Wonder Years

Joan smiled, touched the side of my check and said “You are so cute! When you get to Taylor I am going to take you to prom.”  I blushed. She spun away. And, with each turn, she gave me a glance over her shoulder.  It was spring time. It was prom season. My older sister and her friend Joan were trying on their dresses. Joan was a sophomore at Taylor. My sister was a freshman. And, I was still an eighth grader at the middle school. It was an off-hand comment. But, Joan was a cheerleader. She had big beautiful hair. She drove a car. I had a crush on Joan. She was going to ask me to prom next spring.

When prom season arrived the following year, I would wake up every morning and wonder “Is today the day that Joan asks me?” Riding the bus to school, I would wonder “Will Joan start driving me to school?” Opening the large double doors into the high school, I would wonder “Is this going to be the best day of my life?” Walking the halls, I would wonder “Is she thinking of me”? During classes, I would wonder “When will she ask me?” Eating lunch, I would wonder “How will she ask me?” Listening to the closing announcements, I would wonder “Why hasn’t she asked me?” Walking to my locker, I would wonder “What do I need to do to get her attention?” Before closing the door to my locker, I would wonder whether she would be on the other side. But, she never was.

The anticipation that launched my day would turn into disappointment, insecurity and self-doubt. I would wonder “What is wrong with me?” But, then, I would make up excuses for her. “I am sure she is very busy. She must have lots of homework. And, of course, cheerleading takes up a lot of her time.” And, then I would think about what tomorrow would bring, fill back up with hope and wonder “Is tomorrow the day that Joan is going to ask me to prom?”

It was a non-stop loop. I was always wondering and waiting and wishing.  For a period of time, she owned me. I lacked self-determination. Joan controlled my highs and my lows. I felt helpless. I was helpless. Now, I can easily forgive my fifteen year old self for this situation. However, there are still plenty of times in my life when I have behaved in a similar manner. All of them have one thing in common. I have placed too much control over my life into the hands of others. And, looking back, all those times have a similar rhythm, feel, momentum and dynamic. It is a helpless dynamic. Instead of creating a future, honing my skills, discovering my talents, establishing my mark, and setting up my style, I am wondering. I am wishing. I am waiting. I am standing outside someone else’s office door holding a boom-box above my head willing to say anything to get their attention, approval, and their index finger pointed in my direction. I am waiting for someone to ask me to the dance.

My wonder years are over.  I should say I want my wonder years to be over. I want to stop wondering and start dancing.

And, Joan, no hard feelings. You were great. And, you were not responsible for my happiness. I was. I am. Nobody else. But, I must say, my young electro-funk self could do the robot like no-one else.


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2 Responses to “Wonder Years

  • In Holland we had a song that was a hit in the nineties when I studied political science in Amsterdam. It was named ‘I danced with you secretly’. About a guy who was too shy to really ask the girl he was in love with, to dance with him. So he would visit parties where she was too and, while looking at her on the dance floor, imagining himself dancing with her. You story in fact tells these virtual dancers how to turn ‘virtual’ in something energizing, perhaps even more than just ‘stepping on the dance floor’. No doubt I have danced a few virtual tango’s myself, so thank you for making your point, Shawn!

    … and my daughter yelled ‘The Transformers’ Guy’, when she saw the picture you placed on top of you blog. Wouldn’t she want to dance!

    Happy weekend to you, Shawn.


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