Memories of Trista

There comes a time in every young boy’s life when he first notices that there is something special about girls.  For as long as he could recall girls had been of little interest and more often the enemy.  This change of heart does not happen while in the company of a girl his age.  It happens when he spends time with a girl who is some years older.  Unbeknownst to him he is no longer conversing with a girl, but with a young woman.

My parents had some close friends when I was much younger and we visited their home quite often.   These regular get-togethers had been going on for as long as I could remember.  Theirs was a house of wonders.  There was Nintendo, computer games, and more toys than I could ever play with.  For years mere mention of an upcoming visit would fill my body with waves of excitement.  Though the two siblings at this house were a few years older than my sister and me, they were still very kind to us.  For them it was a chance to stray from their usual routines and show off their most prized possessions.

The oldest daughter had a thing for picking on me.  I assure you that it was all in good fun.  Her antics were no different than any fourteen year old girl who is confronted with a shy, quite boy.  I was not accustomed to this type of attention.  My sister was a year older than me and she was never inclined to block my passage through a doorway then tug on my collar as I tried to zip by.  It was just a game to me, no different than the types of things my oldest siblings would do.  Only it felt different coming from her.

I distinctly remember the day my young mind changed.  She was sitting at a large kitchen table and doodling on some papers that her mother had laid out for her youngest daughter.  I stood across the table from her and watched intently as her imagination appeared on the page.  For the life of me I cannot remember what it was that she was drawing, but I just couldn’t turn away.  I was amazed at this kind of creativity that I had never witnessed before.  With my mind elsewhere I continued to gaze in her direction.  Within minutes I was no longer looking at her drawing.  I slowly realized that I was only looking at her face.  There was something so appealing about the curve of her cheeks and the arc of her lips.  She leaned forward to fill in some portion of her sketch and for the first time I realized the beauty of an eastern woman.  As the sound of live music filled the house I stood there mesmerized by something that I could not understand.  I was immersed in a warm feeling that I did not want to end.

From that point on I lost nearly all interest in the Nintendo and the arsenal of toy guns.  I was watching her every move like a barn owl.  I somehow knew that looking at her with puppy dog eyes was not an acceptable thing to do.  After catching me in a forlorn gaze for at least the third time her eyes widened and her lips narrowed.  Bobbing her side to side like a metronome and distinctly pausing between each word, she inquired “What. Are. You. Looking. At?”  I froze in panic.  My hand was in the cookie jar and I had just crushed all the cookies.  I darted away and avoided her as though I had just become the mouse.

A few months later, and I believe for the first time, her family came to my house.  The four of us kids tore up the basement while the adults made music outside.  She was quite amused with a toy football player that must have belonged to my older brother.  It was about 1 ft. tall and would punt small objects when you pounded down on its helmet.  I was thrilled to be entertaining her by running back and forth while she launched Lincoln logs and tinker toys at me.  At some point she fired a small wooden door stopper that had gotten mixed in with the bin of toys.  The stopper was roughly cut and splintered around the edges.  I had no idea that it had hit me right in the crotch as I was running by.  What’s worse is that it somehow clung to my baggy sweatpants.  She was already in a full-bodied point and laugh as I looked around to see where it had landed.  When I realized where it was I became physically stuck between shock and embarrassment.  In my haste to swipe the object free of my pants I accidentally struck myself in a way that is only ever funny to the person who sees you do it.  I doubled over in pain.  By now she had fallen to her knees in laughter.  I immediately did my best to laugh and walk it off at the same time, but I could feel my face getting red.  I was certain that she had previously sensed my childish infatuation and I just wanted crawl under the rug.  She was now on the floor laughing hysterically.  Through her laughter she managed to blurt out “I’m gonna pee my pants.”  I remember thinking “Please God let her pee her pants.  Then she’ll look twice as foolish as I do right now.”  After a minute or so we both gathered our composure.  With tears still in her eyes she kept trying to tell her brother what had happened, but she couldn’t manage to get past the part about my self-inflicted injury without bursting into laughter again.  I still laugh when I picture him leaning forward with his hands out and saying something to the effect of “What? What? What is so damn funny?”

With each of our following trips to her house I found myself secretly wishing that I could make her laugh like that again.  I would have risked life and limb to bring that kind of joy to the girl who had cast such a strange but wonderful spell over me.   Within another year I knew that that wish would never come true.  By then, even I could tell that she was a not a girl but a young woman.

I’ll always cherish the memories I have from that house.  It truly was a house of wonders and it was also a house of firsts.  The first time I played Nintendo.  The first time I used a computer.  The first time I celebrated a Chinese new year.  And yes, the first time I felt attracted to a girl.

God Bless you Trista Eng.  You are forever in my heart and often on my mind.

Sam Crider

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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