I can still hear the loud rumble of my heart as I read Joey’s response to my letter. He wrote about how he was dumbfounded and had a hard time believing the sincerity behind my words. He said throughout his life (all 17 years of it) he had only experienced crushes from his own broken-hearted and disappointed perspective. He really thought someone was just fucking with him and that was his explanation for the hesitancy to write back and the three-day purgatory. I too was dumbfounded when he said no girl had ever shown any interest in him but also realized how this could work to my advantage. I was determined to make him see everything I saw in those 20 minutes I spent eavesdropping on his conversation with Tamela.
Our correspondence ricocheted back and forth with growing frequency and fervent intensity. Tamela was gradually cut out as the mule and we brazenly left notes in preplanned locations throughout our high school. Eventually we graduated to making mix-tapes for each other and communicating not only through our written words but also through moody melodies and gut-wrenching lyrics. Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” were my responses to his London Choir Boys’ “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and LA Guns’ “Ballad of Jayne.” Listening to these songs 20+ years later still makes my eyes burn and my heart hurt just a little.
Weeks passed and eventually notebook paper and cassette tapes weren’t enough to convey our feelings. The impending terror of having to reveal my identity was approaching and I scrambled to make this dance last just a little while longer. Would this emerging fascination with each other dissipate once he knew my name and all of my awkwardness I tried so hard to hide from him? Wouldn’t the fact that we were falling in love without ever having talked or touched one other be enough to sustain the fantasy?
I remember the day I decided I no longer wanted to be Cryptic Enigma…I wanted to be his. This was the day friend became foe and I realized Pat Benatar was right…love is a battlefield.