Teenage love is a powerful force.You're walking the high school corridors, feeling like an alien, struggling to fit in with the humans - heck, trying to pass for a human. And, of course, you feel like you're the only one.
Then, one fine day, he or she catches your eye and, suddenly, life makes sense. The first kiss is like heaven, as is the first everything to follow. You pledge your lifelong love and you mean it.
Then comes the wall, aka, graduation. High school romance rarely survives this rite of passage, particularly if one or both of the partners is off to college come September. But sometimes . . .
I approached the Amtrak station to pick-up a call to UVM. A young woman flagged me down, a small backpack pulled over one shoulder. Her eyes and long straight hair were dark, and she had the broad face and wide-set eyes of a Native American. She climbed into the back seat and we were off.
"That was the Living/Learning Center you wanted, right?" I asked over my shoulder.
"That's right," she said. I glanced up at the rear-view mirror and could see she was beaming. Affixed to her teeth were those modern braces, clear instead of silver. On her pretty face, the effect was endearing. "Do you need the address? I can call my boyfriend."
"Nope," I said. "I know how to get there. So, you're visiting your boyfriend this weekend?"
"Yes, for the first time since the summer. We've been together since junior year in high school. I'm going to school at Three Rivers College back home in Connecticut. It's sooo tough being apart. This long-distance thing is murder!"
"What part of Connecticut is your school?"
"It's in Norwich, which is real close to Mohegan Sun. You know, the big casino."
"Sure, they advertise constantly on the TV. You got any relatives who work up there?"
"Yes, a couple of uncles and a cousin or two. It employs tons of people."
We arrived at the Living/Learning suites and I pulled up to the "Director's Circle," the typical drop-off point. A slender, serious-looking young man immediately came through the doors, walking quickly and then jogging. My customer got out and ran towards him. They met on the sidewalk, collapsing into each other's arms.
"I missed you, baby," he said, after a long kiss.
"Me, too," she replied, her eyes misty with relief and love, "me, too."
The guy then walked over to the open door, handing me a twenty. "Keep it," he said.
"Thanks, man," I said, "and have a great weekend."
"Oh, we will," he replied, his eyes never leaving the eyes of his beloved.