Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Yearbook: J.R.

The year was 1982. We danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album and watched “E.T.” on the silver screen. John Belushi died and Prince William was born. We exercised  to Jane Fonda video tapes and never missed watching “Dynasty” on TV. Gas cost 91 cents a gallon and a stamp two dimes. We were spooked by the Tylenol scare and held our breath as the recession began.

It was a year of promise and pain, of sweetness and sorrow.

But it was OUR year. 

We were the Class of 1982, and we were ready to take on the world.   

James Robert (Yearbook post)

Gina, Oh well, here I go again trying to think of what to write in someone’s yearbook. It just so happens that yours is the hardest. You’ve affected my life so many times and in so many ways that I don’t know what to say. You made me realize things about other people and about myself. I’ve done super stupid things that I wish I could do over, but once you do them it’s too bad. Knowing what you would do in the situation really helps me a lot because believe it or not, I know you better than I know myself. I just don’t have any confidence (sometimes) and I always expect the worst (but that’s good in some cases, because I’m ready for the worst when it does happen). As I was saying you know what you want and you stick to it, because you have a great head on your shoulders (wise and sharp looking).

The time I’ve spent with you over the past year has really been great. I know I’m probably a pain in your ass, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and aside from one incident, I’ve changed a lot. I hope you don’t change because you don’t have to (you shouldn’t).  I’m starting to run out of space and I have a hundred other things to write, so I’ll sum it up and say: “You’re one hell of a friend and I hope you keep in touch with me even when you’re in your 60s.” You’re closer to me than any one of my other friends so keep out of trouble and don’t get that pretty little head of yours into a bum situation.

Love always,



Every time I’m home visiting my parents, I drive by the house where J.R. grew up. I loved J.R. like a brother and felt badly that I wasn’t able to love him in the way he loved me. I tried to, but it just didn’t work. Maybe I was afraid of ruining what we had. I was closer to him than I was to many of my girlfriends, and there were things that we talked about that I could never have talked about with them.

 I remember our last long talk. It was the week before we both started our freshman year in college. We jumped on his cycle and went to his favorite talking spot, miles outside of town. We lay side by side on the spongy hillside, staring up at the black sky.  J.R. loved coming to this spot, especially on a clear night because the stars were so bright. He always pointed out the constellations and then shared the stories behind them. It was J.R. who explained to me that the Big Dipper and Little Dipper weren’t constellations but asterisms. I was always amazed at how much he knew about totally random stuff.

That was the night that he told me that he was glad he was going away to college. That he needed to get away from me. That he just couldn’t take loving me as much as he did and seeing me with another guy. He didn’t blame me. He said it wasn’t my fault that he fell in love with someone who didn't return his feelings. But that he needed a chance to see if he could love someone as much as he loved me.

I know I shouldn’t have, but I kissed him that night. The way a girlfriend kisses a boyfriend. I needed to see how it felt, to see if maybe I was wrong. So I leaned over him and bent down to find his lips and he rolled on top of me and kissed me with so much passion I could hardly breathe. But then he stopped. Suddenly. And sat up.

 “I don’t want you like this,” he said. “Don’t give me what you think I want. But if you ever want me, really, really want me, you know where I’ll be.”

When he dropped me off that night, we hugged.

“Sorry if I screwed things up,” I said.

“You didn’t screw things up. It’s just that I can’t handle feeling the way I do about you. I’ve tried so hard for the past year and I just think I need a break. It’s not you. It’s me. I need to get my head on straight. Quit wishing for something that’s never going to happen.”

It was the last time I saw J.R. It was like he went away to college and vanished. I tried finding him from time to time, but I didn’t have any luck. I always wondered if he had found someone who loved him as much as he loved me. I hoped that he found someone who loved him more. 

Other posts in this blog series

NOTE:  Each Tuesday and Friday meet another member of the Class of 1982. 


  1. These are sooo good, Buffy. I'm officially hooked.

  2. As a parent and teacher, I find these reality based pieces most enjoyable. Keep them comming. Jess

  3. Thanks Jess. I appreciate you reading. And thanks Louise for your support and encouragement.