They – whoever the infinite they are – say that you always remember your first crush. I’m sure there were boys I fancied before him but I certainly remember him.
I used to pass him on Saturdays when I was running errands as a waitress. He was handing out newspapers. I was running from the supermarket to the café with a cucumber, a packet of scampi and £20 worth of 10 pence coins. He always smiled. Never shoved his newspaper (or anything else for that matter) at me. I would smile back, imagining how good it would feel to be wrapped around him and then trip on the same crack in the pavement.
I recognised him at school. A few years older than me. He would stand about six feet away with from my group of friends. Friends sometimes passed over to his side. It was only a few feet but it might as well have been a rickety bridge over lava for all the times I was willing to walk over.
I liked his long hair tied back off his face. That was about as much rebellion as I could handle then (and still is now). I was sure the only reason he never handed me a paper was because my hands were so full, not because he recognised me and was smiling because he liked me. Every time I passed him, I always snuck a look at me.
Somehow, the groups in the school ground merged. Suddenly, I was sitting on the same bench as him with only one chatty friend in between. Can you believe it? I almost choked when she told me that he had asked who her “smiley” friend was. Eventually, I moved passed smiling to talking. We started chatting on MSN (because this was back in the day, remember). We saw each other in the groups on a few Friday nights. One night, my Mum dropped him off at his house and he gave me a kiss on the cheek.
Then he asked me out. He picked me up in his car having just learned to drive. We giggled and laughed the whole way there. He taught me what kangaroo jumping was in the car. I’m not sure that’s a real thing, but I’ll go to my grave testifying that it is.
My first kiss was at the back of the cinema as a film about warring magicians bombarded my ears. It felt like my heart was exploding. I held his hand throughout the film. He took me home and kissed me goodnight at my door.
Regrettably, the story goes downhill from there. With my naivety and the prospect of a real relationship too daunting at the time, I pulled away, an action I would find myself doing to other men even as my experience with men grew. I can’t think of my reasoning now, trying to get into my fifteen-year-old mind. But I know I was scared and felt that I couldn’t do it again.
Looking back, it’s hard to see the decision as wrong. I couldn’t ask for a better relationship and I hear that he got married last year.
I do regret how it happened, if not for the potential for us but because he deserved better. In typical fifteen year old me fashion, the way I acted was immature, panicked and insensitive. Not that I said or did anything apart from pulling away, hoping that the whole thing would go away and my life would go back to normal.
That I really regret.