Infamous Last Words

This was so not worth the wait.

“Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, meet the expectation.”               ~ Charlotte Bronte

Tonight, after a conversation Steve and I were having about junior high, I ran down to our storage room in the basement and found my 9th grade yearbook from Castle Rock Junior High School (Go Blue Knights). I was giddily flipping through it, showing him photos of people he knows now from my reunions and from various friendships from that time that still exist today. The clothes and hairstyles (more Izod and feathered hair than were ever necessary) were a riot. As I shuffled through the pages, though, one memory in particular jumped out at me.

From fourth grade through ninth grade, I had a big old crush on a boy who lived in my neighborhood. We were never in the same class, but I adored him from afar. He had the perfect amount of freckles, lovely eyes, and a stellar smile. I remember riding my ten-speed by his house on what could only be described as a perpetual loop. And, although he never really acknowledged me, I remained undeterred and unwavering in my devotion.

Then, in ninth grade, after years of crushing on him, my dear, sweet, well-meaning friend Andrea (who was far better acquainted with him than I was) took my yearbook to him to get it signed. I could hardly stand the anticipation. I remember her bringing the book back to me after he had signed it. I wouldn’t let her see what he had written. I wouldn’t even look at what he had written. I packed the book in my bag and got on the school bus to head home. I found an acceptable seat toward the back, lowered the window to catch the spring breeze, and curled up with my knees on the back of the seat in front of me, at last prepared to spend the 45 minute bus ride reading and rereading his words. I began shuffling through the pages in search of his handwriting and name. I was dying.

At long last I found what I had been waiting five years for. There, on page 124 at the back of the book, was his signature and his comment. Short but sweet. No wait. It was simply short. It said, “Justine, Have a good summer. Darren.” Ugh. Seriously? That’s IT? I waited five years for that? At that point, it became incredibly apparent that this kid, despite his darling freckles and flawless smile, was not the guy for me. Even in 9th grade I knew that words mattered to me and that a guy who could barely come up with “have a good summer” was not my type. And, that was the end of my crush. I never rode my bike by his house again.

Now, in all fairness to Darren, he didn’t know me well (or really at all). We didn’t even have one class together. He had no idea that I had passed him in the hallways and had heart palpitations. Add to that the fact that he was a mere teenage boy and my expectation that he would write something brilliant, heart-warming, and truly, deeply meaningful in my 9th grade yearbook was borderline insanity on my part. What did I expect? Too much, I guess.

I think about it all now with a smile. At our 20th reunion (after several vodka tonics), I told poor, unsuspecting Darren that I used to ride my bike by his house. He looked at me as if I was a lunatic (probably while considering obtaining a restraining order), and I deserved it. Still, I felt good about it all the same. I’m sure on some level he appreciated hearing that I had once had a serious enough crush on him that it was worth it to me to tell him about it 24 years later. I know I would be flattered if someone from my past told me something similar. Besides, my confession was my way of writing (unsolicited, I know) in his yearbook. And, at least “I used to ride my bike by your house” is a more eloquent and memorable statement than “Have a good summer,” right? 😉

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