clare danes as juliet

I “fell in love” so many times in high school that it’s hard to know who to classify as the first, but Damon was the first time I fell hard. Really hard.

We met in a summer program through a local occupational school that allowed you to take a culinary arts class in the summer and get credit for it. The program lasted for half of the summer, and you actually got to run a restaurant, which you’d cycle through each section of. Damon was two years older than me, and very mature and well dressed for a high school guy in Washington state. He worked at the Gap at the mall 15 minutes from my house.

We became fast friends, which quickly grew to stronger feelings on my end. Damon was the guy I’d talk to for hours on my private phone line late at night, hiding the receiver in my sweatshirt hood so I could quickly feign sleep if my mom came in to check on me. If it wasn’t the phone, we would talk for hours on AIM, and I’d frequently fall asleep on the couch in the computer room, waiting for him to sign on. (Author’s note: I don’t miss high school.)

Damon was a pretty talented piano player and singer, and I was constantly harassing him into performing for me. Somewhere in my childhood bedroom, I have a tape of him singing an on the spot version of U2’s “If God Will Send His Angels.”

During my formative years, I’d become obsessed with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, including the soundtrack, and Des’ree’s “Kissing You” was my sad-romantic anthem. So, for my birthday one year, Damon came over and played and sang to “Kissing You” on the piano for me. It was one of the happiest moments of my adolescent life.

Des’ree: “Kissing You” (download)

My feelings went unfulfilled, and we eventually lost touch, but we reconnected not too long ago. (Hello, Damon, if you ever read this, and apologies if you’re embarrassed, but don’t be!) I still always think of him when I hear that song, and I still always smile when I think of him.