In Junior High School, the worst kept secret in my class was the insane crush I had on a younger girl Ellen Culler. The reasons for this crush are irrelevant – can you think of any reasons for your 7th grade crush that have stood time’s test?
Sometime near the end of January, I decided that Valentine’s would be my day, my time to confirm what was obvious to everyone but me. I started saving portions of lunch money, my allowance, and babysitting earnings to purchase a symbol of my affections.
The morning of the 14th I left for school early to allow myself time to stop at the 7-11 and buy a profanely tacky box of chocolates. It was hooker red tin foil, wrapped around a heart shaped box. Given my twelve year old angst the day alternated between blurring through courses and moving glacial slow. 2:45 would come eventually. When the bell rang the tweenage tide moved left to the door. I knew she would have a 5 minute head start since gym was her last class of the day.
As I bound thru the doors I looked for Ellen on the otherside of the street in her normal spot. I took another minute but this box and my courage were burning a hole through me. I was so impatient that I asked Kathy Gravely “have you seen Ellen?” She took great joy in pointing between the basketball hoop and the maintenance shed and saying “she’s over there with her boyfriend!”
In those moments, words really do echo in the space where your heart should be. As I rode the bus home that day, just couldn’t bear the indignity of sharing heartbreak with everyone who rode the #14 bus towards my house. I almost threw the chocolates in the Gravelys trash can at the corner of Mulberry and Kenmar, but when I got home my mom was painting in the basement and asking me to bring her a Tab. Happy Valentines Day I said before pressing the box into her hands with the Tab.
I just kept walking even as I heard her shout “thank you, thank you, you really made my day.” Her words did pause my pouting… for a minute.