. . .is NEVER a good idea in high school. I look back on my high school days like many people and think WTF was I doing? LOL Oh, youth is so wasted on the young for sure. I remember crushing HARD on this young man in high school. I should have just admired him from afar but of course I didn’t. My pain in yesteryear is your amusement today. Enjoy.
I guess tomorrow being V day brought this memory on. I was a freshman in high school and my feelings were just coming on board. My heart locked onto a handsome young man who was a high ranking officer in JROTC. He was polite, clean cut, smelled nice and always smiled at me (and probably EVERYONE else) in the hallway. I would pretend to go into my locker just to eavesdrop on his conversations. One of my best friends was friends with him so I got introduced one day and I still remember how strong but smooth his hand was when he shook mine.
I was a terribly awkward non gender conforming, clueless girl who knew NOTHING about social graces or dating. I just knew my heart skipped a beat and I got unusually warm in the face when he was around. I interpreted this as LOVE. I wrote his name over an over in a notebook and wrote poetry in his honor. All my dreams at night FOR MONTHS starred Nathan (yeah that was his name I think) and because I was clueless none of it was X rated. LOL
One day I got the grand idea that I MUST let him know I loved him. Surely, he would want to know, my Freshman brain reasoned. How could I live another day without telling him of my deep serious love and admiration for him? It was near Christmas so I scrounged up $5.00 and headed to the town’s only Hallmark store. I carefully looked over the selection of cards and picked out the most glittery winter scene card that was hideously oversized. I didn’t count on taxes but the sweet cashier let me have it even though it was $4.95 before taxes. She must have smelled the desperation on me. Just now, I scoured the Internet and found a card that looks sort of kind of like the one I gave him:
To make matters worse on the front of the card in big swirly font were the words, “Merry Christmas to my love”. JESUS-H-CHRIST why do teenagers think such stupid, stupid thoughts? I wish someone had stopped me. If that cashier really cared, she should have slapped me beside my head and said, “Put that back on the shelf and buy a cheeseburger with that $5!”. Alas, no one stopped me so the story continues to unfold. Leave now if you don’t want to cringe.
It was not enough that it already had some corny love poem in it. Nope. I went BIG. I hand penned an angst filled confession about how wonderful he was and how my love for him was blah blah blah – THANK GOD my 53 year old brain has blocked some of that drivel out. Thank you Universe! I sealed the card and kissed it all over and held it in my sweaty hormone soaked teenaged hands trying to find JUST the right time to put it in his locker. I couldn’t be caught by anyone putting it in there. That should have been clue #1000 that this was a dumb idea. Go ahead and roll your eyes – mine are already rolling. Sigh.
I was a HUGE goody two shoes in school. I NEVER got in trouble and I did not get a single demerit. I never asked to be excused to go to the bathroom during class because I did not want to miss anything important. But that day LOVE drove me to madness and I approached my English teacher and whispered in her ear that I needed to go to the bathroom. She looked mildly surprised but gave me a hall pass.
My heart was BEATING OUT OF MY CHEST. The Telltale Heart had nothing on me. I was positive the reverberation from the banging in my chest was shaking all the windows in the hallway. I looked for his locker – yes I had the number memorized – don’t call me a stalker! I never even thought about what I would do if it was locked. Duh! Too bad it wasn’t locked. Stupid small town trust. I slowly, carefully opened the loud rattly cheap metal locker door and looked inside.
Okay, now I feel like a creep. Just at this moment I realized what an invasion of privacy that was. God, kids are dumb. I looked at the photos he had taped up. They were probably of his girlfriend but I passed them off as his “friend”. Pathetic. I touched his books gingerly with the tips of my shaky fingers. Nathan had those books in his hands and dare I imagine – in his LAP? TINY shivers of ecstasy (or whatever the hell teenagers feel) ran up and down my spine. I nearly cried. I carefully slipped the card in between two books. Of course I knew his schedule so I made sure to pick the book for his last class so he would not find it until the end of the day. Do you see how ridiculously obsessed I was? If I could go back in time I would kick her in her butt.
I closed the locker door and leaned my forehead dramatically on it and sighed a much bigger sigh than was necessary. I imagined him finding the card and being moved by my perfect writing and being impressed with my grammar and sentence structure. (I was a major nerd – what I can I say?). I briskly walked back to class and of course I was so worried I didn’t learn anything else for the rest of the day.
