Groundhog Day doesn’t make me think of Bill Murray. (Although, it should.) It makes me think of my best friend from Junior High whose birthday was February 2nd. I can’t remember most of what I did this past weekend, but I can still remember, in vivid detail, conversations she and I had, what we wore when we were having them, what music was playing in the background.
I haven’t seen her since eighth grade. I still remember her phone number.
She was the one who ushered me from girlhood into adolescence. Often not so gracefully, I’m afraid.
It was through Sandy that I found my first true love: Donald. He was tall (but not too tall), cute (but not full of himself), and dressed in style that would later become known as Seattle Grunge. He lived just over the border in the next town, was a few years older and hung out at the local park. He actually would have been a perfect boyfriend in every way, except that he wasn’t real.
This, of course, was something Sandy neglected to mention. Instead, the reasons Donald and I never met face to face had everything to do with his being grounded, or sick, or forgetful of our rendezvous time, and nothing whatsoever to do with his not being at all.
Sandy herself had a boyfriend in the same town. He wrote her love letters and wore a floppy denim hat. I knew this because she showed me the letters and told me about the hat. But in the many months that she dated him, he never came around to meet her friends. He too, I’m afraid, was a figment.
Even when faced with scads of evidence to the contrary, I kept my tacit covenant with Sandy and behaved as if both her boyfriend and Donald were real. We were both lonely young girls, each for different reasons, and at that age it was barely more complicated to have a fictitious boyfriend than a real one.
I wish there were more Groundhog Days. So I could spend a bit more time remembering what it’s like to be fourteen and lonely and desperate to fit in. I think it would help me when I talk to my own fourteen-year-old.
You should have read those letters. God, did he love her.