It was twenty years ago this year that I met you. You had a cute mop of hair, a killer smile, and a pencil that when it wasn’t sketching away, was writing in the smallest text I’d ever seen. You were cheeky, the class clown, fun and always nice to me – despite my silly crushes on all your friends. We were ten and we thought we were all so grown up.
We got a little older. I was arty, but wasn’t exactly cool, though you were always kind. I have silly photos of you from school camp. You’re just a kid, but they still make me smile. There’s one of you with a broken arm. I can’t remember how you broke it, but I’m sure you still found a way to draw.
We got older still and went to high school. I had the biggest crush on your older brother (who didn’t?). He probably didn’t even know my name.
One night in year 8 or 9 a group of us all went out…iceskating I think… and went back to a friend’s house. We wanted to dance, all us girls, but our friend’s parents were really strict and we went to a strict school where boys and girls weren’t allowed to get close. Three of us barricaded the door shut as we all took turns to dance with you. It wasn’t romantic, it was just two friends having fun. That was the first time I ever danced with a boy and I still remember that day every time I hear the song.
They say you never forget your first love, but if you were mine, I didn’t know it. We were never in love and we never ‘went out’. We never held hands, kissed or even dared to ask the other on a date, although I wanted to many times when we were kids. If you ever thought I was a dork, or didn’t like me, I was lucky enough not to know about it and hopefully I never will.
I don’t think I carried a flame as such, but I never did forget you.
I looked you up a few times, wondering what you were doing, but I never contacted you, not even after Facebook arrived. I always wanted to see you again, but was too ashamed of how much I’d changed. Besides, I didn’t think you’d remember me.
It’s been sixteen years since I last saw you. We were fourteen, we’re thirty now. Well and truly ‘grown ups’, both married. You’re still drawing. I’m still arty and not cool, but I don’t really care anymore.
A crowded room, packed with talent, some of which puts me to shame, even though it shouldn’t as it’s vastly different to my own work. I’m here by accident, a last minute decision to help a friend. I’m dressed for comfort, not to impress. I decide to explore.
I walk to a stall and shyly say hello to the lady in charge of it. The work looks familiar. Some of it so cute and carefree that it reminds me of a child’s work. I reach for the artist’s business card and turn it over in my hand.
I freeze and deliberate, wondering what to say. I don’t look my best. I haven’t seen you in so long. Your wife is there. You probably don’t remember me anyway. My fingers linger over a piece of jewellery. I look up.
You smile at me.
My insides turn to butterflies. I could have been ten years old again. I scuttle away without saying a word, blushing madly and beaming like a school kid.