It all began on Aug. 29, 1998: the first day of kindergarten. My mom had just left and I was trying my best not to cry. I was hiding behind the art easel so no one would see my trembling lips, too terrified to venture out into the classroom full of squealing 5-year-olds, when I first saw him: the love of my life. My very first crush.
Now you may think that the tender age of five is much too young to fall in love, but you’d be wrong. The “High Five for First Kiss” viral Youtube video expresses my feelings exactly. Maybe I was mature for my age, or just the opposite, too foolish, but this was real. When his chocolaty brown eyes met mine through the narrow crack in the easel, my tiny 5-year-old heart had a premature cardiac arrest.
Being just five years old, my intense feelings of attraction to the boy — we’ll call him Diego — completely confused me. I didn’t understand why my heart jumped every time our sticky hands touched as we reached for the glue at the same time during art class.
During naptime, I subtly scooted my mat close to his — pretty smooth for a kindergartener. I never slept, just watched his long eyelashes flutter and thought about what it would feel like to touch his rumpled brown hair.
Diego and I quickly became friends, and I adeptly concealed my adoration for him. It became my deepest darkest secret. As the kindergarten year drew to a close, my feelings for Diego were stronger than ever.
The following year, Diego started to like me (at least that’s how I remember it). He would ask me to watch him play football at recess, and I was a devoted fan, cheering him on every day. He would chase me on the playground, poke me with woodchips during library story time, and randomly punch me while walking through the halls in single file line. When I got an unfortunate-looking haircut in second grade, Diego was there, constantly teasing me “Ugly hair, ugly hair!” But of course, at the elementary school level of maturity, boys only know how to show their love by being mean.
I remember the day in third grade, after we had been tragically placed in separate classes for the first time, when he left his spoon at my table during lunch. Of course, being the creepy little 8-year-old that I was, I pocketed the spoon and kept it as a souvenir for years.
The next few years were dark times for me, as Diego and I drifted farther and farther apart. In middle school, my dreams of dating Diego completely vanished as I sank into obscure unpopularity and he rose to middle school celebrity status.
We spoke a total of three sentences to each other in middle school, when he asked why I didn’t eat my hamburger at lunch, and my heart was broken. I still could not get over my love for him. I could not remember a time when I hadn’t loved him and it sure didn’t help that he kept getting cuter and cuter by the day.
In high school Diego became starting quarterback, and I prided myself in the fact that I had great taste in men at such a young age. My mind was full with visions of running onto the field and into Diego’s arms as he passionately kissed me after throwing the winning touchdown pass at State. By this time I had risen from the depths of middle school unpopularity and was making a comeback to contest for the attention of my life-long crush again.
I challenged myself to move on, because it’d been over 10 years of heartache over Diego, 10 years wasted in a hopeless love. Even though I dated another guy, I still couldn’t erase Diego with his goofy sense of humor and perfectly sculpted biceps from my mind. Sitting in class with him every day made it impossible to detach myself from my natural state of being in love with him.
It wasn’t until this past September, when Diego went off to a division 3 Wisconsin college and started dating a high school senior that I first truly realized we would never be together. Once reality finally struck the heartbreak was unbearable. For 13 years I had been holding out hope that someday Diego would profess his love for me and I would become the quarterback’s girlfriend, the envy of every other girl. The realization that I would never become that girl, that Diego and I would never call each other high school sweethearts and I would never wear his revered #2 jersey on game days left me devastated.
Now I am happy to say I’ve moved on, ending the thirteen-year relationship (my euphemism for obsession). I rarely think about my first love anymore, and I look forward to the five-year reunion when I can finally be happy that things never worked out between us, because Diego has a beer belly and is still living with his parents.