#1) Elisa

It ended with an email. A simple point, click and send, and there went my heart through the labyrinth of cyberspace until it reached her seconds later. I knew then that whatever remnants existed from the summer of '97 would become nothing more than faint memories.

I had just seen her a couple of hours before at the mall, where she asked me to hang out. Six months had past since I had last seen her. Things had changed for one of us ...

I knew there were a few things about summer that I could always count on: beaches, barbecue, babes and baseball. The one thing I never counted on was falling in love and feeling all the ups and downs that came with it. I saw heaven and went through hell, all in one summer.

Summer is a time when we wake up 11 a.m. and don't eat breakfast till noon. The days are endless, and the sun seems to shine forever. And because of that, we live with the notion that summer love will last.

It was last year when I became an expert on the realities of the summer fling. I met her accidentally, and we ended up sharing a pizza. In one hour, we seemed to have caught up on 16 years of not knowing each other. She gave me her number, but it wasn't really a sign.

She was taken, so I didn't even think of becoming anything more than friends with her. Oh, but that word has so many different connotations - as I would later find out. She called me a few times, but we didn't talk about much. Because my best friend and her best friend were going out, we met again for the second time.

Things had flipped 180 degrees the next time we met. I can still remember her looking at me in my car as we sat, parked in front of the restaurant, looking up into the sky. People look at you all the time, but when someone looks at you the way she looked at me, you begin to feel like the luckiest person in the world or at least the restaurant.

We went to different schools, but for the summer she was working 10 minutes away from where I live. So every break she had, I would visit her. We would go to a coffee shop or look through store windows to see things we could never buy. I think that was another reason we bonded: neither of us ever had a cent in our pockets.

It was the little moments of the summer that stick out. Like on the Fourth of July, my parents had a big family barbecue. Even though the day was a lot of fun, I wanted to see her. So I called her, and we decided to go see the fireworks near Disney. That night we chilled together, and for a brief second, I was the king of the world.

And it only lasted for a blink of an eye, because I knew she was in an awkward position. She was the most loyal person I knew, and she still missed her so-called boyfriend, who was away doing research in some college. I made a vow to her that no matter what happened between us, I would stick by her.

I went out of state for vacation for a couple weeks, but I didn't leave our relationship behind. I called her every day and emailed her every night, so she wouldn't forget me. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I could never say she was mine. I came home a week or so before school started. I had to see if things were the same between us.

They weren't.

This last year has been like four seasons of loneliness as I tried to let myself believe in the vaguest of dreams that we could be together. When I was in her presence, she made me want to be a better person.

I miss the phone conversations lasted from 8 p.m. till 6 a.m. with both of us refusing to hang up or say goodnight. That no longer happens anymore.

She read the email I wrote and sent a response back saying that we couldn't be together because we're too similar. She can only see me as a friend. I had to swallow that word twice to digest the stigma.

When I ask her about the summer, she tells me it was a blur, a time to forget and move on. But I know I won't forget her or our summer. There was something between us, but that time is gone. It will come back to me no more.

Written in July 1998

Current Status of Relationship

I haven't seen Elisa since December of 1998, when she and I went to the mall together. She and I talked periodically online. Other than that, I really can't say. She'll always mean more to me than I will mean to her. Elisa wasn't my first love or true love but she was the sweetest love I ever had. That's why she holds the number one status so tightly.

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