When the last bell rang, I bolted out of my desk like there was a tornado and rushed out in the hall to see if I could spot Nathan at his locker. He was nowhere to be seen. I got on the bus to go home and drove myself batshit crazy running all sorts of impossible scenarios in my head. The level of teenage idiocy never ceases to amaze me even after teaching them for 7 years and having two in my own home. I hope my girls are never that dumb. I pledge to make sure they hear this story lest they should repeat it – which I highly doubt because they are so much cooler and smarter than I was. Ah, but I digress – sorry.
After three EXCRUCIATINGLY long days, Nathan finally approached me in the hall and asked if he could talk to me. The time had finally come. He was so gentle and kind. He even had the forethought to ask me to meet him by his car after school. He offered to drive me home if I missed the bus. I got one thing right – he was a smart dude. I followed him to his car and watched this tall handsome senior walk in front of me. I had no idea what was going to happen next but at least he knew of my tremendous feelings for him and for that I was relieved. After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at the senior parking lot and stood next to his blue 1957 Mustang. Nothing exciting about that — EVERYONE in my county had a Mustang because his/her dad did and they were passed down. LOL
Nathan looked gently into my eyes and said, “Bridgette, I want to first thank you for the Christmas card it was really pretty and I appreciate you thinking of me.” So far so good. “I am so flattered that you care about me so much.” Uh, huh, uh huh. . .when is he going to tell me he loves me too? “I have to say that I am not interested in a relationship with you not because you are not a nice girl but I already have a girlfriend”. I’m pretty sure the sound of my heart breaking was felt two states away. I fought back tears and managed only to mutter, “Oh”. “You know I’m a senior and I’m going to the Naval Academy after graduation, right? I really won’t have time for a girlfriend anyway. I know you are going to find a really nice guy. . . “and I’m sure he said all sorts of other proper, kind things that Gods like him say but I really don’t remember much more than that.
Numb, I thanked him for his offer for the ride home but politely declined and thanked him for being so nice to me. Reality crashed on me and I felt like a fool and I could not meet his eyes. I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole. I made up some dumb lie about having made plans to ride with someone else (the buses had left already) and clumsily walked away in knee high snow toward the cars – any cars – he needed to just go away and I needed to hide and die. Once I saw his car leave the parking lot I burst into tears. I cried until I threw up. Oh the pure drama of teen angst!
I hid behind the dumpster and sobbed some more and called myself all sorts of names and wished I had never told him. What was I thinking? I certainly was old enough to know better. Because I moved to the US as an immigrant I was 2 years older than my peers as they put me in a lower grade to learn English years ago. So he was really only 2 years my senior. But I was so socially awkward and inexperienced, I had no clue what I did was perfectly normal.
Once every car had left the lot and there was no one to laugh at me, I wiped my face, hiked up by shoulder book bag and started my long walk home. I lived MILES away and it would take me a few hours to get home but I did not care. I knew mom would be mad but it didn’t matter. I hung my head in shame and trudged along the side of the road in the general direction of my home.
After 30 minutes my toes ached from the cold and my face was tingly probably from the beginning of frostbite. Of course I was not dressed to hike in the December mountain weather. A car slowed down and rolled down the window. It was my friend Laurence. He was a senior just like Nathan. He was like a brother and one of the nicest guys I have ever known. He simply said, “Get in – I’m taking you home”. It was so nice to see a friendly face. As soon as I buckled my seatbelt, he quietly said, “Wanna talk about it?”
The floodgates opened and he listened to my blubbering all the way home. He and Nathan were friends and he told me that I had good taste and that Nathan was a good guy and he would not make fun of me or tell anyone. He consoled me, gave me a hug and dropped me at the foot of the gravel road leading to my house. I wanted to walk the last 1/4 mile up the hollow to my house so my eyes would not be swollen and mom would not ask too many questions.
Many years later, when Laurence and I were both at Appalachian State University, this memory came up in conversation and I found out Nathan had told Laurence about it because he knew we were friends. How kind was that? Laurence had been watching from afar and he made sure I got home safely. Most girls may have crazy love stories from high school but I can tell you that I feel proud to say that I was lucky enough to have had a friend who cared about me that much. Laurence was right too, Nathan was a nice guy. He always smiled at me and never teased me about it. At least I can say that I had good taste in crushes and friends.