26 Years. . .

“This is Part 1, Parts 2-6 are linked at the bottom of this post.  Part 6 is Jeff’s version of our story.  He wrote the last installment”

I fell in love when I was a little girl. Well, not really little, but I was young and naïve, 14 years old, just entering high school when I met him.  His blonde hair captivated me and I was instantly smitten by his million dollar smile.  I will never forget the first time he smiled at me, the way he looked down and the blonde hair would fall over his eyes.  He used to toss his head back, and his hair would move from his face.  I remember this like it was yesterday.

Jeff was a typical “bad boy”.  Never interested in going to class and looked for every excuse under the sun to leave school so he could go surfing.  I was for the most part a good girl, but when I had the chance to cut class and go watch him surf one day, I did.  I will never forget that day.  I didn’t know back then, but this day would’ve been the 1st day of the rest of my life.  We grew very close.  He came from money, his family trained horses, but he had a horrific childhood.  He latched on to me and my mother who ironically, adored him, even though she knew he was trouble.  I think she saw the real him, he was such a great kid, but had a messed-up life and severe abandonment issues.  

My mother was very strict.  She was obsessed with watching my every move, and rarely let me do anything.  But for some reason, when it came to him, it was ok.  He called me one night and told me he was going to Florida.  I remember being absolutely devastated.  He promised me he would stop by my house to say goodbye. . .I sat at the living room bay window until I finally fell asleep on the floor.  He never did come like he promised.  Days passed and I waited by the phone.  We had a phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, with a long cord and every time it would ring, I would jump up and answer, only to be disappointed.  I hated everyone who had the audacity to call and tie up the line.  When my mother would be on the phone I threw a typical teenage girl tantrum.  In my eyes, my life was over.  He left Long Island to go to Florida and forgot all about me.

4 days had passed and he finally called. I couldn’t believe it and was so excited to hear from him.  He got in trouble, as usual and was on house arrest on his father’s farm down in Florida.  Apparently, they stole a car to drive down to Florida and they got caught.  Since he was a juvenile, they released him to his father’s custody, but he had to be monitored on home detention until court.  We spoke daily for weeks.  He promised me he was coming back to Long Island soon.  It was Christmas time and my mother and I baked him Christmas Cookies and sent them overnight to his father’s house.  I just wanted him to know I was thinking about him, and I missed him. . .

A few months later he was released from custody from the state of Florida and he came back to Long Island but had to go live out in the Hampton’s on his aunt and uncle’s horse farm.  I was devastated.  I was a young girl, no car and the Hampton’s were over 2 hours away!  How was I going to see him?  I cried and begged my mother to take me to see him and she finally caved.  My mother, the one who wouldn’t let me go to the movies with friends at 16 years old, let me spend the weekend with him after speaking to his aunt and uncle.  My aunt dropped me off and I was so excited to see him.  I took one look at his golden skin and blonde hair and I felt weak, like my knees were going to buckle.  God I loved him.  Everyone told me this was puppy love and when I was an adult, I wouldn’t even be able to remember his name. . . But I knew it was different, I believed I really loved him.  He made me feel like no other person had ever made me feel.

We didn’t stay in the main house, we stayed in a camper on the farm.  Oh my god, I was going to lose my virginity this weekend to the man I loved and everything was going to be perfect.  We spent the day in the stables and just hanging out outside, but at night we were in the camper.  We did stuff, but he never made a move to have sex with me.  He knew I was a virgin, although I told him I wasn’t.  We slept in the bed together all night long and he didn’t try to have sex with me!  I was very nervous but thought, maybe he was waiting for tomorrow night.  We woke up the next morning and I remember him leaning over to speak to me and smelling his breath.  This boy was so amazing, he didn’t even have morning breath!  I know now, he probably did, but I couldn’t smell it.  I was so in love with him, and in my eyes, he was perfect.  We spent the day just hanging outside and with the horses, and then we went back to the camper.  He didn’t try to sleep with me again, although we did fool around.  He was my first everything, but I was young and nervous and I wasn’t going to be the one who tried to have sex with him. Sunday came and I had to leave. . .I was crying my eyes out.  I could’ve stayed there forever.

I didn’t see Jeff very much after that weekend.  We spoke almost daily, but after a while things began to change.  It didn’t matter where he lived, he was always managing to get into trouble.  He went to jail for selling drugs and served a little over a year.  He wanted nothing to do with me anymore and was distant and cold.  I never understood what I did wrong, why he didn’t want to speak or see me anymore.  This destroyed me and broke my heart. I would hear the stories about him and all his girlfriends and how he was in and out of jail, etc.  One night he walked into a Diner where I was with friends and he had his car loaded with women.  He didn’t let them come into the diner, and he just looked at me with a crooked smile.  Like he felt bad, or was guilty or nervous or something.  I ran into the bathroom and cried.  My heart was destroyed, the Jeff I loved was a different person.  I didn’t know him anymore.

A few years passed and I tried to move on.  Eventually I got married to a man I wasn’t in love with, had kids, etc.  On my wedding day, when I was taking my vows, I thought about Jeff, and how this was supposed to be us!  No matter what I did, I couldn’t get him out of my head.  One day my mother and a few friends called me and told me to turn on the news.  The police were looking for him and the helicopters were searching over his Grandma’s farm.  I couldn’t believe it. . . I didn’t know what he did, but I knew it was bad.  It was the talk of the town.  He was arrested and charged with Murder.  Jeff, kill someone?  No way.  The story finally came out and he supposedly shot another drug dealer during a drug deal gone bad and when he was sentenced, he faced the maximum sentence for the crime.  I remember sitting in my bathroom and crying.  How did this happen, why did he do this, how could he throw his entire life away?  He had so many amazing talents, amazing with horses, and this boy could surf a wave-like no other.  I was distraught, but pulled myself together.  After all, I was married and had 2 kids.  I had to focus on my life.

