Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My first love

When I was 14 or 15, I met a guy named Elmer over the phone. My friend was ‘dating’ a kid named Jesse and they wanted to set me up with Jesse’s cousin. I was at my friend’s house one day when she handed me the phone…it was Elmer.
This kid was straight up confident. He talked to me for a few minutes, asked me a few questions and within minutes he asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend.
I couldn’t speak for a minute…who was this guy? I’m pretty sure I made up an imaginary boyfriend and told him I couldn’t be his girlfriend.
And then I met him. We used to hang out at this game room and play pool and air hockey and play the jukebox a few times a week. One night, my friend and I walked in to the game room and I looked across the room, locked eyes with this insanely gorgeous guy with blue-green eyes and whispered to my friend, “WHO is he?” It was Elmer. Hands-down the most attractive guy I've ever known.
I couldn’t make this up, the song “Crazy for You” by Madonna came on the jukebox and he started walking over to me. We played air hockey – I won – and he asked me again to be his girlfriend, and I said “Yes.”
We were crazy in love. He used to say “I loooovesss you!” in this weird southern accent that cracked me up. He couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag – when he started driving his foster mom loaned him the caravan and we would drive to Mammoth Park and get lost every single time. He made up crazy stories like my dad used to and I remember thinking that he was so much like my dad…and you know they say little girls fall in love with boys just like their fathers. If he was late calling one night he would tell me a story about being in combat in Vietnam and injuring his dialing finger or something equally ridiculous. Before he could finish spinning his silly tale I was laughing and had forgotten to be mad at him.
He wrote me actual love letters. Put them in the mail and everything. I’m pretty sure he was the last person who ever put pencil to paper, went on for three pages about how much he loved me, put a stamp on the envelope (sprayed the envelope with cologne), and put it in the actual mail.
“I love you more than I loved any woman and I’ll do anything to keep the feelings I have for you alive. I know I mess up a lot, but it’s never on purpose. And it seems every time I get you, I somehow let you slip away. But not this time….I’m going to grab a hold of you before someone else does.”
This is from a letter he wrote to me the day before I left to work at summer camp…maybe the summer after I graduated high school, I can’t remember which summer (There were three summers at camp).
“Take this letter with you on your adventures because I don’t want you to forget about me and run off with some tall, dark, handsome Italian guy named Guido or something. I need nothing, you’ll always be in my heart.
“You were the best thing that ever happened to my life. And I appreciate it. I just hope I can make you feel the same and return the favor. I promise you that no one will ever hurt you when I’m with you. You mean a great deal to me and I will always protect you. I don’t have a whole lot to offer you except for my love. I ain’t much, but you got to admit I make you laugh. I love you so very much.
“Remember our song (I cross my heart)? How could you forget? Every time I hear it not being by your side tears a tear from a young man’s heart.
Love always, Remle (a nickname I had for him).”

We were together, off and on for about six years. I can’t remember why we actually broke up, I’m sure it had something to do with me being in college and him being at home.
Once, after college, he called me and the part I remember is him saying that he was trying to remember the last time he was really happy and it was when he was with me. So he was calling in hopes I was still at my parents’ house and that we could see each other.
I agreed. I’m pretty sure I was dating someone else at that time, but it was Elmer. I just had to see him. We were so completely connected.
He picked me up, he wasn’t driving the caravan anymore…we had dinner and we saw how different we were that day. I don’t want to go into that, too much. It’s hard to explain. But I knew it, he knew it…it just wasn’t going to happen that day.
But there is this weird part of me that I think has always assumed there would be this day…well you know.
I cross my heart, by George Strait, was our song, the song he was talking about in his letter. Yesterday while listening to an online radio station, the song came on. It struck me hard. I can’t remember the last time I heard it, but instantly I thought of Elmer. Of his smile, holding his hand, laughing at his jokes…
So I did an internet search …I wonder what he’s up to? Yesterday I found something that I wasn’t sure was him, but if it was him, he was married. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some reason. Today, I listened to the song again and did another search. The first search was wrong. He isn’t married.

I found this:
Elmer E. Pritts, 25, of Greensburg, formerly of Stahlstown, died Wednesday, April 21, 2004. He was born July 24, 1978, in Mt. Pleasant. He worked as a machinist at R&M Machine in Latrobe. He attended Family Fellowship Christian Center in Donegal and New Life Tabernacle Church in Greensburg.

He died.

Six years ago.

I had no idea. No one let me know. It happened about two years after the last time I saw him. It doesn’t say how he died or what happened. It wasn’t online, so I’m guessing it wasn’t an accident…no mention of a hospital in the obit, I’m guessing it wasn’t an illness. I found his foster mother’s address and am considering sending a letter. She and I used to talk on the phone when he and I would fight…she did her best to help us through anything.

I don’t know how to feel. I’m sad. I really am. I came home from work tonight and dug out my scrapbook. I saw pictures of us at my sweet 16 party and found this letter…I’m not sure where the others are, I know they’re around here somewhere. I wonder whatever happened to the letters I sent to him. I wonder if anyone has read them and remembered how much I loved him…or if he ditched them a long time ago. Knowing him, he wouldn’t have gotten rid of them. I wonder why he died and how. I’m wondering about all the ‘what-ifs.’ What if we had given it another try…what if, what if, what if…
He wanted to marry me. I assumed we would get married after I was done with college…I didn’t expect college to make that impossible. We were just different. We grew apart, dated other people…you know how it is.

Here’s the thing. I loved him, I really did. And he loved me. He might have been the only man I’ve ever been with who genuinely loved me. And we grew apart, lost touch and he died.

I wonder what he thinks of me now. Buying this house, being an editor…sitting on my couch looking at my scrapbook and thinking about him after all this time.

I’m sorry you died so young, Elmer. You deserved a better life than the one you were dealt. I’m sorry we couldn’t parlay our teen/twenties love into something that could have lasted forever like we’d hoped. I’m sorry I wasn’t at your funeral, I hope someone who loved you just as much was there for you.

I don’t know what I thought I was going to do if my googling had ‘found’ him today. I don’t know if I thought I was going to try to contact him, or what. But I know that I’m sad that the point is moot.

“I cross my heart”

Our love is unconditional, we knew it from the start.
I see it in your eyes, you can feel it from my heart.
From here on after let's stay the way we are right now,
And share all the love and laughter
That a lifetime will allow.

I cross my heart and promise to
Give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine.

You will always be the miracle that makes my life complete,
And as long as there's a breath in me, I'll make yours just as sweet.
As we look into the future, it's as far as we can see,
So let's make each tomorrow be the best that it can be.

I cross my heart and promise to
Give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine.

And if along the way we find a day it starts to storm,
You've got the promise of my love to keep you warm.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine,
A love as true as mine.

My Remle, I’m so sorry you’re gone. Love, me.


  1. My heart hurts for you. Sending a huge hug your way...

  2. Thank you.

    I just feel really confused, I guess. Not sure how to feel...but I feel sad for him.