How much changes after 35 years — and how much stays the same?

I never forgot my childhood crush.  Over the years through dead-end relationships and dating disasters, I would go back to that comforting place in grade four and wonder about the cute boy who captured my attention and still held a special place in my memory.

The fantasy of reconnecting years later often presented itself in my mind. What was he doing now? Would he remember me?

Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure that we wouldn’t pass each other on the street and feel a twinge of familiarity but just keep walking.  After all, grade four kids are only nine years old. How much connecting could we really do at that age, I thought.

But suddenly, there was a chance encounter at Tim Horton’s with my grade four teacher. There she was, timeless and preserved as if it were still 1977. As I said hello, the memories came flooding back to me and I immediately went home to fish out the class photo that was carefully protected behind a plastic sheet in an ancient photo album. My crush was as cute as ever, as he stood posing with the group.  It was perfect for a Facebook post.

Although we weren’t children of technology, many of us born in the late 60s have adopted the habit of sitting behind a computer or phone to connect with our past. Many of my classmates from elementary school who were on my friend list flooded the photo with comments. Then suddenly, there he was. On someone else’s friend list.

I sent the friend request. Would he remember? Butterflies in my stomach. I attached a little note to ask.

The response was immediate. Are you kidding, he said. Of course I remember you! I always thought about you over the years.

It turned out that he lived in New York City and pictures indicated a lovely family of his own.  He was doing well.

We exchanged the usual promises to meet up one day for a coffee. But we were hundreds of miles apart and we hadn’t talked for 35 years. They were nice thoughts and I filed them away.

One year later, a trip to New York City presented itself. So I contacted my grade four crush. The coffee meeting was possible.  Was he up for it?

Yes indeed. An exchange of cell phone numbers and a promise to touch base was made. Truthfully, I still wasn’t sure it would happen.  But from my hotel room in New York, I sent the text, proposing a time. A response suggested a place – Times Square.  It was confirmed.

I walked through the busy streets of New York City on a cool spring day and suddenly, in the middle of Times Square, there he was – my grade four crush. We stood there for a minute among the hustle of the city and looked at each other and smiled.

Over Starbucks, we talked as if three decades hadn’t passed by. We reminisced about our grade four teacher and classmates, and we discussed his move to another school all too suddenly. He cried, he confessed. He was sad that he would not see me again.

I stared. You did? I asked.

He continued to reveal details of our friendship –details that I didn’t remember. We used to lay stomach down on the carpet side by side and read stories to one another, he recalled. He used to tell his mom about me.

I tried to recall those memories but my own told me that he was the cutest boy in the class and I had a crush on him, as did many of the other girls. 35 years later, I learn that I was the one he was most fond of.  More importantly, I find out that nine year olds can make connections that last a lifetime.

We chatted for the afternoon and he walked me to a street that would take me to my hotel again. We promised to keep in touch and parted ways.

That was over a year ago and we continue to connect on Facebook.  His emails make me smile and he checks up to see how I’m doing from time to time, with offers to talk when life throws a curve ball.

I’m happy that he’s found a love that keeps his heart full. He’s no longer my crush, but a bond that began in elementary school, lasted through decades of distance and came back, familiar and comforting as if we had shared stories on that carpet, in the second floor of that old school building, just a few weeks ago.

 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. This is the sweetest thing! It made me want to cry, honestly. I’m sitting here in my bed after a slow day of work googling how (or if) I should reconnect with a boy, a crush, from my past.

    We met when we were five years old and until I was sixteen I had the hugest thing for him. I mean I was in love with this boy. However, when I started dating I put all fantasies aside and forced myself to move on. Of course, with teenage-dating you almost always end with a heartbreak and I have dealt with my fair (and not so fair) share of it. In fact, I’m dealing with one right now.

    But with every end to a relationship I always think back to this doll from my past and, like this story, I imagine this scenario where we randomly run into each other and exchange numbers and reconnect and start this never ending love that brings us both all the joy and acceptance we could ever ask for. Basically what I always wanted with him when we were in each others lives.

    He now lives in San Francisco and in a few weeks I’ll be moving to Los Angeles and as I’m coping, trying to replace images of my most recent ex with memories of my past crush’s gorgeous face I can’t help but “stalk” his Facebook (which I try to convince myself isn’t stalking as I’m friends with his dad and brothers and many more mutual friends) just to see how he’s doing. Then I find myself occasionally floating over the “send request” button wondering how much of a mistake I’d be making if I clicked it. After all, why would I want to ruin the one thing I can count on to get me through alive should I have to deal with another awful breakup.

