It came to about $60 over the normal charges. He’s 15. She’s a girl. They like each other. They text – a lot. In the fairy-tale innocence of first crushes no one thought about the phone bill.
I did the responsible mom thing and pointed out, no, it wasn’t a mistake; yes, he did have that many texts, made him pay the overage, and threatened him with something worse than bodily harm if it happened again. Can you say “No phone at night?” I didn’t admit it to him – because, of course, I was never 15 – but, the whole thing reminded me of the magical year of my first crush.
8th grade was an awkward time; leaving behind Donny Osmond posters, albums from David Cassidy and the Partridge Family and figuring out it might actually be cool to like a boy who knew you existed. When the new student arrived in homeroom, we were fascinated. He walked in with a swashbuckling swagger to his step, head held high as he looked each of us in the eye and grinned. Our standard uniform of flared jeans and Levi’s jackets looked shabby next to his pressed khaki’s, cashmere sweater and polished boots. The girls sat straighter, smoothing imaginary wisps of hair. The boys sized him up like Hook would Peter Pan; wanting to be friends, but needing to waive their swords a bit anyway.
He became the leader of our rag-tag band of latch key kids and the merriment seemed to never end. After school became impromptu parties on the football field, french fries and Dr. Pepper at the Red Burger Barn, hanging at each other’s houses depending on whose parents were gone. His confidence made him seem older and the way he would analyze a situation – laying out our options, listening to our suggestions – made him the “go-to guy” for answers. He lived each day as if he had an amusing joke running inside his head and he was determined to share it with us. We didn’t think about the clock ticking down to graduation or the fact that our happy group would scatter to different high schools.
He was the first guy I considered one of my best friends. I adored him. I thought he’d lead us forever. Forever turned out to be one year.
If his move to Colorado happened today, maybe we’d go over the limit on texts, too, or we’d stay in touch video chatting through Facebook, but in the 70’s it was just land lines and letters. How many 15-year old boys write letters; or, at least, more than a few? We lost touch.
Every so often his name would come up: “Has anyone heard from…?” “I wonder what happened to…?” But, first crushes get replaced easily by boys in high school letterman jackets. The clock seemed to tick faster as we started to grow up, but instead of looking back and wishing it would slow, we relished moving forward. Graduation was just another milestone on life’s road and I, for one, was ready to leave home and follow my own path.
The knock on the door was unexpected. There he was, achingly beautiful with his sandy blond hair falling in front of green eyes and the impish grin that always made you feel like you were in on a special joke. Pangs of longing I didn’t know I had were quieted and replaced with twinges of joy. I couldn’t tell you what was said. I only remember the contented, uplifting feeling of seeing him again.
We drove his convertible up the curves on Bear Creek Road, the lights from the city shimmering below, him with one hand on the wheel and the other interlaced with mine.
“Didn’t you know I’d come back for you?” he said.
Despite the summer heat, I shivered. It was the most enchanting and romantic moment in my 19-year old life.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind; dashing from one activity to the next, getting to know each other again. He had no trouble with this carefree lifestyle, but I couldn’t overcome my newly formed adult sensibilities. It didn’t take long to see he’d become like the little lost boy in the story. I had college classes and work hours. He still wanted to party on the football field. I had grown up; and, he had stayed the same – always dreaming, never worried about time, and looking at the world through glasses a little less than clear. With a hint of the practical woman I would become, I chose to let go of his hand and kept my feet firmly on earth. A small piece of my heart soared with him, though, and remained there above the twinkling blanket of sky.
I think of him often and, maybe, with a bit of Pixie Dust masked as today’s technology, I could find him. But I’d be afraid he’d forgotten what it was like to never want to grow up. Afraid life may have grounded his spirit. I’d rather remember the boy sitting in that car asking me to think happy thoughts and fly away with him.
It absolutely would have been worth $60 to experience it.
Question: We all have a first crush story. What’s yours? And, if you could find the person today, would you?