In the beginning, I sit alone in our classroom.
Like every new transfer student, I am a little nervous. However, my many experiences of transferring schools has hardened me to the feeling of uneasiness at knowing that I was soon to be the topic of local gossip.
Like every new transfer student, I had arrived at school much earlier than the others. I perch myself with a certain level of poise because of no reason in particular. You arrive a few minutes into my extended perching.
You walk to back of the empty classroom and relieve yourself of your baggage. As you turn around, you note my presence. You proceed to perch- and contemplate this sudden intruder- on your chair with your left hand on your face: the index on the philtrum, the thumb on your left cheek (I later came to recognize this as the spot where you dimple when you smile) and the rest of the fingers on your chin. Following this extended unanticipated contemplation, you hurry out of the classroom. I believe that you had taken on the role of the town-crier – to let the news of this new addition be known to the veteran schoolyard soldiers.
I should have realised that meeting you before the rest was an omen of sorts because afew months later you fall in love with me.
As the nature of these things are in middle school society, your affection became known to the rest of the boys. They openly tease you in front of me and sing love songs celebrating our anticipated union during those opportune moments when the teacher leaves the class to bring something he had forgotten (yet oh so necessary for imparting knowledge on impressionable teenagers!).
But my life isn’t (yet) all taking place at school! When visiting my uncle’s family, I tell a particular cousin of mine that I like you. I don’t really tell her your name and we laugh around for a bit about my young, crazy crush.
But what is this? I invite you to my birthday party and you eye my cousin! Is it possible that I could have been wrong in perceiving your feelings? Was it all my wishful thinking? I return home that evening and cry into my pillow. None is made privy of my misery, yet my insightful mother notes my state of mind and advises me to snap out of acting like my father-in-law had died! What comedy!
You fall in love with my cousin. You visit her regularly. You bring your uncle along on one of these visits to gain his approval. I brace my heart and decide that it must have all been in my head. As is the nature of young love, it ends. This takes the form of my cousin deciding that you are grossly disgusting- for what reason, I will never know.
Two years pass. You had long moved away from the school where we met- where I was now reigning as something of a sociable queen nerd. After some pleasantries are exchanged, one of which includes you teasing me about possible romantic exchanges between my older and handsome guitar instructor, you ask me how I feel about you.
I am shocked. Yet I stoically let you know that I will not think of you in a romantic way because you are my friend. You seem to confirm something to yourself and we eventually end the call on a friendly note.
To this day, I do not know what incited you to do the above mentioned act. Yet-
I thank you for tacitly letting me know that I am lovable. That my opinion of you mattered- even if only for a fleeting moment.
That your love for me was not-after all-in my head.