Rob was my first love. First loves are shrouded in mystery of all things new. Passionate, and undying. Blinding and bursting into flames. All the rest of the world seems to stop when you fall I love for the first time…and your perspective is forever changed.
Looking back on those innocent days of long ago, I see the world stop still, once more. And those memories are also stopped, locked in time, without the slight taint from the adult world I know now. Some of those memories, so pure and innocent. Those few stories that remain from those days live on, pure and unsoiled….an anecdote for the past. This is one of those stories.
I was in love with a particular boy was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana…and unbeknownst to me at the time, a second love affair came to fruition in those days…the love of Louisiana. And that love for Louisiana would one day take me on a journey that would carry me farther from home than I ever imagined. But, back in those days, the love affair with Louisiana was still innocent to, as her rivers and greenery enchanted me, enveloping me in her stories and tales, and enthralling me by her mysterious demeanor. It all resides back in those early days in Baton Rouge….
Rob and I visited his family several times in Louisiana, travelling by van as the large deciduous trees of North Carolina faded into plants more tropical, bursting forth with bright greens and fruit. The land flattened, as we got further south, to where you could see for miles along the horizon. The moisture began to cling tightly to the air, and your skin bathed in the humidity.
Upon arriving in Baton Rouge, the elegant appearance of old slashed against my face. Trees overhanging the streets, and the rich, dark soil spotted the more barren areas. Rivers, rolling through the corners of the city with a levee to provide cover from the rest. I remember sitting quietly on that side of the levee outside of the city, just watching the river roll past. The river is much different here than it is in the busy, polluted city of New Orleans. It seems gentler, and here, in its natural element it is not such an anomaly.
Staying with parents always came with a few difficulties, even with parents as cool as the Pickens. We had respect them, after all…we really were just kids. So, we would sneak off to have a little time to ourselves.
One night, we left his parent’s house late. We both wore pajama bottoms and slippers. We drove around a little, as I sat on the ground of the van, between the captain’s chairs, petting and kissing my first love. Rob looked for a place to park the van, and eventually we took refuge behind an old gas station.
The station was still in business, although it was closed for the night. Rob worked there in high school, and he knew the lay of the land well. We climbed in to the back of the van.
Although, I cannot really remember much about the interior of the van that night, I do remember my view out the window. Out the window, the bright fluorescent light from an old, long streetlight glowed, humming and bright. Bright artificial light, spreading a glittery glow across the metal of the station. The fence lit up in the bright light of the night. A large white awning, hanging partly over the van, made me feel like we were pulling up for gas from the full service station, while we fucked in the back. Glittery light, and glittery love, along with sweat and touch and emotion, surrounded by tools and parts and explosive gasoline. Heavy breathing fogged up the windows, and the glow of the gas station faded, as I closed my eyes in ecstasy.
Afterword, we sat and talked, as our warm breath fogged up the nighttime windows even more. Eventually, we climbed into the front seat. This time I sat in my own captain’s chair, and my body hummed with both love and pleasure. Back in those days those two went hand in hand. It is sad sometimes to see how time has jaded me…
We pulled out of the gas station on the main road, then turning down a small street. The next thing I knew…blue lights flashed behind us.
My heart pounded, as it always pounds at the sign of police. I watched the flashing lights in the mirror, splashing intermittent and blinding blue light throughout the van. Rob and I exchanged an anxious glance, as he reached for the registration. Thank goodness we brought our wallets, even though we were wearing pajamas.
“Get out of the car, please,” a voice bellowed from a microphone, seeming to echo into the night.
A sheepish look crossed Rob’s face, as his face flushed to red. He smiled slightly, shrugging his shoulders, and he opened the door. He was wearing these dark green bedroom slippers that looked like soft boots, booties, if you will. He had on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. Embarrassed, he walked towards the police.
I watched in the rear view mirror, taking note of how silly he looked standing on the side of the road with the interment blue lights illuminating his baby cheeks and upturned lips. I watched the cop gesture towards the foggy windows, and then he gestured towards me. The two of them walk towards the van, disappearing out of the view of the rear view mirror.
The cop’s face emerges in driver’s side window, shining the flashlight towards my eyes, adding another spray of white light to the already blue flashing atmosphere. He shines the light around in the can, and the light splashes past my bare legs.
“Ma’am, I am going to need to see your ID.”
My heart raced because I was too young to realize that this was really no big deal. I fumbled around for my wallet, fearful of being in trouble for something. I was too nervous to realize he was probably just checking that I was over 18. My shaky hand reached out to hand him the driver’s license. He looked it over and smiled.
He handed my license back, and then he motioned for Rob to get back in the car. I guess he decided to spare him the embarrassment of his parent’s neighbors driving by to see him on the side of the road in his boxers. The cop then rested his arm on the side of the window, and began his lecture.
The reason he pulled us over was because we pulled out of a gas station that had been closed for hours. He worried we could have been robbing the place. Upon seeing the foggy windows, his whole perspective of the issue became clear to him. He laughed, off handedly commented about our driving around with the fogged up windows. He pointed his finger at us, as if he were lecturing a couple of toddlers about sharing their toys.
We pulled away, laughing as we swore to be more careful about where we parked.