Hump Day Crush: That First Valentine’s Day Heartbreak

She was the new girl that year and I was immediately smitten.

Swarthy skin, long black hair and dark eyes with such a spark in them…

Of course, I had no conscious appreciation for such things it being thrid grade and all. The fact remains that my stomach got all fluttery when she’d look in my direction and my brain would just kind of turn off when she was nearby. It was thrilling and totally confusing all at the same time.

I kept that crush a secret for all of, oh, a few months. Then, near bursting at the seams with the need to just wriggle with glee, I distinctly remember forcing my cousin to “guess” who it was that I liked. (“Guess what her name starts with.” “A?” “No.” “B?” “No.” etc.–repeat for each letter. Yeah, it was a process but it kept is a “secret”, after all I didn’t tell anyone, she guessed!)

After months of slient longing, February finally rolled around. In my grade school (as I’m sure was the case in many) Valentine’s Day was one of those “forced inclusion” holidays. Everyone had to decorate a paper bag and everyone had to get enough Valentine’s cards for the whole class. Well, I most certainly had a plan. I’d pick the most special card from the batch my mother purchased and write something nice on it. When she pulled it out of her bag and read it, she’d… uh… I wasn’t exactly sure what it would lead to (hey, it was third grade), but I knew it would be good.

Of course, I don’t think I ever wrote anything exceptionally special. I didn’t hit my cheesy romantic creative peak until at least three or more years later. But I did pick out the absolute best card–and made it a point to not use any of the duplicates in the set for anyone else.

That card sat in the decorated bag with her name on it for nearly a week before the classroom Valentine’s Day party happened.

As the pink frosted cupcakes made their way around the room, the moment of truth approached. Everyone retrieved their bags. Some haphazardly dumped the cards on their desks, I barely noticed mine. I was too busy watching her go through hers, one at a time, looking at the “from” line on the envelopes.

She had two piles. One filled without comment and the other where she laid each card with disgust as she muttered “Yech! Boys!”

I was devestated.

But, since it was only thrid grade, the sting was quickly forgotten after the pink cupcake and some cartoons when I got home. She left the school after that year and I barely noticed. (At least until fifth grade when there was this oddly familiar looking new girl in class with pristine swarthy skin, dark hair and sparkling dark eyes… yeah, I fell just as hard and fast the second time… and we won’t even talk about the years after that. Yet.)

That first sting, though, has stayed with me. It’s one of those things that makes me cringe whenever I think about telling someone how I feel about them. One of those old scars that still has some texture and gets noticed every now and then.

In retrospect, that was the first in a long line of lessons about the difference between imagined relationships and real relationships. The first hint of how that perfect fantasy world can be shattered.

On a deep, visceral, level, I learned that day that no matter how you feel about someone, there is no garuntee that she will feel the same way… and there’s really nothing you can do about that.

Now, if only I had remembered that lesson when sixth grade rolled around…

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