My whole life has been about crushing.
In first grade i had a crush on a girl named Jamie. Even with fifteen years of retrospect it still seems as real as any other crush i’ve had since then, despite my tender age at the time: they were the same butterflies. The only difference was that at the time i didn’t have many people to confide in (and, lamentably, no blog), so my mother was the person i turned to with all of my feelings. Yes, she agreed that Jamie was pretty. No, it wasn’t fair the she didn’t like me back. Yes, she knew that i only pulled the drawstring out of her jacket at recess because i was flustered and didn’t know what else to say to her.
Sometime in the winter of first grade was Jamie’s birthday, and our entire class was invited to her birthday bowling party, which i have entirely no recollection of whatsoever. What i do remember is her present. My mother and i had just finished wrapping it, and we were sitting at our creaky kitchen table together in silence when we both noticed we were staring at the same thing.
“Do you want to?”
“I’ll get the shrinky-dink paper, you get the colored pencils!”
Yes, shrinky-dinks… art you could make and then cook until it became entirely indestructible. After a few failed creations, my mother and i settled upon an apple tree, because Jamie liked green. Or red. Or apples. I don’t remember. Anyway, we had finished rendering it in all of its colored-pencil beauty, and i was about to stick it in the toaster.
“Are you done?”
“Why, what do i need to do?”
“Well, i was thinking that you could turn one of the apples into a heart!”
As soon as she said it she knew she had me hooked, despite my feeble protests to the contrary. Out came the red colored pencil, and we meticulously rounded up the curves of one of the apples until it was a heart, stemmed and leafed. Away went the pencils. On went the toaster. In went the tree. The two of us sat with our chins cupped in our hands, watching the edges up it turn up in the heat.
“Do you think she’ll like it?”
“I think so.”
It was a few days after her party that Jamie came up to me before recess, bookbag in hand. Dangling from one tiny black zipper was my tree, on a shiny gold dog tag.
“Why is there a heart on my apple tree?”
I learned some important lessons early in life. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Never take romantic advice from your mother.
But, really, wouldn’t you love to read a blog from when i was six?