I'd gone to San Jose to meet Matt, and I told him to bring a friend. Tad was that friend. And don't get me wrong - I loved Matt, as a friend - but I only had eyes for Tad.
I had talked with Tad on the phone before we met at that amusement park, about Matt and about music and about a book series we both read. I had thought he was "cool", that word that teens use to describe anything agreeable, but it wasn't until I met him that I truly became interested. And boy, was I interested.
"I Left My Heart in San Francisco"? Au contraire, messudames - I left my heart in San Jose.
Tad and I continued to talk on the phone after we met in San Jose, for hours at a time. He was intelligent. I was intelligent. And we could both be incredibly emotional at times. We had both personality traits and interests in common. It was a good fit.
We continued to talk on the phone, and became close friends. One night he said he loved me. I told him I loved him too. As friends, of course. But...it felt good, to know that Tad loved me.
Tad had a younger brother and two parents, and they came to Disneyland, which was close to where I lived, every few months. They were deluxe annual passholders and always spent obscene amounts of money whenever they came. Tad invited me to come - I couldn't afford it - they bought my park ticket. So I came.
All day Tad and I were with his parents. Then finally, as night fell, Tad's parents went back to the hotel and it was just me and Tad. We got on the Disneyland railroad to go to Tommorowland. The train started, and we entered into a pitch black tunnel.
I felt Tad's nose, warm against my cheek. "No," I thought. "He couldn't want to kiss me." But I took my glasses off anyway. I turned my face toward him.
And he kissed me.
And all of a sudden I felt...happy. Like nothing in the world could go wrong. It was a feeling of pure childlike joy. The train emerged into light, then entered into another tunnel, and Tad and I forgot anything existed except each other.
I had been with guys before. I was a virgin, but had some sexual experience. However, it had never been like this. Never before had a simple kiss affected me in such a way.
A few months later Tad's family returned to Disneyland. And it should come as no surprise to the reader that we gave our virginity to each other when I was 19.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you too," I replied.
But, of course, all things end with time. Tad and I lived three hundred miles away from each other - what we had was a friends with benefits situation, not a relationship. We had discussed that if we lived closer, a relationship would definitely happen - but unfortunately, we lived that far apart.
A friend and I took a road trip to San Jose. Tad and I got some quality time alone. Tad and I each got a tantalizing taste of what it would be like if we lived closer - but it was not meant to be.
I got a boyfriend at home; Tad got a girlfriend. We each broke up at different times and got together with other people.
And now? Now I'm 21 years old. Tad and I haven't spoken on the phone in months or seen each other in over a year. He has a girlfriend he's in love with. Not friend love, the way he loved me - the real thing, he says.
I was on myspace the other day going through bullitins and saw a thumbnail of Tad's profile picture. A picture of him kissing his girlfriend.
I couldn't resist. It was like worrying a cut on my tongue against a sharp edge of a tooth - I couldn't resist, though it hurt.
I clicked his profile. Clicked view more pics. Clicked the picture.
"This is the kind of love you only find in fairy tales."
I felt a butcher-size knife enter my heart and twist.
I am a realist. I know that Tad and I were over long ago. But looking at that picture, I can't help but think: Is that what we looked like when we kissed? The picture brings back so many memories: Him kissing me, shoving me against the wall, undressing me...
All things end. I have had many boyfriends, and even a love, since Tad. And he has his love now. We are obviously not meant to be together.
But I - and he - will always have memories. We were each other's first. And I will always remember the Disneyland railroad entering the dark tunnel, and the feel of his nose against my cheek...