Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Heart is in Third Grade

Pre-3rd grade, but as close as I could get.

In third grade, I sat next to Jeremy. I can't recall his last name. He had spiky blond hair. He was skinny. I think he might have had freckles. If I could find a yearbook from my school for that year, I could tell you for sure, but I only have Kindergarten and 5th grade, and he moved away in 3rd.

I had a crush on Jeremy. He was cute.

This was different for me, a crush on a blond kid. From 1st grade until high school, I was head over heels (not-so-secretly) enamored by a dark haired boy sometimes mistaken for my brother by our bus driver. It was the midnight hair that did it, I think. We were neither Hispanic not Asian, yet our hair was like the wings of ravens.

But I digress.

One day, I looked over at Jeremy's desk. He had been trying to get my attention, nudging my arm or motioning. I can't remember. Whatever the method, it worked, and I glanced his way. His Trapper Keeper was open and, on the cover nearest me, I could read his writing.

"I love Heather."

That's what it said. My little nine-year-old heart fluttered to my throat. I'm sure I blushed. I looked away, looked at my hands, screamed silently with excitement.

But I didn't say a word. I did not write anything on my notebook in way of reply. I just held his message inside and felt happy and nervous and like the whole world was a beautiful place. My life might just work out like my heroine's.

That heroine would have been Jessica Wakefield. Don't judge me.

Within a few days, the words were erased from Jeremy's notebook. He walked into class with my friend, Ashley. He called her his girlfriend.

My oh-so-romantic third grade love affair had ended. I felt deflated. Why didn't he like me anymore?

In hindsight, it's sort of a duh situation. As far as Jeremy could tell, I had completely ignored his childlike advance. I must have seemed uninterested in playing the role of girlfriend.

The pessimist in me thinks it also could have been a joke, never true in the first place. Later years yielded plenty of those kinds of events. Kids found torturing me a fun distraction. By middle school, I held no hope that ANY BOY would ever write "I love Heather" on his notebook again. Yes, at thirteen years old, I already knew I was romantically doomed.

Why am I telling you this?

I don't know. The memory has been replaying in my head all week. I've chased it around by the tail, trying to figure out a meaning.

I want it to mean that things will be different. That, as a writer, I am putting myself out there. One day I will have a book on a shelf in your local indie bookstore and you will be waiting in line so I can write my own name on the title page. I no longer need anyone else to write my name, in truth or in jest.

But maybe it is the opposite. Maybe I am afraid it is happening again. That I have an agent and editors have praised my writing, but soon the tide will turn and I will see my own beloved career waltzing into class with another writer on its arm. What if the cosmos are playing a horrible joke on me?

Maybe my heart is still in 3rd grade.

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