If there’s one thing that’s made clear when looking back at my personal journals it’s that I have always really liked boys. Remember how I mentioned that a lot of the time I was writing about super highs or super lows? Well, what gives one more of a super high than when you LIKE like someone?! (Or a super low when the feelings aren’t mutual?) My journals are practically an ode to my infatuations, which in comparison to other things in my life are written about with the most frequency and fervency by far. In fact, the very first personal journal I ever kept opened with a list (a RANKED list) of all the boys I had affections for at the time. I can easily catalogue my K-12 adventures based on which boy I was crushing on at the time.
In light of that, I just can’t bring myself to move on to second grade for February until I’ve written about one of the most monumental events of my first grade: MY FIRST CRUSH ON A BOY.
See, before first grade, I had never had a crush on a boy. There was this one time in kindergarten I had gone out to lunch with a boy from my class and his family. Afterwards, kids from our class teased me, telling me that the boy in question was now my boyfriend. I was mad. Not because it was uncool to have a boyfriend (it may have been–I really don’t remember), but because people were saying something that wasn’t true. At that point, it was still okay to have friends who were boys, and I didn’t understand why anyone would go around saying I had a boyfriend. Up until first grade, my experience with boys was limited to my family, preschool playdates with my friend/classmate Teppei, the aforementioned boyfriend accusation, and two boys (both named Hirofumi) who used to chase the girls around our kindergarten classroom trying to kiss us (?!).
And then there was Sean.
Alphabetical order is a beautiful thing sometimes. As fate would have it, Sean’s last name and my own fell directly next to each other on our class’s list. I don’t know how your elementary school classrooms worked, but mine always assigned each student a number, and that number was based on the alphabetical class list. These numbers were used for everything from seating charts to the line order used for walking to the cafeteria. And so Sean and I found ourselves next to each other constantly.
I don’t remember when I realized how hard I was crushing on Sean. First grade was still a time when boys and girls could play together and it wasn’t outside the norm. In fact, I distinctly recall having playdates with Sean and his buddy Clay. We were friends. But somewhere down the line it evolved into more.
One distinct memory I just can’t get over is one of me riding in the car and worrying that there was NO WAY I’d EVER be able to memorize how to spell Sean’s last name. Which was a big problem because what would I do when we got MARRIED? HIS name would be MY name! You’ve all seen how bad my spelling was back then. This was a disaster waiting to happen.
And it wasn’t just me. I’m nearly certain the affection was mutual. Now, my memories are quite fuzzy given that this was literally over twenty years ago, but I can’t have made it ALL up (okay, it’s possible). I remember being over at Sean’s house for a playdate. I remember playing a make-believe game in which not only were we married, but we were some kind of Bonnie and Clyde criminal duo, and the game involved us being in prison together and having to break out. I have never quite figured out if there was a peck-of-a-kiss involved in the game or if that was an embellishment I added to the memory later. Regardless, there were definitely feelings both ways. However silly they may have been.
Now, it wasn’t all blissful lives of crime and happy endings for Sean and me. Oh, no. Something changed. Because in second grade, boys officially became gross. This was when the cootie shot started going around. And the snarky chanting of “Girls rule and boys DROOL!” You could still associate with boys. They could still come to your birthday party. But they were more for pestering than for pining after. In second grade, I took up taunting Sean on the playground with my friends. We would perch on the tire swing and call him “Shenzi” as he ran by. I can’t remember if this was supposed to be insulting because we were calling him a hyena or because that hyena was a girl.
But don’t be fooled. I carried a torch for Sean for a long time. I think he moved to a different school after second grade. Other crushes came and went, and still I would wonder what could have been with the boy who was my first crush. Did he ever think of me? Would things have worked out somehow? Could I have EVER learned how to spell his last name?!
Don’t worry, mini Emilie. There will be plenty more affection, infatuation, and, yes, even love in your future. In fact, with pen to paper, you’ll rarely shut up about it. You’ll use that heart of yours with all your might–often in secret–and it will bring out your bravest, dumbest, happiest, silliest, and most poetic selves. Embrace it.