Casablanca again. Seeing it with my teenagers brought back the memory of the first time I saw Casablanca - and what I always think of when I see it. Or should I say who I always think of. Craig. It will always be our movie, even 25 years later. For one brief moment I am Ilsa, loved and yet let go for the greater good.
Craig was my "best friend." We met in 4th grade when he moved into the neighborhood. I kicked him all the way home from school... No I don't remember why. He was probably teasing me, craftily, as he did for most of our next 10 years. We did everything together, had every class together, hung out together in the summer, went to parties together. But we were just friends. He introduced me to Casablanca, yet I didn't get the message. He walked over to my house one night in a blizzard because I told him on the phone I was bored. And I didn't get it. He bent over backwards to cheer me up when I got crabby. And I didn't get it. He talked to me for months about this girl he wanted to ask to the Senior Prom but he wasn't sure if he should because they were friends. He wouldn't tell me her name, but he said I knew her. And I didn't get it. And I went with someone else to prom. Finally at graduation he filled a page in my yearbook with how much he always loved me. Wow. So we tried dating for a short while, but I loved him like a friend. Or maybe I had always loved him but I couldn't figure out what to do with this new twist to our relationship. College came, and I found someone new. We tried staying friends, until he married one of my high school friends who didn't like the fact that I was so tight with him. When she showed me the jewelry box he gave her for christmas that played "As time goes by" I didn't tell her that he had given me the same one a few months earlier.... I found out about the wedding when my mother sent me the newspaper clipping. I won't tell you it didn't hurt because it did.
For 20 years I've thought of him off and on at strange times. I have seen his wife and their 3 kids when I've gone home to visit, but strangely I have never run into him. Sometimes when I go home and go running, I run by his old house and wonder if his parents still live there. I wonder if he ever thinks of me.
I know we weren't meant to be, and I'm glad we'll always have "Paris" and Casablanca. Here's Looking at You, Kid.