    We are much younger and as single as twenty-two can get you but I still fear clicking that button thinking maybe he’ll think I’m crazy to add and maybe even message him, even if the thought never actually crosses his mind.
    I never really knew what he thought about me back then except for the few memories of him expressing concern for me; Like when I fell off this boulder at camp and scraped my knee he, injured himself with a bum leg, walked (or limped, rather) a ways up a hill to grab me a towel to clean up the blood and though I want to know what he thought back then, I guess I’m terrified to find out.

    Reading this cute story makes me think maybe I should take the chance and just go for it. Who cares if he thinks I’m crazy? We might be in the same state by then but it’s not like we’re in the same city capable of actually running into each other. Just do it and see what can come of it even if nothing does. Why not try to reconnect? We’re both old enough now to understand the desire to at least catch up. This, being the first thing I click on for my search for reconnecting with a past crush, makes me wonder if I should use the guts I was born with and click that button. It inspires me. It makes me happy to know I’m not the only one who has that ‘one’ person that you always look back to just for a happy thought or two.

    It very much made my night so much better and maybe, at least one day, I’ll take that risk and click that button.

    • If you are single I don’t think there is any reason not to… except fear. If he doesn’t respond then what? But I hope you do. I, recently, did what I had been afraid to do. I reconnected with the last of my middle school crushes. I hadnt talked to him for 10 years though we had been friends on Facebook for that duration. I sent him a message on Facebook and he responded. Within 48 hours we were meeting up for drinks. And we are becoming friends in real life. And whatever else happens, I am really proud of myself. For putting myself out there and being brave enough to risk the whatifs. Because it turns out, he is still the person I remember only older and wiser, more successful and less introverted…. and somehow still single 😉 as am I. You never know. Hope that helps.

  2. Nie wypada zatrudniać niani lub posyłać dzieci do przedszkoli, które nie są sprawdzone. Zdajemy sobie sprawę z tego, że dla rodziców ich latorośl jest najważniejsza. Wskutek tego otworzyliśmy przedszkole Rusiec. Oferujemy pomoc dla rodziców, którzy nie wiedzą, gdzie wyprawić swoje dziecko. Wystarczy jedynie wejść na stronę internetową przedszkole Rusiec, żeby zaznajomić ofertę należącej do nas placówki. Chętnie zajmiemy się Państwa latoroślą, dbając o jej bezpieczeństwo oraz gwarantując to, czego nie zapewni żadne inne przedszkole Nadarzyn. Toteż uprzejmie zapraszamy już teraz!

  3. roxithefox Reply

    What a sad, sad story… I was waiting for a different ending. 🙁

  4. tech_lady07 Reply

    I was astonished reading your story because your story speaks of mine. Although we are a generation apart, at 18 I still reminisce those fourth grade memories of my first crush , not just my crush he was my first real best friend. The similarities end only where your crush moves out of school wheras in mine I leave the school in 5th grade midterm relocate in a new country. Well we didn’t meet or contact after that…also in fb he seems to have moved on inlife and the distinction between our lifestyles , thinking , social life is very evident. Well in my case I think we would never reconnect after 9 years ……and it doesn’t matter that inspite of later crushes and boys in these 9 years , I still remember him. I still pine after him. It doesn’t matter anyway.

  5. Hi, it’s like reading my own story. Same 4th grade. I m 26 now. Married, have a kid. But I couldn’t get my childhood crush out of my mind. Same as your crush I had to move so suddenly from the school we were studying. Not having a proper farewell or the fact that I actually proposed my love for her in the 4th grade or something else. I still think about her and will long to see her at least once.. . Pray for me all

  6. This is a lovely story. I found it because I’m still trying to understand the emotions I feel in my own experience. For me, it was a girl I met in 5th grade. I was too young for a real crush, but I admired her from the start. A couple years later, it turned into a full-blown infatuation that lasted for 3 or 4 years. I never wanted to screw up our friendship, so I was always hesitant to push things… But we spent so much time around each other for years, even if we never became truly close. I did finally confess my feelings by handing her a poem, which she never said anything about. When I finally tried to make inquiries through a mutual friend, I was told “no.” And we drifted apart, since I felt I had screwed up the weird friendship we had.

    Several months ago (decades later), I dreamt of her. She had friended me on Facebook many years ago, but we never communicated. I sent her a message… And we started exchanging emails. Within a few days she had confessed she always had a crush on me too. She was insecure as a girl and couldn’t really believe I’d truly be interested, so to save herself from what she thought would be inevitable hurt, she pushed me away back then. A week after our first contact she even produced the handwritten poem I had handed her without comment 25 years before… She had saved it all that time, even through two bad marriages.

    It’s hardly an exaggeration to say we fell in love (back in love?) immediately. We live far apart, but after a couple months we finally met up, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life. You hear stories like this, but you never dream it happens in real life. But it did to me… And several months later she has become my best friend, the first person I think I truly love, and someone I can’t imagine my life without.

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