Ronny Bruno sat on the stairs in my apartment building wearing my dress. His cheeks were streaked with mascara, whereas mine were covered with salty rivulets which had washed the white paint off them. It was Halloween, and he was breaking up with me. He had come back into my life after a two year absence.
I had sat there, two years prior, with my head propped up on my chin, gazing at the side of his head. I was staring at him two rows over in class with, I'm sure, stars, hearts, and bluebirds swirling around my head. He was dreamy. His accent made me melt. I wanted him, even more than I wanted to make the girl's floor hockey team. I wanted him more than I wanted those rad purple satin roller-skate covers. And I didn't even really know what I wanted from him except to be near him and hear him talk to me and maybe lay his rosy Italian lips on mine.
It had only been a couple years earlier that I'd convinced Chad Nichole to lift up his shirt and press his nipples against mine in a ceremony that meant we were going to be 2gether4ever. So, what the hell did I know? But, looking at the mole on Ronny's neck, I had an urge to lick it. Or mash my nipple up against it.
Then he was gone. Transferred to another school with his younger sister when his parents moved. I was so sad, and spent weeks in a funk.
Two years later, and suddenly there he was again. Still shorter than I, but taller than he had been, my stomach lurched realizing he probably thought I was a maxed out dweeb with my mouth hanging open and my eyes popping out. I couldn't help myself; there he was!
And then he was my brother's bud, and soon he was my bud and soon enough he asked me to "go around with him," and of course I said yes, and then there we were, Jenn and Ronny. Lying in the grass and kissing the gum out of each other's mouths and passing notes in class and making each other laugh looking up at the stars. We were a couple. Happy!
Which is why him breaking up with me, dressed like a gypsy with lopsided balloon boobs caught me totally off guard. He was staging a preemptive strike. His mom had told him a couple days earlier he'd be moving back to Italy. "But," I sputtered, "That's not for a couple more months!" My clown makeup was running off my face.
"I know," he said, "But by then, it's going to hurt so much."
And I knew he was right. Regardless, I smoothed it over, "It's ok. In the meantime, let's have fun?"
I had another preemptive strike this past weekend, and I didn't know what else to say than what I'd suggested so many years ago. He's right, in many ways, why prolong the almost impossible? But on the other hand, I say while we can still hear the music, why not bloody well dance? Life goes by so quickly. It seems like Ronny and I were just a couple years ago instead of over twenty. Crazy, that. But our goodbye was bittersweet and the stuff that quality chick flicks are made of.
He had to leave school early to catch his flight. The teacher prompted us all to stand up and wish Ronny well, and we did. I couldn't hold his gaze, but about three minutes after he'd left I asked to be excused to go to the washroom, and I raced outside, up the hill to the hydrofield where I could see Ronny retreating. I called across the field and he came running back. Hugs, tears, promises. Oscars and Emmys, except it was real.
I worried about him when his city had a huge earthquake some time later. His younger sister told me he was okay, and then turned and snottily informed me, "Oh, and he's forgotten how to speak English too."
I haven't figured out how to insulate a heart from the trauma that inevitably ensues when you open it up to other people. There's no way to do one once you've done the other. I'd say, though, that as long as you can hear the music, why not dance? It's worthwhile in the meantime.
Don't you think?