Crayon On Crumpled PaperWhen I was a kid, maybe eight-ish, I had this huge crush on a boy in my class. I cannot for the life of me remember what I liked about him, but like him I did.
We both liked each other. It was obvious to anyone who saw us. The really weird thing is that I made the first move. Yup, the shy, awkward, don’t-look-at-me person I am now, made the first move. With a boy.
It was at the end of a semester, when we were about to go on vacation. I’d made him a card the day before. I think I drew something like a door on the front [art was never my strong suit] and a message saying something like, ‘look inside for a secret!’ [I was EIGHT, give me a break] and it said ‘I love you,’ on the inside.
I don’t remember much else, but I do remember that he carried himself like a king for the rest of that day. He looked like he was walking on air. I still remember the look of wonder on his face when he read the card, like he’d discovered some precious ob
Since it was the end of the semester, everyone had cleared out their desks the day before. I remember watching him scrambling about like a crazy person, looking in all the desks for a piece of paper and something to write with. I don’t know where he found it, but later in the day he gave me a crumpled scrap of paper that said, ‘I love you, too,’ in pink crayon. I wish, I wish wish WISH, I still had it.
Sadly though, there’s no real story of him and me. He did eventually ask me to go out with him, but I said no. Why? Because I was terrified, I suppose. I didn’t know what ‘going out’ entailed, but I knew it was something you got into trouble for. I really regret just rejecting him like I did, instead of trying to explain to him what I was thinking. Do I regret not taking him up on it? I’m not sure if the reality of it would have been as sweet as the fantasy of it, the longing for it.
I know, I was the one who told him I loved him, and then turned him down when he asked me out. Bullshit, right? You know, I couldn’t even begin to tell you why I told him in the first place. I didn’t even want anything to come of it. I just wanted my feelings to reach him. I wanted to be heard, I guess. I believed that just saying something was enough. I was still naïve enough to believe that everyone else thought the same way I did (a belief I am still trying to cure myself of), so I was sure he’d get it. I just wanted him to know.
I don’t remember my childhood with great clarity, but I remember a few little things about him.
I remember him walking with me after school once, to where I waited for a lift home, even though it meant that after he left me there he had to walk back in the opposite direction to get himself home.
I remember one day he’d been talking about something he’d tasted, a chocolate, and how it was the greatest thing in the world. The next day he brought me one. It was a truffle, larger than your average Ferrero knockoff, with toffee and a hazelnut in the middle and a chocolate coating. I remember how awkward it was for him to give it to me, trying to be as casual as possible. Later on, for some reason I don’t remember, there was a younger girl there, a classmate’s sister, and she saw it in my pocket and took it from me when I was distracted. He was pissed off! I remember that pretty well. He didn’t say anything, he was still trying to be cool and collected, but I could see how agitated he was. He harassed her until he got it back for me.
I remember a different year, when we were in different classes (yup, the feelings stayed there a good few years) he told my friend that he was planning to kiss me during the break. I don’t remember, but I was probably panic-stricken when she told me, what with there being no hidden places on our school grounds, nowhere safe from the eyes of teasing classmates and draconian teachers. Looking back on it though, I kind of wish he’d done it. Would have made a much better first kiss than what I did get, years later.
I remember one day, I think he’d asked me out again, and he kept trying to persuade me to say yes, trying to out-argue me, refusing to accept my refusal. At the end of the day when I was about to get into the car to go home, I heard him shouting, ‘I love you!’ from across the parking-lot. Now that I think about it, no other man has been so vocal about it since.
Well, I do also remember that he had a sustained crush on two other girls. One was my best friend from that time. He asked her out a few times too. While I didn’t mind the fact that he liked her, I thought the other girl (who I didn’t even know) was evil, just evil, purely because I knew he liked her. Looking back on it, I guess it was because I knew my best friend didn’t like him, but I had no idea about the other girl’s feelings. She could have actually got him. She always turned him down too. Poor guy.
The last I heard of him was from someone who’d gone to the same high school as he did: He’d slept with an older girl, and couldn’t stop bragging about it. How true it was, I have no idea. He never seemed like a ‘bragger’ when he was the boy I loved.
Funny, even in my memories of back then, I remember being a miniature version of myself. Even my best friend, and the kids around me, I remember as being small people. But for some reason I don’t remember him that way. I remember him taller than me. Broad shoulders. A grown-up face, grown-up eyes. He had lovely eyes. I remember him taking up more space, I suppose, than anyone else does in my memories.
Thinking about it now, it doesn’t seem like something that happened to me. The miniature-me in my memories was a strange child, always alone somehow, no matter where, usually hurting. That there was such sweetness in the life of that scared child seems bizarre. Like I stepped into someone else’s life for a while. He was so sweet to me. Makes my heart ache to think about it.