“I like her eyes, Daniel,” Jeff said to his roommate, while looking in my eyes as we sat at a booth in a Jack-in-the-Box somewhere near Cal State Northridge that September evening in 1982.
I had never had a compliment like that before, and I think I just blushed, giggled a bit and covered my eyes, as I cozied up to Daniel a little more in the booth. They both found me charming, but Daniel was the one I was with. He was my new boyfriend I had met a few months before, but due to my living in San Jose, had only seen twice since we met; once in San Luis Obispo, and the other time in San Jose.
This was my first trip to Southern California that wasn’t Disney-related. My roommate Nate had a girlfriend in Orange County, so we carpooled it down for the weekend, Nate dropping me off at Daniel’s on the way, just as night started closing in.
Three college students, all 21, sitting and laughing at a Jack-in-the-Box; me, a bulimic, not giving a fuck about carbs or calories or fat grams or throwing up my food afterwards, because I was in love. 5’5”, 130 lbs., and all the times I felt fat in the past seemed so far away. Joy and love have the ability to erase most insecurities, at least for the moment.
On our walk back to their apartment Daniel picked me up and swung me around affectionately, kissing me as he placed me back on the ground. Jeff, a bit stockier and stronger than Daniel, swooped in and said, “C’mon, Daniel, this is how it’s done!” and he lifted me over his head and twirled me slowly around like a propeller, and I felt weightless and euphoric as I saw the lights along Roscoe Blvd. whirling around me, the night air kissing my rosy cheeks. It all felt so magical.
Daniel and I broke up about a month later, as the long distance proved to be too much of an obstacle for our young, lustful hearts. I went back to crying and binging and purging and getting therapy and trying to be a graphic design student with an advertising minor at San Jose State the whole time. Two part time jobs on top of all that, and I would reminisce often about that evening in Northridge and how I so longed to go back there, to that moment of weightlessness, of feeling desirable and carefree, spinning once again in the autumn night air, city lights racing about me. It made me sad to think about it, and how I would never experience it again.
I never did experience it again, or anything close to it. But the memory is there, and it is good enough. It brings a smile, a feeling of warmth, and a certain gratitude that my memory is long enough to still feel the sensation of that September evening in 1982.