A Boy Named Charlie and Gone With the Wind
We go our separate ways and keep our memories, but nothing can bring back the hours of splendour in the grass
I was 18 and on my own for the first time in my life when I met Charlie. Being on my own was exciting and exhilarating and frightening all at once. But I was made of pretty tough stuff and so I faced this new life with determination.
Charlie was the second boy I fell madly in love with. I had dated other guys, but there were only two who by my tender age had truly caught my heart.
I met him at The Candlelight on the University of Cincinnati's campus. He was drinking a Black Russian. He was 2 years older than me and I was immediately impressed with this "older" college guy who drank an exotic sounding drink. My only experience with alcohol, to that point, had been 3.2 beer and Sloe Gin Fizz.
I had some growing up to do!
We were night and day, oil and vinegar, he was coffee and I was tea. Opposites attract yes, but they also collide. Charlie and I dated on and off for most of the summer and fall of 1969 and into 1970. He took me to see Gone With the Wind after I begged and pleaded and even though I knew it wasn't his choice, he tolerated my crying for 4 hours and even bought me the hard copy of the novel for Sweetest Day 1970. Inscribed inside the front cover is this message: "To Sallie, I fondly give this book so that in years to come, I won't have to see the damn movie again."
I fell in love with him all over again.
I was so young and so impressionable and so very romantic. I knew that seeing the movie wasn't his choice, but he loved me enough to not only see it, but to buy me the book. And while there was no mistaking his feelings, I loved that he tempered those mushy, gushy, even corny feelings with a snarky disclaimer, of sorts, in that inscription.
His sense of humor reached right out of the page in that book and grabbed my heart.
He bought me Rod McKuen books and sent me flowers when I was in the hospital but refused to give into the spoiled, little girl I could often be. He held me at arms length when I had a tantrum. But held me close when my heart was hurting remembering my Daddy who had died only a few years earlier.
We were pretty much inseparable in those days. He drove a yellow Toyota Corolla and on weekends we would drive all over poking around in little shops and buying funky granny glasses. We went to see Easy Rider because it was THE movie to see and we devoured steaks at Gregory's Steak House in downtown Cincinnati.
Looking back, I think I grew up with Charlie. I became, for the first time in my life, my own person. I loved knowing that someone loved me, loved my hair, loved my skin, my body... loved all the things I had never loved about myself. He encouraged self-confidence in me and for that, as well as other reasons, I will always remember him.
I will always have a special place in my heart for him.
Growing up can also mean growing apart. And as close as Charlie and I were, we were also far apart in so many ways and eventually we went our separate ways. And so maybe when we look back, we remember things differently than the way they were. And maybe there is a longing for a time, perhaps more than a person, when we were young and free.
But I never look back with regret. I always remember the good in my relationships.
And with Charlie there was much good. I have been a happily married woman for 45 years with a wonderful family and I am a well-loved woman. And that's what matters most.
But our first loves will always be special because they came from a place and time that will never be again. And they change you forever.
I hope that when Charlie thinks back to those days of carefree fun, and remembers a brown eyed girl, that he smiles.
I know I do.
Brown Eyed Girl
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