I don’t remember when exactly I saw her for the first time. It must not have been long after we had moved into our new house and I started going to a new middle school in 6th grade. All I remember is that the first time I saw her, I was knocked silly. She was my first crush. I fell hard and stayed that way for a long, long time. For many years, even. Sure, there were other girls that I liked in middle school and high school, but she always stayed right at the top. She was such an odd choice to have a such a massive crush on. She wasn’t the prettiest girl in school, nor the most popular, nor the most athletic, nor anything. Looking back now, she seems rather ordinary to me. You couldn’t tell a young teen version of me that, however. I had no idea what she was actually like, but in my mind I had constructed a personality for her. She was graceful, laughed a lot, slow to anger, thoughtful, and essentially, everything I wanted in a girl.
I dared not talk to her. I had nothing to say, but that didn’t stop me from rehearsing in my head over and over how I would ask her out. I had no clue what we would actually do if we went out on a date. I was a pretty innocent and naive kid. In my middle school mind, I’m not really sure I had any idea what was involved in “going out”, but I knew if it meant I got to spend more time with her, that’s what I wanted. If I passed her in the hall, I was doing good to mumble a “hello.” I never told anyone about her. I might disclose other crushes to other people (you know, girls were always asking you who you liked, out scouting for their friends, I suppose), but not her.
You would think that your first crush would eventually go away as you grow up, but she persisted. Even into high school, she was still #1 with a bullet on the top of my list. Chance (or more probably, God) didn’t put us in a class where we would actually interact with each other until near the end of my term in high school. By this time, I had been in and out of a couple of relationships. You know, serious ones where you held hands and stuff like that, so I wasn’t quite so tounge-tied around girls when it came time to open my mouth and actually speak. Here’s where the funny part comes in. As I talked to her and got to know her, I found we had virtually nothing in common. I wasn’t particularly interested in the things she liked. She didn’t really show a whole lot of interest in the things I really liked. In fact, while she was a nice person, it became quickly apparent that we really didn’t connect very much at all. In the course of a couple weeks, she tumbled from #1 to #200 in my mental list of “girls I really wanted to ask out on a date.”
Sometime at this point in my life, my wonderfully constructed mental image that I had carefully stacked together for some six to seven years was totally shattered and I was forced to confront some important truths about relationships. If I was ever to be in a real relationship (not the cute little “boyfriend”-“girlfriend” whatevers that were all that I knew at the time), it would not be with some person who was made up in my mind that had no faults and checked every box on my list. A real relationship would be with a real person with real faults and who wanted to be with a real person with real fault also. As I was about to exit high school and enter the college world, I carried with me the knowledge that teenage crushes were nice, but they wouldn’t get me anywhere if I was looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with.
After I graduated from high school and moved on into the college era of my life, I lost track of her. I’ve kept tabs with many high school friends and still visit with some of them every now and then, but she fell off of the table. I never saw her again after high school and don’t really know what happened to her after college. As the crush disappeared, I suppose it was best to let her disappear, also. You never forget your first crush, but I wouldn’t trade one day of an imaginary ideal for the reality that I possess today.