A lot of things happened to me in third grade; I broke my shoulder pretending to be a cheerleader, I got bangs for the first time in my life, I pulled out my second molar, but one of the most important things to happen to me was my first boyfriend.
I couldn’t tell you it was love at first sight because it definitely wasn’t- well for me at least. All I can say is I just woke up one day and suddenly felt like the heavens had answered my prayers. I wish there was more to it- that maybe he touched my hand as we both reached for the same pencil or maybe he picked up my long forgotten jacket and ran to return it- but then I would be lying. I hadn’t really known him too well. I knew his grade, name and his parents. In fact, I hung out with him every other weekend. Well, I mean I didn’t really hang out with him, our parents were really the ones who hung out. We always just waved awkwardly and shared one of those cheesy smiles. That was pretty much all the interaction we had.
I was surprised when he called my older sister on her flip phone, asking to talk to me. I was in so much shock, I had my sister feed me answers to all his questions. Or at least the big question.
“H-hi, it’s C-Caitlyn.”
“Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
“What should I say?”
“Ok,” Nervous laughter, “Bye.”
I didn’t really understand what would happen next. Would the sky open and the heavens rain down stars on me? Would I have to buy a new headband to signify my new relationship? I was so dumbfounded all I could do was giggle- a whole lot.
The next day at school, I didn’t really know how to act. Naturally, the first thing I did was tell my best friend all about the entire life-changing experience. She giggled too. But not as much as I did. When I saw my new boyfriend in the hall, I hid. I don’t really know why I did, but I just couldn’t face him. I was already starting to feel like I wanted things to go back the way they used to be. It’s not like my world was flipped upside down, I just felt I wasn’t committed enough to marry this boy. After all, I hardly knew him!
At recess, I smiled at him. I even switched my swing to sit next to him. I was so glad he didn’t try to hold my hand. I don’t know which is worse: the viral cooties syndrome or my commitment issues.
I tried to force myself to like him again. But everytime I did, I was so scared that my parents would kill me if they ever found out I had a boyfriend, that I came up with a plan.
I planned to avoid my boyfriend as much as possible in attempt to break up with him. I put my plan to action only a few days after our relationship began. I hoped as a result of my avoidance, he would understand and stop blabbering to everyone that we were a thing. Yuck!
Any smile or glance shot my way would be returned as a break of eye contact or immediate evacuation. A passive aggressive response that would hopefully do the trick. I didn’t sit near him at lunch anymore, I didn’t even talk about him. But, nevertheless, he still smiled and waved at me.
This pressed on for weeks; that slowly turned into months. I didn’t see any progress in our breakup but I didn’t want to be the one to split things up.
Months trickled into years of this elementary school relationship. I forgot about the phone call, I forgot about the avoidance game, I even forgot about the gift he had given to my mother who, in turn, would give to me. It had been a phone case with a set of earrings on the inside. A cardboard cut out filled the hollow, orange case. The ironic part of it all was the fact that I didn’t even have a phone. But I wore the earrings; even though they made my ears hurt because they constantly jangled.
It wasn’t until sixth grade that I remembered my short romance. I saw him walking in the hall with a girl I'd never seen before. I was happy we were finally through. But I felt jealous. I was sad I didn’t get to walk down the hall with him when I could and I was angry that I never held his hand. I was consumed by this sea of emotions that I couldn’t even explain. I wish I could.
I still avoided him. I guess I couldn’t face him after I dodged him so long ago. I don’t even remember now why I was so desperate to lose him. I guess I was just too overwhelmed at the thought of my parents kicking me out and abandoning me for having a boyfriend.
I finally gained enough confidence to talk to him in seventh grade. Granted it was as we were walking in the halls and I was forced to make eye contact, but it was definitely a step up from my usual ordeal. The next day, I had been walking in the hall when he caught up to me. Somehow, the walk was longer than I thought it was and we fell into conversation. Every so often, the cycle would repeat itself. I would walk to my class and soon be joined by the boy I tried so hard to avoid. Turns out, he thought we had been dating until the sixth grade.
I learned from my romantic flop you can never be too quick to judge. After talking with my ex, I realized how weird it was that this boy was once an nuisance to me. I couldn’t believe myself for hating him for just wanting someone to love him. And I was even more surprised at the detail and planning I had put to work in order to avoid him as much as possible. I realized, after talking to my third grade ex, two things; how easy it was to fall in love and how hard it was to get back up.