You know, I never had a Valentine growing up. Always wanted one, wanted a new one every year. It just never happened.
Every summer I spent the break working at my Uncle's arcade and pizza place. A teenager away from her friends and surrounded by college kids and adults she can't socialize with (my Uncle was more strict than my Father, because he was scared of my Father) can get pretty lonely. Even worse is when your customers are your age but you don't know a soul.
When I was 15 I had just gotten out of my awkward stage and suddenly had curves that were attracting attention. I looked more like 18 and had passed for 21 (once, but that took a lot of flirting). I was dreaming of romance, great dates and handsome boyfriends. I couldn't wait for flowers, jewelry and a sonnet or two to come my way.
The only problem was that while I was dreaming of a poet writing knight in shinning armor, the boys were just dreaming of getting into my bra.
My naive romantic notions and the combination of loneliness and boredom are how I found myself taking a walk on a deserted beach with a complete stranger.
He was handsome, he convinced me he thought I was beautiful and he asked me to go for a walk on the beach during my break. How did he know that that is exactly what I had decided was the most romantic thing in the world? It must be a sign from God!
A small warning went off in my head when none of the other kids he was with came with us (though, if they did, that should have been a red flag too). But he strolled slowly along with me, even grabbed my hand. Ah, how romantic.
I chattered on and on about my summer and how bored I was. What my plans were for school. He kept looking ahead and then steered us towards the back of an empty restaurant with a patio on the beach.
He took a seat next to me, then moved facing me as I was pointing out stars and smelling the air. Then, he moved in for the kill.
"Your so cute!"
"Who, me, ah thanks? Did you see that? I wonder if that is a comet?"
"Yeah, I mean, it is so cute that your nervous. It's cute."
"Nervous, about what?"
"You know..." He pushed my hair behind my ear and smiled.
RED FLAG ALARM
"No, I don't know.."
"Come on, 'a walk on the beach', you know what that means." He leaned in to kiss me.
"Yeah, it means a walk on the beach!"
"No, it means, you know 'a walk on the beach'. Come here."
"Ah, you know I just turned 15 right?" That stopped him.
"Yeah, I just turned 15, how old are you."
"19, what do you mean you just turned 15!"
His face changed and he looked really angry, only he wasn't moving away from me.
"Yeah, just yesterday. It was my birthday. Oh, I am so glad to be 15. My Dad, yeah, he is a cop, he treats me like such a baby. He is so psycho. I mean, if he knew I was here with you. You don't want to know."
"Your Dad is a cop? Let's go."
"Hey, I was looking at the stars!"
"Yeah, but we didn't come here to do that. We came here to, you know..forget it, let's go!"
"I told you, I came to WALK on the beach!"
"Yeah, well when your more mature, you'll understand."
"I am mature. You didn't even realize I was only 15!"
"Yeah, well, I usually date mature girls and they know how to handle themselves."
"Gee, I'm sorry."
"It's ok. Just make sure you don't do it again. Not everyone is a gentleman like I am."
"Oh my gosh. I didn't know. I really just wanted to go for a walk on the beach."
"Well, now you know."
For some reason. I felt horrible then. He grabbed my hand and walked me back across the street. I went back to work with my face flaming. I actually whispered "Sorry" to him. His eyes were already checking out the crowd.
"Don't worry about it kid."
Later I saw him going on another "walk on the beach". I wonder if she was "mature" enought to know what that really was.
After my shift I went out onto the roof patio to talk to God. I was so frustrated. He was cute. I am so stupid. Why didn't I just at least kiss him? I am such a baby! I don't understand God, it never works out for me with anyone!
Then I took a breath and was silent for awhile. I watched the late night crowd walk below. Drunk girls wheeling around. Guys grabbing them here and there. Someone throwing up in the corner. A couple screaming at each other in the middle of the street. So many guys to chose from, but I really hoped my special love wasn't down there.
"God, whoever you have for me must be really special. I keep thinking people are special, but they are never "the One". He must be really worth the wait."
Three years later I met my husband and I haven't regretted the waiting for him not one bit. And I have had my true Valentine for over ten years now. Thank God I didn't throw away being "immature" for someone who was never going to be worth it anyway.