This I Believe

Jenna - East Berlin, Connecticut
Entered on June 19, 2007

Every teenage girl fantasizes about one boy they want, but think they can never have. That boy for me was Leland T–. Leland moved to Berlin, Connecticut from Bel Air Maryland in eighth grade. I didn’t know him much in eighth grade, but as time went by, Leland and I developed one of the most interesting relationships I’ve ever been involved in.

The first day of my freshmen year, I remember being nervous beyond belief. Math has always been one of my weakest subjects, but when I sat down in the back row of my second period pre-algebra class for the first time, I was delighted to find Leland sitting in the row beside me. Math class was quiet and my teacher talked the whole time, so Leland and I didn’t communicate that first day. My next class was General Science. I walked into this classroom with sweaty palms and my head down at my feet. I didn’t bother to look around to see who was in the class, and I sat down at the nearest desk I saw. I put my head on the desk until my two teachers introduced themselves, along with all the students in the classroom. I can still recall hiding my face in my arms, listening to everyone speak their names. I heard a voice from the back of the classroom. Leland Taylor. The voice was deep, but at the same time sounded sweet and timid. We were assigned seats the next day in my science class, and Leland was seated right in front of me.

Leland was tall and gangly looking. His hair was strawberry blonde and he has bright sea-foam green eyes. Leland had creamy, pale skin, but was covered from head to toe in freckles. Every freckle he had drove me nuts.

The beginning of the year went by slower than a slug, but it started speeding up once I became more social and emerged of my cocoon. I flirted and teased Leland non stop the first few months. I would tap my foot on his desk and knock his books off the rack he kept them on in an effort for him to turn around and just glance at me. We developed a relationship where we would taunt and mock each other, but it was mostly play. In my pre-algebra class we would exchange jokes and mess around.

Leland was always very quiet and kept to himself. He would barley speak unless someone spoke to him, and he spoke in a calm and hushed tone. I loved it. Leland’s quietness and silence forced me to want to get to know him better. He also had this wonderful laugh. Listening to him laugh and seeing him smile was the best part of my day.

Freshman year was a hard year for me. I had a lot of personal issues with friends, family, boys, and school. I had big problems getting used to school. I didn’t care about my grades, I had issues with too many of my peers, I didn’t like my classes or teachers, and I was failing most of my classes. Sunday nights I would cry myself to sleep thinking about Monday morning and the rest of the school week. But school was the only time and place I saw Leland. He would brighten my grey days in weird ways. Just hearing that great laugh was enough to cheer up some of the worst days for me. I started caring more about my appearance; about my hair, my makeup, my outfit, and I noticed myself smiling much more during my math and science classes. I would day dream about him when he wasn’t there. He became the reason why I got up in the morning and went to school. He was the reason why I was happy in there, and why I smiled. Out of school, Leland was the only thing on my mind. In school, he was the only thing on my mind. I became so infatuated with him that I was goofy and silly around him. Our friendship meant more to me than he could ever know.

I wanted to tell Leland my feelings for him. We had so much in common, we liked the same bands, we talked about the same movies, and we disliked a lot of the same things too. I felt like him and I clicked so perfectly, it was scary. I was just waiting for the day when we would officially be together. But I was in for a totally different surprise.

Leland moved to Berlin, Connecticut from Bel Air, Maryland. I didn’t know it at the time, but Maryland wasn’t the only state Leland lived in before Connecticut. He moved to Maryland from Long Island, New York, and before New York, he lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had no idea of any of this. But I did know that Leland loved Connecticut and had more friends here than he could probably count. Everyone liked him and I couldn’t blame them; he was simply easy to like.

The school year was halfway over and that excited me. Until one day at the end of March, I received some tough news.

I was in science class, now sitting directly next to Leland, which gave him and I an easier chance to talk and fool around during class. But standing next to him, I remember Leland sitting in his desk, quietly announcing his news to the class He was moving to Massachusetts at the end of the summer.

I remember feeling I had in that moment. I remember the queasy, uneasy growl in my stomach, and I remember my face feeling hot, and my cheeks feeling like they were burning. I remember my body feeling weak and frail. So many people had walked in and out of my life that year and the years before, and Leland leaving left me asking myself if I would ever have a friend that stayed in my life.

After hearing that, I didn’t think I would ever see Leland after the school year ended. I began to cherish class time with him. I realized that I did not have much time to spend with him. His eyes became brighter, his laugh gave me chills now, and his freckles all stood out and made a piece of who he was. From that day in March, everything about Leland was intensified.

It didn’t fully set in that Leland was gone, until my sophomore year. We went to the movies once the summer before he left, but once he moved I was broken hearted.

My sophomore year was even harder than my freshman year, and I missed Leland and was angry that I knew him for such a short time. I dated a few different people during that year, trying to make up for the loss of Leland, and I compared every boy I met to him.

I talked to him every once in a while via email, and he told me he didn’t like Mashpee. It broke my heart to here that he didn’t like Mashpee. But I had to except that he was not coming back into my life.

Leland and I communicated here and there on line during the year, but the relationship was nothing compared to what we had when he lived in Connecticut. I was almost positive that there would never be anything between us again, until I came upon another surprise in my life.

I hadn’t talked to Leland in a few months, but oddly we began speaking more and more online. This, for me, was tough. It brought back old feelings I had about him, and the more we talked the stronger my feelings got. We exchanged phone numbers, and would talk on the phone for hours during the summer. I remember watching a hot pink and golden sunrise out my bedroom window, while wrapped in a blanket, laughing with Leland on the phone. It became apparent to him that I, once again, had feelings for him.

That summer was good for me. I was talking to Leland again, which was the highlight of that summer. And I’ll never forget the sticky hot summer night on August 4th.

My best friend and I threw a party, and I was having a blast. Leland called me during the party, and he was giggling nonstop about something. He announced to me over the phone that he loved me. Wow! It was a surprise to me, but also a relief. I told him I had been waiting so long to hear those words, and I had the same feelings for him as well.

Our relationship has grown stronger since then. Now we usually choose one weekend out of every month to see each other, and every time we do it’s wonderful. Leland has grown to be one of my best friends. He makes me laugh, he makes me happy, and although the distance makes our relationship tough sometimes, he is my missing puzzle piece.