Monday, September 08, 2008

And her name was Donna...

I was looking through some old sheet music from years gone by, and there, sandwiched between two loose sheets of hymns written sometime in the 80s, was the seal from an old Lipton instant tea container.

Why was it there? I'm almost certain I didn't save it intentionally. It must have just ended up there, scooped up in a rush to make the cafeteria line, or pushed aside to make room for a blank sheet of staff paper. But there it was.

Everything came back in a rush. Books, music, scattered pencils, sweet instant tea, brown hair and brown eyes. A lazy smile.

Summer. June 1983, I think. I already had a few years of advanced music theory under my belt at the summer camp, and one year of real college courses. I was there more to spend time with old friends and just soak in the familiar ambience. I might learn something, but mostly, I was just there to be there. It was her first year in the advanced class. She asked me if I could tutor her.

Days were filled with classes and training. Curfew was at 10 PM and we had to be up at 6 AM for breakfast. We had only two free hours every day, from 4-6 PM. We spent those two hours every day in the cafeteria. She had brought a container of Lipton instant tea from home. We scooped ice from the ice machine and with water from the water fountain we made iced tea. I never liked instant tea, but for some reason it tasted good when she made it. Saturday was different. Morning classes only, and from noon on we were free. We spent all afternoon together in the cafeteria, drinking instant tea, talking, laughing. I especially remember her laughing. I don't know how I made her laugh so much, but she had a rich, throaty laugh. A deep laugh that matched her alto voice. Sunday we went to church together, and hung out with each other for the rest of the day.

My eyes focused once more on the old Lipton tea seal. I carefully placed it back in the book where I had found it. It and the book are items from another time, another life, a life more innocent and naive than this one, but a life that--incredibly--once was mine. This old Lipton tea seal is just another hidden key that opens up the passages of time between now and then, when summer wasn't quite so hot, even instant tea tasted good, and I fell in love the first time.

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