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Tamra Dawn

Tamra Dawn is a pseudonym.

I was 15 the first time I saw Jeff. I had had crushes on boys before, but this was different. With the guys before him, it had been secret and one-way. I liked them from afar. I never let anything on. I would have been mortified if they had known. But with Jeff it felt different than any of those crushes. It felt more real. I didn't think of it as a crush. One night when a bunch of us were out together, I saw Jeff pull out a chair for the girl sitting next to him. I was impressed with that. And there were other little things about him that spelled QUALITY. Also, we had "chemistry." I liked the way he stood with his thumbs hooked into his back pockets.

Tomorrow, my husband and I will be married 16 years. "An accomplishment!" my 16-year-old says and I'm inclined to agree

Last week, I ran into one of my teenage nieces at a trance party. I was just there out of curiosity -- really. "You are the coolest aunt, " she told me. She has a point. I've lived on a commune, hitchhiked across Europe, marched in demonstrations, have an open mind and love to experience new things. It was that love of new things that led me to my first experience with pot, back in the '60's. I was 18 and in my first year of college. My friend, Bill, and I went to his apartment to pick up the rest of our crowd, and a bunch of people were sitting around the table smoking a joint.

If I was a late bloomer, I was also slow. I know that some of the kids around me - I was 17 at the time - were sleeping with their boyfriends. But for me - and for my boyfriend, Jeff, too - it wasn't an issue. But holding hands with Jeff was dynamite - electric, thrilling, warm, exciting. It was the first physical contact we had - before our first kiss, before we hugged, before anything. And we kept it at that for a while. I was totally green when it came to anything to do with sex or even physical affection between the sexes, so I let Jeff take the lead. I've seen this from the boyfriends I've had since Jeff: The incredibly wonderful way it feels to hold hands with someone you really like only feels that way before you have had sex with them.
My "first love" was Jeff, a decent 17-year-old with a few problems. (Don't we all have them?) I put "first love" in quotes because at the time, I didn't think of myself as being in love with Jeff. What I felt about him didn't match what I saw in the movies or read in books. I felt intensely about him - I liked him tremendously, I wanted to be with him all the time. I enjoyed myself incredibly when we were together. I wanted to know him better. I was attracted to him. I was interested in everything he had to say. I cared about him. (I still care about him all these years later.) But I wasn't in that altered state of consciousness that I thought of - and later experienced - as being in love.
I was 15 the first time I saw Jeff. I had had crushes on boys before, but this was different. With the guys before him, it had been secret and one-way. I liked them from afar. I never let anything on. I would have been mortified if they had known. But with Jeff it felt different than any of those crushes. It felt more real. I didn't think of it as a crush. One night when a bunch of us were out together, I saw Jeff pull out a chair for the girl sitting next to him. I was impressed with that. And there were other little things about him that spelled QUALITY. Also, we had "chemistry." I liked the way he stood with his thumbs hooked into his back pockets.

If you're worried about a teenaged son or daughter who doesn't seem to fit in....take heart - and read on: What I didn't know at the time was that if you think there's something wrong with you, others will too. When I was already a mom with kids of my own, I re-met Anne, a girl who had been in my fifth grade class and every class after that but who had been so quiet that I barely knew she existed. She came over for dinner one night with her kids and my husband asked her how she had liked the kids at the schools we had gone to. Her answer was simple-- but to me it was stunning. "I didn't have anything in common with them," she said.

We all have our to-do list. We couldn't live without it. And we all know the best part of a to-do list is the crossing out part. You cross an item off that ever present and interminable list and you feel, Ah... that sense of accomplishment. My to-do list almost always looks the same, with hardly anything crossed off ever. So I knew I had to do something. I, too, wanted that feeling of satisfaction, of accomplishment, the zing you get when you put that line throughout yet another item. With the holidays coming, I knew my list would get even longer. Which means there's less of a chance to get that wonderful crossed-out feeling. So I created my didn't-do list.

It's become a cliche by now that men stop talking once they get married. My husband, Dan, is no exception. Like everyone, I remember those late, sometimes all-night talks. What started out as loose and free-flowing has turned into something more akin to constipation. It's the surface that bores me. And after 15 years of marriage, a lot of what Dan and I have is surface. Will you put in a load of laundry? Do you have time to take the dog to the vet? "How was your trip?" "Fine." "What did you do?" "Oh, the usual.

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