Friday, June 16, 2006
My First Crush
At left: the glow of young love.
This post is inspired by my recent viewing of Little Manhattan. (People who have never had a love affair with New York City may find this movie less charming than I did, but still pretty damn charming. I mean, it's about fifth graders in love, and it's realistic. What's not to be adorable.)
Anyway, my first crush is something I have spent my entire life not talking about, so here's to breaking THAT silence:
I was in the 4th grade, and she was in the 5th. She played the lead in the school play. My best friend and I played recorder along with the music teacher's piano. During those long hours in the school auditorium, I fell madly, passionately in love. But I was nine years old and I had no idea that I was in love. I knew that I wanted to know her full name and where she lived (one neighborhood over from me, I learned, and I did find her in the phone book, but of course I never called her). I knew that all of a sudden the sappy love songs on the radio spoke to me (I mooned over Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time" a lot). I dreamed about her, and made lists in my diary of the details. In fact, my diary entries from that year offer descriptions of my daily sightings. In short, I thought about her all the time. When she touched me -- when our hands brushed, when one day she put her head on my shoulder and moaned about memorizing her lines -- my whole body felt like it was on fire. I told my best friend that I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to be friends with her. That was the best I could do to understand what was happening.
Later in the year we did another play, at the local afterschool program where all the neighborhood children headed after school. I played Tweedledum to her Alice. I had a pillow shoved up my shirt and I lived for every minute of it.
At the end of that year, since was she was a Fifth Grader, she would move on to the local junior high, while I would stay in elementary school. I was tense about this development, but found solace in the knowledge that after just one more year I would join her there. As it turned out that was not to be, because my family moved to another city the summer after fourth grade. I mourned this girl for months after the move. I insisted on buying the same brand and color of sneakers she'd had, I named a LOGO computer program after her, I moped and longed and yearned. I didn't know why, exactly, I just missed her more than anything else about home (and I missed home a lot).
The story about me, in my family, is that I am a "late bloomer," and I wasn't interested in relationships because I was too busy with other affairs. Well, it turns out I wasn't late at all. I just didn't know what was happening. I was pretty early...the girls I knew weren't really into boys until at least fifth grade, and even then, the interest had a lightness, an airiness, a putting-on that does not at all remind me of my passionate fourth grade crush. Fifth grade was when kids "went out" with each other without actually speaking or touching. As it turns out, I had pretty intense physical yearnings as a nine-year-old. I was interested, all right.
It's just that I was 22 before I had the sense to realize what I was feeling. Now THAT is where I was a late bloomer.