Thank you all, for the kind words you have given me in this endeavor. It pleases me that you are enjoying the story and the site. I think we are 2/3 the way through the story now.
This section is for my new friend, Anne. Thanks, Anne, for the advice.
THE SCENT OF VANILLA - PART FOUR
The ensuing unbearably awkward minutes of small chatter revealed the basics that were important to a fifteen year old, where she went to school, (in nearby Banning), what subjects she enjoyed, (science and art), her favorite musical groups (Beatles, Doors and Turtles), that she was indeed Vickie's cousin, and most surprisingly, that she had been looking forward to meeting me.
The surprise of being a part of some devious plot of my older friend and her cousin was embarrassing and removed any bit of confidence I may have had in past dealings with girls. I usually never had a problem with speaking with girls. They had always fascinated me and I enjoyed their company over the company of other boys my age. They seemed to be a little wiser, more interesting, and certainly easier on the eyes. But now, I was having some problems putting together words in any coherent fashion. I thought I was dull, far from clever and probably not very funny.
This was perhaps the first time that I was entering into a conversation with a girl with the expressed desired outcome to be potentially romantic. The approach was completely foreign. And it wasn't working.
At some point, I decided to just step back and stop trying so hard to impress her. It was so much easier to just talk to her as if there wasn’t any romantic potential. I found it was much more fun to make her laugh because it was enjoyable to see her smile, rather than trying to make her like me or think I was a clever young man.
My nervousness went away, and I found that I was really enjoying myself and her mere presence. Plus, she was looking at me with those big brown eyes.
Rick and I spent over two hours talking and laughing with Donna and Vickie. They were to be at Buckthorn the entire summer just as we were. Plans were made to meet again, camp telephone numbers and addresses were exchanged. They promised to come to one of our campfire programs and to definitely keep in touch.
As we left the girls to return to our camp I was filled with a sense of incredible vitality and sexual energy. Rick evidently recognized my pleasure of the successful first meeting.
"I think she likes you, Terry"
"Really, do you think so? Jesus Rick, she's beautiful! My god, I am in love," I exclaimed.
Rick merely shook his head and smiled.
Donna would prove to be my first love. We met several times, took many walks together, eventually held hands, told each other how much we liked each other and how glad we were to have met, and so on. During many of our walks I would share my expanding learning regarding the trees, constellations and the birds of the area.
"This tree is a Jeffery Pine," I began. Picking up a bunch of the tree's needles I continued, "There are three needles in each grouping, and if you smell the bark, you can detect the smell of vanilla bean."
Both of us leaned into the tree's truck and took in the sweet scent. As our faces came together, Donna kissed me on the lips. I had prayed every night for a month for t his to happen, but had not expected it so soon.
We didn't speak for many minutes as the kiss continued and grew in intensity. Eventually we found ourselves on a soft carpet of pine needles, never breaking the embrace or the kiss. The embrace and kisses were awkward, yet unabashed. Rather than embarrassment it seemed the perfectly natural thing to do. It was as if we both understood that while we may not know what the hell to do, it was perfectly acceptable to admit ignorance and find out together. It was safe to be ourselves.
Our young, passionate, interludes continued the entire summer, and at our last meeting, late one evening we found ourselves again in each other's arms. Yet despite our increasingly fevered intentions, we did not have intercourse. It was at this last meeting that Donna also asked me to make love to her. But either fear, the desire to maintain a kind of limited purity to our short time together or just understanding that a few years needed to pass held me back. I remember telling her that I loved her deeply and that is was probably not the right time for us to go any further than we had at that point. I remember distinctly Donna saying nothing to me for a long time as she looked into my eyes and stroked my hair.
Finally, she broke the silence, rested her head on my chest and said, "Terry, I think I will always love you."
We then tickled each other until we feared our laughter might reveal our hiding place to anyone nearby. We dressed, walked slowly to her cabin, embraced and kissed each other one last time. I promised to write when school started again, turned and walked with a full heart back to my tent.
When the school year began we exchanged several letters and spoke on the phone a couple of times. I don't remember who stopped writing first, but I never saw her again. Each time I pass through Banning on the freeway to Palm Springs, or when ever I smell the bark of a Jeffery Pine tree, I feel the presence of a young fifteen year old girl with long brown hair and her promise of always loving me. Without a doubt, there remains in me a particular love for Donna, (or perhaps the memory of her) and occasionally dream of our first and last meetings.
I hope she dreams those sweet dreams as well.