When I was in highschool I fell in love with a Brasilian American boy named James my first week of school. I was belting “Head Over Feet,” a power ballad by Alanis Morissette off her Jagged Little Pill album in the hallways outside the English classroom, while I stuffed my locker with unused books. He asked me to repeat the chorus a second time, but to sing it to him. Timid, I turned away, blushing, and ran to the bathroom.
Of course, I knew him, because we went to a small K-12 parochial school, and I’d known him since I matriculated in Kindergarten. He was a chubby snub-nosed kid back then, with bowl hair and fat cheeks. He was still chubby in tenth grade, but he had grown up nicely. It was the first word he’d probably said to me since we were in forth and fifth grades, respectively. Oh, how I blushed when he asked me to sing to him.
Later, when all the 9-12 graders piled into the chorale room, I couldn’t stop peering at the back of his head from the Alto section (he sat in the front, with the other Tenors). I waited for that pulsating, time-freezing, convulsing, exciting moment when he would turn around to talk to his best friend, and somehow shoot a glance in my direction. He never did that first day of choir. But I did meet him again in the hallways. And again, timidly, I would clamp my mouth shut, draw into myself and shuffle by him.
Christmas, we had our first Banquet (the school did not have dances), and he brought a stunning, gorgeous, shining, glossy girl as a date. I became defiant.
Valentine’s day, I asked him to the Sadie Hawkin’s Banquet that week while we served lunch to sticky grade schoolers. Shyly, he leaned against the deep freezer before grabbing an icy pop for himself. He agreed. Embarrassed after someone confronted me in the hallways about asking him, demanding to know whether I liked him or not, I decided to stop talking to him. Sadly, the banquet was canceled the next day. My heart deflated and wrinkled, and I gave up hoping for anything.
That summer, we worked campus together on maintenance duty, cleaning classrooms and the like. We joked about this and that. He casually flirted with me. But by then I had moved on to a new “love,” a boy I’d met on AOL in an Asian chat room, and any advances he might have coyly sent my way went unnoticed.
Throughout highschool it was always some sort of ill-timed affection. He would love me back right when I had given up thinking about him. Electric love would shock me again and by then he was disinterested in detached.
Then he dated my rival. Game over. Then they broke up. Hope revivified.
Then he graduated, and there ended my love affair.
The last time I saw him or spoke to him was at my graduation. He returned for the summer and decided to spend his first weekend back to celebrate with his old friends from his Alma Mater. Mine was the first reception/party he attended. But stupidly, I had to play the star hostess and talk to everyone who attended my party before I headed off with my friends. He sat in the back of the room, picking at cake, looking sharp in a button down and freshly pressed trousers. My brother quit the festivities to hang out with him in the lonely corner. It wasn’t until he’d been there an hour that I made my way back there, and it was back to joking and laughing as always.
I joined up with another party later, and I don’t remember where he went.
It didn’t occur to me until a few months later that mine was the first party he’d attended and he stayed for two hours, though he was much closer with the other graduates. He wanted to be at my party because he still cared about me.
It’s been about eight years since then. Nine, come spring. I’ve heard on and off that he dated some plain, kind of useless girl, a daughter of a wonderful doctor. The next news of him I heard was that they broke up. I’ve heard nothing since.
From time to time I wonder about him, my first, unrequited love with the amazing tenor voice. I wonder if he wonders about me? I wonder if he’s happy as I am, if he’s married, if he has kids, if, like me, he’s found the love of his life, and whether the story of his first love has my name in it?