Tracy - part 2 of 5
Two days can make all the difference in a seventeen year old boy’s world. I went to bed on Christmas of 1994 not knowing what to think. Was she into me or Jon? Was this going to ruin my friendship? Questions. Questions. Questions. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a guy who likes to hit the sack wondering about things. Even the littlest bit of anxiety keeps me from getting a proper night’s sleep. But I didn’t have a choice that night. I had a big couple of days ahead of me and I knew it. These would be the days that decided which way it went.
On Monday December 26 I got up early. School was out for the week and I decided to eat breakfast at Dunkin Donuts which is where Tracy worked. Talking with her made me feel better. I don’t remember exactly what she said but whatever it was it was enough to get me through the rest of my day.
I stopped by Hot Comix, the local funny-book emporium owned and operated by a couple of older friends of mine and then I went home and hung out for a while before heading off to an uneventful shift jockeying the cash register at Purity Supreme (now Stop & Shop) in the center of Chelmsford.
After work I picked up JonMartin and then Tracy. Our destination was the Burlington Mall and Jon was the navigator. Now, whether he was doing it deliberately to piss me off or whether he truly didn’t know where he was going I don’t know, but we ended up taking a completely different highway and traveling in the wrong direction for close to an hour before we finally righted ourselves and made our way towards the mall.
Another problem was that Jon always rode shotgun. This was a big bone of contention and one of the fundamental laws of our friendship. I didn’t mind. In 99% of the cases where we were travelling together I wanted him to be sitting next to me. He was the guy I identified with most. But here I was spending a night out with a girl who might soon be my “girlfriend” and she was sitting in the back seat. As you can imagine, this only added to the frustration.
Tracy and I click big time in the mall that night but soon we’re back in the car and heading north towards Nashua. Why we didn’t just go to the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua instead of travelling all the way south to Burlington and back is beyond me. Anyway, we eat at Friendly’s in Nashua and Jon is complaining about a headache. I feel the anger and frustration coming off of him but I can’t help myself. I like this girl and I’m finally starting to just not care about anyone but myself.
On our way back from Nashua Jon is frustrated and has a headache and Tracy is still in the backseat. For one reason or another she starts kicking the back of my seat. With my right hand on the steering wheel I reach my left hand behind my back through the tiny gap between my seat the driver’s side door and I try to stop her. She grabs hold of my hand.
She grabs hold of my hand and doesn’t let go for the rest of the night.
We drive around for a while. Jon probably had the stereo blaring. That was another bit of the foundation of our friendship. Loud music all the time. It still is a pretty common theme on our road trips together. I don’t know if Jon noticed that I had only one hand on the wheel. I don’t know if he wondered where my other hand was. I don’t know what he was thinking because as she held my hand that night, not just holding it but I dont’ know… really holding it… as she held my hand that night, the whole rest of the world seemed to melt away.
Tuesday December 27th is completely lost to time. I don’t remember what happened that day and my journal from that time simply reads, “Tired. Nothing really happened.” I don’t really believe that though. I’m sure something happened. I just have no idea what.
Wednesday December 28th was a day off from work for both she and I and I planned on taking advantage of that. Except that I didn’t. It was still the group of us hanging out except that this time Jon’s friend Stander was added to the mix.
I picked Tracy up at her place and we went to Jon’s. I left her there, which I felt really uneasy about and I went to pick up Stander. It seemed like part of some grand scheme to seperate me from her, to try and keep her from going over to the dark side which was me.
When we were all back together I think there was some talk of just hanging out at Jon’s for a while. Jon and Stander were trying to get their band going and I think Tracy offered to play tambourine. This made me exceedingly jealous because at the time I had nothing to do with the band and I had no musical talent to offer.
We spent the day together as we so often had, with one notable exception. Tracy asserted herself as she hadn’t done previously, sitting in the front seat with me. We visited the fading Chelmsford Mall which was losing stores every month and we ate at the Dunkin Donuts in Billerica though I don’t think we got the food for free that time because that wasn’t the Dunkins that she worked at. At some point we ate at Pizza Hut in Nashua and at some other point we were in Westford. We drove a lot. Tracy fell asleep on my arm. Jon and Stander, I was sure, were plotting against me in the back seat.
The time came to drop everyone off. We dropped off Jeff first and then we drove some more. We were close to Tracy’s house so it seemed to me that my magical day with her was coming to an end. Then that girl she did the unthinkable one more time. She asked to be dropped off last. Jon was always the last to be dropped off. It allowed him and I time to talk. But now he was being usurped. And I did nothing to stop it.
Across town we went, dropping Jon off at his doorstep and then heading out. She wrapped herself around my arm and we talked. I struggled to keep my eyes on the road with this beautiful girl attached to me and the car’s heater warming the whole thing like a roaring fireplace. Sometime during the trip from Jon’s house to hers she whispered, “You know what? I like you.”
Such simple words. So very “high school.” But to a boy who had never been kissed, never had a girl really like him at all… to the boy that I was then, those words were magic. I can still hear them today echoing in my mind. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me.
In my journal that night I wrote in very large letters, taking up half the page, “I’m so happy.” And I was.