviously not a featured year. She probably won't be there. That masquerade theme is curious. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for Halloween? Guess it'll make things interesting...and I can hide. As I walk in, there's not a heart or anything red in sight, just a sea of turquoise (gasp!) and black masks dangling everywhere to grab and don. No name tags. How odd. Certainly not the shades of school pride. Love Is Blue? The Color of a Lonely Heart? The Carpenter's This Masquerade playing in the background. Not a good sign. And there she was. I instantly recognized those chocolate brown eyes awkwardly "concealed" behind the oversized mask she held in her hand. "What took you so long?" she asked, before I even had a chance to remove my festivity camouflage. "I've been coming to these events for quite a few years, hoping to bump into you." "I'm here now" is all I could muster, saying the rest with my fully revealed countenance, a beaming and blushing crimson Valentine.
Karen Ann DeLuca,