I dreamt of him often.  It was crazy, like he was dead or something, because he would come to me in my dreams.  It was always the same dream.  We were at Gilgo beach and he would tie a string around my ring finger.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about him.  Most days I would be walking around in a daze. . . and I was miserable.  I was vacuuming the living room one Sunday afternoon and turned on the TV.  A surfing movie called “Blue Crush” was on and this was enough for me.  I took it as a sign and I knew at this moment I had to find him.  I needed closure so I could just live my life and be happy.  I had no idea how to find someone in jail, but called a friend of mine and her mother helped me.  I located him at a correctional facility upstate New York.  I called the prison and they put me on the phone with his counselor.  I was beyond nervous and just explained who I was and how I wanted to know if there was a way I could speak to him.  She asked me if I wanted to visit, and informed me of the days and the procedure.  She also told me she was going to let him know I was coming to see him and she would call me back.  She did and told me how he was looking forward to seeing me.

I rarely slept that night and left the next morning at the crack of dawn.  I told my husband I had to go with my girlfriend somewhere and I had the kids taken care of.  I drove for hours until I arrived.  I will never forget the initial drive up a long and windy driveway, all I saw were gravestones.  They lined the side of the road.  The gravestones were different though. . .They didn’t have anyone’s name, or epitaph inscribed on them, they only had numbers.  I later found out this was the Inmate’s Identification Number and these were the bodies that were never claimed by their family.  My stomach started to turn and at this moment, I wanted to turn around and leave. I was afraid, the prison was very scary looking and I was not sure I was making the right decision.  I had a husband and a family, what the hell was I doing? But I came this far and I needed my closure.  I just wanted to be happy and had a few questions and I just needed answers.  I needed to do this for peace of mind.  I needed to do this because I so desperately wanted to put him behind me. . . I parked my car and walked up a bunch of stairs.  The prison was very eerie.  I had to pass through so many different security checkpoints before I was placed at a table in a visiting room.  I couldn’t believe I was here and I just wanted to leave. It made me so sad to see all the kids and families visiting their loved ones.  I just wanted to go home, but I kept reminding myself I needed to do this.  The prisoners came from one door and it seemed like I had been sitting for hours.  All of a sudden, this man walked towards me and was smiling. He was very good-looking, but I wasn’t paying him any attention because I was looking for Jeff.  After all, I was looking for a blonde haired boy, not a grown man.  But it was Jeff.  He sat down at the table and I probably had a look of shock on my face.  I studied his face for a moment and said “oh my god, your hair isn’t blonde anymore”.  He smiled and said, “no, it’s light brown now, I don’t get to surf and be out in the sun anymore.” It was him, I just kept looking at him and couldn’t believe I didn’t recognize him.  We sat and had the basic conversations, shared pleasantries, I told him I was married and had 2 kids and he pointed to my ring finger saying, yes, I see this.  Then there was silence and I didn’t have anything else to say.  I just wanted to leave, this was a mistake, why was I here?  What could I possibly talk to this man about?  He is in jail, for a very long time.  This is not the boy I fell in love with.  I was very uncomfortable and he sensed this.  And then he did the unimaginable.  He pulled back his mouth and showed me a little chip on his back molar.  And I said what is that?  He said this is from the Christmas cookies you sent me! Oh how I laughed! And this one little statement completely broke the ice.  6 hours flew by and I didn’t want to leave.  We spoke about old times, did I see this one or that one, etc.  I promised to write him and he said he would write me as well, and that was it.  The visit was over and I had to go back home to my husband.  I didn’t know how I felt, but I knew for the 1st time in many years, I felt alive.  My cheekbones hurt from smiling so much.  He was always so quick to make me smile.

My husband and I didn’t have a great marriage.  He was a good guy, but I was never in love with him and he knew this.  He settled with me, he knew where my heart was.  I arrived home that night and told him I wasn’t in love with him and it wasn’t fair to him nor me and I wanted a divorce.  He was upset, but I can’t say he was shocked.  He knew, he knew when I married him my heart belonged to someone else.  However, I think he thought he could make me fall in love with him.  But it didn’t work. . .

The next morning I woke up and drove to the jail again.  I couldn’t believe I was going back, but I never received my closure.  I never asked the questions I wanted to ask.  When he came out he looked very surprised that I was there again.  He looked at me and said, “What do you want from me”, in just such a sweet voice and I just started to cry.  I lost it. I told him I loved him for years, and how I was never able to let him go.  I asked him why he didn’t have sex with me in the Hampton’s, and why he just left me, how he broke my heart and I was never able to get over him.  He told me I was his little baby, and he always respected me.  How I was a good girl and he knew he was going down the wrong path and didn’t want to bring me down with him.  How I deserved better, and how his life is messed up and he has done horrible things.  How I was the only person who ever saw the good in him, the only one whoever loved him for him, not who he was in the streets or who his family was and he was going to make sure he didn’t hurt and ruin me.  And I believe this was true, I see he was trying to save me. . .But, I just had to tell him, he had to know how I felt, I needed him to know.  It was 12 years later and I still was so in love with him.

That day he had other visitors so I agreed to leave, although he didn’t want me to leave. . .I did.  I didn’t want his friends and family who drove hours to see him not be able to visit with him.  And this was it. . . A few days later, I received letters in the mailbox.  I went and saw him again, a few weeks later.  This was our photo from this day. . .This was the 1st day of the rest of my life. . .or so I thought. . .

To be continued. . .  Click To Read Part 2

Part 2     Part 3    Part 4  Part 5

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