It was 1997 and I was a self appointed beatnik. I had a pony tail, wore a beret and went to poetry readings. At 15yrs old I most definitely marched to the beat of a different drummer. I thought the Bible and Socrates had the keys to understand everything of meaning. I played bass guitar in a Christian rock band called Pre-Resurrection and we thought we were deep.
If you're feeling a silly urge to slap this kid you're not alone. But even more than my coffee drinking, bass playing, 90's Christian Rock vibe. I thought I was a poet. I thought from the Odyssey to Dante that the great artists understood lyrically the world around them. Sure I was grasping for any ounce of maturity I could find and this was definitely a proto nerdy incarnation I was going through. But I dug it man. I did. To me being in touch with my soul, talking about Jesus and both things non permanent and the permanent was where it's at.
It all felt like a second skin to me until I began writing poetry for girls I liked. This is where I started taking notes from Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot. These authors knew sadness. And sadness spoken in flowery language from my 15yr old brain 🧠 expressed to the opposite sex that you were interesting.
Well so I thought. Now there was a cute girl in my youth group that I had a huge crush on. She made me feel out of breath and a pain in my chest. Her name was Rhea. She had blue eyes and fair skin. Each time I tried to connect with her I felt like I was just stumbling over my words. It was as if my very mouth and brain were betraying me.
Well this is were my genius came to play! I would write her a poem! Yes this would win her over, my wordsmith studies would not be in vain! So I remember staying up all night crafting the most delicate poem. Describing how I felt about her and all expounding on all her many many qualities from her eyes to personality and beyond. I then placed this poem in the mail and sent it away.
Unfortunately she was on a mission trip so she didn't receive it for over a week. The next time I bumped into her she was visibly uncomfortable. Rushing ahead I recited a few lines from the poem and even handed her a necklace which I had purchased for her. I remember it was sterling silver and had blue gems 💎 in it, this was the first piece of jewelry I ever purchased for a girl. She looked at the necklace and pocketed it. Then she decide to talk on about how she read my poem. Looking at her eyes I began to apologize to her and she began to spout on about her boyfriend and how great and cute and wonderful he is!
I was shocked and embarrassed. She had already had a boyfriend? When did this happen? Was this real? I later talked to a friend of hers at the youth group and it was legit she had a boyfriend but she just never talked about it. Why? I really have no idea! We weren't friends I just liked her and she was just clearly not interested in me. But infatuation can give you blinders. You can humiliate yourself in front of someone you have feelings for and it can reveal how clueless you are.
That weekend after my embarrassment I was at my fathers parents place and I spoke with my cowboy 🤠 grandfather Don about what happened. We barely spoke about really anything if I'm being honest. He was a pretty closed off guy and hardly showed any emotion that wasn't serious or laughter. Grandpa Don was for the most part emotionally unavailable, much like my own father.
My Grandpa Don begins to tell me an array of what I still consider bad advice about how it's foolish to tell a girl how you feel and never to write anything down because it'll just embarrass you. But I never saw it that way. Sure I was mistaken that somehow magically my poetry would make this girl have feelings for me but poetry did it for me! Poems made me feel good. And sure it was embarrassing, heck it's a little embarrassing now retelling this but I don't regret it for a second! I was and am in touch with my emotions. I think it's important to know how to express them. Yes you need discretion to know who's the appropriate person to share them with. However I'll never be ashamed for expressing them. Emotions are personal truths welled up inside us.
And it's this unabashed romantic inside me that kept me open when I discovered my wife and best friend, Katie. Sure I was a "Clueless Poet" and a total dork. But I'm cool with that. Yes the beret, pony tail, and Christian rocker personas have all melted away but I'm still a lover of a good lyric and a lover of poetry.
Thanks so much again for reading 📖