I remember finding it hard to breathe. Grasping for air as my entire body became engulfed in flames. How just standing there before another person could set you on fire like that has always amazed me. Eyes that meet each other’s gaze in some kind of cosmic explosion. It was Christmas Eve, my senior year of high school. We were outside the house of a woman who managed the local movie theater. I was invited to their annual holiday party as the guest of my roommate. It was there I met her. It was there at that very point in time that I understood just what it meant to be obsessed. It’s funny how a series of accidents can change a person’s life.
Her boyfriend had car trouble, my roommate’s girlfriend cancelled at the last-minute. She had a little too much eggnog. My sense of humor just happened to hit the right momentum. The stars aligned with the moon or something like that. I walked her out to her car just before midnight. I asked her for a kiss as I stood there sweating in a raging fire yet shivering in the coldest of chills. That kiss surpassed any alcohol I may have had that night and sent me high above the night sky.
After that we started sneaking around seeing each other. We would meet at dance clubs or go for drives along the canyon roads. I wanted her all to myself, but was sharing her with another man. I told her that I would find the key to unlock her heart, after which she would only have time for me. And with that I began my quest for that magic key.
I bought a box of mixed keys at a second-hand store. There where hundreds of them. Skeleton keys, master keys, safe deposit keys. I started leaving them everywhere. On her car tied to roses, daisies and carnations. I left them for her at work taped to poems. On her locker at school. I mailed them to her house in boxes of candy. On her sidewalk on Easter I constructed a key built solely of painted eggs. I bought her a gold necklace on Valentine’s day with a gold-plated locket key dangling from its chain. I went out in the middle of the night and spray painted a gigantic key on the top of a hill on the road she took every day to school. (for which I was arrested on charges of vandalism). I was driven, completely crazy. I no longer had any control over my actions. My heart just poured out.
In the end, two days before graduation, she did leave her boyfriend. We spent that entire night under the stars on top of mount Rubidoux. We didn’t come home until long after the sun had risen. I had not won her heart however. I merely found a key that fit. The following week she moved away to attend Brown University, and I left shortly after that on my way to basic training. I never did see that girl again. But I will never forget her. I sometimes wonder if she ever thinks of me.