At every school I ever went to, and there were eight from Kindergarten to High school, there was always a boy with whom I shared a mutual crush. At Franklin in first grade, there was Kent. At Elementary #1 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, there was Steve. At Stephen F. Austin in San Angelo, TX, there was Jason. All of these were limited to giggle fits on the playground and an occasional note.
Then we moved back to California. I had started 6th grade in Texas, then moved to Yuba City, CA. I attended Tierra Buena for a few months, and then we moved to Linda, CA, where I attended Alicia Intermediate for the remainder of 6th grade. The boy who sat in front of me in class asked me to go with him. I didn’t know what that meant, so I said, “go where?”
He laughed and told me that he meant he wanted to be my boyfriend. At this point, I was under the impression that the ultimate goal for a girl was to have a boyfriend, so I said yes. I remember him bringing me a baggie of cookies that his mother had made. They had hairs and clumps of baking powder in them. And that was about the extent of our relationship.
The next school year, I started attending Yuba Gardens Intermediate, in Olivehurst, CA. I had made a friend at Alicia, who coincidentally started attending Yuba Gardens in our 7th-grade year, as well. She was obsessed with makeup and her weight and boys, and she was my only friend, so I followed suit. Because of her, I learned how to apply makeup and curl my hair in the 80’s styles. One of our hobbies was standing in a corner and staring at the boys we thought were cute.
One night we had a dance at school. There was a boy whose name was Mike. Mike was the local Michael Jackson impersonator. Mike asked me to dance, and after we danced, we stood against a wall near the exit hugging. We held each other like that for the rest of the evening, just standing there, holding each other. No stroking, no kissing. After that night, we never talked again. That’s one of those moments that gave me permission to forgive myself as an adult for all the mistakes I made and will share in future entries. Clearly, I was starved for attention and affection, as was he.
By 8th grade, my friend was already experimenting with sex. I was determined to be a virgin until I got married, so she and I sort of went in opposite directions. I had also established myself as a pretty good student. I never missed school. I was involved in student council and scholarship federation. I was in beginning band, and I stayed after school when I could to help with dance decorations and such.
One day a boy in my English class told me that his friend Scott liked me. He wanted to know if I liked Scott. Scott sat in the next row and in the front. I sat in the back. I’d never really noticed him. He didn’t participate eagerly like I did. So now, I started noticing. We began sitting together in student council and at lunch. We flirted and sometimes exchanged notes. By Valentine’s he’d asked me to be his girlfriend. I was ready for more. I wanted to hold hands or kiss or something, and I was not very patient about it. There came a day when I wrote him a note and told him that I wanted him to touch me or talk to me or kiss me or something.
He gave a response note to a friend of mine to give to me. She read it and decided not to give it to me, so when I caught up with him at the bike rack, that afternoon, he seemed a little confused. On the way home, he said, “I guess Anna didn’t give you the note?”
“What note?” I asked.
“Ask Anna,” he said.
I called her as soon as I got home that afternoon. She told me that she had read the note and that Scott was breaking up with me. I was devastated. I cried all weekend and the next school day, I acted as dramatic as 8th-grade girls can. I sniffled any time he was close to me. It mortifies me to think back on it.
By the end of the school year, Scott and I had found ourselves back in each other’s lives. The next year, we started off at a new school and joined the marching band together. One afternoon after school, Scott walked me to my locker. He held me by my belt loops and kissed me. I knew nothing about how to kiss, so my nose was smashed into his face. I couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t want it to stop, so held my breath as long as I could. Eventually, I couldn’t hold it any longer and I inhaled through my nose. To my absolute horror, it made a horrible farting sound against his cheek. It also left him with nostril hickeys!
Marching band trips gave us opportunities on dark bus-rides to develop the physical part of our relationship. We’d make out, and he eventually began groping my breasts. One time he asked me if he could put his mouth on my breast. I stiffened and said, “No!” more aggressively than I meant to. I certainly was not ready for that, but I didn’t mean for it to sound like I was scolding him.
Despite the speed at which things developed between us being all his doing, he felt that I was smothering him, and he broke up with me again. At that time, I was completely destroyed. All of my time had been consumed with obsessing over him. I wrote stories about our lives and futures together. I wrote notes to him telling him how much I loved him. In retrospect, I can see how it might have felt that way to a 9th-grade boy.
That was the standard by which I measured future relationships.